There’s a game we play during frequent visits to the Olive Branch family restaurant. You could call it “spot the biggest platter of food” or “there’s the next dish we should try.” It’s difficult not to ogle the food as tempting platters piled with meat, pasta and pancakes are taken past your table.
But big portions alone wouldn’t be enough to keep people returning – which they clearly do judging by how often the staff greets people by name. My "let's try this place once" with dad breakfast run quickly turned into regular visits with various family members.
The appeal is in the delicious homemade mashed potatoes that taste like Sunday dinner at home. The tender roast beef stacked high on hot and cold sandwiches. The lasagna's multiple layers of cheese and beef. The Friday fish fry with the tastiest cole slaw I've ever had (hey, sides count). And the flavorful pancakes.
Olive Branch is one of two restaurants owned by the Aronis family (the other is the Olive Tree in Lancaster). Brothers Stavros and George run the West Seneca location and you’ll see them pouring coffee, delivering food and walking from table to table to make sure everything is satisfactory.
It’s a busy place especially for weekend breakfast/lunch but the service is quick – both in seating and serving the food. A small, tastefully decorated bar is tucked out of the way in a front corner. It can seat about seven for a meal or a drink (beer, wine and mixed drinks or a shot for your coffee). The mimosa, affordably priced at $5, is a treat with Sunday breakfast.
On a recent Sunday, three young men each sat with a Corona and the Wings N’ Weck combo (four chicken wings, a Black Angus Beef on Weck sandwich plus fries, soup or salad for $11.99).
Recent renovations added a patio and opened the large room so it has a bright and airy feel. Peek in the dessert case on your way to seating in booths and tables. The menu is large with appetizers, breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus sections for kids ($2.99 to $6.99 with choices like breakfast, spaghetti and chicken fingers), senior dinners ($9.99) and lite dinner selections (spanakopita lite, black angus burger). Take your time.
Breakfast is served all day, every day as it should be. Three-egg omelets come with home fries or fruit plus toast ($6.49 and up). Warning: these are so overstuffed we've learned to ask for only half the cheese for a cheese omelet.
The Olive Branch Breakfast is a hearty meal with two eggs, two pancakes or French toast, two pork sausages (links or patties), two bacon strips and home fries ($8.49). The sausage links are a difference maker. Like everything here they are large – not the tiny links you buy frozen 10 for $1; these are two flavorful homemade sausage links at least an inch think and a few inches long.
The three hot open-faced sandwiches ($8.99-$9.99) are another favorite. Like all sandwiches (hot, cold, panini, etc.) and burgers, they are served with fries or soup or salad, but consider asking for the delicious mashed potatoes. The hot roast beef is stacked so high, we’ve tried to measure it. The hot turkey sandwich is delicious as well – or you can go for the “hungry man version,” also known as the turkey dinner ($12.99) with stuffing, vegetables and cranberry sauce.
For lighter meals, there's a nice selection of generously sized salads including the open chicken souvlaki ($9.99) and colorful Cranberry Orange Chicken Salad with grilled chicken and crumbled blue cheese ($10.99). A crock of French onion soup ($4.99) is thick with gooey provolone cheese - a lite meal in itself - and can be added to any order for an upcharge.
Olive Branch is a great choice when you have a group that can't decide on what to eat, want your reliable regular order of eggs and pancakes or even to gawk at the generous plates of food. Just be prepared to leave with a to-go box.
2343 Union Road, West Seneca (656-0517)
Hours: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
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