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Archive for the ‘breakfast’ Category

Falling into the All for Fall Menu at First Watch

Posted by CMH Gourmand on September 18, 2022

Long time readers and anyone that has dined with know knows that breakfast is my fourth favorite meal with a rare few exceptions: Starliner Diner, Tommy’s Diner, Skillet and Egg (in Rehobeth Beach, DE). I have no ill will against breakfast as a meal. I’m not a morning person and I don’t find most breakfast foods exciting. I prefer to save my calories for lunch, second lunch and dinner. However, when I was contacted by First Watch about their new fall breakfast / brunch menu I was immediately all in.

Fall is my favorite season. The colors and flavors of fall were well represented in the sample menu included with my invitation. I did not see one menu item that I was apathetic about. I was exited to try this out as their guest, however, due to the size of their All For Fall Menu I know I would need a lot of help so I made this a family affair. My evaluation team included my wife, my son, my mom and my mother in law. We picked a Saturday morning to visit our neighborhood First Watch (Upper Arlington) and we will all in.

Even with the excuse of the Covid Era, there is no good reason for us not to have visited this First Watch earlier, we have lived in the neighborhood over three years. We were very impressed as we walked through the doors. We noticed a well organized area for pick up orders, we were seated quickly at a very large, family friendly table and our server was fast, friendly and efficient. My wife and I quickly decided we need to add First Watch into our future rotations. I had no problem parceling out the menu items to different family members – everyone quickly identified which item they were most interested in with almost no overlap. The biggest challenge was my desire to order at least one item that was off the regular menu so I could get a sense of how First Watch delivers dad to day menu fare. My mom opted to be our team player by ordering the Floridian French Toast (in honor or my visiting mother-in-law) as long as she could sample the Caramel Crunch Cinnamon Roll. We made that easy by ordering two since that seemed to be the most intriguing item for all in our all for fall party.

Everything was served fairly quickly en masse to our posse. After chatting with the ladies in my party I looked over to my son to ask how he was liking his pumpkin pancake breakfast – and saw that there were only two bites of pancake left on an empty plate. So that let me know that he liked his meal. Fortunately for me, I took a photo before I passed the dish to him. The Pumpkin Pancake Breakfast included: two cage-free eggs cooked any style (he opted for scrambled) a very large spiced Pumpkin Pancake with a cone of butter dolloped in the center and a Jones Dairy Farm grilled all-natural savory chicken sausage patty. My son loves breakfast and while this might be considered too fancy for many seven year olds he said he loved it all. For the one bite of pancake I did get to try, I found it had enough subtle pumpkin flavor to be enjoyable but not so much that it tasted like an over the top pumpkin spiced (everything) which is ubiquitous for the season.

My assigned dishes were the Pomegranate Pear Punch, Butternut Squash Bisque and the Modern Croque Madame. I’ll lead with the punch. It was a pleasant pairing of flavors that bordered on tasting healthy. The ingredients are simple: Pomegranate, pear, cane sugar and lime. There is just enough pear to pair down the intensity of the pomegranate.

The drink was a good lead in to my sandwich, the First Watch Modern Croque Madame, their take on the French Classic. Their Croque Madame starts with grilled Buttered Challah bread then adds on layers of Cheddar and Monterey Jack, freshly sliced tomato and strips of hardwood smoked bacon. The concoction is topped with a sunny side up egg and an Alfredo-esque sauce of Parmesan cream sauce and fresh herbs. On the side, for the sake of balance, the dish includes a pile of organic leafy greens dressed with a hint of lemon. For a quick aside. the Croque Madame is the better half of the Croque Monsieur, a classic ham and cheese sandwich which appeared on French menus before World War One. The Madame is often known for its cardiac challenging extravagance. The First Watch interpretation makes bacon the meat of choice and I can find no fault in that. It is a good sandwich, and as with other croques I have consumed over the years, the egg makes the sandwich, much like the woman makes the man.

I end for recitation of selections with what I tried first, Butternut Squash Bisque. This soup resonated with the flavors of fall for me. The pureed butternut squash base was complimented a hint of carrot for sweetness and a touch of nutmeg then garnished with all-natural sour cream and a dash of fresh herbs. The origin of bisque is French as well, just think of it as a thick, creamy soup. This is the premise that First Watch delivered.

