CMH Gourmand – Eating in Columbus & Ohio

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Archive for the ‘Diners’ Category

Honeydip Donuts & Diner – Redux (Ohio Donut Trail)

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 16, 2016

honey-dip-diner

Take a look at this blast from the past, a -> 2007 posting on Honeydip Donuts. My how things changed. Back then in the primordial stage of this blog, I was less interested in donuts than I am today. Clearly I have evolved into more of a donut docent. During that time Honeydip Donuts evolved into a diner. An update is highly warranted so here we go. But first a detour with a few questions related to the old post. One: is it donut or doughnut (see the previous post). Two: why did I tag the entry Ohio Donut Girl – I clearly had something else on my mind in 2007 – an apparent conflict of priorities.

Here is the not so skinny on Honeydip Donuts & Diner. They do have donuts. Their selection is OK, they tend to run out before they close for the day. In my tasting trips there has not been a specific standout donut. Their Pumpkin donuts seem to be the most popular they have a good stick donut, some turnovers and muffins too.

On the diner side of the business they do seem to have a fair number of regular customers. Most of them are pretty long in the tooth and several appear to drop in on an almost daily basis. I like that.

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Breakfast appears to be the go to menu choice here. The pancakes are good. There are three donut related special sandwiches to bridge that dark world between breakfast and lunch. On the lunch side, there is a different soup offered each day. These have some merit. I don’t often issue a dire warning but I have a fiduciary obligation to my blog base to tell you – DO NOT waste your time with their gyro or fries they would be best served inside a bag of deplorables.

Honeydip

There are two reasons to pull me back here. 1) A fond Thanksgiving memory from my youth. 2) Honeydip has an incredible variety of old photos related to donuts. It is well worth the time to drop in and spend several minutes looking at history of a very democratic snack (as well as a wall dedicated to photos of regular customers) between bites of a donut.

honey-dip-diner-sign

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

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Posted in Diners, donuts, Ohio Donut Trail | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Carl’s Townhouse – Chillicothe

Posted by cmh gourmand on July 24, 2016

Carls

My previous Chillicothe visits included: seeing Tecumseh! the outdoor drama, writing about a restaurant for Ohio Magazine in 1998, visiting two donut spots and picking up the vanity at Lowe’s (the only one in inventory for the whole state). Back when I was a government drone my job often took me to the Chillicothe Veterans Administration Hospital (which has roots going back to World War I) but duty to fix problems and ethical responsibility did not allow me to take side trips to explore the area. I never really explored the city or the downtown. Considering Chillicothe was once a state capital and it is fun to say and more importantly considering all of the other places in the state I have explored on a whim, Chillicothe was overdue for an extended trip.

I’m not sure of the exact series of searches that popped Carl’s onto my laptop screen but it was probably related to doing a search related to Family Donut Shoppe. I’m glad I did pay attention to Carl’s and felt the pull to make this my reason to head south. I enjoyed driving the streets of downtown Chillicothe looking at many 1880’s era buildings and small local shops while searching for Carl’s.

I scouted out Carl’s on various review sites and found almost universal love for the place and in particular their burgers. I lured along one of my research assistants, the grumpy old man, with promises of a trip to Family Donut Shoppe afterwards as well as a recon trip to McArthur Ohio. Within moments of arrival to Carl’s the grumpy old man was also pleased. Carl’s is the kind of diner that every community needs. A simple place with straightforward food where regulars come to catch up with each other as well as the events of the day. More diners could help Make America great again.

Having a research assistant allowed me to do extensive food research. I’ll start with the hamburgers. The trademark menu item here are slider style hamburgers. The burgers were much bigger and thicker than a White Castle slider. Students of hamburger history (such as myself) would recognize this as the typical burger of the 1940’s – 1960’s. Neither too big nor too small with a lumpy instead of perfectly formed patty and when paired with fries, a very satisfying meal. The burgers are great and I highly suggest them. I ordered the double cheeseburger basket (two double cheeseburgers and fries).

