Over the Christmas break, my wife and I visited our families. And any stop up in Grand Rapids, Michigan merits a visit to one of our all-time favorite breakfast joints: Real Food Cafe. I’ve reviewed the Cafe before, but just had a share a picture I got with one of the owners, Frank Amodeo. Frank kindly took a moment out of his hectic Saturday morning for a photo op.
Monthly Archives: January 2009
Our Lakeside Diner
11143 Hebron Rd.
Buckeye Lake, OH 43008
Open Mon-Thurs 7-6; Fri 7-8; Sat-Sun 7-4
Accepts cash and credit cards
Date of Visit: Saturday, January 17, 2009 at 10:15 a.m.
IMPRESSIONS: This review will be rather short, because my visit to Our Lakeside Diner was an impromptu detour while my brother-in-law Chip and I were stopping in Buckeye Lake. It was a snowy Saturday morning, and we were picking up a heavy old vending machine for the arts company of which I’m a founding member. As we were driving out of town, we found this little gem near the lake, and given our propensity for small diners, we had to stop.
ATMOSPHERE: Chip and I loved the atmosphere of this place instantly: small and local. The restaurant is a painted cinder block building, with about a dozen booths and tables, a counter toward the back, and a set of doors leading into the kitchen. The place was empty except for a foursome of middle-aged folks lounging around one of the center tables. They sat and drank coffee and talked about sports and the weather and traveling to Alaska. Chip and I figured that they have probably been coming to the diner regularly, sitting at the same table and talking about pretty much the same thing every Saturday morning for years. We decided that we would like to spend our retirement that way, too.
The cinder block walls were painted white and aqua green, with all sorts of fishing knick-knacks on the walls (we were within a stone’s throw of the Buckeye Lake, after all). The decor included a smattering of tiny fish stickers slapped on the walls.
The table setup included salt and pepper, a basket of jam, sugar, a roll of paper towels, and a decanter of syrup. It felt kinda like sitting in your own kitchen.
The menus were clearly printed on any old printer, and the prices were DIRT. CHEAP. My entire meal, including my coffee, was $4.25. The most expensive thing I could find on the menu was $5.75. Our Lakeside Diner serves breakfast all day (bonus!), but they also serve sandwiches and other lunch items, plus they have a kids’ menu.
FOOD: Like many diners, the food here didn’t stand out. It’s quickly prepared, a little greasy, and pretty straightforward; you don’t go to diners for complex fare or new innovations in morning cuisine. The dishes at your typical diner have been prepared the same way for many, many years (which keeps regulars like the table of four returning time and again), just about every diner makes the same combinations of eggs/meat/potatoes/toast the same way around the country. Our Lakeside Diner is no exception.
The coffee was served in clear glass mugs, and the silverware came wrapped in thin plastic. When Chip and I first tasted our coffee, we looked at each other and both said, “Well, at least it’s warm.” This was some of the weakest brown I’ve tasted. I mean, seriously, I poured a couple tablespoons of sugar into the coffee and the flavor still didn’t improve. But we admitted that its true value was keeping us from freezing on a 20 degree day.
We both ordered the Wake Me Up breakfast: three eggs, potatoes, meat, toast, and your coffee. It’s a healthy helping of the standard diner breakfast, and like the coffee, it was warm, filling, and unexceptional (but not bad). The eggs were fine, the potatoes crispy and salty, and the bacon cracked in your mouth when you bit it. Add the coffee and some buttered toast, and baby, you’ve got a breakfast on.
SERVICE: There was one middle-aged woman serving us that day. She called us “hon,” refilled our coffee constantly, and even offered to bring Chip a new egg when one of his over-easys broke. She felt a little like a stern mother – watchful and polite – and I found myself remembering my “pleases” and thank-yous.”
OVERALL: I certainly wouldn’t go out of the way to eat here again, but as a novelty stop, and as one more example of the classic American diner, Our Lakeside Diner was a fun place to visit. If I’m ever traveling to Buckeye Lake again, I’d consider stopping for lunch or an inexpensive breakfast. Places like this are hard to beat: their prices are dirt cheap, the service is friendly, and its a chance to spot the locals in one of their regular eateries. If you’re passing through Buckeye Lake, stop on by to grab some breakfast! You’ll be able to pay for it with the change in your pocket.
A good breakfast start to the New Year! This is my plate of food at the Wild Goose Creative New Year’s Festival brunch. After kicking things off with a party last night, we began slowly this morning with a brunch of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, juice, coffee, and muffins. There’s something really special about a quiet breakfast after all the noise and hype of New Year’s Eve.
Anyway, Happy New Year, everyone! You’re welcome to join us at any time during the Festival. You can check the schedule and register here. And don’t forget that you’re welcome to join me tomorrow at 9 a.m. at
Banana Bean Cafe (340 Greenlawn Ave.) for breakfast. You can meet directly at the restaurant, or at the Wild Goose space (2491 Summit St.) at 8:30 to carpool down there.