CMH Gourmand – Eating in Columbus & Ohio

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Archive for the ‘Diners’ Category

DK Diner Donuts

Posted by cmh gourmand on January 19, 2010

I don’t get excited about breakfast since it is the meal that takes stomach space and money away from lunch and dinner. However there are a few exceptions that deserve discussion. In my book donuts go with any meal but for some reason they seem most associated with breakfast. With that disclaimer, here is the downlow on DK Diner and their donuts.

Many people I know rave about DK Diner as a breakfast and lunch spot. Their reasons vary but the good feelings about the place are consistent and persistent. The common thread in all discussions is DK Diner donuts. People LOVE them. I was a bit skeptical about this. How could a place that is not a bakery or a donut specialist make such a drool worthy fried dough product? I am not sure of the how or why but I do know this, these are the best donuts in Franklin County.

DK Diner is a small place in Grandview. Looking at the building, it’s past life was probably as a garage or gas station. The inside seats about 40 and the interior would best be described as nondescript diner decor. One wall is plastered with propaganda from community sports teams and schools. Eating here is a lot like eating at a friends house. Service would best be described as a relaxed version of laidback. The staff seem to be hanging out here as much as working. Beverages are all self-serve and the orders come flying off the grill so fast you don’t even have time to establish a bond with the employees.

DK All the Way aka the heart attack starter

The breakfast and lunch are served here is standard diner fare. I did stick around for breakfast. I tried the DK All the Way which seemed to be the best way to gauge the quality of the food since it features about 1/2 of their menu. This dish consists of two soft chewy biscuits, each topped with a slice of ham and a fried egg covered with sausage gravy and surrounded by home fries. This was quite good. However it is time to get back to the donuts.

Damn, those donuts were good! During my time at the counter I noticed one common denominator among every customer. They each ordered a lot of donuts. There is a small selection of donuts by the cash register. I doubt there are ever more than 100 in the display case at any time. The selections include (the varieties are unmarked): blueberry, cinnamon, cruller, old fashioned cake, cream filled, Devils Food and maybe a few others. These fresh fried pastries appear to crafted in small batches. They would best be described as irregularly shaped (in some cases deformed), each one looks different from the other unlike the more uniform appearance I have seen at any other donut shop I have visited. The donuts are dense and chewy with a perfect crispy, crunchy crust on the outside.

See the bottom right corner, the first woman to bring me three of these gets my hand in marriage

Somehow looking at these unassuming handmade pastries I knew they were going to rock my socks off. I ordered one of each and spent the next twenty four hours sampling them looking for evidence that they were not the best donuts I have ever had. Exhaustive research on my part could only conclude that these are indeed the best donuts in central Ohio. I appreciate the public service that DK Diner offers by serving meals to the community but if they want to focus exclusively on donut sales that would be OK with me. My favorite of the box was the old fashioned cake donut with chocolate frosting and peanuts. I would really like to have one right now. Ummm donut…..

Where to find the donuts:

DK Diner
1715 West 3rd Ave
Grandview Heights
614.488.5160
Call for hours.

D K Diner on Urbanspoon

Posted in bakery, breakfast, Diners, donuts | Tagged: , , , | 11 Comments »

Breakfast with Nick at Beechwold Diner

Posted by cmh gourmand on January 10, 2010

Some readers may have noticed that I don’t often write about the morning meal. The reason is breakfast is my fifth favorite meal (CMH Gourmand dining order of operations: Dinner, Lunch, Second Lunch, Brunch, Breakfast). Fortunately for me and you, there is a blog about Breakfast in Columbus called Breakfast with Nick. Suzzie’s Beechwold Diner opened on January 2nd. Since the place is in my neighborhood, within walking distance even, I felt an obligation to investigate. Nick lives in the Clintonville as well so we joined forces to check things out. Since breakfast is not my forte I will defer to Nick’s review which you can read HERE.