Double cheeseburger basket

As a student of hot dog history as well as a staunch hot dog advocate, I ordered a chili dog to boot. I was pleased with the presentation here. The bun was lightly grilled, the hot dog was split in the middle to aid grilling as well as chili retention. The chili was definitely homemade with a distinct flavor to it. Overall it was better than average.

chili dog

The grumpy old man ordered the pork tenderloin sandwich. I was happy to see this on the menu. Many years ago I did extensive research on regional sandwiches around the USA for a book project. I spent a week traveling around the Midwest trying out the best pork tenderloin sandwiches in Iowa, Indiana and Illinois which is the heartland of this regional delicacy. I found this version true to style. It was properly breaded and sufficiently – as is the tradition – much bigger than the bun it was served on. More points for Carl’s.

tenderloin sandwich

My favorite item of the lot was also my biggest surprise. I saw apple strudel written on the specials board and ordered that out of curiosity. It turned out to be Apple Strudel Pie! Even the grumpy old man, with his girl-like appetite, found room to take a bite and found it pleasing to the palate as well.

apple strudel pie

One of the things that makes Carl’s a destination is the character of the place which comes from a long history in the community. When I work with clients, I often share with them how important sharing the history of a business is to customer loyalty. Carl’s does a great job in this category by sharing their history on the menu. As a local landmark, this is important, so I photographed that history to share with you below.

part 1

part 2

To wrap it all up. Carl’s is an iconic diner that dishes out breakfast, lunch, dinner and an extensive list of daily specials at affordable prices. If you find yourself in Chillicothe, this is well worth a visit. If you have a few extra minutes walk across the street to the antique shop and see if this trinket is still around. Even though it was $375 I was very tempted to take it home with me. If you are not familiar with the gentleman below, it is J. Wellington Wimpy. A personal hero of mine with an even greater affinity for hamburgers, he is best known for his insightful philosophy, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” If you fetch Wimpy for me today, I’ll gladly pay you back with a burger on Tuesday.

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Carl's Town House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Diners, hamburgers, hot dogs, Ohio, Road Trip | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted by cmh gourmand on May 7, 2016

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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.

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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: , , | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted by cmh gourmand on July 5, 2015

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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.

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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 »

DK Diner: Kind of Dynamic

Posted by cmh gourmand on January 22, 2015

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My primary and secondary references to DK Diner have focused on their donuts. There are three reasons for that: 1) These donuts are among the finest in the state anywhere and I have the research to prove it 2) DK stands for Donut Kitchen – the previous name of this former Lawson’s location 3) As has been established before, Breakfast is my fifth favorite meal behind Second Lunch and Midnight Snack but I do make an exception for Breakfast – donuts. (Writer Note: I ordered 200 DK Diner donut for my wedding and there was only one box left the next day mainly because I hid it).

DK Diner originally established themselves as a breakfast destination (which can be confirmed any Saturday or Sunday Morning). I had forgotten I had breakfast there – once – I had to go through my notes to confirm such but I did indeed have breakfast there and it was good. I’m sure I had donuts. But there is more to dining life other than donuts and breakfast so DK Diner has continually been tweaking their approach to dining after Noon. (Writers Note: This post is dedicated to The Dining Duder who is the least favorite fan of the Ohio Donut Trail).

All of this came about then I was picking up some donuts for Mrs. Gourmand. I noticed some specials listed near the cash register including a coney special. I love a classic hot dog snadwich but Columbus does not support a hot dog or coney culture so I felt a need, well actually mission, maybe even an obligation to support a coney special. So I made note to come back on a Monday so I could belly up my support.

Coney

The coney special includes two coneys with cheese and onions with a hearty serving of hand cut fries. My coney cliff notes: Good combo and a great price. While consuming a coney I noticed another weekly special, Meatloaf. Meatloaf is the litmus test or the canary in a coal mine of any true Diner, so I planned on coming in during my next open Wednesday for more research. This special includes a fist sized serving of meatloaf, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans (that are cooked not poured out of a can then reheated) and one half of a bun grilled to toast level crispness with a bit of butter. The meatloaf was cooked to perfection with just the right amount of ketchup baked in to the meat. This dish is all DK Diner needs for official diner status.

meatloaf

Another item that caught my eye in the side dish category was potato chips. Well actually this caught my eye and kept it, so I ordered these as my appetizer for my meatloaf main course. Wow, these chips are great, they are spindle cut and deep-fried to order coming out fresh with plenty of crispness with just enough slightly chewy pieces intermixed in the mess of potatoes piled into a basket. Other than OH! Chips, you will not find a better fresh potato chip in Ohio.

