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Beyond Breakfast: Marino’s Seafood Fish & Chips | Columbus, OH

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Marino’s Seafood Fish & Chips
(Facebook)

1216 W. Fifth Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 481-8428
Open Mon-Fri, 10:30a-9p; Sat, 11a-9p (all you can eat served 4-7p Mon-Fri, all day Sat)
Accepts cash & credit/debit

Visited: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 5:30p

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On a recent cold, weekday night, we found ourselves wanting to go out. We were thinking about supporting a local restaurant after seeing a post from Donnie Austin at House Wine. He had encouraged everyone to hit up a local restaurant, bar, or shop to everyone recover from rough winter sales. So we found ourselves cruising down Fifth Avenue heading into Grandview. As we came down Fifth, the yellow signage of Marino’s Seafood – a place we had never visited – caught me eye, and before we knew it, we were pulling into the parking lot.

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I didn’t eat a lot of seafood growing up, although I’m certainly trying to make up for lost time in adulthood. So I don’t have a history with any seafood spots (I think we had Long John Silvers and Red Lobster nearby growing up), but I do recognize the old-schoolness of fast food places. Take, for instance, the big bendy microphone at the ordering counter. This makes me think of a Burger King near our house growing up; I always found it funny how anyone could keep things organized with orders simply being called out over a scratchy loudspeaker.

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Although the big, yellow-lettered menu boards confused me at first (so many options!), I found a handful of picture menus and whiteboards helpfully suggesting specials or favorite combos.

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I’ll be honest: in places like this, I look for the word “platter.” If I can’t find it, the word “dinner” will suffice. That usually signifies a bulked up plate of nearly everything. I love me a big fried plate of everything.

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Let’s start small: sides of macaroni salad and slaw. Both simple but very likable. Slaw is the on sweet side.

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And then the baskets of golden fried goodness began arriving, starting with my seafood platter. The platter (technically a basket) included fish, shrimp, scallops, chips, and hush puppies. All of these pictures look a little yellow-ish. That’s in part from the batter, but more so from the yellow glass lanterns hanging around the restaurant.

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Then there’s Mrs. Bfast w/Nick’s clam platter, loaded with fried clams, chips, and hush puppies.

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Plus a couple crab cakes to boot.

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We ordered from the child combos for our boys. These combos include one piece of fish, chicken, or a battered hot dog, plus chips and a hush puppy. We picked one with fish…

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…and one with chicken.

Every piece we ate was fried well. Not too greasy or too heavily salted. Just right.

Does it taste good? Absolutely. Marino’s meals are baskets piled high with crispy fried seafood. Now, this isn’t fancy fish and chips. And this isn’t the completely fresh-off-the-boat type of stuff you find on the east coast (at places like this). The fish is simple whitefish (even the scallops are disk-shaped whitefish). The shrimp and clams are the best seasoned of the lot. The chips and hush puppies are crunchy without being dry.

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I have gladly added Marino’s to my list of easy comfort foods. I could honestly go for a big plate of their fried goods any time (and if you’re really hungry, visit during their all-you-can-eat hours!). On top of that, it’s all older, family-run business that deserves your patronage. If you’re out cruising for cheap eats, consider Marino’s instead of another fast food stop.

Marino's Seafood Fish & Chip on Urbanspoon

Grandview Grind | Columbus, OH

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Grandview Grind (Facebook / @GrandviewGrind)
1423-A Grandview Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 485-9005
Open Mon-Wed, 6a-8p; Thurs-Sat, 6a-10p
Accepts cash & credit/debit

Visited: Sunday, January 12, 2014 at 12:30pm

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Columbus has no shortage of coffee roasters and coffee shops, and the closer you get to Ohio State, the more you’ll find coffee shops that are perfect for studying or just hanging out. Shops like these are valuable community hubs, especially in the winter. They’re a warm place to gather for studiers, freelancers, book clubs, or the casual newspaper reader. Grandview has no shortage of these shops, including the relatively new Grandview Grind.

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Grandview Grind is located in the Grandview Center, a little plaza with shops and restaurants surrounding a small parking lot. GG is tucked in the northwest corner of the plaza, next to Local Cantina. It was just announced that the Panera which sits on front corner of the plaza will move to the Grandview Yard and be replaced by a new Cameron Mitchell steakhouse. Panera’s exit will certainly benefit Grandview Grind.