The Beechwold Diner is a big deal in the neighborhood. Clintonvillites lament about a dearth of dining options in our community (although I would like to see more places, I must say we have a good selection, especially if one gets creative and includes Sage which is on the border). This diner is in the space previously occupied by Rube’s Diner a popular spot in the 1990’s which closed in 2005. The place was then labeled as Gina’s Eatery for almost three years but a combination of mishaps and misfortunes keep Gina’s from ever serving the public. Business looks good for the Beechwold Diner so far although open for less than two weeks a core of regulars has already developed and if I am not mistaken they have a former Rubes waitress working for them.

Breakfast sandwich (sausage, egg and cheese on Texas Toast in the foreground) with potatoes and sausage gravy with biscuits in the back.

On opening day no one showed for the first hour. After that, it was standing room only for 4 hours. Business has remained brisk. The diner serves standard breakfast fare and lunch time staples of soups, sandwiches and salads. There are daily specials and Hillbilly steaks (Ohioans my know this as a bolonga sandwich) to entice people looking for a change of pace. Housemade pies and cakes are made daily as well.

While the menu may be of the greasy spoon genre the space is far from that. Everything is new inside: fresh paint, new stainless steel everything, seven brand new booths and a dozen stools at the granite/marble counters.

Nick taking a photo post breakfast

I have known Nick for over a year now. We have collaborated on food related events at Wild Goose Creative and we are currently working on an event known as Beercamp! Dining with a fellow food writer is always a treat. There are certain unwritten rules for the trade which can be a bit awkward for people that just eat to eat. These are some of the rites we observe: sharing plates, order strategically from the menu to avoid overlap and to maximize the diversity, no one eats before the photos are taken and we ask the staff a lot of questions. As a result I was able to introduce Nick to the concept of chocolate cake for breakfast. We also spoke in depth about the culture and mores of breakfast and diners as well as their meaning to our community and communities everywhere. Speaking of community, there was not much buzz on the Beechwold Diner prior to opening. Their marketing approach was very DIY and included dropping off a flyer at many business locations along Indianola.

After our meal, we went on to do a recon mission at another eatery that is home to the Great American Pecan Roll and a giant three pancake eating challenge. That is another story.

If you would like to support a new business for breakfast and lunch here is where you can go:

Suzzie’s Beechwold Diner
4408 Indianola Ave
Beechwold (The Northern Canton of Clintonville)
614.447.0944
Hours
Monday to Saturday 6 am to 2 pm
Sunday 7 am to 2 pm

Beechwold Diner on Urbanspoon

Posted in breakfast, Clintonville, Diners | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

No More Nancy’s

Posted by cmh gourmand on May 31, 2009

There is no longer a Nancy’s. To be honest, there has not been a Nancy at Nancy’s since the Nixon Administration. Cindy King bought the Clintonville diner in 1970. (The place reopened in early 2010 under new ownership).

In early April, Cindy announced that Nancy’s would be closed effective June 1st. Within a day local newspapers and television reported efforts to save the community icon. Cindy reported her restaurant retirement was due to debts incurred from health problems as well as the need for mandatory renovations and upgrades to the diner required by the City of Columbus. The estimate to bring the diner up to code exceeded $40,000.

Dispatch on Nancy’s

The Clintonville Chamber of Commerce held a fund raiser at the restaurant on April 24th, raising over $3,200. People poured in to offer help, make donations or whatever was needed. Some traveled far to have their last meal at Nancy’s. Offers of free materials and labor to get things up to spec came from a home improvement store, firefighters, pipefitters and neighborhood handymen.

A Facebook page was started which quickly amassed 4,000+ members and hundreds of messages of support in a matter of weeks.

Facebook – Save Nancy’s

A Kegs and Eggs Event was held on May 23rd at local watering hole Patrick J's as a fund raiser.

my guess, people went here - then to Nancys

I wrote about Nancy’s several times for different publishers. I ate there for the first time when I was 5 or 6. I recall a relative remark how impressed they were that I cleaned my plate (a trend that never ended). I did not return until after college when my most of my friends migrated to Clintonville. We would meet up at Nancy’s on the weekends when other friends came back to town. As lives changed, I often ate there solo when I needed a quick comfort meal on the go or if I just needed a reminder that there is community in Columbus or needed a reconnection to Clintonville.

