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Monthly Archives: October 2010

Photos: Real Food Cafe expansion

Some quick photos from Real Food Cafe in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This is my hometown stop. Whenever we visit family up in GR, we may at least one visit to Real Food. I just snapped a couple pictures of their space as they’re expanding the restaurant. You can see the expanded space to the left, and some new signage up front.

Here’s the space as it exists, although the counter has been lengthened (see the bottom right corner). There may be a bakery display case coming, at least so I’ve heard.

Die hard Real Foodies (like that?) are familiar with a Saturday morning wait. The expansion includes a new waiting area, which is handy for breakfasters seated up front. No more waiting crowds standing around your table.

And eventually the new seating area will open. Word is that they’re just waiting for tables and chairs to arrive. This should add about 20 seats to the restaurant. So if the line has ever kept you away from Real Food, you will no longer have an excuse!

Photos: breakfast at the Pumpkin Show

When I hear Bing Crosby sing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” I don’t automatically think of Christmas. I think of that week in mid-October when the town of Circleville, Ohio transforms itself into the “Greatest Free Show on Earth:” the Circleville Pumpkin Show.

I went with my family today, and we enjoyed the usual bustling crowd, screaming kids on fair rides, and pumpkins galore. Not only can you buy more pumpkins than one human being could possibly need, you can sample all sorts of goodies infused with pumpkin: fudge, waffles, chili, sloppy joes, cream puffs, you name it.

And if breakfast is your thing – like me – you can get your fill at the pumpkin show. Actually, I think I saw more specific breakfast options today than in years past. A couple highlights: pictured above is Gibson’s Cafe, your stop for sausage gravy & biscuits. They offer coffee as well, but I recommend seeking out some of the pumpkin coffees around the festival instead.

The Kiwanis club is serving pumpkin pancakes all day. Options include plates of one, two, or three pancakes, plus a side of sausage.

And the real breakfast draw? A taste of donuts, the rock star of the morning pastry world. Several different food stands serve up large and small pumpkin donuts, but everyone knows you really need to line up outside Lindsey’s Bakery for some of the best.

Don’t be intimidated by the line. It moves quickly.

Inside you’ll find a cream-colored, hasn’t-changed-for-decades bakery with carpeted floors. It’s about as old school, small town as you can get. The team at Lindsey’s will serve over 100,000 of their pumpkin donuts during the four days of the festival.

With a “friendly” reminder that they do, indeed, make these donuts year round.

Lindsey’s pumpkin donuts are some of my all-time favorites. They’re cakey, a little spicy, with a thin glaze. Get ‘em warm, and you’ll get a true taste of fall with these beauties.

Photos: chicken and waffles photoshoot at North Market

I’m looking over the title of this post and re-reading the phrase “chicken and waffles photoshoot.” Hmmm… yes. Yes, food porn, indeed.

Consider this post a little “behind the scenes” about the latest (614) Magazine article, all about three spots where you can pick up chicken and waffles around Columbus. Part of the fun and mission of these articles is to find out more about these restaurants and get to know the enthusiastic owners behind them, and this is a way to share a little more!

We met up with our trusty (614) photographer Chris Casella, and were joined by Jean-Francois Flechet of Taste of Belgium and Dan Bandman from Kitchen Little.

[Emperor Palpatine voice]: You want this…

This edition of chicken and waffles sprung from the collaboration of Kitchen Little and Taste of Belgium, part of the busy crowd at the North Market. They began the chicken and waffles collaboration in January 2010.

Kitchen Little has been serving delicious slow food for some time, although the name itself is new. I reviewed them as North Market Poultry & Game three years ago, early on in the life of this blog.

Dan from KL gave me the low-down on their side of the chicken and waffles meet-up. They get their chicken every other day from an Amish co-op in Kidron, Ohio. Their cutlets are prepared daily, pounded thin and soaked overnight in a buttermilk and hot sauce mixture. It’s breaded in panko and given a quick pan sear. The result is a tender piece of chicken with an amazingly tasty crust.

Contributing the waffles is, of course, Taste of Belgium. ToB has been in the North Market since June of 2009, and their arrival prompted everyone in Columbus to reevaluate how they thought about waffles. Jean-Francois and his team crank out waffles based on a family recipe from the Liege region of Belgium. The batter’s packed with beet sugar, leaving the waffles crispy and caramelized, and a perfect match for Kitchen Little’s chicken. Combine the two and top with Frank’s hot sauce and maple syrup, and you’ve got a sweet and savory combination that’s worth tracking down the next time you’re in Franklin County.