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The coffee shop is a sizable space – bigger than it looks from the outside – with a curved counter in one corner and the requisite number of tables, chairs, stools, and comfy seats. It’s bright and tall and open, while still feeling pretty cozy. In one corner are shelves stocked with local gifts.

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The coffee menu is sizable, and offers the range you would expect: hot and cold coffee, lattes, espresso, specialty drinks, smoothies.

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They don’t prep food on premises, but plenty of local treats from places like Patisserie Lallier are available.

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Beans (available for bulk purchase) come from around Columbus – Thunderkiss, Brioso, Backroom, Luck Bros, Boston Stoker – with the exception of Denver-based Novo.

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Mrs. Bfast w/Nick and I were in the mood for something simple, so I ordered a shot of espresso and a cubano. Both were good, although just a tad sour.

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If tea is more of your thing, Grandview Grind still has you covered.

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Lots of local love on the door. Grandview Grind was busy when we stopped in, a sure sign that it serves that all important need of a community space. They seem to be doing something right, and here’s hoping that success continues!

Dan the Baker | Columbus, OH

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Dan the Baker (Facebook / @thebakerdan)
1028 Ridge St. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 928-9035
Open Mon & Tues, 9a-5p; Wed, Fri, & Sat, 9a-4p
Accepts cash & credit/debit

Visited: Friday, January 10, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.

Daniel Riesenberger, aka Dan the Baker, has long been selling his breads, croissants, and pastries at farmer’s markets around town. I first encountered his goods at a workshop at Wild Goose Creative‘s Too Many Cooksa couple years ago, where he taught everyone how to roll sourdough croissants. We’ve been following Dan’s work ever since then, finding him at the Clintonville and the Worthington farmer’s markets. I also keep seeing his name pop up on restaurant menus, as his breads and pastries are turned into sandwiches and desserts.

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Well, finally Dan and his team have opened up a small retail space attached to their production kitchen in Grandview. The space is a little hard to find, down an odd side street off Dublin Road (just east of the Grandview Avenue intersection), but it’s a bright, clean little space with a few tables, decorated in blues with light wood accents.

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The space includes a small counter and a few shelves. The main shelf behind the counter shows off Dan’s picturesque breads. Serious, follow him on Instagram to get a daily dose of his breads. We ended up picking a loaf of sunflower flax seed bread (bottom center) which was simply delicious. He preferences local and organic ingredients in his bread. The price point is a little higher than grocery store bread, but the flavors, textures, and overall quality are hard to beat.

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He also sells smaller pastries, croissants, and scones.

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Plus cookies, shortbreads, and “tiles.”

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That day there were some fresh and crisp apple galettes.

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Dan also offers full coffee and tea service, with a variety of loose leaf teas.

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He also serves espresso, lattes, macchiatos, cappucinos, V60 pour overs, and more, using beans from Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee and Columbus’ Cafe Brioso.

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I had a smooth and creamy shot of espresso to go with the galette.

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The cafe space has a window into the pastry kitchen. It was dormant when we visited, but I can imagine it’d be some fun watching while enjoying coffee and a snack.

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Daniel took us through their production kitchen, too. The space used to be owned by The French Loaf, so when Daniel took it over, it was mostly ready for production. He added some equipment, including a new oven, but it was good to go as a bakery!

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We saw delicious savory croissants.

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And cheddar bacon scones.

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Around the kitchen you can see the remnants of Daniel’s small start, like labeled equipment from his time baking out of the Hills Market’s kitchen.

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As expected, they were busy. We found Colin scoring loaves of sourdough bread and loading them into the oven.

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Daniel and his crew are still getting started with the shop, but they’re already doing quite a bit with it. They’re open most days of the week, and look for an official grand opening soon. You can stop in to grab a snack, or hang out with a pastry and some coffee. It’s a quiet little spot, perfect for some reading, studying, or conversation with friends!

Dan the Baker on Urbanspoon

Mazah Mediterranean Eatery | Columbus, OH

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[UPDATE: Mazah is no longer serving brunch.]