What Nancy’s was about: my friend who had (“coke no ice” was his Nancy’s name) Cindy and company cater his wedding; pouring your own drink or making your own change when needed; not getting flustered if you had to wait and eating fast so others would not have to wait; and paying one price when I wore my OSU sweatshirt with jeans in student mode but forking out another price when I was dressed for work.

There were rules at Nancy’s: No Menu, No Michigan fans, No Credit cards…. If you “got them” you were in.

If you did not get the culture of Nancy’s you never went back. If you did not get it, you probably missed the litmus tests for other life lessons. The food was good. Over the last couple years, it sometimes was just OK. But Nancy’s was not about the food – it was about mojo and spirit and the melting pot of people that would never rub elbows together elsewhere.

“The thing is”, whether or Nancy’s was saved or lost, it was already gone. Nancy’s was always Cindy’s. So if there is no Cindy ladling chicken noodles (and for old timers Ed making garbage omelets and real home fries with sausage gravy) there is no more Nancy’s. In Clintonville, there will be mourning Monday morning (June 1st) but the time has come to say goodbye. It is the end of an era.

What counts is that in a “It’s a Wonderful Life” style, the community rallied and tried the save a memory. That is the best way to say thanks. At the end, over $10,000 was raised for the cause. The money will be donated to a Clintonville area charity. Since Cindy is declaring bankruptcy, she can not use the money for the restaurant.

Chicken and Noodles really is good for the soul..it made a difference to so many people, so many times.

I do wonder what will happen to George, a customer who has probably eaten at Nancy’s almost every day in this decade and mostly likely many decades before. The “eat it and beat it” sign, belongs in a museum or another spot that places people over profit. The signs of demise were on the wall based on what was off the wall in May – years of autographed photos from OSU athletes and local celebrities were missing.

Last Line at Nancys * 11:37 am * May 31st 2009

Last Line at Nancy's * 11:37 am * May 31st 2009

Posted in Clintonville, Diners | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Pepperoni Rolls, Ramps, Hillbilly Hot Dogs and the Poky Dot

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 7, 2009

I am off the road and back to blogging. The previous three weeks have seen me in Honduras for family; Northeast Ohio: Dover, Cadiz, Steubenville, Toronto, East Liverpool, Lisbon and Kent for my paying profession; and Fairmont, West Virginia for my academic and avocational passions. It is good to be home.

Kevin Cordi - Storyteller and New Pepperoni Roll Researcher

Kevin Cordi - Storyteller and New Pepperoni Roll Researcher

So why West Virginia? (Why the other places as well…?) My friend Kevin Cordi is a professional Storyteller and the nations first Storyteller in Residence at The Ohio State University. He has started the internationally known – The Story Box Project. He was invited the Fairmont State University as the keynote speaker for the Mountain State Storytelling Institute. During Columbus Foodcast Episode Four – Storytelling Through Food, an idea started to stew in our heads about how food serves as connection for people. Below is part of our pitch to the Mountain State Story Telling Institute and the reason why I was riding shotgun and acting as a culinary guide on our Appalachian odyssey.

In addition to hosting an incredible weekend of Storytelling, the Mountain State Storytelling Institute, may well be the site of “conception” of a book by keynote speaker Kevin Cordi.

Mr. Cordi has been collaborating with freelance writer and social media guru Jim Ellison on a book combining two of their shared passions – storytelling and food (the order is different depending on the author). This ongoing project is titled “Food, Family, and Folk: A Feast of Stories from the Counters and Tables of the Heartland.” The recipe for this project mixes food lore, personal memories, local histories and the spices of life that help us all connect with the people through the foods of our home towns. The main focus is on iconic regional and local foods.

Kevin and Jim picked Fairmont and the Mountain State Storytelling Institute as the site to launch their journey of culinary discovery into the folkways and foodways of our country. Jim and Kevin’s storytelling heritage hails from generations of family history in the hills of West Virginia. Both look forward to the weekend in Fairmont as an opportunity to reconnect with their roots.

The two writers hope the weekend will end with a notebook, a laptop, a Macbook and two recorders full of memories of Pepperoni Rolls, Ramps, Hillbilly Hot Dogs (and more). These three foods are the focus of the first chapter of their book. They hope you can help with a serving for your thoughts on these West Virginia comfort foods.

