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Monthly Archives: March 2011

Der Dutchman | Plain City, OH

Der Dutchman (Facebook)
445 S. Jefferson Route 42 (map it!)
Plain City, OH 43064
(614) 873-3414
Open Mon-Thurs, 6 am – 8 pm; Fri & Sat, 6 am – 9 pm (bfast served until 11)
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? N/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Saturday, February 26, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: Alton Brown once said, in the opening of his miniseries Feasting on Asphalt, that a good restaurant, above all, will not deny its DNA. Meaning that a restaurant should always be true to what it really is. If you’re a hot dog stand, he said, be a hot dog stand. Don’t try to be a BBQ joint. Be honest with what you do, and do that well. More and more, I find this is true, especially for breakfast joints. Some of my favorite places aren’t very sophisticated. They’re not that original. They serve food that you can find in thousands of restaurants across the country. But when they’re true to themselves, and honest to their customers about what they really do, the result is delightful. This is why die-hard fans treat the average neighborhood diner like a mecca for haute cuisine: because the restaurant is honest about what it does, and customers can accept and love it for what it is, and nothing more.

Such is true for Der Dutchman. It’s a giant restaurant with parking for tour buses. It’s a prime example of that genre of restaurant labeled Amish or Dutch. They serve simple comfort food in large portions. And we love it.

ATMOSPHERE: I had one request for my birthday this year: to eat at Der Dutchman’s breakfast buffet. So a large group of friends and family (nineteen in all, yo!) joined me on the twenty-five minute trek out to Plain City, Ohio. Even on a busy Saturday morning, when we called about 30 minutes ahead, we were still seated fairly quickly. It’s a testament to Der Dutchman’s ability to handle large groups that the waiting area is so large.

Here we are at the table. Nineteen of us. They didn’t bat an eye.

The dining room is extensive and infinitely arrangeable. The largest portion can be subdivided into smaller rooms.

It’s a busy place. Lots of people. Lots of servers. Lots of food.

FOOD: And behold, the glorious breakfast buffet. It’s a breakfast blogger’s dream: scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, French toast, potatoes, sausage gravy, grits, and all of the accoutrement. Piles and piles of it, in a piping hot buffet. There’s something for everyone (although vegetarians and vegans may be hard-pressed).

There are actually two buffet lines, and you can approach each from either side. Clearly designed to handle the crowds.

Mmm… large bins for bacon.

Funky jellied fruit desserts.

A visit to Der Dutchman wouldn’t be complete without a taste of their donuts. The restaurant has a separate in-house bakery with cakes, bread, and pastries (see below for pics). They helpfully cut the longjohns into manageable sections; otherwise, you’d be stuffing yourself on a single donut. (If you’re a fan of Der Dutchman’s donuts – which you should be – look in the upper right hand corner of their bakery’s website to download a PDF telling you where to find them in Columbus. I recommend Hills Market for a stop.)

Plate #1: scrambled eggs, fried corn mush, potatoes, sausage gravy, a biscuit, some bacon, a piece of donut.

Plate #2: more scrambled eggs and sausage gravy, pancakes, French toast sticks.

Plate #3 (don’t hate me – it’s a buffet and it was my birthday): sausage gravy, mush, bacon, sausage links, and some lava hot raspberry crumble. All of the food is good. Not exceptional, but good. The eggs, for instance, are a tad undercooked so they don’t dry out in the buffet. The bacon and sausage is simple. Sausage gravy is chunky and well seasoned. Fried mush is crispy and oily. You won’t find any surprises in the buffet, but there’s plenty here to satisfy the breakfast lover.

As an added bonus to the experience my wife and our friend Libby (who runs the bakery at Hills Market) made me a special breakfast diner birthday cake. Everything on it was edible. The folks at Der Dutchman were kind enough to let us bring it in.

If you’re not full enough, you can stop by the bakery for more donuts. I’m surprised there’s not a checkpoint in northwest Columbus, at which armed guards require you to show a box of Der Dutchman donuts if you’re traveling in from Plain City. Like everything else they do, Der Dutchman donuts are big and tasty.

SERVICE: In order to run their buffets successfully, Der Dutchman employs a veritable army of servers, all wearing these slightly outdated red aprons. But they handle the crowds smoothly. I was amazed that our entire table had ONE server dedicated to it. She hardly flinched. Do note, though, that with big groups they can split checks, but they’ll calculate your tip, too, at only 10%. Make sure you tip appropriately.

OVERALL: Der Dutchman is true to its DNA. Nothing fancy. Lots of comfort food. Served in bulk. With a bakery and a gift shop attached. Be a good tourist and pay it a visit.