Mazah Mediterranean Eatery (Facebook / @Mazah_Eatery)
1453 Grandview Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 488-3633
Open Mon-Thurs, 11a-3p, 5-9p; Fri, 11a-10p; Sat, 12-10p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/Y/Y
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited: Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.

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There are a lot of Mediterranean restaurants around Columbus, some of the generic drive-through gyro quality and some more authentic, or at least more elaborate. And of those restaurants, not many serve breakfast. There’s Anna’s in Dublin, Olive Tree in Hilliard, and here: Mazah Mediterranean Eatery in Grandview. Mazah has been open for a few years now, and occupies a small storefront on Grandview Avenue with a small patio. The interior is cozy without feeling crammed, punctuated by warm colors and bits of greenery placed here and there.

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The restaurant was not at all busy when we visited (hint), so we were seated in a booth near the front windows right away. Because we were the focus of attention, a couple different servers kept things coming to us pretty quickly. One of the things I enjoyed about this breakfast was the opportunity to try something different than your standard American eggs-bacon-pancakes. For instance, we started with a couple Turkish coffees. Turkish coffee is served in small mugs; the volume is more akin to an espresso shot than a large cup of drip coffee. But good things come in small packages: Turkish coffee is rich, dark, a tad bitter, and sports a layer of sediment at the bottom. The term “Turkish coffee” actually refers to a preparation of coffee that involves steeping hot water in very finely ground coffee, sometimes with sugar, then serving it in a small cup without straining the grounds. Hence the sediment.

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The brunch dishes at Mazah are colorful and flavorful, such as the simple Potatoes & Eggs: redskin potatoes with scrambled eggs, a generous helping of parsley, and other seasonings.

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It’s a big portion of soft potatoes mixed with the eggs.

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The egg dishes comes with pita bread and your choice of sides. In this case we chose tomatoes, pickles, and hummus.

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We also tried the Fava Beans, which are mixed with olive oil, onions, fresh herbs, garnished with tomato and cucumber. It’s a very protein-rich meal, very filling. All of these meals are also great for sharing – we passed them around the table all throughout the meal.

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With our third meal we ordered sides of hummus, feta, and labineh. Labineh (also spelled labneh) is a strained cheese, made in a process similar to Greek yogurt. It’s flavor is lightly sour and savory, and served with a drizzle of olive oil and za’tar spice.

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One of the real stars of Mazah’s breakfast is the shakshouka, a Middle Eastern/North African egg dish made from cooking eggs in a skillet with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and a rich blend of spices. It’s a great way to have eggs in a different preparation than you normally order. Shakshouka is only served at two places in town (as of this writing): the Olive Tree in Hilliard and Mazah.

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Good to the last drop.

We very much enjoyed our brunch experience at Mazah, and I think the place really does deserve to busier. Their menu includes a diverse mix of dishes that should please everyone, including anyone that might be hesitant about a breakfast beyond the traditional American one. And it’s a chance to explore something new for your morning meal. Also a bonus: solid options for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free eaters.

ADDITION: If you want to read more about shakshouka, see my article in the May 2013 Crave Magazine.

Mazah Mediterranean Eatery on Urbanspoon

Marshall’s Restaurant | Columbus, OH

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Marshall’s Restaurant
(Facebook)

1105 W. First Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 294-1105
Bfast served Mon-Sat, 7a-2p; Sun, 8a-1p (buffet offered Sat, 8a-2p & Sun, 9a-2p)
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 10:30 a.m.

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As a Columbus and a Grandview institution, Marshall’s has been on my radar for sometime. It’s one of those restaurants with the longevity to automatically stake a claim on the geographic and culinary map of Columbus. They have a history of over 25 years, which is very respectable in the restaurant business, so they are naturally known and appreciated by generations of customers.

We visited for their Saturday breakfast buffet, which again is known to regulars. Marshall’s occupies a large space at the end of a curving row of shops along First Avenue, which includes an Old Bag of Nails and the excellent Luck Bros Coffee Shop. I’m guessing that the restaurant started in one section of the building, and then the owners bought out the other half. It feels like half swanky bar/half neighborhood cafe, and at times it can’t seem to make up its mind. The main entrance leaves you in the bar facing a large fish pond, curving neon lights, and big screen TVs. A second room to the right is decorated in a similar style. However, if you turn to your left you’ll end up in…

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…a wood-paneled space packed full of tables that feels more like a casual cafe than a bar.