My wife gladly volunteered for the Brisket Corned Beef Hash. She was very happy with the perfect combination of shredded /pulled corned beef, seasoned cubed seasoned potatoes, house-roasted sweet potatoes slices, onions and red bell peppers topped with two cage-free eggs (we opted for scrambled) Parmesan cream sauce and fresh herbs. She was kind enough to save me a bite. We both agreed, that this was our favorite dish out of all we sampled and we would love to see this move to the main menu come wintertime and after. While is reads like a very heavy dish, it tasted quite light with all of the flavors blending well for a tasty meal any time of day.

My mother in law choose the Caramel Crunch Cinnamon Roll as her selection – which was pretty amazing since she is the most health conscious of our entire crew for this outing. We collectively shared the second roll we ordered for the rest of the table. These giant cinnamon rolls were topped with cream cheese icing, brown sugar caramel sauce, Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal and cinnamon streusel with a dusting of powdered cinnamon sugar on top. The rolls were light and flakey. The dense, flavorful sauce coasted my tongue like a bear skin rug in front of the fireplace on a chilly fall night. It tasted heavy and I wanted more after each heavy bite. I am fairly certain it added one pound per morsel.

While not on the fall menu, my mom’s order of Floridan French Toast was perfect for her. It appears on the year round menu. It consists of thick-cut brioche bread with wheat germ and powdered cinnamon sugar, with fresh banana, kiwi and seasonal berries piled on top. All in all, the Fall into Fall Menu was a fine meal for all of us and I am glad there is still time to go back and sample several of these fall themed menu items again.

Thank you for the invitation First Watch, I’m happy to come back again in the winter, and the spring, and the summer.

To find our more of the fall menu, the year round offerings and where to find your nearest First Watch, visit them on line anytime -> FIRST WATCH.

Posted in breakfast, Brunch | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Back to Lisska for Breakfast with Nick & Ginger & the Gang!

Posted by CMH Gourmand on September 7, 2017

Just over two years ago I made my first trip to -> Lisska Bar & Grill on the east side. I recently received this comment on my blog from Ginger:

Our family comes every Thursday morning for breakfast and enjoys the BEST BREAKFAST IN TOWN! Our late parents enjoyed Lisska’s when they were “courting” in the 30s! It is an AWESOME “gathering place” – join us any Thursday morning for a great time about 9:30 a.m.

So how could I refuse an offer like that? As long time readers know, breakfast is not my bag as it is my fourth favorite meal, so I decided to have a consultant join me -> Breakfast with Nick. We checked our schedules for a Thursday that could work and then I contacted Ginger to let her know when we would be joining her.

This “breakfast club” of sorts started almost five years ago when one of Ginger’s brothers passed away. At that time, the three surviving siblings decided they need to ensure they spent regular time together so it was decided every Thursday they would have breakfast somewhere in the city. Lisska was there second Thursday stop and they have not found reason to change-up the venue since they rediscovered the place.

There are ten consistent regulars in this group with an ever-changing and eternally growing cast of special guests joining together at Lisska. On my visit, there were at least twenty affiliated members observing the passing of another in their cohort over the summer. Over time, certain traditions have developed in this cadre. They always say a prayer together before they start a meal. They rarely miss a Thursday unless an out of town visit family or a holiday gets in the way of one or more of the group, although Thanksgiving is no barrier to breakfast for this collective of breakfasters. Special bonus sessions recognize important life events such as birthdays and St. Patrick’s Day. Over time, Ginger’s go to breakfast was named in her honor. I’d call it a “Jack Benny Special” but at Lisska, it is known as The Ginger: half orders of Polish Sausage, toast (no butter), hash browns and one egg over easy (see below – as you can see, my camera has not had it’s coffee yet).

As I was introduced to countless breakfast guests I was quickly indoctrinated into this tribe. I learned what HEC, BEC and SEC stood for on the menu: Ham, Egg & Cheese, Bacon, Egg & Cheese and Sausage Egg & Cheese. When I learned that the Polish sausage came from Kowalski’s in Detroit, my order was simple, one SEC on wheat.

