Whenever we come to Buffalo, New York, our special treat is to join Friends with John at his Rooster's Cafe Our friends with John, the owner
and chef at Rooster's Cafe
four friends at their weekly breakfast. For many years, they have met at the same restaurant, but this year we were alerted that they have changed location. We found them at Rooster's Cafe, 93-95 Ridge Road, Lackawanna, NY.

Rooster's is a new enterprise for the owner-cook, from Macedonia. His sister had been the waitress for our friends at their old place, so when they heard about John's new business, they decided to support it. It was a very good idea!

The counter at Rooster's Cafe The counter at Rooster's Cafe Rooster's is unpretentious but clearly already popular. When we arrived, our four friends were ensconced in a booth, waiting for the large table to be available; a group of businessmen had been conducting a morning meeting and were just finishing their coffee. As soon as they left, the table was made ready for us, and we were welcomed by all of John's family -- this is the Buffalo Way.

View of Rooster's Cafe View of Rooster's Cafe Each of us chose something different, some items from the long list of specials on the whiteboard near the front door. Around the table were an omelette, several kinds of pancakes, French toast, biscuits and gravy, corned beef hash and eggs. The coffee flowed freely. John's breakfast potatoes are unusual and very tasty.

The sign outside Rooster's Cafe Rooster's Cafe sign As we chattered, other customers came and went, including a very small boy practicing his walking, back and forth past all of the booths. Only when we left did we realize that it was already noon. There are few places where the customers can feel as welcome as this.

We wish Rooster's a long and prosperous life; it belongs to our favorite class of unpretentious places with very good food at decent prices.

A delicious surprise gift was a box of Chocolate Sponge Candy. We suspect that this is a Buffalo speciality, although our friends say they have traced the recipe to southern cookbooks. The inside is crunchy caramelized sugar which melts in your mouth -- we were reminded of the Butter Fingers candy bars -- and the outside is chocolate made here in Buffalo. We understand that this candy is not made during the hot summer months. They stop cooking candy on Mother's Day and sell out their stock until the fall.

A piece of sponge candy A piece of sponge candy We didn't get out of Buffalo without sampling the Beef on Weck at Danny's, near the airport. It's still on our recommended list, too. The weck, which makes this a unique sandwich, is a tasty kummelweck roll, studded with caraway seeds and salt. The sandwich is served with a pot of horseradish for spreading.

We have had several delicious meals with friends on this leg of our travels, beginning with a home-cooked roast chicken feast in Ann Arbor. The cook, our friend Diana, insists on par-boiling the chicken first -- it makes the chicken juicier. And of course the vegetables are roasted along with the bird. Terrific! If you want to get to know Diana, who loves to cook, you have to ask us personally!

In Guelph, Ontario, we stopped for a quick visit with one of Elsa's Oberlin roommates and her husband, and then enjoyed an outstanding lunch at a historic old mill. The Aberfoyle Mill was built in 1859 as a grist mill, powered by a nearby pond. It was turned into a retaurant in the 1960s. Its website, http://www.aberfoylemill.com/ includes photos of the various rooms and a description of the food.

Even though we try to remember our motto, "Eat to live, don't live to eat." we are easily seduced by pleasures as these. Our policy of two meals a day barely lets us keep our weight constant!