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NYC hound reports on Ohio chow trip

skillet licker | Sep 10, 200401:06 AM

Just four days in Ohio, but here's the results:

1. So-so German in Columbus. Arrived at SCHMIDT'S just after the State vs. Cincy game and the place was packed. So we opted for a quick in and out at the bar. Had the buffet and tried all the sausages. All fine. Stand-outs, ironically, were the mac n' cheese and string beans with onions and sausage bits.

2. Old-fashioned roadchow near Yellow Springs: YOUNG'S JERSEY DAIRY. Loved the sweet potato bread with applesauce served as a starter. Meatloaf with mashed potatoes was elementally good. Mini golf was too easy: all 2 and 3 par holes.

3. Dayton was dead on a Sunday night. So we didn't bother searching out indigenous chow and opted instead for SKYLINE CHILI. Its been ten years since I've been to Skyline and the spaghetti was mushier than I recall and the cheese more insipid. Still satisfying, though.

4. Maybe its not respected by Ohio chowhounds, but I loved STEAK AND SHAKE at Cedar Point. First of all, the double monterrey jack burger with "carmelized" onions, mayo, and mounds of jalapenos on toast with crispy fries and slaw is a greasy, delerious pleasure. Second, I find the place charming and innocent. Its not knowingly retro. If it were out east it would be a fifties-drive-in-theme restaurant. In the midwest, its just natural.

5. We arrived in Cleveland too late for east european chow and settled for a spanish dinner at MALLORCA. As Spanish food goes it was decent, but 100% predictable. Why is it that virtually every Spanish restaurant on the planet serves exactly the same soft, wan bread with little packets of butter along with a liitle salad with pink dressing? And what's with the dismal "green sauce" dishes and the equally boring "garlic sauce" dishes? And the abyssmal paella lacking anything remotely resembling flavor? The "spanish potatoes" were fried so thin that they became, actually, potato chips. On the upside, the sangria was superb and the decor was sophisticated... and it was open late.

6. THE GODHEAD DISCOVERED. On the recommendation of many, we tried Cleveland's SOWKOLOWSKI'S. Its got everything: fantastically delicious homey chow, an eccentric and rambling layout where you can choose one of several rooms after you've bought your chow treasure, cafeteria style. The place has warm feelings and a cool vibe. I even spotted a poster advertising an upcoming Pere Ubu show.

We had the salsbury steak and stuffed cabbage. Both were sublime. I desperately wanted to try the kielbasa but it would have been dangerously gluttonous. The pierogies were magnificent. Literally can't wait to return. This place belongs in the pantheon of great soulfood joints.

7. FRANK STERLE'S SLOVENIAN COUNTRY HOUSE was closed on a Tuesday night. Bummer. So we went to LOLA'S. Tried the short ribs with roasted sturgeon and the Lake Walleye with spaetzle. Both were drenched in butter. We felt a little sick afterwards. Seems like the owner went to the Manhattan School of Culinary Deconstruction. Unfortunately, by the time the food is reconstructed on your plate its lost its soul. And butter is no substitute for soul.

8. Bummer no.2: The WESTSIDE MARKET was closed on Tuesday also.

Looking foward to another Ohio chowtrip soon.

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