While I waited for my order, munching on a sample of homemade coffee cake (exceptionally good), I learned the stories of most of the members of this group while Ginger and I connected on her many stories of growing up in Clintonville in the 1940’s and 1950’s as well as her careers in the insurance industry, law offices, an employee benefit company and countless community causes over the years. She connected the dots on how these people intertwined with each other and how many of them are connected to others I have come to know over time. Listening to the background chatter amongst this group I do not think one Columbus area Catholic school or church missed at least one mention as updates were made on the multitude of charities and community organizations this group invests their time and hearts into.

As I indicated before, breakfast is not my thing. I would be hard pressed not to find a dessert I would not love, a price that did not seem like a steal or a story that ran on too long sitting on a stool here. My meal was fabulous but that was a side-line/dish to the company I was keeping. Sometimes a eatery creates a community among regulars or on occasion a community decides to make a place their own. Either of these phenomenons are rare occurences in this era. You can’t create the “glue” that creates a community like this on social media, in a corporate establishment or a new restaurant, even if independent, that has a business plan, extensive branding and lacks a less than a decade of grease on the grill. It takes a long time for a place to create a character for itself or to find a soul in its bricks and mortar and even then, you need to right mix of people on both sides of the counter to make the whole greater than the sum parts on the menu. This is an old school breakfast club that we could stand to have much more of today, even if other meals are involved.

I started writing about food because I was interested in the history and stories of the people behind the counter and because by talking about food and not myself, it was easier for me to connect with people. So this was a great opportunity to reconnect with writing with connecting with a new community. And I got to hang out with Nick for a while, something I have not done in almost a year. Thanks for the opportunity Ginger and thanks for creating a community space (by fate not intention) Lisska.

Posted in breakfast, culinary misadventure | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Ohio Donut Trail: Golden Donuts and Diner, Columbus..Southside

Posted by CMH Gourmand on May 7, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 4.02.12 PM

I’ve been making a list and checking it twice to make sure I have not overlooked any critical donuteries in Central and Southern Ohio. While I still have a handful to complete before I turn my primary focus to the north, one place in Columbus was absolutely unknown to me. I found a reference to Golden Donuts and Diner buried in a discussion thread about good donut shops. From there I found unprecedented love of the place in Yelp. This prompted even more research as I was convinced that I was going where no bog had gone before until I found a post from James, The Breakfast Grub Guy (who has moved back to the east coast). The post from BGG seemed to indicate the donut were promising and since I have been on a quest to make sure that Mrs. Gourmand has access to the best blueberry donuts money can buy, it became imperative to investigate since this variety had a lot of mentions in the praise for the business.

As a life long resident of Columbus, I had never traveled on Lockbourne Road….ever. As a side note – this area has has lot of history including an air force base, the Tuskegee Airmen, The Monypenny Distillery and canals. I found The business just north of SR 104 in what looks like a former Jolly Pirate building.

Surveying the space, there was a brisk breakfast business going on. From what I could see and smell there are some promising breakfast items here if breakfast is your thing. The display counter indicated about 25 to 30 types of donuts are available at any time but at my arrival there were about 15 different choices. All looked promising so I ordered a baker’s dozen of donuts including blueberry cake, Cherry cake, Blackberry (filling) with vanilla icing, German Chocolate (which I would call an everything donut), peanut, and a “special” which was a donut cooked a little longer than a typical donut and available in both stick and round form. Over a dozen donut knocked me back less than $10 so there is a good value for these sugar bombs.

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 4.01.22 PM

The special intrigued me. When I asked about it, the woman at the counter stared at me (English is not her first language, but people staring at me after I ask elaborate food based questions is not an uncommon experience) but within seconds of hearing my question (and surveying my interest in his work), the donut maker came out to fill me in on how he makes the donuts known as special). Mark a point for this place for having people who are proud of their craft.

The donuts I sampled were good. The most noteworthy were the German Chocolate and the Blue Berry and other Fruit based cake donuts. The base of the German Chocolate donut seemed to be a German Chocolate cake base with a hint of Devil’s Food consistency to it. It was encased bits of peanut and shreds of both “white” coconut and toasted coconut.

As for the Blueberry and Cherry cake donuts, these were intriguing. These do not have holes in the middle and instead look like the tops of muffins, see the top view example below.

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 4.01.52 PM

Overall – a good basic donut shop with a large variety and the bonus of full breakfast, lunch and dinner service.