Chips

While masticating meatloaf I spied this on the regular menu: “Schlamager Bratwurst – DK’s special recipe, served on a grilled torpedo bun with sauerkraut, grilled pepper and onions”. So I looked for a day to come back and tried this. Verdict: Sehr gut. I asked my server if she knew anything about the name of the bratwurst or the special recipe, clearly she knew I was trying to get some “intel” so she feigned ignorance. Heading back home, I did some internet research to “crack the Schlamager code” and while I found lots of references to DK Diner I could not find a Schlamager on my screen. What ever Schlamager subterfuge is going on here, the end result is that it is an exceptional bratwurst sandwich experience served with a side of chips (and during my meal, a free donut at check out). What could be better than that? Well. While I was doing research I discovered DK Diner did offer a special featuring this brat with baked beans and pierogis, that would be slightly better than what I had and I would like to see that as a daily special.

Brat

So what is the key to success at this dynamic diner? They adapt to the times. Over the years the business has added patio space, focused on building up their bar business with local craft beers and some locally sourced spirits from Watershed Distillery. Another cool thing in the beer offerings, each beer is displayed in a baseball card style format to help guide your drinking decision and to help DK avoid constantly printing new beer menus. While all of this is being crammed into a small amount of space, DK Diner does not challenge guest with complicating anything. Booths feature instructions on how to interact with the diner: Drinks are self-serve, when it is time to leave, go to the counter with your table number and they will ring you out. Want the wi-fi password? It is listed on the information sheet. Another handy feature is the donut menu so you can see what they have to offer. This simple approach to diner satisfaction because most old school diners cater to their regulars that already know “the rules” while DK Diner wants to make you an “insider” on your first trip.

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DK Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in bar, beer, Diners, donuts | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

First Bite: Jerry’s Galaxy Cafe

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 30, 2013


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Long time readers know about my fond memories of the Galaxy Cafe which closed years ago. Starliner Diner and The Explorer’s Club have Galaxy connections in their kitchen DNA. So when I heard that Jerry Burgos, co-founder of the original Galaxy Cafe and long time driving force at the Starliner Diner, was opening a new place I was curious to see how this new restaurant would compare to my memories. Jerry sold his share in Starliner about 4 years ago but wanted to come back into the business of owning a restaurant and running a kitchen.

This new incantation in the Galaxy Universe opened in mid-November. Long time fans will find the elements they associate with the name. The fare will be comforting to Starliner and Explorer’s Club fans. Most of the dishes are southwestern / Cuban themed eclectic classics. The decor is a hodgepodge of folk art, flea market and cool cookie jars mixed with bright walls and black and white checkered ceiling tiles.

Jerry has teamed up with his wife Jenny and a small staff to add the Galaxy to the dining choices of Hilliard. This is good news for people like me who feel that there are only a few good dining choices west of the Scioto (Olive Tree and Starliner Diner for me). However Jerry has some challenges to face with this new location so old-time fans that have been thinking about dropping in could give this new business a great holiday gift by dropping in before Christmas. Challenge number one is location. Jerry’s Galaxy is buried in a semi-residential area off the beaten path in Hilliard. It does not have a sign (look for City Kids Daycare to know you are close). It is near a bar names Nasty’s (really) ((Really??)) and the Lil’ Donut Factory (which often runs out of donuts). Challenge number two – the menu at the Galaxy is about the same as the Starliner and Louie’s (a Starliner spin-off) so they are competing against two mirroring concepts that are both less than one mile away.

As a new business that has only been open a few weeks there are a few glitches to tweak. Service was a bit spotty on my visit. The volume of the music is too loud, especially when the spaces are quiet. The menu is familiar but could use more detailed descriptions of some dishes. And the coffee cups are too small and too thin to offer an optimal coffee experience one expects at a diner.