Der Dutchman on Urbanspoon

Photos: The Angry Baker

My son Will has been jetting around town with me, exploring breakfast joints and collecting info for the book. Yesterday, just before we set out, we saw on Twitter that Johnny DiLoretto was live at The Angry Baker. Since we were passing through the area, we stopped in to watch them tape their last segment.

We watched them make their French toast sandwich, and then got to sample it. It was simply delicious: custardy soft french toast that you could cut with the side of your fork, with salty ham and cheese plus sweet (and real!) maple syrup.

I still need to do an “official” visit to Angry Baker, but their small breakfast menu, plus the load of pastries, looks really promising. Such a nice addition to Olde Towne East.

The space includes seating at the counter or at some cafe tables. The counter seating lets you watch all the action in the kitchen.

If you haven’t dropped by yet, you need to!

The Angry Baker
891 Oak St.
(614) 947-0976
www.theangrybakerote.com

Katalina’s Cafe Corner | Columbus, OH

Katalina’s Cafe Corner (Facebook / @cafecorner)
1105 Pennsylvania Ave.
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 294-2233
Open daily 8a-9p (bfast served all day!)
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y-ish

Date of Visit: Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 1:00 p.m.

IMPRESSIONS: Here’s the story. My wife and I used to live just down the street from Cafe Corner. I remember my first visit when it was essentially a wide open coffee shop. They had decent coffee. They had public computers. It was good, but nothing that really drew me back. Then, slowly, the owners expanded and revamped. We heard more and more about the sandwiches. They built a patio. They made the most of that tiny corner spot on Third and Pennsylvania Avenues. We visited during Restaurant Week 2009 and I reviewed it. And loved it. The Cafe has since transitioned into the hands of Kathleen Day, who has continued to make it a culinary hotspot.

ATMOSPHERE: The cafe itself is pretty small, as the building is a former gas station (see picture of it at the end of this post). There are maybe 7 tables total, plus a few seats at a counter looking out the front window. So beware if you’re coming with a big group. Of course, the game changes in spring and summer, when their big, beautiful patio triples the amount of seating.

The decor mixes elements of country kitchen with trendy cafe. One thing I always love to see in breakfast places are hand-written signs. The aesthetics appeal to me, and it shows that their menu is changeable based on specials, seasonal ingredients, or just plain old rotating offerings.

Self-serve coffee setup featuring Stauf’s roasts.

Visually, the whole cafe is fun to look at: big, bright windows. Colorful menu boards. Homemade iced tea served in mason jars.

FOOD: The breakfast menu covers your standards, but delightfully goes beyond that with things like Hens in a Basket, Breakfast Tacos, and Truffled Egg Sandwiches. This is, indeed, a foodie’s breakfast.

If anyone in your party is not-so-adventurous, they’ll be satisfied with the Classic Breakfast, all done right. Toast, crispy bacon, eggs scrambled and not overdone, plus good, crispy hash browns.

You can (and should) get sandwiches for breakfast, too. Here’s my wife’s Fig & Prosciutto, with provolone, white truffle oil, and a balsamic reduction. It’s such a creative interplay between salty prosciutto and sweet figs. Really a big hit.

Swedish pancake balls! Essentially fried dough balls dusted with powdered sugar. You can get them filled with Nutella or strawberry preserves. I asked the guy at the counter if he suggested one over the other. I barely got the question out before he answered, “Nutella.” And he wasn’t wrong. These are soft, warm, doughy balls of sweet goodness. Plus you can dip them in maple syrup. Also, this comes with a side of CC’s sweet and spicy bacon (which I didn’t get a picture of – gah!). I’ve long been hesitant to list anything as my favorite bacon on my best-of list – I still have lots of exploring to do – but this takes the top spot. The bacon is thick cut, and the topping is a sticky sweet mess with a bite at the back of the throat. I was delightfully surprised by it.

The Prosciutto Mozzarella sandwich, with a tomato-basil pesto and balsamic reduction. So good…

I was drawn to Cafe Corner this day by a weekend special of Eggs Benedicto, aka the Mexican Eggs Benedict (it has been offered again since). There’s the standard poached eggs, but they’re served with prosciutto on a toasted croissant, and a chipotle hollandaise. Um. Yes. Please. Eggs benedict is one of my favorite breakfasts, and I’ve neglected to properly research them in Columbus. But if CC’s is anything to go by… it’s gonna be a fun adventure. I loved almost everything about these. Eggs were perfect, croissant is a very nice touch, hollandaise was light and yet flavorful. I really liked the prosciutto, but it pushes things toward the salty side (obviously), and its nature makes it a little hard to cut with a knife. Eggs benedict is not a sandwich, so you have to use silverware, and I like being able to cut nice portions of egg, meat, and bread. The prosciutto made that a little difficult to do. That said, it all tastes lovely. You must try it.