Golden Donuts & Diner
1928 Lockbourne Rd, Columbus, OH 43207
Monday – Saturday, 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sunday 7:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Golden Donuts & Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in breakfast, Columbus, Diners, donuts, Ohio Donut Trail | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Louie’s Daybreak Diner: Eating Lunch at a Breakfast Spot

Posted by CMH Gourmand on July 5, 2015


Old School advertising brought me to Louie’s Daybreak Diner. During my daily walks with CMH Tobias I walk by the sign you see above. This battered banner is right in front of a church / school so during the school year and every Sunday, hundreds of people walk by this sign. In the age of social media, SEO, etc., you have to respect someone with the thought to try some old timey marketing. Granted, I have walked by this sign for almost a year, but it worked.

Another thing that inspired me is the proximity to Susie Sub Shop, the best place for subs in town.


My first visit was on a Wednesday, which did not work out so well because the business is closed on Wednesdays – but looking at the menu on the door, it seemed like they had some good specials. On my next trip, I took a very pregnant Mrs. Gourmand. She has the BLT which she reported was exactly what she wanted: well toasted Texas Toast, crispy, meaty bacon, lettuce and tomato with a little mayo on the side. I ordered the Reuben. I must admit I was very disappointed. The Reuben is $8.00, the version I had was worth $4.00. It was generic wheat bread, with three slices of corned beef, some cold sauerkraut, an afterthought of melted cheese and a volume of salad dressing from a bottle which had greater weight than the meat, cheese, and bread combined. My report, it was a let down and a definite “meh” sandwich. On the other side of the plate, the hand cut fries, although a trifling portion, were among the best I have had anywhere. Mrs. Gourmand agreed. I can’t fault the place, only myself. I violated the a cardinal rule: only get a Reuben from a Deli.

In spite of the fries, if I come back to the area for lunch, I’ll be going to Susie’s next door. However, I will be heading back for breakfast sometime. The breakfast menu is extensive and has two off the beaten path menu items. The first is Bill’s Breakfast Rice: Rice, sausage, Onions, mushrooms, soy sauce, with cheddar cheese and served with toast. Intriguing to say the least. The second item f note is the Panhandler: choice of pancake, french toast or biscuit on the bottom then sausage gravy, hash browns, two eggs, then cheddar cheese and choice of meat.

A final point of interest. I noticed there is a service window connected the diner to the sub shop next door. I asked our server / grill cook about it and she shared that the owners of both businesses and best friends and that family members work shifts at both locations. These two places definitely put the neighbor into neighborhood business.

Louie's Daybreak Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in breakfast, Diners, restaurants | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Back to Crest Gastropub for Breakfast/Brunch

Posted by CMH Gourmand on February 5, 2014


It seems that there is a little bit of a love/hate relationship with Crest Gastropub. Some people love to hate it, other hate to love it and many people love the friction between those two groups and the rest. It does not seem that things have changed much since my last visit there. And as most of you know breakfast is my sixth favorite meal (Brunch is fifth, Snack time is fourth, Second Lunch is Third, then dinner and finally lunch). However, I had a $40 gift card taking up space in my wallet and I had not had any quality time with the Dining Duder in quite some time.

Taking a lesson from the duder, who frequents the Crest frequently, we opted to arrive at opening and watched the place fill to capacity in about twenty minutes. I did a little Crest research to prepare for my visit. I read then disregarded the Yelp reviews and took a look at any other recent articles to look for common themes. The only writer I have a good sense of palate for is G.A. Benton since our tastes seem to be consistently aligned so I reread what he had to say but popped through the door with an empty stomach and an open mind.

First we will analyse aesthetics of the place. It looks great. For brunch, it seems they feature live music instead of Muzak. The quality of the musicians was good but the volume was too loud (and not because I am too old). It was difficult to hear our server and occasionally our conversation. Neither the staff nor the musicians seemed to pick up on this. In my book, anything other than light background music is too much. The conversation with a meal and sometimes the quiet of a meal, is as important to me as the meal itself. I was sad to see the wood serving boards are still in use. They look worse for wear and still serve no practical purpose.