All food sampled was good and worthy of the Galaxy name I just hope that Jerry will get the business needed in the early months to have a full opportunity show what he can do in the back of the house.

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Jerry’s Galaxy Cafe
4920 Scioto-Darby Road
Hilliard
614-319-4035

Jerry's Galaxy Cafe on Urbanspoon

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

Requiem for Cindy King: It Is Time for Nancy’s To Become Cindy’s

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 22, 2012

The painting above hangs at the Columbus Metropolitan Library near Whetstone Park. It represents a building, that houses a diner that is the legacy of a community icon.

Cindy King moved on to a diner somewhere above on March 3rd this year. She left behind quite a legacy and luckily she had several relatives to fill her shoes and apron. There is a need for diner like she left behind in Clintonville and Columbus and many more places on our planet. There is a true democracy to diners that can’t be replicated elsewhere, created in a corporate boardroom, summarized in a business plan or taught in culinary school. The food is secondary to the community a dinner supports and connects. Cindy King was the Queen of the connectors: she watched out for young and old, knew when to chat and when to stick to a nod and a smile. She knew people and gave them what they wanted…..needed…craved: comfort, consistency, compassion and a simple meal for five bucks. Cindy is gone but her niece Sheila has taken the hand off of the ladle with an assist from her husband Rick and her sister, the girl we watched grow up in the diner, Shelli.

I had my first meal at Nancy’s when I was six. I was not back for seconds until well after college, my friends from Cleveland had discovered a place I had forgotten right in my backyard. I remedied my oversight during the 1990’s and the early aughts of the 21st century. I wrote about the place frequently starting in 2006.

There is nothing to add about the place that has not been written by countless others. Cindy King could never be replaced but the institution she created remains. She would never want a tribute, but I think it is time to show our thanks to her for all she did for our community. My guess is she may fight this from the grave but I’ll take this risk.

Nancy’s was truly Nancy’s for just a few years. Nancy’s was Cindy’s for nearly four decades….but the name never changed. For forty years, people asked for Nancy but Cindy answered. It is now time for strangers, newcomers and greenhorns to ask for Cindy….so that Sheila, Shellie or someone on either side of the counter can tell the story of Cindy King. Then that person can eat it and beat it for the next guy.

What I am proposing is a collection to get a new sign for the diner that says Cindy’s. Our community rallied to collect over $15,000 to save the diner back in 2009….let’s collect a little less to get a new sign and honor her by adding her name to the place. Nancy’s was never Nancys, especially now. Lets change it Clintonvillians…..

I’ll donate $100.00 if someone will start a tip jar for a new sign at the restaurant.

Posted in Clintonville, Diners | Tagged: | 4 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)
216.321.7757

Tommy’s
Mac’s Backs
Big Fun
Coventry Village

Tommy's on Urbanspoon

Posted in breakfast, CLEGourmand, Diners, kid friendly dining, Ohio, Road Trip, sandwiches | Tagged: | 7 Comments »

CLEGourmand: Lucky’s Cafe

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 1, 2010

The town of Tremont, nestled in a bend of the Cuyahoga River across from the Flats has great things going on. The community has wonderful views of downtown Cleveland, an amazing assortment of eclectic historic churches, neighborhood spirit, spunk and an accelerating, independent, local fueled food scene. Tremont has been called “A small town in the heart of the city”. In the heart of the heart is Lucky’s Cafe.

It is an established fact that I do not get too excited about breakfast (with a few exceptions: Starliner Diner, Casa Nueva and Skillet come to mind). Breakfast is the meal that takes space away from lunch and dinner. I was slated to have breakfast at Lucky’s as part of a culinary tour of Cleveland. I was a bit bummed because Lucky’s had been on my hit list a long time and I was worried about missing the dishes I really wanted. After one trip to Lucky’s I can happily say I will have breakfast there anytime.

Lucky’s was featured on Diner’s, Drive In’s and Dives, the Guy Fieri Food Network show. The place is no dive. A quick look at the hippiesque, locavore and sustainable menu would scare the pants off most old school diner fans. However anyone would be satisfied in an eatery that nails the classics and creates unique spin offs of traditional fare with top notch ingredients.

