Eggsperience Vasilis, sister to the Eggsperience in Kenmore, is a Greek family restaurant posing as a friendly neighborhood bistro.
Drop in at the corner of Main Street and West Ferry, and you’ll find a reason to smile in a part of midtown Buffalo that could use something cheerful among the empty storefronts and corrugated pavement.
The 80-seat restaurant delivers that cheer, and eggs, and other ample, familiar Greek-tinged diner fare. The space is airy and open, with large front windows, exposed brick, twinkly lights and blond woods contrasting with glossy black tables and chairs. Unlike many legacy family joints, it breathes fresh air, not old grease.
On the day I visited with two friends—one adult and the other just cutting a molar—owner Vasilis Panagopoulos sat laughing with friends at a nearby table. The place had quietly opened on April 19, so he’s anticipating busier tables at breakfast, he said as he strolled among the few lunch guests.
Our “eggsperience” was good, we told him and our helpful server, Kerry. And it was. I had the souvlaki chicken pita ($9.99), the fluffy bread wrapped around juicy chunks of marinated, grilled chicken, fresh lettuce, tomato and red onion, and topped with a healthy dollop of tzatziki.
I opted for a side of one of the daily soups, a bowl of mildly lemony avgolemono with rice and shredded chicken that my son sucked down with glee. Other sides include a house salad, cole slaw, pasta salad or French fries. A complimentary cup of rice pudding, served at lunch and dinner, capped our happy meal.
My friend ordered huevos rancheros ($8.99) from the all-day breakfast menu and received a simple yet satisfying version of the classic egg scramble, topped with shredded cheddar and a mild salsa. The eggs were well cooked, with pleasantly crispy side potatoes, although the cubed fruit, applesauce and sour cream went to the baby.
Other breakfasts include three-egg omelettes, poached eggs in several Benedict iterations and lineups of waffles, pancakes, stuffed French toast, crepes and savory skillets. A short list of “Vasilis’ favorites” include the namesake breakfast of two scrambled eggs with feta and ham, served with home fries and toast or pancakes ($9.99).
Burgers, salads, chicken fingers, falafel, dolmas, two kinds of poutine - the choices go on. Other lunch options I’d try include tirokafteri ($7.49), a dip made of roasted red pepper, feta and olive oil, and the house spanakopita ($7.49), the flaky spinach pie rolled into a pinwheel and served with Greek salad.
Dinner entrees include pork chops ($12.99), “super fried chicken” ($12.99) and Florentine chicken served with spinach, mushrooms, tomato sauce and mozzarella ($12.99). Three Greek platters round out the dinner menu: pastichio ($13.99), a baked pasta dish similar to lasagna, grilled shrimp ($15.99) or beef, chicken or gyro souvlaki ($13.99). The latter two come with Greek salad and potatoes.
Fried haddock options, available all day Friday and Saturday nights, include the traditional beer batter ($11.99), panko breaded, Florentine-style with spinach ($14.99), topped with bruschetta and plaki, with diced tomato, onion, parsley and Greek seasoning.
A doorway to the adjacent space leads to another Panagopoulos project, Café Molón Lavé (Greek for “come and get it”). Projected to open in a few weeks, it will serve coffee drinks and desserts, and handle larger parties and catering for the restaurant next door.
Someday soon—and probably faster than anyone expects—Vasilis will find its niche as that corner bistro, among other new neighbors along an arterial stretch that feels primed for change.
INFO: Eggsperience Vasilis, 1526 Main St. Phone: 436-3533. Hours: 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.