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The contrast between the two is a little jarring. It does give them lots of space for seating (they have a patio attached to the bar, too), but sometimes it’s hard to know what the restaurant is trying to be.

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If you’re ordering the weekend buffet, you’ll most likely experience both sides of the building. The buffet lines are in the bar side billiards room.

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There’s also a Bloody Mary bar (not included in the buffet price). When you order, the server will give you a glass with vodka, and then it’s up to you to choose your mixings near the buffet line.

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One of our table members chose the buffet, while the others ordered off the menu. I was not in a buffet mood (odd, I know), so I ordered the steak and eggs. It was a 8 oz ribeye with potatoes, eggs, and toast. Steak and eggs can be dicey, especially in small diners. Unless you’re ordering at a steakhouse, there’s a good chance that you might be stuck with a lesser cut. The key is also to order it less cooked than you would like (so order medium if you want medium-rare), because smaller restaurants tend to use thinner cooks that are more easily overcooked. This was the case here: the steak was medium well even though I ordered medium, and it was under-seasoned. All in all, this was a filling plate of breakfast: the eggs and toast were fun, and the potatoes were a little soft and (dare I say it) too buttery.

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Here’s plate #1 from the buffet: biscuits and gravy, eggs, sausage, potatoes, a Danish, and more. All decent, but nothing mind-blowing.

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Plate #2 from the buffet: eggs, sausage, bacon, more potatoes.

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My wife ordered a Bloody Mary, too, and went through the awkward motions of having the server disappear then return with a glass full of ice and vodka. Sure, it’s nice to be able to customize your own Bloody Mary (mimosas, too), but it makes for a lot of up-and-down through your meal.

All in all, it was a so-so experience at Marshall’s. Not horrible, but we’ll keep exploring other spots before we come back. The food wasn’t remarkable enough to be a strong recommendation, and it took a while to get anything from our server. Maybe it was an off day – it was a busy Saturday, after all – but most places really thrive on those busy weekend days. Combined with the hybrid space, it was hard to tell what Marshall’s is trying to be: a bar with lots of grub for breakfast, or a neighborhood cafe where you can take the family.

Marshall's Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon

Grand Day Cafe | Columbus, OH

Grand Day Cafe (Facebook / @GrandDayCafe)
1284 W. Fifth Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 481-3363
Open daily 6:30a-3p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Monday, May 28, 2012 at 10:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: I’ve had a number of readers and friends tell me to visit Grand Day. I hadn’t been in the location since it used to be a Rise and Dine (one of my earlier reviews, awwww…). Rise & Dine rebranded into Sunny Street Cafe, and this location was closed. I thought I heard somewhere that a manager of R&D had purchased the location and turned it into their cafe. Whatever happened, they maintained that quintessential feeling of the casual cafe. This type of restaurant – think First Watch, Sunny Street, even Scrambler Marie’s – is a steady go-to for breakfast, even if they aren’t terribly imaginative.

ATMOSPHERE: Like most casual cafes, Grand Day is decorated with soft wood accents, flowers, and lots of beige or pastel colors. I like to joke that First Watch looks a little like a Florida retirement community. And indeed, there is always that sense of the casual, comfortable, mid-morning breakfast about these places. When you enter Grand Day, there’s a small seating area for waiting customers. You usually need to sign in. There are two big seating banks to the right and left.

Straight ahead is a small counter and the entrance to the kitchen.

FOOD: Casual cafes usually do well with the kids. Case in point: our four-year-old’s pancakes with bacon. Nothing exceptional, but he seemed to like them.

My wife makes fun of me for taking pictures of my orange juice. I’ll stop.

My wife ordered the Eggs Blackstone. In case you didn’t know, a blackstone is essentially an eggs benedict but with grilled tomatoes and bacon (as opposed to a florentine, which has spinach). This version came with a slice of avocado and a side of hash browns. The overall dish was decent, but the pale little tomatoes were a little sad. Seriously, folks, let’s not serve tomatoes out of season.

