As long as you're going to eat pub food, it might as well be good pub food. And that's exactly what you'll get at the new Transit Grille which occupies the site of the late Calvaneso's and shares an entrance with Kabab and Curry -- just bear to the left once you enter the main front door.
Admittedly, you won't find a lot of surprises on the menu -- it's pretty much the usual lineup of small plates, sandwiches and the like -- but there are interesting twists to some of the standards. There's a Triple Dipper appetizer, for instance, that offers three dips (tomato/basil, sweet bean salsa, and sliced mushrooms in cheese sauce) along with scoops for $8.95; something called a "Hot Mess" ($5.95), fries topped with melted cheddar and mozzarella and bacon, a slightly gentrified version of poutine I guess; and "Hot Rods," which are four baked pretzels with honey mustard dipping sauce for the same price.
Small plates or starters may be the way to go in this informal place that offers only four full-fledged entrees. Of course, some of the starters are more substantial than others. Take my choice, Sliders ($12.95), for instance. You can pick from ground chicken, portabella, beef, mozzarella or tomato served on three mini-buns with lettuce and tomato and vary the fillings or select just one as I did (the beef). They were tasty and more than enough for a light dinner.
The Companion opted for TG Shrimp ($9.95), five good-sized grilled crustaceans over greens with a tangy cream dressing. It came with potato chips that were not only fresh but warm. Nice touch; we appreciated it. And with dessert, enough for supper.
The sandwiches selection is extensive. You'll find plenty of favorites including a Reuben ($8.95), Beef on Weck ($8.95), burger ($7.95) and Steak in the Grass ($12.95). Also Chicken Florentine ($8.95) with garlic, melted provolone and spinach. The menu even lists an "On A Diet" Sandwich for $.00 (ha ha), but I opted for a very good grilled marinated Portabella Mushroom on a ciabatta roll and enjoyed it.
As mentioned above, very few full-size entrees turn up at the Grille. All come with the full accompaniments of soup or salad, starch or vegetable. A 12-ounce N.Y. Strip will run you $18.95; Penne with marinara sauce and shrimp is $13.95; Friday's Fish Fry runs just under $10. The Companion selected the grilled marinated charbroiled Chicken Breast entree (on rice for $14.95). Caramelized onions and red and green peppers added interest.
And by the way, I did mention dessert. The best dessert, we discovered, was the Chocolate Covered Oreo ($1.50). It's big. It's rich.
In other words, don't miss it.
3 stars (out of 4)
WHERE: 5185 Transit Road, Williamsville (580-3327). A newly opened casual eating place with a well-prepared pub food menu. Credit Cards: American Express, MasterCard, Visa.
FAVORITE DISH: TG Shrimp
NEEDS WORK: Food is of good quality.
PRICE RANGE: Entrees with soup or salad, starch and vegetable from $8.95 (pasta). NY Strip, $18.95. Sandwiches from $7.95. Apps from $5.95.
HOURS: Dining hours, 3 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Bar is open later.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Entrance has a very shallow step.
PARKING: In the plaza.
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.
* indicates that restaurant is so new that this is a provisional rating.