As fate would have it, Fairmont is the undisputed home of the Pepperoni Roll, Ramps were in season and I can sniff out a hot dog within a three mile radius so this was the perfect time and place to launch our project. The addition of a free conference registration secured my spot in the Cordimobile.

Our mission was successful. Thanks to everyone at the Mountain Storytelling Institute for their support. I want to especially thank Dr. Judy Byers as well as the students and storytellers at Fairmont University who will be helping us with our melting pot of food stories. I would be remiss not to thank Kevin’s wife, Barbara Allen, for letting Kevin eat his research and for driving us when we were experiencing pepperoni overload induced dementia

In addition to two days of workshops – which included blogging, using Photostory, Ghost Tales, and such, Kevin and I did some serious food research in our off hours. Here are some highlights of our three day expedition.

What is a Pepperoni Roll? It is a small bun of bread with strips of pepperoni baked in the middle. Some places will add cheese, marinara sauce with peppers or other Italian influenced toppings to the mix. Pepperoni Rolls were designed as an easy to eat food for coal miners. It’s origin was at the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont in 1927 or the 1940’s depending on whom you ask. Everyone agrees that the Pepperoni Roll (sometimes called a Pepperoni Bun) is the trademark food of Northcentral West Virginia (with appearances along the Ohio River in parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania).

I did not know that this part of the Mountain state had such a large Italian American population which continues a strong heritage to this day – there are some great Italian Restaurants sprinkled along I 79 from Morganstown to Clarksburg. These links will bring you up to speed on Pepperoni Rolls and their Italian connection.

Wikipedia on the Pepperoni Roll

Bob Heffner’s Pepperoni Roll Page

We dined at a few famous Pepperoni Roll restaurants in town. As researchers we paid our respects to the Country Club Bakery. We had to make a quick dash there in between seminars and before it closed for the weekend. They had sold out of Pepperoni Rolls for the day but Billie Joe behind the counter let me buy a bag set aside in the freezer for Monday’s restaurant orders. The bakery is a small and for pick up only. The walls are covered with articles about the bakery and its place in culinary history. The best article is in the January 2007 issue of Gourmet.

Kevin with Billie Joe at the Country Club Bakery

Kevin with Billie Joe at the Country Club Bakery

As is often the case, the best Pepperoni Roll was at a place we ate at my pure chance and dire circumstances. Mikey’s is a small, easy to miss six-seater sandwich shop near the Country Club Bakery. It was not on my research list. Since we were not inclined to eat the frozen rolls from the Country Club Bakery we needed a quick lunch spot close to the university and Mikey’s was our default choice.

We found the previous Pepperoni Rolls we sampled to be very “bready”. This was not the case here. At Mikey’s they split open the bun and remove a section of the roll for the pepperoni. Then the roll is buttered, cheese is added and on request, they add homemade coney sauce. The whole package goes into the oven for about 10 minutes to heat to a toasty and melting mass of yummy goodness.

Mikeys version of a pepperoni roll

Mikeys version of a pepperoni roll

Ramps were next on the list. I have heard about Ramps my whole life but I have never been in West Virginia during Ramp season. I was able to buy them fresh out of the ground. The gentleman I bought them from took extra time to show me how to handle the roots so that I can plant ramps in my garden so I can grow my own.

Having never eaten Ramps, I was at a loss for how to prepare them. I knew they were pungent with qualities of onions and garlic. One of the women at the Mountain Storytelling Institute had just the book I needed in this situation with recipes for ramps included. It is a great book on West Virgina wild foods by Anna Lee Robe-Terry.

Here is a resource on Ramps.

1985 NY Times article on Ramps

A Hillbilly Hot Dog includes mustard, chili or coney sauce and cole slaw. My mother proclaims that the best Hillbilly Hot Dogs hail from the King Tut Drive In in Beckley, West Virginia. Most mountaineers have strong opinions on their hot dogs and plenty of places to pacify their palates as they debate the merits of one place against another.

We had little time left to hit the Hillbilly Hot Dog hot spots but we did find some time and room for one wiener. In the process we found an incredible diner that was so good we visited it twice.