Side of hash browns. Nice and crispy. Not tons of seasoning, but they’re done right without being greasy.

SERVICE: The cafe service is run at the counter. Place your order there, take a number, and find a table. Coffee and drinks are self-serve. The folks at the counter are very nice – not terribly talkative – but very helpful. (Cafe Corner also does a healthy take-out business. The old owners, after all, started the breakfast delivery service Late Night Eggs out of this space; it has since been relocated to the campus area and renamed Eggfast. Edit: Eggfast is now closed.)

Kathleen shared this picture from the Cafe’s history with me. Here it is in yesteryear as a corner gas station. Makes you really appreciate how much the neighborhood has changed over the decades.

OVERALL: I look forward to more return visits to Cafe Corner. Having moved away from the neighborhood is no excuse not to be back more often, especially with that patio enticing us in the spring and summer months. And that menu is sufficiently big and creative that we’ve still got lots of exploring to do.

Katalina's Cafe Corner on Urbanspoon

Luck Bros Coffee House | Columbus, OH

Luck Bros Coffee House (Facebook / @luckbros)
1101 W. 1st Ave. (map it!)
Grandview, OH 43212
(614) 299-9330
Open Mon-Fri, 7 am – 7 pm; Sat & Sun, 8 am – 7 pm
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Friday, February 4, 2011 at 9:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: Those of us living in Columbus recognize that our city’s culinary scene is and deserves to be well known for a lot of good reasons. Our ice cream is famous. We have multiple James Beard Award nominees. Even some of our sandwiches are infamous. But other areas deserve more attention, and I submit for your consideration: our coffee scene. We’ve got some world-class roasters and top notch baristas. They’ll more-than-gladly show you how to roast your beans properly, and teach you correct brewing , help you delve into the world of latte art. They are passionate and fiercely defensive of Columbus coffee. And one of the stars of this coffee scene is Andy Luck and Luck Bros Coffee House.

ATMOSPHERE: Luck Bros is a quiet little coffee shop in a curving retail strip in Grandview, along with Marshall’s, the Old Bag of Nails, and a few other stops. The shop itself is a favorite for studiers; it’s got lots of space and plenty of quiet corners. Booths, tables, and even a small patio out front give you plenty of places to sit and sip.

Andy and his crew are dedicated to coffee culture. Even their website is loaded with info on brewing techniques, storage, and proper grinding. You can order a standard cup o’ coffee or all of your coffee shop creations at Luck Bros, but if you really want to experience coffee, you should sidle up to the brew bar. Here they prepare single cups of the beans that Andy imports from all over – some in town, some out. The great thing about the brew bar is getting to watch your coffee being prepared. Beans are carefully ground, filtered through Hario V60 filters (pictured above). These regulate how the water and grounds interact. Hot water is poured from a stainless steel Hario kettle, with a long, thin spout. This offers superb control over the water flow. Coffees are always high quality, and range in prices from $2.25 for a standard cup, or up to $15 per cup and beyond for super specialized beans. The result is always coffee the way it’s meant to be, with such rich flavors and aromas, you’ll forget you’ve ever heard of cream and sugar.

FOOD: Aside from your regular coffee shop pastries, Luck Bros offers a breakfast bake, made fresh every day. A generous slice of the bake will keep you filled longer than a muffin. Andy said the bake comes from an old family recipe, which he was also kind enough to post on their website. It’s a fairly simple casserole-like dish, layering eggs, cheese, hash browns, and kielbasa. It’s very easy to like.

SERVICE: The morning we visited, a barista named Sarah was at work, and she was super, super nice. Andy clear teaches his employees to love coffee and coffee culture as much as him. Sarah was very knowledgeable and interactive as we ordered our coffee and breakfast.

OVERALL: Just go to Luck Bros and try the coffee. Let Andy tell you about the beans he’s purchased. Watch him brew you the right cup of coffee. Stop and read a book. Relish yet another superlative reason why Columbus is a great – if sometimes under-appreciated – city in which to live, eat, and drink.

OTHER LINKS:
-> my write-up on breakfast in coffee shops for (614) Magazine

Luck Brothers Coffee House on Urbanspoon

Taste of Belgium (Wexner Center) | Columbus, OH

UPDATE: The Taste of Belgium location in the Wexner Center has CLOSED. The North Market location is open.]

