A good indicator of whether a place serves quality home cooking is the presence of a police vehicle, as we noted pulling into the Iron Kettle with three hungry boys after a morning of snowshoeing.
Just off Route 20A in East Aurora, the Kettle was hustling for Saturday lunch. The cozy interior décor included frilly curtains, three dining spaces (two fireplaces) and in our room, antique “Desert Rose” patterned china in a cabinet.
The Kettle’s menu hits all the comfort food notes, including breakfast all day. From eggs and home fries at $4.95 to steak and eggs for $10.95 with the standard favorites between. Three-egg omelets range from $5.95 to $6.95 with toast. All can be made with egg beaters for 75 cents more.
French toast (white, whole wheat, raisin or 12 grain) starts at $4.95. Belgian Malted Waffles are $4.95; $5.95 with strawberries, blueberries or chocolate chips. A Sunday breakfast buffet is $12.95 and includes drinks.
Daily specials were posted and featured classics like chicken pot pie ($6.95), barbecued pulled pork sandwich ($7.95), turkey bacon croissant ($7.95), pretzel roll Reuben ($7.95), pierogies with sauerkraut ($6.95), meatball sub ($7.95) and muffuletta ($7.95).
On the regular menu, deli sandwiches ($5.95) and cheaper “grill” items like a hamburger or grilled cheese ($3.25-$3.95) come with chips and pickles. Entrée salads (beef taco, steak souvlaki, etc.) are around $9.95. Wraps and subs ($7.95) are listed under the same grouping with choices including chicken Caesar, Buffalo chicken and ham. Sandwiches like French Dip, hot roast beef and Cajun chicken are $7.95. Burgers run $7.95-$9.95.
Interestingly, many of the better sandwiches (wraps, burgers, specials) come with trips to the soup/salad bar, like my pot roast sandwich ($7.95) and Sig Other’s fried bologna ($7.95).
Waiting for our food, we ventured to grab soup. The chicken noodle had a delicate, sweeter chicken flavor. It was tasty, but the noodles were a little too soft and puffy from sitting in the broth. No big deal. The broccoli cheddar was really good, with a creamy texture that wasn’t too thick, and pieces of broccoli. Two other soups listed weren’t on the salad bar (chili, French onion), but we understand why. The salad looked to be a bag mix offered with the usual number of toppings. Mundane, but serviceable. An unlimited soup/salad bar is $6.95.
The pot roast sandwich was great. Served on white bread, it had just enough gravy, and was filled with tender and delicious beef. No knife required.
The fried bologna came with several thin slices layered on toasted bun with lots of onions.
The smallest nephew got the biggest meal, a giant, nicely grilled chicken quesadilla ($7.95) loaded with chicken, peppers and onions. Giggling, he cut smaller triangle pieces to fit into his mouth. He proclaimed it to be delicious. (A nod to the kitchen for satisfying this picky eater.)
His brother said similar about his thick tuna melt ($7.95) with a good helping of filling and just enough tomatoes between two perfectly grilled slices of rye. Nephew No. 3 wolfed down his juicy cheeseburger on a toasted bun ($3.95). The kids shared a plate of steak fries ($2.95), a welcome change from thinner or crinkle-cut versions.
Dinners are also served during lunch, ranging in the $9-plus range. Most include a trip to the soup/salad bar. A fish fry, small (8 oz. for $7.95) or large (12 oz. for $11.95) comes battered, breaded, broiled, lemon pepper or Cajun, and is offered Wednesdays and Fridays. Fish fry includes coleslaw, macaroni salad, choice of potato and rye bread. Add $2.95 for soup/salad bar.
Desserts leaving the kitchen looked great (as did Chrusciki Bakery baked goods for sale at the register), but the boys had their hearts set on a Vidler’s candy run.
The Kettle’s menu notes that it’s been around since 1947, and we can understand why. Good quality food and reasonable prices are always the secret to success. Something even our younger generation appreciated.
Iron Kettle Restaurant
Where: 1009 Olean Road, East Aurora
Hours: Open daily 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Wheelchair access: Yes
Extra: Beer and wine available. Knit dishcloths and homemade pot scrubbers for sale.