I had never visited, or even known about, Muscoreil's Bistro & Dessert Gallery when it was located on Division Street or, prior to that, Payne Avenue.
In fact, it's a small wonder I found it now that it has moved to a "more visible" spot on Niagara Falls Boulevard, seeing as to how I and most other people routinely fly by the place somewhere in the neighborhood of 55 mph.
Had it not been for a little roadside sign that I noticed while sitting on the passenger side one day, I would still be missing out on one of Niagara's true culinary treasures.
Judging from our waitress' comments on a recent visit, I am far from the only one finding the place to be easy to miss.
That is truly a shame. Everybody needs to check out this little slice of heaven.
Whether you're in the market for a meal or just something sweet to snack on, Muscoreil's has got you covered. I can confidently say you will not walk out hungry or unsatisfied. You won't walk out and go straight to the ATM, either . . . unless you're there to buy one of those fabulous wedding cakes, that is.
I can only imagine what one of those creations will set you back. But they're sure fun to just stop in and look at.
Before I get you too confused, let me explain: Muscoreil's is a little complex located at the edge of the boulevard, just about atop the Erie-Niagara border. It's kitty-corner from the go-cart track, if that helps you to picture it.
I know, it's kind of hard to place. Try this: Start slowing down as you round the curve near the corn maze, switch to the right lane and be prepared to turn in just before you cross the bridge into Erie County. You won't be sorry.
As you walk in the door you enter the bakery; to the left is a gallery displaying some of those amazing wedding cakes, to the right are cases packed full of some of the most delectable-looking desserts you're likely to see anywhere.
You can buy anything from a single iced cookie to a full caramel-drizzled apple pie or fancy-schmancy cake.
Keep walking to the left and you will enter the bistro, a cozy little corner with an artificial fireplace and loads of real artwork on the walls, many of them compliments of one of the cake artists from the back room.
They're for sale, too, so you may want to consider bringing along your checkbook. My daughter the artist thought the stuff was absolutely great.
I had similar feelings about the food.
It's gourmet, I guess, if you can consider sandwiches gourmet. That's mostly what they offer -- sandwiches and homemade soup. Oh, and salads.
The sandwiches come in three or four different styles: paninis ($7.95), those stacked-and-grilled deals; bistro wraps ($6.95), served in your choice of fresh-made tortillas; grilled ($6.95); and create your own ($4.95), in which the diner chooses one from columns A, B and C and then gets unlimited choices of toppings and condiments.
I chose the Bistro reuben on the advice of our waitress (I was leaning in that direction already), while my companions (Steff and a friend) opted for chicken Caesar -- one in a wrap and the other as a salad ($6.95).
I started things off with a bowl of Italian wedding soup ($2.95, or add to your lunch for an extra $1.95). It was perky, with lots of little pasta beads but not overly heavy on the meatballs. The broth was nicely flavored, with bits of spinach floating about. Sure went down easy with a couple of crackers.
Speaking of which, the waitress was nice enough to keep bringing us dishes of crackers and port wine cheese, which was a complimentary appetizer.
My reuben was nicely done, with a mellow, tender corned beef and goodly amounts of sauerkraut and melted Swiss. It was served on a homemade rye, which was hearty. I would have liked a little more Russian dressing, but all in all it was very good.
Between the soup and the sandwich, I was more than satiated.
Both girls declared their chicken Caesar to be excellent, with ample amounts of grilled chicken, a nice, creamy dressing ("not like those other Caesars," my daughter said, although I'm not quite sure what "other" Caesars she was referring to) and crispy, probably homemade croutons.
Steff isn't a big soft tortilla fan (she always orders hard-shell tacos), and the wrapping did prove a little too much for her on the ends, but it didn't stand in the way of her enjoying her salad-in-a-sandwich.
To top things off, we ordered a slice of the Cappuccino Mousse Cake ($3.95) and one of the $1 special desserts, a chocolate-with-chocolate chip frosting cake.
Both were tasty; the Cappuccino was by far the better choice, however. Creamy and with a subtle coffee taste, it featured sliced almonds in the crunchy, chocolate base. I'm not sure exactly what it consisted of, but it was tasty, whatever it was.
Muscoreil's offers a daily Dessert Gallery, in which customers can choose from various dessert plates to satisfy their sweet tooth. The waitress told us it's pretty evenly split between people coming in for lunch or just plain dessert.
The menu, as I said, isn't extensive, but what is there sure sounds tasty: grilled vegetables, turkey and avocado, smoked salmon, spicy Italian sausage, breaded eggplant, albacore tuna.
You can have your choice of breads and cheeses, and you can wash it all down with a nice soda, coffee or tea. All while enjoying the coffeehouselike setting.
Who knows? Bring a date in and maybe by the end of the evening you'll be ready to wander over and check out the wedding cakes.
Muscoreil's Bistro & Dessert Gallery
3960 Niagara Falls Blvd., North Tonawanda (692-9081)
Review: 3 1/2 (Out of four)
Favorite dish: Bistro reuben
Needs work: Hours of operation (too few for bistro)
Healthy choice: Cobb salad, smoked salmon panini
Price range: $5 to $8 for anything on the menu
Noise level: Peaceful
Wheelchair access: Yes
Parking: Connected stone lot
Kid appeal: Fair
Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday; Dessert Gallery (plated desserts) open 5 p.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday.