Is there such a thing as "Buffalo Cuisine"? Ah, that's the question. But if the answer happens to be in the affirmative, Danny's South provides it. In fact, Buffalo Cuisine is advertised. Right there in big letters on the sign over the restaurant at the corner of Abbott and Big Tree roads. (By the way, there is another Danny's at 3715 Genesee St. near the airport.)
Not that you could exactly drive by the place by mistake, of course. Danny's South is situated the approximate length of a Hail Mary Pass from the very gates of Ralph Wilson Stadium and everything about it yells Bills as well as Buffalo.
It's big. It's full of TVs and action photos and football uniforms. There's a separate barroom, a brighter more subdued dining room and even a special, nicely lit chamber devoted to its soup and salad bar.
You think the restaurant is big? You ought to see the parking lot. And the menu. On that menu, you'll find local staples like Beef on Weck (with fries, $6.99; double the beef, $7.99); Friday Fish Fry ($10.99), and wings of various size servings (10 wings for $7.99).
And that's not to mention comfort foods like Liver and Onions ($11.99); a New York Reuben ($7.59); and Vallone's Italian Sausage with cheese, peppers and onions on a grilled roll with french fries ($7.99). There are more austere items like stir-fries and vegetable lasagna. And oddities like the Stuffed Pepper Sandwich with mozzarella and cheese on a hoagie with a side of red sauce and fries ($6.99).
You get the idea.
If Danny's is known for one thing, however, it's the complementary soup bar. The restaurant may well be the originator of Chicken Wing Soup, an intriguing poultry-based cream creation zipped up with hot sauce. We loved it and we loved the garlic breadsticks that accompanied it, too. But, curiously, another soup on offer (there are several), Chicken Soup with Shells, was nowhere as memorable. Kind of bland, we thought -- maybe the heat of the Wing soup threw us off.
I'm a Steak Snob and I admit it, liking my meat cut 2 inches thick, cooked rare and costing about $35 -- so I ordered the Texas Sirloin ($11.99) with trepidation. Surprise! The Texas Sirloin would never be featured in a fancy steakhouse and it came medium instead of rare, but it was tasty. That skinny slab was tender and well-seasoned and the fries weren't bad either. (We will forget the accompanying melange of squash, other than to say that we are not exactly in locavore territory here.)
Another entree, Chicken Cacciatore ($11.89) was only so-so, though. Big helping -- lots of pasta, very little (commercial-looking) diced chicken. Mediocre.
The dessert course was greatly enlivened by the presence of a Birch Beer Float ($3.49), which we discovered hiding out on the drink menu. And it wasn't injured either by an indecently sized Peanut Butter Pie hunk with chocolate chips ($4.29).
About the only real disappointment of the evening (last Monday before the Bills-Patriots game) was that we had to ask our jersey-clad server to switch to the proper channel while we were seated in the dining room.
She did so willingly enough. But -- for this to happen at Danny's South? On game night?
Review: 2 1/2 stars (out of four)
WHERE: 4300 Abbott Road, Orchard Park (649-1194, www.dannysrestaurant .com). The parking lot is the size of a football field; everyone's wearing football jerseys. Is this Bills' headquarters? No, but it could be. Credit Cards: American Express, MasterCard, Visa.
FAVORITE DISH: Spicy Buffalo Chicken Wing Soup
NEEDS WORK: Chicken Soup with Shells
PRICE RANGE: Dinners including soup and salad bar start at around $10.
SERVICE: Very efficient.
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 1 to 8 p.m. Sunday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday brunch.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes, in the rear.
PARKING: In the lot
RATINGS: Stars reflect the overall dining experience at the time of The News' visit -- including service, ambience, innovation and cost -- with greatest weight given to quality of the food.