The Poky Dot

(Beware the music – The Restaurant Widow and I are of like mind about loud music in restaurant web sites – it turns our stomachs.)

At the Poky Dot, they added cheese and pickles to their hot dog. We also found a lot more on the menu that made our mouths water.

Hillbilly Deluxe

Hillbilly Deluxe

This is a classic 50’s style dinner with a funky, eclectic and fun decor. Their fare features incredible house made cheesecakes and pies, huge banana splits and too many items to choose from for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I will let the photos do the describing for me.

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake

Peanut Butter French Toast

Peanut Butter French Toast

To help ease my transition back to Ohio, I stopped at O’Betty’s in Athens for a “Blaze” Hot Dog – cole slaw with locally produced bacon.

This week I am working to refresh my relationship with vegetables. For those of you living in Clintonville: BEWARE, I will be cooking my ramps this weekend and the aroma does carry.

If you are interested in the Story Box Project, there is a box at Wild Goose Creative this month. Check out the WGC web site for more details. If you have a Pepperoni Roll, Ramp or Hillbilly Hot Dog story, send me an e-mail.

Posted in culinary knowledge, Diners, Road Trip | Tagged: , , , | 11 Comments »

Chef-O-Nette (and a serving of Tasty Tremont Center Tips)

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 13, 2008

Chef O Nette
Chef O Nette
2090 Tremont Center
Upper Arlington
614.488.8444

I found myself in a (good) dining rut, I was mainly hitting downtown and Short North eateries. It was time to get back to a baseline and venture away from High Street. You can’t get more basic than Chef O Nette. Walking in, you don’t feel like you are in Arlington, you feel like you are in a small town somewhere, maybe even Mayberry. You also feel like you have walked back in time to the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s. The prices are right here with the most expensive item being $10.95.

A cheeseburger plate with crinkle cut fries and cole slaw will knock you back $5.45. The burgers are thin patties, grilled just right and are served on sesame seed buns. You can also get a Chef-O-Burger – a double, for $2.65. There are some diner classics here: The Hangover – Hamburger, ham, cheese, tomato, lettuce and onion as well as the Sta-Slim Special – Lean ground round patty, cottage cheese, cheese slice, tomatoes, pickle chips, and rye bread.

Burger and Fries

The milkshakes, although on the small side are served in an old school Coke glass and are a standard order for regulars. My favorite thing here is the Cole Slaw. I am constantly on the search for perfect cole slaw, I rarely find this except old diners. Chef-O-Nette does it right here – everything is finely chopped and diced with just the right mix of sauce. This is popular enough that they sell it in pints for $3.25.

Cole Slaw

Chef-O-Nette is a blast from the past. Drop in some time, sit at the counter on one of the red, chair backed stools and enjoy a simple meal. There is also a carry out window here if you are in a rush.

The Tremont Center has a some other good culinary selections as well. There is an Old Bag of Nails here as well as one of the two Moretti’s locations in town. (I can’t quite place why, but the Tremont location of Moretti’s is the better of the two.) Huffman’s Market is here as well, one of the last of the family owned, independent super markets in town. Huffman’s carries some hard to find items that make stepping in worthwhile – Johnson’s Ice Cream, Esther Price Chocolates and Der Dutchman donuts.

Posted in Diners, hamburgers, kid friendly dining, restaurants | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Tommy’s Diner – Not All Greek to Me

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 29, 2007

Tommy’s Diner
914 West Broad Street
614.242.2422

Tommy’s is a downtown destination filled with a continuous flow of steady customers. The décor is quintessential of the 50’s and 60’s with lots of likenesses of James Dean, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando and other hallowed Hollywood stars hanging out (on the wall) mixed in with other nostalgic items and neon signs. This is a classic American diner with bouncy booths, a U shaped counter with stools, black and white checked floors and a retro sign outside.

Tommy Pappas, is the owner, he knows his many regular customers by name. Tommy is more likely to be at the front register– greeting people as they arrive and checking on them as they leave but he still slides behind the grill when he can if he is not mingling around to mediate the banter between servers and patrons at the counter. The servers are very friendly and some can be a little sassy.