Even since I first peeked at their menu online, I knew I wanted to order the Kentucky Hot Brown. I’ve had a real hot brown in Kentucky, so I wasn’t expecting this version to be perfectly authentic. I figured Grand Day’s version would be adapted to breakfast, which it was: Texas toast, sliced turkey, poached egg, bacon, coated in hollandaise. Side of hash browns, which were brown on the sides but a little underdone in the middle. Generally, I liked the dish – it’s hard not to like bacon, turkey, toast, and hollandaise – but it could have used a little more seasoning. Maybe more flavorful turkey, or a spicier hollandaise.

SERVICE: Our service was so-so. I think we visited on a particularly busy day, when they were trying to crowd in a lot of customers, and the servers were moving so fast that they missed little details here and there. We were initially seated at a table that was nearly in the middle of the waiting area. It began to feel like we were sitting in the waiting area or in the line to pay at the register. When a booth along the wall opened up, we asked to be moved there. We got our meals fairly quickly, but we experienced many of those moments went we couldn’t find our server and had to ask someone else to get little things: a drink, napkins, and a side dish.

OVERALL: As you can tell with some of the food and the service, we had an okay experience at Grand Day. I’ll grant that it was a holiday and the restaurant may have been working a little beyond capacity, but with food that’s again decent but nothing to write home about, I’ll keep it on the list of breakfast places in town, but not one that I’d go running back to.

OTHER LINKS:

Grand Day Cafe 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

Photos: donuts at DK Diner

On the path of Columbus’ best locally-made donuts for my November 2010 (614) Magazine column, I had the opportunity to revisit the DK Diner in Grandview.

We picked up a box of a mixed dozen ($6.90) in order to properly sample their fare. Aw, poor us.

DK is owned by the Teny family; I chatted with Anthony, general manager and son of the owner. Anthony says the diner – originally just called the Donut Kitchen – has been in their family for 19 years. At first they just served donuts, but over the years they added lunch, and finally breakfast.

Their donuts are made in small batches every morning starting around 3:30 to 4:30 a.m.

Friday and Saturday are clearly the best-selling days for donuts. Once in a while they sell out by 8 a.m.

They make only about 15 types of donuts (another case of doing something but small reaaaaally well).

And they cover all the standards: cake, glazed, blueberry, chocolate, apple fritters…

…longjohns, Bismarcks.

The clear stand-out, and winner of the Best Donut in Columbus, in my opinion, are the glazed sour cream donuts. They’re misshapen, moist and cakey on the inside, with a thin, crackly glazed shell.

If you’ve never been to the DK Diner, seek it out. Their food is great and the atmosphere is super casual. You seat yourself. You get your own drinks: you pick one of the mismatched mugs from the shelf and help yourself to the small fridge for cream in your coffee). When you go to pay at the register, you tell the waitstaff what you had. The walls are plastered with a mish-mash of Grandview gear. Five TVs blare various sports. And you’ll have to fight all the families for a shot at the donuts.

My wife and I just HAD to have breakfast while I did my research. I revisited the DK All the Way: eggs, ham, and sausage gravy on biscuits and home fries. Yup.

(Side note: the phrase “Double Rainbow All the Way” has become popular because of this viral YouTube video. You’ll see people on Twitter declare something is really cool by typing “DRATW.” One thought, Columbusites: could we get “DK All the Way” to be our phrase of superlative praise? Think about it… DKATW.)

My wife gave their Mess a try: it’s corned beef hash with two eggs, onions & peppers, and a side of bread; she chose a biscuit. Also good and plenty filling.

If you want these donuts and/or their breakfast:
DK Diner
1715 West Third Ave.
Columbus, OH
Open Mon-Fri 6:30 am – 2 pm
Sat 7:30 am – 1 pm
Sun 8:30 am – 1 pm
Get there early!

