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Cheap Eats

An evening at the Crow's Nest is an experience. The horseshoe pit out back vaguely resembles a graveyard. The waitresses answer the pay phone that rings with takeout orders as if it's not at all odd.

Everyone is a local, and newcomers are looked over even as they're greeted warmly. At 5:30 p.m. on a Friday, the place is packed.

The bar maid hauls in bagged ice, the kind you get at the gas station. The family picnic feel is starting to seep in. I love it instantly.

A friendly bartender serves us some drinks while we assess the handwritten menus hanging from the bar and adjacent wall. Spaghetti, meatloaf, chicken and biscuits on Tuesdays. Polish and Italian sausage on Wednesday and Thursday. Fish on Tuesday and Friday. Though we know why we're here, it appears we'd have little choice even if we didn't.

Once seated, our friendlier-than-necessary waitress is so happy to meet us. We each order a cup of the New England Clam Chowder ($1.95), which comes to us creamy, chunky, full of clams and needless of crackers.

For my entree I order a combination Maryland crab cake and fish dinner ($8.95), with German potato salad. My dining partner orders the singular fish, which we notice is appropriately larger than my combo-sized fillet. The crab cake, I must confess, was delicious while not being homemade. Both dinners come with heaping piles of macaroni salad and cole slaw. A whole lotta tang going on.

The fish, it must be said, is the ideal: Buttery, flaky, luscious and the crispiest beer batter. I always say I'm going to order my next fish fry broiled. But I never do. And neither do you. And that's why you'll love it here.

Just as our stomachs were digesting what we had already inhaled, our waitress asks us if we'd like some pie. "No, thank you, we're stuffed," we say, followed by, "but what kinds do you have?"

"Coconut Cream, Banana Cream and Chocolate Cream," she says. "But we're out of the Banana Cream."

No worries. They serve fish on Tuesdays, too. I'll be back.

-- Benjamin Siegel, Special to the News

Mel's Crow's Nest

315 Campbell Blvd., Getzville

688-9814

Review: 4 pennies (Out of 4)

"Usual suspects"

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