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Down-to-earth delicious dishes rise from the Phoenix

Background

Although it operates inside a former country club, The Pub at the Phoenix makes it clear: It's a down-to-earth place, not an ounce hoity-toity.

"We're not like country-club material," restaurant manager Bonny Scheitle says. "We like to emphasize family."

The no-frills restaurant is one of the newest spots for a bite to eat in the Alle-Kiski Valley.

The restaurant, inside the clubhouse at the newly re-opened Phoenix at Buffalo Valley Golf Course, opened on July 15 and daily serves an American menu.

Scheitle worked as restaurant and lounge manager in the restaurant at the former Buffalo Valley Country Club, which closed in 2007, and she says the menu has stayed similar.

When people used to hear the name "country club" in the restaurant title, Scheitle says, they thought the place would be uppity.

Now under a new name with new carpeting and a new interior design, she says former customers are coming back and say they like what they see.

Atmosphere

Eating dinner on the restaurant's newly built balcony is the perfect way to spend a warm summer night. Situated just above the golf course's ninth hole, deck diners sit in comfy woven chairs at new tables with porch umbrellas overhead. The veranda offers vistas of leafy green foliage-covered rolling hills that surely are more of a treat for the visual palate when autumn bakes leaves to shades of yellow, orange and red. A lower terrace pairs with the deck, and the two combined could easily fit 100 diners.

"The scenery is gorgeous," Scheitle says. "I don't know which season I like the best. They're all so pretty."

Four large windows offer those seated inside a view of the deck and the hills beyond. The inside dining room, which seats about 130, has a masculine "man cave" feel with its wood-paneled walls and ceiling. And though it's macho enough for lunch with the guys after a day on the links, white tablecloths and soft lighting emanating from a chandelier help the dining room double as a nice spot for casual dining with the family.

Menu

Entrees include salads, sandwiches, fish, veal and strip steak. From appetizers to dessert, the wide-ranging American menu is reasonably priced, allowing for a tasty meal that won't dent your wallet.

The restaurant still is waiting on word about its liquor license application, so it's BYOB for now. Once the liquor license permitting is complete, the restaurant will serve drinks from a small bar.

For starters, we hungrily devoured onion rings ($4.50) that mastered the combination of sweet onions and non-greasy crunchy batter. For another finger-lickin' good appetizer, try the fried zucchini ($4.50). Long pieces of fresh, fried zucchini came sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and paired with a full dish of marinara sauce. Both appetizers were big enough to share among our table of four.

Pizza with hand-tossed dough ($7.75) proved a highlight of our meal. The dough was soft and sweet, and its accompanying sauce was just spicy enough. Scheitle says the restaurant recently began experimenting with handmade pizza dough, learning the tricks of the trade from Wolfie's Pizza in Freeport.

The seafood platter ($15.95) played host to steamed scallops, cod and shrimp. Lemon slices served alongside the fish helped bam up one of the menu's healthy options.

Lemon-baked cod ($13.95) was surprisingly peppery, and we wouldn't have minded if the mild seafood platter borrowed some of the spice. Nevertheless, the cod was flaky and tasty, especially with a side of fettuccini doused in garlic/butter sauce.

Swiss steak ($10.95), the special on our Saturday-night visit, was a tender meat served with peas and a baked potato. The meal was big enough to turn leftovers into lunch the following afternoon.

Other options for dinner include a host of sandwiches, like burgers, hoagies and a chicken sandwich, our choice for the evening. A large slab of grilled chicken tucked between a soft roll made for a tasty grilled chicken sandwich ($6.25). Honey mustard was a pleasant addition, as were a chips served alongside.

About a half-dozen salads find a place on the menu, too, and we'll order the steak salad ($9.25) next time. It's served with steak, fries or onion rings, and two cheeses. Even the menu description sounds mouth-watering.

Our meals were served with a puffy, round loaf of bread and the standard side salads.

Although the meals are hearty, save room for the a slice of creamy New York cheesecake on a bed of graham-cracker crust and topped with cherries or strawberries ($4.25).

Additional Information:

The Pub at the Phoenix

Cuisine : American

Hours : 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays; 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays. Breakfast served 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays

Entree price range : $12.50-$15.95

Notes : Major credit cards accepted. Special daily entree features

Address : 497 Freeport Road, South Buffalo

Details : 724-295-4046

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