DK Diner | Columbus, OH

DK Diner (Facebook / @DKDiner)
1715 West Third Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 488-5160
Accepts cash and credit cards
Breakfast served M-F 6:30-10:30 a.m., lunch from 10:30-2
Breakfast served exclusively Sat (7:30-1) and Sun (8:30-1)

Date of Visit: Tuesday, February 26 (my birthday!), 2008 at 9:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: Years ago, some friends of ours mentioned a tiny, cheap diner off the beaten path in Grandview. They raved about it’s cozy atmosphere, the inexpensive food, and the local flavor. I made a mental note of it, as it seemed right up my alley. But then I forgot about it. Until a couple months ago, when brother- and sister-in-law Chip and Marcia told me about a small diner on Third Ave. My appetite – mental and physical – was whetted. And, thus, when Chip said “Let’s go to breakfast” on my birthday, I voted for this place.

I didn’t even know the name until we got there. I only knew of it as “that tiny place in Grandview with cheap food.” So I was quickly educated in the ways of the DK.

DK stands for “Donut Kitchen,” l learned. Our server told us that the place has been around for years, and that the current owners have been running it for the past six. She said that it was originally a donut and coffee shop that also served breakfast and lunch. They added the “Diner” to the name, because visitors didn’t realize they served more than just snacks.

DK Diner is easy to drive by. It’s situated on the corner of West Third Avenue (a significant residential thoroughfare in Grandview (see, Beth! I used the word! It’s first time I’ve used it in months!)) and Elmwood Avenue. It has a small parking lot out front that’s capable of serving a full crowd.

ATMOSPHERE: Chip and I hit up the place on a Tuesday morning. We found a booth easily. The DK Diner is bigger on the inside that it looks on the outside – always a pleasant surprise. The Diner sports 5 tables, 3 booths, and 4 tall stools at the counter. Sometimes you just have to be in the mood, or be a dedicated regular, for a crowded diner, where you’re sitting on top of the locals and trading stories with them while you dine. Sometimes you’re just not in that mood, which I kinda wasn’t that morning. So the wide spaces and big booths made me happy.

The decor combines standard diner posters and pictures with Ohio State paraphernalia and Grandview High School sports gear. Pro-Ohio State/anti-University of Michigan posters dot the walls. A TV above the counter plays the news. In the back you can see a guy slicing the lunch meat himself. In one corner is some sort of on-going school fundraiser. I think there were candy bars or somesuch for sale.

The Diner lets you get your own drinks, which makes you feel like you’re at home. Want some coffee? Grab one of the mis-matched mugs from the shelf and pour yourself some. Do you take cream with it? Open up the mini-fridge and grab the carton. It’s all there: fountain drinks, water, and tea. Help yourself!

FOOD: DK Dinner serves straight-up diner food. Nothing fancy, nothing over-the-top, but good, reliable comfort food. Chip and I both sampled (ha! sampled!) the DK All the Way. This magnificent conglomeration consists of 2 eggs cooked to order, Canadian Bacon, potatoes, and 2 biscuits, all smothered (I don’t use that word jokingly) in sausage gravy.

Exhibit A: The DK All the Way.

Here’s Chip digging into his DKATW. We both found it to be delicious and filling. I like the Canadian bacon in there, and the gravy was nice and peppery and full of meat. I prefer a sausage gravy that’s full of flavor and texture. I figure, if you’re gonna go for the calories, go all the way! (Oh, I’m just getting the name now…) The dish was piping hot, too! I dug right into the potatoes and practically burned my mouth.

SERVICE: Our server was very friendly and helpful. We definitely felt like we were taken care of, and she gladly answered my questions while we were paying. She seemed to enjoy what she was doing, and having a constant flow of regulars.

A note about the regulars… Chip and I have found a new aspiration for our retirement: to become these guys. Our server told us that this group of guys has been coming to DK Diner for longer than she can remember. They hang out with their coffee, read newspapers, and generally gab about whatever. When one of their crew entered the restaurant, they greeted him like Norm from Cheers. How can you not want that kind of community? “Sometimes you wanna go…”

I couldn’t get any direct shots of them, because Chip and I were sitting too close, and I didn’t want it to be too obvious I was playing paparazzi. But these guys laughed and talked all throughout our meal. They were there when we arrived, and I’m sure they stayed long after we left.

OVERALL: The next morning I took Beth here for breakfast… so what does that tell you? I had bated her with one of DK Diner’s cremed-filled longjohns. Remember that the DK stands for “Donut Kitchen?” Well, yes, the DK Diner cranks out some pretty tasty donuts. We tried a couple, and agreed that they are some of the best in Columbus. So even if you’re not in the mood for breakfast, you could stop by for coffee and a delicious pastry!