Service was fine, it met expectations but I have yet to visit and have expectations exceeded. As is often the case, the first two beers I tried to order were not available. Not a big deal if the Crest is going through beers that fast it is good for them and the craft beer community. I’m not sure how they can figure out a way to have their printed menus keep up with their beer sales.


Now for the food. What I really wanted to try was the coconut quinoa porridge but this was not available. The duder ordered the Shagbark chili made with adzuki (hails from Japan) and black turtle beans, with cilantro and sour cream. The beans and the chips all come from Shagbark Seed and Mill in Athens. My pre entrée order was honey-glazed cheese balls which never disappoint. The great balls of cheese are made with fried Lucky Penny chevre goat cheese dipped in honey with slivered almonds and a scattering of micro-greens to mix with the leftover honey. My main was the Ohio bison burger with pancetta, house made boursin cheese, charred onions & mixed greens on a brioche bun. It is a fine burger with very good sweet potato fries. But not craveable. I will still take a burger from nearby O’Reilly’s over just about anything. The Dining Duder and I were both happy to see the Lebanese flavors of the chef and the Mediterranean / Middle Eastern traditions of the owners making more appearances on the menu so we shared the Mediterranean breakfast. This includes grilled halloumi, lebneh, olives & hard-boiled eggs with hummus & pita. Loved it for being simple and sophisticated at the same time. Halloumi is a cheese made with goat and sheep’s milk. Lebneh is a style of strained yogurt that is perfect for dipping and mixing with other foods.


So decent food, good beer list and still some things to hammer out to move on to the next level but considering they have less than a year in the game, I think they are doing well. One final note, the house made hot sauce on each table is a great addition to the flavors on the plate and the feel of the place. I look forward to the summer and seeing what the Crest can do with their gardens.

Posted in breakfast, Clintonville, restaurants | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Quickbyte: Creole Kitchen – Beignets

Posted by CMH Gourmand on April 24, 2013


Pronunciation is not a strength of mine. This weakness is also creates an area of annoyance. I do alright with the English language and even better with “American”. But French and other languages I have never had any education in are a bit intimidating. Not because I am afraid to try but because I dread the smugness of people who are not content to correct like a coach but prefer to highlight the error like a superior. I respect the culinary gifts the French have given us but I dread their romance language and it’s effect on my Anglo-Saxon Tongue. When given an opportunity to use a term, I freeze, think of the two ways the term might be pronounced and pick the wrong one every time.

Such is the case for those little fried balls of dough with the French name from New Orleans that those that are better than I would pronounce Beignets. Some might offer the substitute phraseology of donut instead but the silent rage that would produce in the Dining Duder would not be worth the deferred embarrassment of using an alternate term.

That was the wind-up, here is the tip. There may be a handful of places in town that do beignets. The one I know and go to is Creole Kitchen. A mere $3 gets you a styrofoam clamshell full of these great balls of desire with a side cup of powdered sugar. My advice is eat them instantly in your car while they are steaming hot and the heat is still high enough to melt the sugar into the dough. Simple, good and cheap – hard to beat.

Posted in breakfast | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Small Bytes: Pistacia Vera – Brunch and Other Stuff

Posted by CMH Gourmand on December 17, 2011

I had an axe to grind regarding brunch at Pistacia Vera. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pistacia Vera and I think the world of Spencer and Anne. Here’s the thing, as you know, I am not a fan of breaking fast (reasons outlined logically in previous posts). I might even be the Grinch of breakfast. I was miffed during the most recent Dine Originals Week. Historically my Dine Originals Week ritual is to get the $10 Pistacia Vera tasting box to cap off the week. Well, last time there was no box just a brunch deal. Hrumph!

I started to hear high praise for the brunch options from many credible sources. I am not a fan of quiche (only because it is so often prepared poorly) but quiches as well as Shirred Eggs and a Cottage Ham & Brie Sandwich were repeatedly mentioned in my presence. Hmm. Sandwich on a Pistacia Vera Croissant….I could do that and sniff out these other offerings in the process.

I went on a reconnaissance meal with my diner-in-chief. I was happy to see Jim Budros sweeping the front walk at the German Village shop (Jim is a BBQ Master, Pizza Purist and father of Anne and Spencer). Looking at the menu, I was hooked so we committed to two dine in brunch options.

