5629 Main St., Williamsville, NY 14221
Web: Creekview Restaurant
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American Drinks Williamsville
"The Creekview is a good place to come for a meal and drinks - one of the best for a Tom and Jerry, if you're looking to try one - and one of the few places locally that makes good use of its natural surroundings."
If the three most important decisions a business owner can make are "location, location, location," as the old saying goes, the natural advantages enjoyed by Williamsville's Creekview Restaurant are obvious. While beautiful waterfalls at Glen Falls Park are only a brief walk or drive away, and the adjacent Island Park might have a more picturesque view of Ellicott Creek, the Creekview lives up to its name by offering tables directly overlooking rushing water - natural beauty that the semi-fancy restaurant captures better than any of its neighbors, and sits closer to than other local waterfront destinations such as Tonawanda's Old Man River and The Shores.
Interesting History and Layout. Though it's obvious that the Creekview has been well-maintained, its compartmentalized floorplan and the shape of its rooms make clear that it's an old building, and certainly wasn't always a restaurant. In fact, it was a butcher shop and a hotel prior to becoming a series of restaurants called Romans, Sportsmen's Lodge, Creekside, and finally in 1981, the Creekview. Like a number of its Williamsville neighbors, the Creekview offers a lunch or dinner dining experience that's short of semi-formal but more upscale than the typical tavern - the sort of place that maintains a collection of scotches, ports, and cognacs alongside a deliciously powerful Tom and Jerry ($6.50), and where T-shirts and baseball caps would look a little out of place, but jeans and a nice shirt will suffice.
A Classic Williamsville Menu. The menu will be extremely familiar to anyone who has visited other American places on the same stretch of Main Street - it generally caters to local tastes rather than pushing the envelope. Wings? Beef on Weck? Salads? Burgers? Ribs? Steaks, Pasta, Seafood? Yes, yes, yes, with a big emphasis on old-time favorites: fried chicken, liver, steak sandwiches, and so on; mussels, clams, and oysters are the biggest standouts, at least on paper. The real differences here are in a few specific items, including the desserts: Creekview has a dessert chef who personally prepares all of the sweets, our server noted, and there are a few eye-catching items such as Oyster Stew hiding in the list of choices. Most of the dishes save for entrees are in the $7 to $12 range; entrees start at $11 and hover just below $20.
Ups and Downs. Though neither qualifies as memorable, good service and food have both been constants at the Creekview over the years, with small exceptions. Our most recent meal started with large pieces of sliced fresh bread that were topped with sesame seeds and served with butter, a nice accompaniment to the Hot Stuffed Banana Peppers ($7) we ordered. The broiled dish didn't make a good first impression: it arrived unattractively with only two peppers, and one was decidedly smaller than the other, having lost its cheese stuffing to float in the oily bowl. Both peppers' tops were sliced off and left in the dish - another odd little surprise - but they tasted fine: the green peppers were fresh, nicely roasted to a reasonable, crispy brown in parts, and the cheese was good; we even wound up using some of the oil with our bread. It turned out to be the least impressive item of the meal, but apart from the presentation, it wasn't bad.
Thankfully, there was nothing as unusual about a cup of French Onion Soup ($3.50), which arrived with a really nice balance of broiled cheese, rich beef and onion broth, and large croutons inside. Some French Onion Soups are so off in one way or another that we pause to reflect on what's not quite right, but this one was on target in every way; we've had similarly good experiences with other soups here in the past.
California Greens ($9) is a salad we've enjoyed repeatedly at Creekview, a beautiful arrangement of field greens with hush puppy-sized balls of goat cheese crusted in nuts, sliced fresh Portobello mushrooms, and bright red peppers, balanced with a light balsamic vinaigrette. Consistently fresh and full of healthy flavors, the California Greens salad is one of five choices, three of which can have chicken, steak, shrimp, or salmon added for additional charges; it's good enough as an appetizer, but not filling enough to be an entree, without any extras.
Having previously enjoyed Creekview's good $12 steak sandwiches, we decided this time to sample the Roast Beef on Kummelweck ($8), mostly because we couldn't recall having tried it here before. What arrived was a compact but meat-filled kummelweck bun, wonderfully salty and seeded with caraway on top, but completely soggy - falling apart, really - on bottom. The sliced beef was good, but seemed to have come from a wet roast, while the kettle potato chips served on the side were as crisp as could be, and the included pickle was fine. Apart from the high water content of the sandwich, the flavors, portion size and quality were all good for the price.
Another intriguing dish was Creekview's half rack of Chipotle BBQ Baby Back Ribs ($15), which thanks to what was described as a homemade sauce is one of the more interesting rib variations we've had locally. The ribs had been cooked to a nearly "fall off the bone" softness - some people like this more than others - while the included fries were nicely crisped and salted, and a pile of slaw was fresh with no traces of runniness. What really stood out was the citrus tang and the slight spice of the barbecue sauce, which made the rib meat fun to eat; if it was homemade, it's worth bottling.
Homemade Desserts. We're always pleased when restaurants make their own desserts rather than bringing them in from outside - at least, when the desserts are good - and Creekview reaps the pricing, portion, and quality advantages of in-house preparation. Its Banana Cream Pie ($5.50) had handmade, fresh touches: the flaky crust, chunks of soft banana inside, and attractively rippled, delicate whipped cream on top. It could have used a few more bananas, but we didn't have any trouble finishing it, anyway. Similarly, the vanilla cream portion of its Creme Brulee ($6) wasn't dramatically different in quality from the many versions we've enjoyed elsewhere, save for its atypically large portion size and the perfect caramelization of its top, a millimeter thick with crunchy browned sugar. We've paid more for less appealing versions locally, and felt ripped off - this one was once again just right.
Some of the restaurants we've reviewed are defined by their flashy plating or unusual entrees, but Creekview is in a different category: it's one of those places that feels like it's been sitting next to Ellicott Creek forever, and will continue to be there for decades to come. Sure, it would benefit from having larger, more modern dining spaces and even more seats with a view of the water, but it's a good place to come for a meal and drinks - one of the best for a Tom and Jerry, if you're looking to try one - and one of the few places locally that makes good use of its natural surroundings. It's worthy of a 2.5-star rating.