Overall, the DK Diner is a very nice place. I probably won’t go back there very frequently, simply because they’re not in my neighborhood, but they offer a good hearty breakfast, excellent donuts, and – if the old guys in the corner are anything to go by – great conversation. This diner exemplifies the importance and delight of neighborhood joints.

D K Diner on Urbanspoon

Rise & Dine | Grandview, OH

UPDATE: The Rise & Dine chain has been renamed to Sunny Street Cafe, although this location was closed. In this spot you’ll now find the Grand Day Cafe.

Rise & Dine
1284 W. Fifth Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 481-3363

Date of Visit: July 4, 2007, 10:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: Beth and I decided to check this new place out on Chip and Marcia‘s recommendation. It’s in a strip mall at the corner of 5th Ave. and Northwest Blvd. in the Grandview neighborhood of Columbus. A couple of these have sprung up around Columbus, most recently this one and one in the Arena District downtown. We decided, along with about half of Columbus, to go out to breakfast the morning of July 4. The restaurant was brimming full of people, but we ended up waiting for only 20 minutes or so.

ATMOSPHERE: Rise & Dine (which is a clever name, by the by) felt like your standard breakfast place on a weekend morning (it felt like a weekend, being a holiday). There was the usual bustle inside. The smell of coffee and bacon wafting through the air. Servers rushing around with pots of coffee. A small crowd of parents with grown-up kids, college students, and older couples waiting patiently outside for their name to be called. In other words, just the right atmosphere for breakfast. It’s a perfect balance between the relaxation inherent in breakfast dining, and the full-steam-ahead pace of the servers and cooks who make that casual atmosphere possible.

FOOD: I went for the standard breakfast platter: eggs, meat, potatoes, and carbs. The scrambled eggs were quite good – a tad on the dry side, but not bad in the least. I liked the potatoes (home fries, potato chunks, what are they called?); the light seasoning raised them above the usual greasy pile, and they were in small enough chunks that I didn’t need to wield a knife while eating them. Pancakes were slightly crispy on the outside, soft and warm on the inside, and they spanned the entire plate. That, to me, is a good stack of pancakes. I think the dual-layered (like a DVD, Beth!) stacking method is ideal for pancake consumption. That way, you can drown them in syrup, cut them up, and eat little double-layered morsels. And finally, the bacon was very good. For the very first time in my life, the server asked me how I wanted the bacon cooked! Everyone has a preference: burnt, crispy, floppy, dry, greasy, you name it… but never before have I actually been asked for my preference by a server. That scores big points for ole Rise & Dine here. (I like my bacon crispy but not burnt, in case you need to make me breakfast in the near future.)

SERVICE: Fast and friendly. However, they don’t make it clear what you’re supposed to do when you walk into the restaurant. Like many small places, you write your own name and the number in your party on the list, and then wait to be called. But there’s no sign telling you to sign up or where to do it, so each subsequent arrival is forced to either a.) get lucky and see someone ahead of them sign up, or b.) stand around like a fool until a server who’s jogging by tells you to sign up. I don’t like that. I hate all the excess sign-age that restaurants sometimes have to put up to cover their butts, but I like to know what I’m supposed to do when I walk in. It makes me feel comfortable, like a regular, even if it was my first time there. That being said, our server was very nice. She seemed a bit harried (busy morning) and we had to ask her twice for some small items (milk for coffee, syrup, sweetener), but our food came quickly and it came hot. And don’t forget: our server was the one who asked how I like my bacon done.

OVERALL: Since writing this review, we’ve been back once more to Rise & Dine, so that tells you something about our overall impressions. On our second visit, we went on a weekday, and the place was much quieter. I’d say Rise & Dine features all of your standard breakfast fare, along with some specialty items (steak & eggs, various egg benedict sandwiches, some variations on waffles), but all with above-average quality. It’s a wonderful neighborhood addition: not greasy dives like some neighborhood joints, and with a wider, cheaper menu than places like Northstar Cafe (although I will never speak against Northstar’s breakfast). We will definitely be back, and probably take you there.

OTHER LINKS:

Rise & Dine on Urbanspoon

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