There are many destinations that should be on your radar to truly take advantage of a Western New York autumn, but one that should be at the top of the list is Letchworth State Park. There isn’t a better time for the drive through the rolling hills of Wyoming County, taking in the crisp fall air and the gorgeous, changing landscape on the way to the Grand Canyon of the East.
Buffalo leaf peepers should make time for one extra stop on the way to Letchworth – the Hoffman Central House in North Java. Just minutes off the main route to the park, this small-town restaurant has plenty of options to fill your belly without emptying your pocketbook.
My boyfriend, David, and I took my mom, Donna, to the Central House for her birthday recently. We picked a good day for it. The restaurant was hosting a scavenger hunt that attracted about 20 teams, and we arrived just in time to see the excitement before everyone took off on their respective quests.
The interior of the restaurant is roomy and has a vintage diner feel, decorated with records and album covers. Windows line the front wall and the bar stretches across part of the back wall, along with an area that alternates as salad bar and breakfast bar.
Our trio sat outside on the Central House’s roomy deck, seizing the opportunity to soak up some early autumn sunshine. Dave and I each chose a beer from the hearty and ever-changing draft list, and my mom ordered a Diet Pepsi. All were delivered quickly by our cheerful and enthusiastic waitress.
The menu includes several dinner options, such as steak and fish, wraps, salads, grill and fryer items. We started with a plate of tortilla chips and homemade salsa ($4), and my gosh, it was worth all that and more. Sweet and full of fresh summer vegetables with a slight refreshing tang, that salsa put store-bought competitors to shame.
For our main course, Dave and I were both drawn to the numerous sandwich selections. Hungrily taking advantage of the many grilled cheese options, we chose a Monterey chicken grilled cheese and a lasagna variety ($8 each).
It’s hard to go wrong when your sandwich base is buttery fried bread and oozy, gooey cheese, and these sandwiches both delivered delicious and satisfying midday meals. The lasagna grilled cheese included ricotta and mozzarella cheeses with tomato and basil, served on white bread with a marinara dipping sauce. The Monterey chicken grilled cheese, also on white bread, had juicy, fresh chicken breast, barbecue sauce, bacon and cheddar cheese.
Mom ordered the Central House’s Italian flatbread ($7), which came brushed with olive oil, layered with tomatoes and garlic and then topped with shaved Parmesan cheese. Crispy and tasty, the flatbread came in a portion big enough to take a sizable piece home, always a nice treat.
The delivery method for all three of our meals was charming – platters made from warped records and wax paper liners designed to look like antique newspaper sheets.
The Central House in North Java proved a delightful place for a quick bite. We couldn’t have asked for a better atmosphere or a more scrumptious September lunch.
Hoffman Central House
Where: 4253 Route 98, North Java (585-535-8015)
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Wheelchair accessible: Yes