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CHEAP EATS

The Red Brick Inn roadside bar and tavern is green, not brick, with distinguishing characteristics including a "happy buzz" and generous, rich-tasting portions of comfort food and the 11 a.m.-to-4 p.m. lunch deal: any two entrees for $9.99.

"It's so cheap. You could certainly take the kids and take home stuff," said the friend who joined me.

Window booths at the bar tempted, but we were ushered into the dining room, where I scored the lone window view of Indian Church Road and I-90 overpass. The place was slightly dingy but cozy. There were food crumbs on the sill, a taped wallpaper seam repair, a TV high on the wall and dark beam rafters.

Before ordering, we considered the specials list: beef stew, pepper steak, turkey breast, baked ham, pork chop, spaghetti. A scan of the regular menu -- fish fry, shrimp scampi, chicken wings and clams casino, souvlaki, mozzarella sticks, liver and onions -- led us to one mysterious offering: "Jack Fries."

For $3.99, we gambled on a medium hot order, which came drizzled in an oily orange sauce and an addicting spicy kick.

"Definitely unhealthy," said my friend, taking a bite. "Nice to have something different."

Since it was a chilly afternoon, the creamy beef stroganoff special over noodles promised another kind of stomach-filling warmth. It was steaming hot and had lots of small bits of beef and a savory homemade taste. I ate about a fifth of it and put the rest in a take-out box.

My friend praised her meatloaf, a more reasonable portion. While the gravy tasted like it came from a mix and the drab olive green beans looked canned, the meatloaf was meaty without a lot of filler and the mashed potatoes tasted freshly made. Lunch was served with a basket of toasted rolls.

This was a classic, homey neighborhood joint with a menu that has few innovations, plates without fresh vegetables, but where people stop for conversation and plain food. As we were leaving, my friend said, "It has a nice happy buzz to it."

e-mail: mkearns@buffnews.com

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RED BRICK INN

2 1/2 pennies (out of four)

"Old-school menu"

WHERE: 444 Indian Church Road, West Seneca

HOURS: Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. and Sunday from noon to 2 a.m.

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: One step inside.