Tommy and company behind the grill

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner are served from 6 AM to 3 PM each day. In addition to a large menu of typical diner fare, there are several varieties of gyros as well as lamb and feta enhanced entrees – reflecting Tommy’s Greek heritage. Best bets can often be found among the 5 – 6 daily specials that can vary from corned beef and cabbage to Grecian chicken. Other favorites include old-fashioned milkshakes and house made rice pudding.

The food gets you to the door and the fun and friendly staff that treat you like family keep you coming back.

Diner of the stars?.. Kathy Pappas, Tommy, Marilyn, and the King

Tommy minding the till…

Corned Beef and Cabbage – a daily special

Tuna Melt with Curly Fries

Tommy's Diner on Urbanspoon

Posted in Columbus, Diners, restaurant reviews, restaurants | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Nancy’s Home Cooking – Clintonville Landmark

Posted by cmh gourmand on December 5, 2006

Nancy’s Home Cooking
3133 N. High Street
Columbus, OH
265-9012

Nancy's

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.

Chicken and Noodles

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.

Posted in Clintonville, Diners, restaurants | 2 Comments »

Starliner Diner – nothing finer…..

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 2, 2006

Starliner Diner
5240 Cemetery Road
Hilliard, Ohio 43206

614.529.1198

Starliner Diner Link
Tuesday • Wednesday • Thursday
9:00 am – 3:00 pm
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Friday • Saturday
9:00 am – 3:00 pm
5:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Sunday
9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Monday
Closed

I hate driving to Hilliard, I only do so from one reason – Starliner Diner. I never get tired of the menu. For most of us there is no quick or easy way to make a journey there, unless you live in Hilliard or just love to drive. From central Columbus, one must travel over the river and through the strip malls, and still drive a bit more, before arriving. The journey is a taste of suburbia and urban sprawl but the destination is worth the effort.

The genesis of the Starliner Diner began when Jerry Burgos – rocketed away from The Galaxy Cafe (my favorite restaurant of all time – gone for many years now). For years, people debated whether Starliner Diner or The Galaxy was better. The answer is they were both equals – the influences, attitude, and atmosphere were so similar but had enough subtle differences to give each an identity of their own. The food is a fusion of Cuban/Tex-Mex/diner cooking styles. The Starliner features eclectic furnishing, mismatched tableware, a space themed mural on the wall, and assorted flea marketesque everything else. Since this is South of the Border fare, the sounds of Spanish coming from the kitchen gives me a good feeling. The serving staff is a mix of young and middle-aged folks, as are the patrons.

Starliner Mural

I have enjoyed anything ever served for breakfast here. The Huevos Rancheros and Breakfast Burritos are among the best in the Columbus metropolitan area. Several breakfast specials are offered which vary by the day. These specials are so good; I have been prevented from fully exploring other items on the regular breakfast menu. The Crabcakes are my favorite breakfast special – two crabcakes swimming in black beans, covered by two poached eggs, with red salsa on one cake and green on the other. The sweet potato omelet is a close second.

Starliner omlet

(above – sweet potato omelet, with homefries and cuban toast)

An array of appetizers helps pass the time while you struggle and ponder on which main course to get. The Quesadillas are a personal favorite and the Sweet Potato Tamales are worth a taste, if just to support this unappreciated tuber.

The dinner selections include pizzas, pastas, and large plates of food in various combinations. The Media Noche – a traditional Cuban sandwich, with pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard on a grilled bun is a safe introduction to Cuban cuisine. For something more traditional the Cuban Style Roast Chicken, seems to please the meek of palate. The pizza and pasta category choices include – Cheeseless Veggie Pizza , Chicken BBQ pizza and one of my favorites pasta dishes, Vegetable Caliente – Mixed vegetables, smoked chipotle cream sauce tossed with spinach fettuccini. There is something for everyone (from conservative redneck to liberal culinary snob) on the menu. You will also find exceptional plantains as an appetizer or as a side with some dishes.

The Starliner is the type of place, which people could drive by, or even take a quick peek at then decide to head down the road for a more familiar meal. However, once someone makes it through the door, they are hooked.

Starliner Diner on Urbanspoon

Posted in breakfast, Diners, restaurant reviews, restaurants, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: | 4 Comments »