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Warming up at Gary’s is a Lowville tradition


LOWVILLE — In today’s world, new restaurants open every day. And sadly, many do not survive.

Then there are the restaurants that have been able to stand the test of time by making the necessary adjustments to prosper over the long term. Gary’s Restaurant is such a place.

It opened in 1975, almost 40 years ago, and has been serving delicious meals at the same Shady Avenue location ever since. Ownership has changed a few times over the years and there have been a few expansions to the dining area, but even so, there seems to be a timeless nature to the place.

The restaurant is what it is. No pretentions of fine dining — just a clean and comfortable family dining facility, a restaurant that has established its niche in the Lowville community.

We stopped by on a frozen Wednesday evening last month. The warmth of Gary’s did a lot to take the chill out of the evening. Our waitress was pleasant, knowledgeable and welcoming as she told us the specials, one of which was chicken and dumplings.

We decided to stick with the regular menu, which is quite extensive — everything from burgers to flatbreads to pasta dishes and great things in between. Typical diner sandwiches, if that’s what you’re after: BLTs, hot roast beef, egg salad, tuna salad, that type of thing. Nice salad choices got our attention, in particular a cranberry apple walnut salad and grilled sirloin steak and feta.

We began with an unusual appetizer, Reuben fries ($6.99). This was a good choice, a generous serving of crispy and tasty waffle fries topped with the traditional fillings of a Reuben sandwich: corned beef, tangy sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and shredded Swiss cheese. This really hit the spot!

They always have homemade vegetable soup on the menu. The night we were there they also had a homemade chicken noodle soup, $3.89 for a bowl. The soup had a rich broth, touches of celery and carrot and lots of tender chicken pieces. Wide egg noodles, too. This was a hearty soup, perfect for a cold winter’s night.

Turkey, pesto and roasted red pepper flatbread melt ($8.49) was very good. It consisted of shaved turkey breast, roasted red peppers, melted provolone and pesto mayo — a tasty combination.

We usually think of a flatbread as being served, well … flat. But this one was folded over, more like a sandwich. It came with creamy homemade coleslaw that had a bit of pineapple mixed in. It was tangy and sweet at the same time.

From a category called “basket specials” we tried the shrimp basket ($8.69). I wouldn’t say it was anything special — just your standard fried shrimp in a basket. There was a good supply of rather smallish shrimp; basic frozen, breaded shrimp deep-fried with a good crunch to them, served with a not-too-hot horseradish cocktail sauce, fries and a warm, yeasty roll.

Two of us chose from a selection of dinner entrees that include pasta, beef, chicken and seafood. Some nice offerings at right prices: Parmesan-crusted haddock ($12.99), chicken scallopini ($12.59), 10-ounce sirloin steak ($13.99) — even beef liver with grilled onions and bacon for $9.99.

Chicken cordon blue ($12.59) was definitely not wedding-at-the-VFW chicken cordon blue. It was described as a chicken breast lightly floured and sautéed, filled with ham, Swiss and blue cheese, topped with roasted red peppers and a Parmesan cheese sauce.

This was exactly the product that was delivered to us. The ham was of excellent quality, the star of the dish more so than the chicken. The Parmesan cream sauce was delightful. This was a very good entrée that we’d certainly order again.

They offer four different “pasta bowls,” a variety of ingredients tossed with pasta of the day.

We chose the Philly steak and mushroom Alfredo ($13.99). Man, was this good! Strips of grilled sirloin, fresh mushrooms, onions and peppers were all tossed together with thin spaghetti and a wonderful, creamy Alfredo sauce. The dish was decorated with shredded Parm and minced parsley.

Gary’s creates some outstanding homemade desserts. Their banana cake was a three-layer affair with a sweet cream cheese filling between the layers and on top, topped off with candied walnuts.

Apple strawberry pie was similar to strawberry rhubarb in flavor. Pretty sure this filling had never seen the inside of a can. The crust was tender. Very tasty.

Wow — the coconut cream pie was great. This generous slice boasted a super-creamy filling packed with shredded coconut and was just sweet enough, topped high with whipped cream. A classic done right.

Priced at $2.99 apiece, these excellent desserts were truly a value.

Dinner for four came to $69.35 before tip.

Lowville is blessed with many places to eat. But there’s a reason why Gary’s has been around for nearly 40 years. Simply put, they serve good food in more than reasonable amounts at very reasonable prices.

You can contact restaurant reviewer Walter Siebel via email:

Gary’s Restaurant

5424 Shady Ave.

Lowville, N.Y.

A restaurant that has established its niche in the Lowville community.

HOURS: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday

7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

Closed Sunday

OUR PICKS: Reuben fries, chicken noodle soup, chicken cordon bleu, Philly steak and mushroom Alfredo pasta bowl, any of their homemade desserts

RATING: 3½ forks

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