Most days, if you wind your way down the very rural Humphrey Road in Great Valley, NY, you probably wouldn’t
even notice Sandy’s Bakery. The old milk house looks more like a shack along the side of a country road. But drive by on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday morning and the largest concentration of parked cars for miles will grab your attention.
Between short hours (7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on the select days) and a small space (seating for approximately 20), Sandy’s might be the only place in Western New York with a wait for a table at 10 a.m. on a weekday. However, the delay is guaranteed to be worth the reward.
Finding room between the pickup trucks usually filling the driveway can be tricky, but still possible. After being greeted by Sandy’s faithful hostess, a black cat perpetually perched on the front railing, you can make your way into the entrance. Don’t be fooled by the front room, which looks like a cluttered entryway to a stranger’s house. Continue through the second door for an unprecedented dining experience.
The smell will hit you first. Or maybe the sounds. The aroma of baking bread fills the room and the sizzle of ample portions of bacon can be heard through the open doorway to the kitchen. A cabinet filled with gooey pastries the size of ping-pong paddles ensures there will be no turning back. If you can find an open table, make your way through the black-and-white-tiled room cramped with regular customers and prepare to be wowed.
Once at your table, something small and wooden, not unlike one that may have been in your childhood kitchen, take in your surroundings. The pale green walls are fairly bare, but sprinkled with unrelated décor, such as a festively dressed snowman and a wooden longhorn head. Next to a counter with coffee airpots and rows of mugs for the filling, an old nearly empty fish tank bubbles. On the wall by the door, you will find your menu on a hand-painted wooden sign, rather than at your table. The sign lists no items over five dollars, and most far below that. Don’t worry; you won’t see the small prices in your portion sizes.
For two quarters you can get a famous-in-local-circles cinnamon roll or donut that makes the chain breakfast
pastries look bite-sized. Three dollars can buy you more fluffy French toast than you could ever eat, even though you’ll want to finish every bite. Three slices made from the freshly baked bread costs just three dollars. Two eggs and toasted slices of hearty cinnamon raison bread can overfill you for under three dollars and four slices of bacon, large portions of sausage or a huge slice of ham can be added for a dollar. And perhaps most importantly, the refillable mugs of coffee are just seventy-five cents.
The menu isn’t limited to breakfast. Biscuits and gravy, burgers, roast beef sandwiches, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches that could easily fill two people, soups, and even Friday fish fries are among some of the favorites and all at prices that are unheard of in this millennium.
Although a five-dollar bill can provide you with a full meal, tip included, there are some limitations to Sandy’s amazing deals. If your priorities include real maple syrup, fancy creamers for your coffee, or a trendy café atmosphere, this backcountry bakery is not the place for you. But if you’re willing to break away from the open-all-hours, same-around-the-world corporate chains in favor of some real character, and a dining experience outside of our 21st century box, this “shack” beneath the shadow of a silo will be a culinary dream come true.