The woman that makes this all possible is Chef Heather Haviland. Most ingredients are from within 100 miles of Cleveland. Heather made a conscious choice to buy from local farmers and she has a vegetable and herb garden across the street from her restaurant to add to her produce selection. The menu is all natural. The place is packed on the weekends filling up every seat inside as well as the picnic tables outside when weather allows. While eating around Cleveland we would ask various chefs where they liked to eat. Lucky’s was mentioned frequently. There is no greater endorsement than when peers make the choice to eat at your establishment. The accolades are deserved and I will add to them.

The place itself has a quaint and quirky charm which seems to be found in heaping portions in Tremont. A local artist created the unique signage for Luckys. Each month a new installation of a local art is spread around the dining area. The baked good selection at the counter has great depth and diversity. The servers are friendly and know the menu. As I mentioned in a tweet: Grilled cheese of the day. I am smitten. I am not easily smited. There were many things that smote me here. The concept of a new grilled cheese option everyday made a very good impression.

Among the items getting my immediate attention: freshly squeezed orange juice, special house blends of coffee, pecan crusted bacon and pumpkin pickles. Lucky’s makes almost everything for their menu including pickles, ketchup and sauerkraut (which ferments in the basement). Not bad for a restaurant that used two camp stove propane burners to cook everything for the first two years.

OK so what I have mentioned so far would excite hard-core breakfast eaters but I am a hard sell for breakfast bliss. What was the key to my conversion? One word: SANDWICHES. Lucky’s serves sandwiches all day. My eye immediately fell upon the Vietnamese Grinder (Black Forest ham, pork pate, pickled pumpkin, fresh cilantro, cucumber, mayo and diced jalapeño).

I was torn by several selections I wanted. Fortunately I was eating with people willing to share. The favorite of Chef Haviland and apparently most of Cuyahoga county is the Lucky Reuben (as seen on TV – Food Network’s Guy Fieri probably called this awesome). This Reuben is just the basics: corned beef, sauerkraut, rye bread and Thousand Island dressing (all house made) served with Swiss cheese. The whole and the parts were all delectable. Yum. My field notes read as follows: The Reuben kicks ass. Serious ass.

Heather and the staff insisted we share another house favorite, Baked Mac-N-Cheese: (Cheddar, Brie, Parmesan, and Mozzarella cheeses, baked with pasta and real cream then topped with Brioche bread crumbs and served with housemade apple sauce). This would have made any cheesehead happy. We also sampled the waffles which were wonderful. In fact, our group seemed unanimous in finding the waffles perfect especially served with real whipped cream.

If you are intent on a “real” breakfast, you are in good hands with Lucky’s signature the Shipwreck: a blend of hash browns, eggs, seasonal vegetables, bacon, and cheddar cheese. It is massive but probably worth the heart attack.

Lucky’s was worth the trip for breakfast. I can’t wait to head back for lunch.

Lucky’s Café
777 Starkweather Avenue
Tremont
216.622.7773
Lucky’s Cafe website

Lucky's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Posted in CLEGourmand, Diners, Ohio, Road Trip, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

PSA: Nancy’s is Now Open for Dinner

Posted by cmh gourmand on May 3, 2010

Starting May 3rd, Nancy’s Home Cooking is now open for dinner from 4 pm to 7 pm.

Here is the menu for week 1. Expect some changes to the menu over the next weeks/months. All dinners are $7.50.

Monday

Stuffed Pork Chops, Roasted Red Potatoes and Green Beans

Tuesday

Chicken Cordon Blue, Rice Pilaf and Fresh Asparagus

Wednesday

Meat or Veggie Lasagna with Garlic Bread and Salad

Thursday

Cindy’s (Famous) Chicken and Noodles with Green Beans and Dinner Rolls

Friday

Pan Seared White Fish with Lemon Sauce, Broccoli and a Baked Potato.

Sounds like Nancy’s has gone fancy.

Nancy’s Home Cooking
3133 North High Street
Clintonville
614.265.9012

Posted in Clintonville, Diners | Tagged: | 1 Comment »