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Cheap Eats

It's no surprise that the featured item at the Great Harvest Bread Co. is well bread. But, make no mistake: This is bread with attitude. Here, you'll find such specialties as Challah, Potato Cheddar Chive, Sunflower Millet and Cranberry Orange, so it's worth a trip to Hamburg to sample such fresh and delicious homemade fare. And everyone knows that great bread makes great sandwiches!

My niece Jessica and I drop in for lunch on a Friday and find the place humming. Folks laugh and chat at round oak tables, link to WiFi or leaf through newspapers. No one seems in a hurry, giving the place an almost European coffeehouse feel that is accentuated by a high, copper-colored embossed ceiling, dotted with old-fashioned dome lights.

Chalkboard menus hang behind the service bar, listing sandwiches, panini, wraps, soups and salads. Since Jess is a vegetarian, she homes in on some of the meatless menu items: a Greek panini with feta, spinach, black olives and tomato ($7.29); a Harvest Veggie sandwich with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, cheddar, provolone and red pepper spread ($6.69); tuna salad ($6.45); and a hummus wrap ($6.69). The house salads ($2.59/$5.69), made with mesclun mix and lots of fresh veggies, also look inviting.

I consider both the Pesto panini -- a turkey breast topped with provolone, tomato and pesto spread -- and the Sicilian Melt, which combines ham, provolone, pepperoni and tomato sprinkled with basil vinaigrette. Since I'm excited about being able to order a deli sandwich made with my choice of bread, though, I pick the Great Plains Club on rosemary olive sourdough ($6.69).

After the counter person, Lindsey, takes our order, we sit and strike up a conversation with a bunch of regulars. They love the place, and once our food is served, we understand why.

Jessica declares her Greek panini "perfectly grilled and delicious," the focaccia bread crispy outside and moist inside and the feta accenting the spinach and olive without overpowering their flavors. My Great Plains Club -- turkey, ham, Swiss, tomato and lettuce drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette and piled between two thick slices of rosemary olive bread -- couldn't taste better. Both the panini and the sandwich are huge, so consider splitting one or ordering only a half so you'll have room for some homemade dessert.

The scones, muffins and cookies all look great, but we opt for some Groovy Granola -- a crunchy concoction of rolled oats, dried fruits, walnuts, sunflower seeds, honey and cinnamon. Nor could we resist sampling a Savannah bar: a rolled oat mixture crammed with raspberries, cranberries and cherries, with a hint of coconut. Fabulous! And both choices are under $3.

Without a doubt, you'll enjoy a delicious and relaxing lunch at the Great Harvest Bread Co. And, before you leave, don't forget to grab a loaf of bread for those at home.

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Great Harvest Bread Co.    

3 pennies (out of four)    

"Healthy, homemade heaping helpings"    

WHERE: 18 Buffalo St., Hamburg; (716) 312-0810.    

HOURS: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.    

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes    

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