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Cheap eats

Good news: There's a new cafe in the big office building at 5500 Main St. in the Village of Williamsville, the one that sits back from Main Street with a parking lot in front.

Better news: The menu is ambitious, the offerings are creative, and the extra touches are impressive. While the prices are on the high side of cheap, the portions are sizable and satisfying.

Not-so-good news: During our lunch, a couple of misfires marred what could have been a stellar experience.

The enticing aromas from Cafe 55 must keep the people in the offices of the Executive Center looking forward to lunch. Customers order at the counter in the cafe, then the food is made and delivered to one of the dozen or so glass-topped tables just outside the door in the building's bright atrium. The menu offers panini, "wrapini," deli sandwiches, six kinds of salads, wraps, one-serving pizzas, soups and chili, and homebaked sweets, including cannolis and cheese danishes. A chalkboard is marked with daily specials.

In fact, everything looks and sounds so good that it's kind of difficult to choose. But we forced ourselves.

Barb and I started with soup, sampling the corn chowder and the stuffed-pepper soup ($3 per 12-ounce bowl). They were delicious, the corn chowder rich with kernels of sweet corn, carrots, celery and chunks of potato in a sturdy, but not gluey, broth. The stuffed-pepper soup was similarly complex and balanced. But both arrived lukewarm. We want to see steam from soup. We took them back in to be microwaved, which improved them immensely.

Barb's Baby Sweet Sliced Ham sandwich ($6.25) was layered with Boar's Head ham, tomato, carmelized onions, roasted red pepper, pepper jack cheese and spicy mustard. The bread was sizable, and the sandwich was a wonderful blend of flavors. The day's special, a Steak Hoagy ($6.50), was a generous pile of sliced meat, onions, mushrooms and cheese on a fresh, toasted roll. A handful of lightly salted blue corn tortilla chips, two black olives and a few pickle chips completed every plate.

John was disappointed to find his Honey Turkey sandwich ($6.25) made with a layer of roasted red peppers, although he'd ordered it without them. After that was fixed, he enjoyed the combination of turkey, tomato, grilled onions, American cheese and honey mustard, although he found it a bit drippy toward the end.

A selection of homemade desserts looked delicious, but we had no room -- and I had to get back to work.

Cafe 55

First floor, Executive Center, 5500 Main St., Williamsville


Review: 3 pennies (Out of 4)

"Office creativity."

Cafe 55 is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays with a breakfast and ambitious lunch menu. It is handicapped-accessible, with seating in the office building's atrium.

-- Anne Neville

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