We tried the Shirred Eggs: two eggs, baked in cream with parmigiano, oregano, garlic, herbs, and tomato fondue. This is served with a toasted, sliced croissant and house-made preserves.

The verdict? Superior, perfect, excellent. This now on my top three breakfast/brunch picks (the other two being the Pattycake Bakery Orange Sticky Bun and the Egg Sandwich at Explorer’s Club).

Selection number two was the Cottage Ham and Brie Breakfast sandwich: smoked cottage ham, fromage d’affinois, Dijon mustard, cornichons, fresh greens on a toasted whole wheat croissant. Thoughts on this one? Also excellent, easy to share and conveniently, could hold its own in the lunch category.

These two entrees made for a great meal, but there is much more than makes brunch at Pistacia Vera special and well worth the effort. Columbus is fortunate to have several excellent coffee roasters. One that tends to stay off the radar due to a consumer unfriendly approach to opening hours is Cafe Brioso. Pistacia Vera serves several Briso blends and sells bags of ground Briso coffees. Having access to this coffee to drink and buy at more customer friendly hours is a boon. Pairing Pistacia Vera with Brioso is genius.

Maybe this is starting to read like a commercial or product endorsement? Well, this paragraph is brought to you by Pistacia Vera Preserves. My modest serving with the Cottage Ham and Brie sandwich was good enough to inspire me to purchase two jars. If you are reading this before Christmas, a few purchases at Pistacia Vera could cure your own Grinchness or make you the hero of a holiday gift exchange.

And, let’s not forget the primary reason to visit Pistachia Vera – chocolates, macaroons, tortes and more, oh my! We opted for a pre-brunch appetizer of a Buche de Noel (Christmas Log). A slice of log is a great way to celebrate the season and Pistacia Vera makes the best in Columbus.

Humbug? I am now the Grinch who ate breakfast. Thanks Pistacia Vera. One final, but vital note. the Hot Chocolate at Pistacha Vera is the best in town. Better and less expensive than Northstar and Jeni’s. This proclamation may be sacrilege to these two culinary holy cows but if you charge $4.50 for hot chocolate it should be orgasmic, Pistacia Vera hits the mark at $3. Now I am off to put antlers on CMH Tobias.

Pistacia Vera
541 South Third Street
German Village

Pistacia Vera on Urbanspoon

Posted in bakery, beverages, breakfast, chocolate, desserts | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

The Angry Baker – (CLOSED)

Posted by CMH Gourmand on July 13, 2011

The Angry Baker is anything but angry. Friendly and engaging, Vickie Hink made her way to Columbus to pursue a culinary path. Along the way she moved to Olde Town East and shifted her focus to baking. Shortly after Yellow Brick Pizza opened she walked by the space she now bakes in and decided it would be the perfect spot for her own bakery. This up and coming Olde Town culinary block will soon be joined by a tavern serving Ohio beers and sandwiches with Angry Baker buns. This is an exciting time to live in the area and certainly something to be happy about.

Vicki gets up at 4 am to bake a variety of breads including Brioche. The day starts with breakfast, which is served all day. The crowd pleaser is the Egg Sandwich featuring a fried egg with Bluejacket Dairy Ludlow cheese on a Bacon, Swiss & Chive Scone. Lunch and later includes soups, salads, sandwiches and (vegan) desserts. Many of the ingredients are Ohio Proud such as: Sharp White Cheddar (L.W. Randal’s, Warsaw), Mayfield Havarti (Orwell), Turkey from Cooper Farms (St. Henry), Eggs laid at Hillandale Farms (Croton) and oats, flour, bran, honey, maple syrup – Stutzman Farms (Millersburg).

I sampled The Turkey sandwich piled with cucumber, alfalfa sprouts, dijon, brie, tomato
on Brioche served with a side salad. The sandwich was hearty and tasty. I would get it again. I might get two.

In the dessert category I tried the Blueberry scone (rated 10 out of 10 on the scale of perfect sconeness), the vegan chocolate blueberry brownie (dense, tasted of chocolate without blocking the blueberry flavor) and after seeing the neighboring couple take one bite then sigh with pure bliss – a chocolate eclair (the yellow custard had flavor, richness and thickness with the dough and chocolate complimenting the filling with balance). Did I like the dessert? My run-on description should attest to my feelings on the matter.

