The French Pub parking lot is always packed and with good reason. The service is excellent and the food is really good in an old school sort of way.
The menu has a smattering of everything, including Buffalo favorites under “Neighborhood Specialties” like chicken wings ($10.99 single), beef on weck ($9.99), fish fry ($12.99), grilled bologna and onions ($8.99).
Starters include homemade egg rolls of the day (cheese steak on our visit for $9.99). Burgers or chicken sandwiches (barbecue bacon, Black & Bleu, mushroom) are $9.99 to $11.99. Other sandwiches start at $8.99 for a Tuscan turkey panini to $11.99 for a French Dip.
Salads begin at $7.99 for a Greek ($10.99 with chicken) to $12.99 for a Steak and Bleu. Add a crock of onion soup to any salad for $4.99 (normally $5.99).
[Related: Sharon Cantillon's gallery from French Pub]
Though some entree prices are a bit higher than the usual cheap eats range, they include unlimited trips to your soup and salad bar. For instance, I justified stuffed cabbage rolls ($13.99) because of the soup and salad bar. You can add the soup/salad bar for $4.99 to select non-entree items, like a sandwich.
Normally not a salad bar fan, I was rewarded. Soups were excellent starting with the Chicken Cordon Bleu, a delicate creamy soup with lots of chicken, vegetables and a lovely smoky flavor from the meat (ham or bacon?).
Regardless it was perfect, not thick and pasty. The chicken and rice was a winner in its savory tomato broth with lots of chicken, rice and vegetables.
The salad mix was mainly iceberg, but with a decent addition of leaf lettuce. Toppings ranged from cucumbers, tomatoes and fresh broccoli to croutons, cottage cheese and pickled beets. The dressings (five plus a fat-free option) were in handy pour containers rather than messy ladles.
Having made a few cabbage rolls in my day (aka golumbki), I was pleasantly surprised when two big rolls arrived with just enough tomato sauce covering them.
Fork tender, the cabbage enclosed a tasty filling that was the perfect balance of ground beef and rice. The warm German potato salad was a little sweeter than I like, but still darn tasty. (Spaetzle was available in addition to regular potato choices.)
Full from my soup/salad foray, most of the potatoes and one cabbage roll came home as did half of a giant chicken finger panini ($8.99). Served medium, the Pub tosses chicken fingers in hot sauce then grills them between thick bread with bacon, American and blue cheese for yet another twist on Buffalo cuisine.
We declined dessert, but our fantastic waitress Dawn told us come again on a Tuesday night for buy-one get-one dessert. Our bill, including my Candy Apple cocktail ($2.99) and tall Yuengling draft ($4.60) was $34.33.
During dinner, Dawn asked the room to help sing happy birthday to the darling Dorothy surrounded by her big family at the group of tables nearby. It felt like the most natural thing in the world to do and made our really good dinner into something a little more special.
1240 French Road, Depew (668-8080)
Hours: Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday noon to 9 p.m.
Ambiance: Family-friendly restaurant with good food, excellent service.
October drink special: $2.99 Candy Apple (vodka, Fireball and cider in a glass rimmed with cinnamon sugar).
Extra: Tables are greeted with a basket of popcorn. Back-door pickup for to-go orders.