Situated in a humble wood-frame cottage in the shadow of the '''Niagara Frontier Food Terminal''' on Clinton Street, Michele's Café is not so much a greasy-spoon diner as a time machine that gives visitors the opportunity to experience what dining out in Buffalo was like 50 years ago: the charming, country-style interior is done up in whites and blues, the walls are decorated with antique cuckoo clocks and lamps as well as framed collages of '50s- and '60s-era magazine advertisements (cut from real magazines, not mass-produced prints!), and the customers are blue-collar neighborhood regulars who all know each others' names. Michele's serves breakfast and lunch, with a menu that looks like ordinary diner fare at first blush but later, on closer inspection, reveals itself to be subtly indebted to the cuisines of a wide variety of the different ethnic groups that have called this part of town home. This is especially true of the breakfast menu: omelettes come in standard permutations like Western or ham and cheese, but there's also a chicken and feta omelette that pairs perfectly with "Greek home fries" (with onion, peppers, mushrooms, and feta) on the side; soul food specialties like chicken and waffles are a nod to the African-American communities on the nearby East Side; Michele's take on the breakfast burrito replaces spicy ground chorizo with smoked Polish sausage. There are fewer surprises on the lunch side of the equation — hamburgers, wraps, melt sandwiches, and main-course salads rule the day, with souvlaki the only lunchtime offering with a real ethnic identity — but it should be said that the burgers Michele's grills up continue the '50s-throwback theme established in the decor. No prepackaged, frozen patties here: these burgers are handmade and grilled to perfection with your choice of toppings, plus a pickle on the side and either French fries or soup. The fries, sadly, are identical to the stuff you can pick up in the frozen food section of any supermarket, but if the soup of the day happens to be chicken noodle, you're in for a real Polish-style treat — it's make in-house from scratch and bursting with flavor, with ''kluski'' noodles and coarsely chopped chunks of carrot and celery. The only real sore point is the service, which while not outright bad, is not especially friendly or attentive.
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