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Cheap Eats

You can tell a lot about a restaurant by the kind of plates and glasses it uses. So on the warm day John, Ruth, Dan and I made our way to the Elma Towne Grille, we were happy to have our drinks served in curvaceous, jumbo green glasses emblazoned with the Coca-Cola name. Not only did it make us feel like the judges on "American Idol," we hoped it promised generosity in the kitchen. And we were not disappointed.

The hostess who seated us handed us a list of the night's specials, which were intriguing, but outside the cheap eats restrictions -- from $13.99 for a chicken dish to $15.99 for a strip steak dinner. We turned instead to the regular menu, where we found both good food and gentler prices -- and our food was served on platters.

Ruth chose the Chicken Quesadilla ($7.99) to which she added the popular Soup and Salad bar for $2.99 extra. She skipped the two kinds of soup on this warm day, but filled her plate with fresh, crunchy vegetable selections -- everything from coleslaw and pasta salad to olives, lettuce ("The good kind, mesclun!" she observed) peppers and olives. It was cold, too -- perhaps the slightest bit too cold; she thought the very bottom of one pasta salad container might have iced over. Her quesadilla was very good, with sauteed onions, strips of grilled chicken and hot jalapenos. (She was offered the option of having it without the peppers.)

Dan was pleased with the Grilled Calf's Liver ($8.25) -- two tender, thin slices of meat -- and impressed by the accompanying mashed potatoes, which he called "very, very good." He even dipped into the colorful medley of steamed vegetables served on the side.

John's Towne Burger ($6.99) met with his approval, and he has high standards for burgers. The large, hand-shaped ground sirloin burger was perfectly cooked and juicy, and the french fries were steaming hot and crispy.

I picked the Buffalo Platter ($10.99), which combines a large beef on weck and either chicken fingers or wings. The Beef on Weck was one of the best I've had -- layers of tender simmered beef on a large roll generously crusted with salt and caraway. The two fingers were large and perfectly fried, if the tiniest bit dry. Luckily, there was plenty of blue cheese for dipping. I had no room for my fries, and they were waved off when I offered them around the table. Everyone was full.

-- Anne Neville

***

The Elma Towne Grille

6650 Clinton St., Elma

651-4619

Review: 3 1/2 pennies (Out of 4)

"Plentiful portions."

The Elma Towne Grille is open from 11 a.m. to 10 or 11 p.m. daily, except Sunday, when it is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. It has a few stairs leading to the front door.

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