Nancy’s Home Cooking – Clintonville Landmark
Posted by cmh gourmand on December 5, 2006
Nancy’s Home Cooking
3133 N. High Street
There is no menu at Nancy’s. If you ask for one, you will be giving yourself away as a rookie. Most of the breakfast menu is painted on the wall. Also – there is no Nancy – she was the owner decades ago. This diner is located in Clintonville, the heart of Columbus. It is painted Scarlet and Gray to support the Ohio State University (OSU) Buckeyes. The place is often packed with students and OSU athletes. This is a diner of the stars, where the elite and not so elite of Columbus dine. The brick walls are lined with signed photos of OSU sports heroes, Bobby Rahal, and other local notables.
Ask about “the Tribe” (Cleveland Indians) or Pittsburgh Steelers, if you want to get in good with Ed, the master of the breakfast grill. If you want the approval of matron of lunch, owner Cindy King, clean your plate (vegetables optional) and answer to “honey”. She has been ladling out food and commentary for over twenty years. She asks her regulars about their wives and lives. Wear OSU attire and act like a student for the possibility of discounted prices. After you have a few visits under your belt, try pouring your own beverage or sharing the table by the cash register with someone you do not know. Nancy’s is smoke-free, even the grill (mostly) since a remodeling prompted by a fire.
The breakfast fare consists of: pancakes, eggs, omelets, French Toast, bacon, sausage, toast (white, wheat, rye, and raisin), a sausage sandwich, home fries with or without chunky sausage filled gravy which is only available on the weekends (get it on the side,) and more. Something to build up to is the Garbage Omelets. For the “lite”-hearted, beware; all items are prepared on the same small grill with liberal use of grease and plenty of butter.
Lunch/dinner consists of mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, and the main course, which is typically: Monday Chicken and Noodles, Tuesday/chicken breast, Wednesday/meatloaf, Thursday/Chicken and Noodles, and Friday/whatever Cindy chooses. For most meals there is second offering as well, such as a hamburger, grilled cheese, or bean soup with corn bread. Dinner is not always offered on Friday. Chicken and Noodles is a local institution and it is not uncommon to run out on Thursday evenings, so get there early. And expect lines drifting outside the door – the place seats about 30 and there are plenty of carry out orders coming in and out at lunch time for nearby offices as well as cops and firefighters.
Nancy’s is about community. People speak to each other here, even strangers. Homeless people and those on a limited income receive special treatment. There are a few special neighbors that Cindy watches out for with a free meal or a warm word. The 1998 Zagat Survey voted Nancy’s the best value in Ohio. It is always listed as a local favorite in newspapers, magazines, and elsewhere.
This is not fine dining – but food is secondary here – tradition and community are the main course – the food is a side dish.