The space is small with a tiny table and bar counter seating six or so. There is a table outside as well. Most of the orders are to go. If you have time, score a seat at the counter to watch Vicki construct sandwiches with speed and grace at an incredible pace without breaking a sweat. Placed under the plastic countertop are copies of recipes and cooking notes which creates the feeling of being in Grandma’s kitchen. This practical decor is integrated with the rest of the urban folk style art throughout the space. The highlight of the art (all by the same designer) is the bathroom mural.

If you bake it or pour it, they will come and that is what is happening in Olde Town East. A bustling culinary block is building a better community.

The Angry Baker
891 Oak St
Olde Town East


The Angry Baker on Urbanspoon

Posted in breakfast, desserts, restaurants, sandwiches | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Donut World: Third Best Donuts in Ohio

Posted by CMH Gourmand on November 23, 2010

subtitle: Along the Ohio Donut Trail with guest star CMH Tobias

The best donuts in Ohio are at Donald’s Donuts in Zanesville. The second best donuts are from DK Diner in Grandview. Exception: if someone brings you DK Diner Donuts…those are the best donuts you will ever have. In Lancaster, a local legend has the third best donuts in Ohio. In respect to their pumpkin donuts, some of their “fancy donuts” and 24 hour access to donuts on demand, Donut World may take the cake and place first in some critical categories. As I wait for typed indignant outcry, let me share what I know about Donut World.

My first encounter was a classic case of it’s not what you know but who you know and what they can be talked into. My friend Amanda Anderson used the power of twitter to have Harold LaRue-Lessner (of Dirty Franks fame) deliver a box of Donut World donuts to his restaurant for holding. Amanda picked up the loot and then I looted her box for a few samples. Based on this experience of second hand donuts I noted I should get more soon. So I did.

My first visit was thwarted by a parade, traffic barriers and about fifty people in line for the newest batch of pumpkin donuts. I aborted my mission to go drinking. About five hours later I returned to the scene of donut fail.

Donut World has an impressive line up of thirty plus donuts, fritters, Bismarks and donut holes. Categories are broken down into Fancy and Regular donuts with iced, powdered, cream-filled and other variants. Drool. Since pumpkin donuts were in season and made minutes before my arrival I stuffed two of those in my mouth and selected a mixed box of ten more to go. I proclaim the donuts to be very good. The remainder of the box ended up at Bono Pizza later in the day with no survivors when I left the premise. Five out of five donut eaters say Donut World is awesome. I rest my case.

Also of note, there is a dentist office on the other side of the parking lot. Did I mention Donut World is open 24 hours? So unless there is a parade, you have full, unencumbered access to donuts.

Donut World
601 North Broad St
Drive Thru Open 24 hours except Christmas day
Shop open 6 am to 10 pm daily

Posted in breakfast, desserts, donuts, Ohio Donut Trail | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

CLEGourmand: Tommy’s & the Community of Coventry

Posted by CMH Gourmand on November 17, 2010

I have eaten at many of the finest dining establishments in Cleveland including Greenhouse Tavern, Muse, Amp 150, Moxie and more. All of these places must step aside for local legend Tommy’s in Coventry. Why is Tommy’s the place where you must eat in Cleveland and the best meal you will have?

I will build my case with a quote from a tweet I made at the time of my dine: Listening to Tommy tell tales about his restaurant is inspiring. He is so passionate and loves what he does & his community. Tommy’s has always been a business that cares about it’s customers and community. In the eyes of most residents of this part of town, Tommy’s is the heart of Coventry. There is something for everyone – vegan, vegetarian, carnivore, omnivore, locavore, vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, and gluten-free eaters have plenty to choose from here. The decision to have such a varied menu is explained in a very matter of fact way by Tommy. He shared that he keeps adding to the menu because he customers want to eat these things and as long as he can make something they will like, he will try it. Health concerns, profit margins, ecological reasons or trends are all peripheral in the food world of Tommy’s. The customer comes first. The food comes a close second with anything else considered bonus points. This is not something that can be taught at CIA or Johnson & Wales, it is not something you can learn on The Food Network. Either you get and give it or you don’t. Tommy Fello cares deeply about his restaurant, employees, customers, community and anything within this sphere. To have anything other than the best for anyone is unfathomable. Love is the magic ingredient at Tommy’s and it is infused into every aspect of the menu.

