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Starters: Sample soups at The Gateway Café & Grill

The cold of our notorious winter is swiftly approaching, and The Gateway Café & Grill is looking to meet the chill head-on.

Opening in November, the new Tonawanda lunch spot specializes in a seemingly endless variety of scratch-made soups that rotate daily, served alongside staple Buffalo comfort fare.

For $5.49, a small 12-ounce container comes served with a chunk of soft warm bread. For $5.50 more you can bump up to 32-ounce large at $10.99. I took as best a crack at the list as any lone man could ordering a selection of four, two of which the waitress decided.

First up on the soup merry-go-round was the stuffed banana pepper. Creamy with tons of cheese, sausage, and a breadcrumb/parmesan topping, it finishes with a distinct kick of banana pepper spice as advertised.

All the elements of the regional staple dish were there, but a few bits of actual pepper would have been welcome. Overall a well-executed rendition of one of my favorite appetizers.

Stuffed banana pepper soup, left, and corn chowder, right, from Gateway Cafe and Grill. (Phil Wagner/Special to The News)

Sticking with the Buffalo classics, the loaded baked potato was another dose of familiar flavor. Packed with perfectly done potatoes and cheddar, the smoky crunch of the bacon provided a rounded flavor and texture that made it my favorite.

Corn chowder was made of course with fresh corn and chock full of potatoes. A simple, hearty soup that left me wondering if creamy soups were over-represented on the daily roster.

Homemade and hearty chicken gnocchi soup (Phil Wagner/Special to The News)

The chicken gnocchi was by far the most intriguing bite of the day. An option I hadn’t seen elsewhere, it was the most distinctly handmade quality of the bunch. Exceptionally large chunks of flaky chicken and pillowy gnocchi made for a hearty duo.

The spinach was a nice addition of the lone greenery on the day and edged off the richness of the broth, though I don’t know if I could have done much more than a small portion.

Fish & Chips served with two hush puppies, coleslaw, and a side of crispy tater tots (Phil Wagner/Special to The News)

The Fish & Chips Special $7.99 unfortunately fell flat. Whereas the soups are all made from scratch, the fish clearly was not. Considering the vast menu, if you were looking to venture outside Gateway Café’s signature soup options, I’d suggest aiming for something different.

Staying fresh with a determined strategy to keep their soup selection rolling, The Gateway Café & Grill delivers a great variety in snackable portions allowing the lunch-goer to pair a few options together in the hunt for their favorite.

Speaking from experience, taking on four soups by yourself is a little aggressive, but if you want to take up the pioneering spirit as well I’m sure they wouldn’t mind.

INFO: The Gateway Café & Grill, 561 Main St. Suite 300, Tonawanda. Phone: 260-1826. Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Closed Sunday.

The Gateway Café in Tonawanda (Phil Wagner/Special to The News)

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