Taste of Belgium moved recently from their original location on the south side of market, to right across from Kitchen Little. The new location has been much busier, and has thankfully led to collaborations like the chicken and waffles.

We also had the opportunity to chat with R. J. White, the general manager of the North Market Taste of Belgium (they have another location in Cincinnati’s Findlay Market, too).

A. J. plugged their Fiesta Friday specials, and whipped up a sample version of their Waffles Rancheros. The Rancheros start with the standard waffle, topped with eggs, a black bean and corn salsa, peppers and onions, chorizo, and cilantro.

If all of that hasn’t tempted you, don’t forget that Taste of Belgium still does crepes well, too!

If you want these chicken and waffles:
Taste of Belgium (@TasteofBelgium) & Kitchen Little (@KitchenLittleOH)
in the North Market
59 Spruce St.
Served every day, Tuesday through Saturday.

Dan’s Drive-In | Columbus, OH

Dan’s Drive-In
1881 S. High St.
Columbus, OH 43207
(614) 444-7590
Open Mon – Sat, 7 am – 9 pm; Sun 7 am – 3 pm
Accepts cash and credit cards

Date of Visit: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 at 9:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: Dan’s has long been on my to-visit list of Columbus diners. I remember doing a double-take years ago when I drove past it on South High Street. “Wait, there’s a diner there?” I said as I blazed by. But a little “research” for a certain article in (614) Magazine led me to this South Side mainstay.

ATMOSPHERE: Walking into Dan’s is taking a step back into a history that’s been carefully recreated in gleaming chrome and shiny red pleather. The “classic American diner” that’s boasted on the signs is indeed alive and kicking, although maybe in a little too neat-and-polished type of way.

A quick look around shows you that Dan’s clearly has its regulars, thus it fulfills part of the criteria for being an old-school diner. When my bro-in-law and I visited, we found the regular group of old guys all crowded around a table shootin’ the, well, you know.

A plaque near the front door gives you some context for the history of Dan’s. The lowdown is: Dan’s claims to be Columbus’ oldest drive-in, started downtown by Dan Manes in 1952. Later that decade, he moved it to the current location, and it’s changed hands several times over the years, including a few years ownership under Nick Bergados, chef of the now-gone Taverna Opa. Nick apparently headed up the revamp of the space.

To be honest, the redesign looks beautiful. It’s sparkling clean and colorful. Everything matches. The ceiling fans have sets of blades that turn opposite each other…

…a big display behind the counter showcases model cars, neon signs, flags, and brand name kitsch…

…and the walls and shelves are lined with little knick-knacks.

BUT… the end result is a beautiful diner that feels a little sterile. Yes, the building retains the old school shape and layout, but the decor is a little too placed, and you lose the charm of similar diners like Jack’s Sandwich Shop. Maybe there’s a lot of original pieces left from the 1950’s, but they get lost amongst all the shine.

FOOD: As with the decor, Dan’s gives you all the diner standards, in a pretty unassuming and straightforward manner. But there are no frills, aside from a couple of Greek specialties.

I ordered the Traditional Breakfast, which breaks the bank at $4.79. All told, this includes two eggs, bacon, home fries or grits, and toast. Eggs were good, bacon and potatoes crispy, toast buttery. It all needed some salt and pepper to punch it up, otherwise it was just another not-bad breakfast. Washed this down with some decent diner brown coffee.

My brother-in-law ordered the Meat Lovers Omelet. He had actually ordered the skillet version of this, but the server misheard him. Still, he liked it, but said it was nothing to write home about.

Unrelated side note: Dan’s serves Frostop Root Beer on tap. Points!

SERVICE: I got to chat a little bit with current owner Lucky Sahota, and he seems very proud of the work they do at Dan’s. Lucky has owned a handful of restaurants around the world, most recently in New Zealand, and he has big ideas for the diner here. He plans, in the next year or so, to expand the true drive-in experience, and bring back car service, complete with girls on roller skates bringing you burgers and shakes. It would be great to see him really embrace the history of Dan’s and focus on bringing out even more of its original character.

OVERALL: Dan’s is a good stop to observe a bit of Columbus culinary history and have a decent breakfast. You can easily join the ranks of their regulars, and if diner culture is your thing, it’s worth at least one visit.


Dan's Drive in on Urbanspoon


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