Mention Tommy’s to a Clevelander and you will hear the word milkshake within five to ten seconds. Not long after Tommy’s opened in 1972, Rolling Stone anointed Tommy’s as having the best Milkshake east of the Mississippi. There has been no evidence to dispute this in almost forty years. Here are some of the secrets to the magic of Tommy’s milkshakes. The ice cream comes from local ice cream maker Pierre’s. The milk comes from Hartzler Dairy (an organic cow farm in Wooster). The milkshakes are shaken and mixed in old milkshake machines. The thump-thump of a shake poured from the steel mixing cup to a glass is music to my ears. I proclaimed the Chocolate Peanut Butter milkshake the true Breakfast of Champions. In addition to all of the diary goodness I have mentioned, Tommy’s makes their own peanut butter, which is the star of another dish I devoured.

Readers that follow me know that breakfast is not my meal of choice. I am happy to eat breakfast at Tommy’s anytime. In part, because both the restaurant and I count a milkshake as a valid breakfast selection. I ordered Elise’s combo. This is not named after the forgotten Borden Dairy cow but after the first customer that ordered this creation (most of the selections on the menu get their names from customers/creators). The combo is a toasted triple decker sandwich with two eggs, bacon, mayonnaise, American cheese and homemade peanut butter. Yes, peanut butter. It is really good – decadent, satisfying and wholesome at the same time. I could be wrong on my opinion of Elise’s greatness but the thousands of other customers that choose this as their breakfast are clearly correct.

The menu is gigantic so I will just mention a few more highlights from the selections. The mention of Tommy’s often brings up another word – falafel. Tommy learned the recipe for falafel from his first boss (the guy he bought the original Tommy’s from). Many people say this is the best falafel ever. It is definitely served in the most varieties anywhere. There are over a dozen falafel sandwich and meal selections on the menu with additions including BBQ sauce, sesame sauce and a variety of vegetables.

Here are some random facts that might make you feel good about Tommy’s: The drinking water is filtered, fry oil is non-hydrogenated, soups are made every day, their canola oil waste is given to biodiesel folks, there is a backdoor garden and Tommy’s is the largest consumer of Muenster cheese in northeast Ohio slicing, shredding and serving 680 pounds or more per week.

Would you like some more reasons? Attached to the restaurant is a great bookstore called Mac’s Backs so you can read or browse while you wait to graze. Everything is made from scratch tofu, tempeh, stocks, cookies, etc. The Italian sauce recipes are handed down from Tommy’s mommy. Tommy’s may have the best vegetarian French Onion soup in the world made from a base of Shitake mushrooms and chickpea drippings.

Are you hungry yet? Do you have the keys for your car? What time are you picking me up? Yes, this is a place to feel excited about going to. If you have to wait for a table or if you need to burn off calories after your meals, you will find much to hold your interest in Coventry. The neighborhood created itself during the counterculture of the 1960’s and 1970’s. The Coventry community spirit remains today in a very big way. If you run into a resident of Coventry Village (which is just a few streets) you will hear many stories about Tommy – how he used to plow the sidewalks in the winter or other actions he took to support local business. If you ask Tommy he will say the same about his neighbors, he knows them all. The first person he mentions is Steve (the unofficial ambassador of Coventry) at the store Big Fun just a few sidewalk segments from the front door of Tommy’s

Big Fun is FUN. It is packed with nostalgic toys, comics, vintage video game systems, wacky t-shirts and more. If it was something that made you happy as a kid, then Big Fun probably has it or will someday. Every trip in offers something new, different or forgotten. A current Big Fun T-shirt creation is “Cleveland, You’ve Got To Be Tough.” This shirt was seen on Anthony Bourdain while he was roaming around a jungle in South America. You will see a lot of “tough” Clevelanders roaming around with and without these shirts. They have taken some hits and they keep going. In Coventry, they are tough too. A group of people created and sustained a community with tenacity and a lot of kindness to each other. They are still at it every day – serving food and fun to neighbors and visitors alike.

Tommy’s Restaurant
1824 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights
(aka Coventry Village, East Side)

Mac’s Backs
Big Fun
Coventry Village

Tommy's on Urbanspoon

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