Taste of Belgium (Facebook / @TOBWex)
1871 N. High St. (inside the Wexner Center for the Arts)
Columbus, OH 43210
(614) 292-2233
Open Mon-Fri, 8 am – 4 pm
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Monday, January 31, 2011 at 12:30 p.m.

IMPRESSIONS: I’ve been a fan of Taste of Belgium’s waffles for some time now, having first discovered them when they opened a stall at the North Market. If you’ve never tried one of their signatures, you’re missing an opportunity to re-define how you think about waffles. Here they serve the authentic Belgian version, which are very unlike your thin, flat toaster-made waffle. A true Belgian waffle (Liege-style, at least) is made using a thick batter infused with beet sugar. The waffle is smaller, thicker, marbled with caramelized sugars, and a wonderful hand-held snack.

The Wexner location is Taste of Belgium’s second in Columbus. The Wexner announced months ago that they were seeking a replacement for the generic Cam’s on Campus. In my opinion, ToB is the perfect fit for the Wexner: still a casual cafe and coffee shop, but with an international flair.

ATMOSPHERE: You can find the cafe by heading down the big staircase in the Wexner’s main entryway. It’s hard to miss once you get to the lower floor (where you’ll also find the entrances to the bookstore, video theatre, galleries, etc.). Line yourself up to order at the counter.

You may have to step forward to grab a menu while you wait in line. This isn’t too bad to deal with if you’re know about it, but I think it would be handy if they put more of their menu on the wall. You can help out, though: once you’re done with your menu, be a pal and pass it back to the next person.

There’s a fair amount of seating around the cafe. Once you’ve ordered, take your number and find a table. Be advised that, during peak hours, tables can fill up. You are on the campus of the largest university in America, after all.

The cafe seating is nice and bright, even though you’re partially below ground.

FOOD: Because this location of ToB is more of a traditional cafe, their menu is expanded beyond the waffles, crepes, and coffee offered in the North Market. The market is aimed more so at the walk-and-eat crowd. Here you’ll find the full coffee shop lineup of drinks: espresso, lattes, cappuccinos, all made using coffee from Coffee Emporium in Cincinnati. Other drinks include hot and cold cider, tea, or blended drinks using coffee or fruit. Food-wise, you’ve got sweet and savory crepes; soup, salad, and sandwiches; fruit, yogurt, and muesli; frittatas; and oatmeal. Really a nice mix.

Taste of Belgium’s signature piece is the waffle, so the cafe offers a couple different spins on it. I ordered the Waffles Rancheros.

The Rancheros takes one of their waffles, and adds a small souffle-like pile of scrambled eggs, topped with a spicy salsa. Comes with a side salad with a dash of vinaigrette.

Nice cross section of it. The Rancheros are a little hard to cut with a fork and knife – the eggs are fluffy but the waffle’s a little crisp. Still, the combination of sweet waffle, savory eggs, and spicy salsa comes together well. Add the salad to that, and baby, you’ve got a lunch on.

If you’re in a sweeter mood (awww…), you can order the waffle with toppings. You have a choice of fruit – that day it was blueberries or bananas – plus optional whipped cream (note: whipped cream is not really an optional thing). The fruit and sweet cream are a nice complement to the dense, sugary waffle.

SERVICE: Despite the sometimes long lines (especially in between classes), the food service is pretty quick. If you’re eating in the cafe, just take your number to your table and they’ll find you. The folks behind the counter are nice – not terribly talkative – but nice nonetheless.

OVERALL: I’m very glad to have Taste of Belgium on campus. I think the fit is perfect for the Wexner Center, and it offers an alternative to the fast food along High Street or all the campus-run cafeterias. I hope that the campus community appreciates what we have here, and that Taste of Belgium becomes a mainstay of OSU dining.

OTHER LINKS
:
-> full Taste of Belgium website

Taste of Belgium at the Wex on Urbanspoon

Photos: TeeJaye’s revisit

Just a couple of quick pictures from a recent visit to one of the TeeJaye’s Country Place restaurants. We were invited there by owner Randy Sokol, and had the opportunity to learn some more about the forty-year history of their restaurant. TeeJaye’s was started by Randy’s father, who previously owned a chain of twenty-nine Beverlee’s Drive-Ins around Ohio. While there, I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures of the food. I tried their cornmeal pancakes for the first time. The texture is different than normal buttermilk pancakes, denser and grainier.

My son dove in to some chocolate chip cornmeal pancakes, scrambled eggs, and sausage links.

And one of our dining companions had the (in)famous Barnyard Buster. Biscuits, potatoes, and eggs covered in sausage gravy. Randy said the Buster has its own cheering section. I just noticed recently that TeeJaye’s website is actually BarnyardBuster.com.

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