Wednesday, October 17, 2018

This Week's Counter: The FortyNiner

One of a set of new counters we've identified, the FortyNiner is located in the North Broadway / Slavic Village neighborhood at Broadway and Pershing.  We stopped in on a late Saturday morning while on the way, with Bradley joining us, to do some Jeep-related shopping over on Brookpark Rd. 
Both the neighborhood and this place specifically look somewhat run down -- the FortyNiner currently has some boarded up windows and missing glass in the outside front door; we weren't sure if it was vandalized or if they are in the process of renovating.  Inside is like a trip back to 40+ years ago -- a very small place with maybe 10 tables and a large counter. The counter has several of those old jukeboxes mounted along it.  Everything (walls, seats, counter, kitchen) also looks 40 years old -- pretty beaten up, cracked and broken.  This place doesn't see a lot of maintenance investment.
It was pretty quiet when we got there, and we had our choice of seats at the counter. Servers were friendly enough, although not overly attentive. We quickly had drinks and looked over the menu.  The FortyNiner does breakfast and lunch -- open until 2PM each day. We all had breakfast -- Eggs, bacon, potatoes and toast for Cam, same for Ted (plus coffee) and Bradley had biscuits and sausage gravy. 
While the place probably isn't the most organized and clean we've seen, the food arrived fairly fast and was impressively hot and fresh.  No surprise, the potatoes could have been more crisp, but everything was pretty tasty.  Coffee, however, was a significant weak spot, "weak" being the key word.  For what we got (and it was only $22 total), it was decent value.
While the food was solid, the condition of the place is somewhat of a turnoff. But, if you are looking to go very low-end and experience a somewhat lost part of Cleveland, this could be the place for you!


Cam says: "Way below average appearance (and presumably, sanitation). Average service to come along with it. Slightly above average food. I'll give it 4 frying pans."

Ted says: "Really happy with the quality of the food, but unfortunately poor coffee and rundown interior are detractors. 5 pans."




Monday, September 3, 2018

This Week's Counter: Hot Grillz Diner

We spent some time researching additional counter locations, both on the East side and elsewhere around town. Surprisingly, we came up with a list of about 15 new ones, so we have plenty more to hit now.

First up on the list, mostly because it was closest, was a new place called Hot Grillz Diner in Walton Hills.  We drove Cameron's new (old) Miata over there shortly after they opened on a weekday morning.  It's on a busy industrial section of Northfield Rd, and appears to be in a remodeled building that might have been a used car dealer or mechanic in the past. That's fitting because the interior is complete car-themed -- from muscle car art on the walls to the names of menu items, everything seems to relate to cars.

The place was totally empty when we arrived, so we had our pick of seats at the shiny chrome counter and had complete attention of the (small) staff.  Our server said the place had been open just 5 or 6 weeks, and they were still trying to build awareness.  It's definitely a work in progress, although by 8:30 there might have been 3 or 4 tables of people.

We got drinks and ordered pretty quickly, and with it being so quiet the food come out fast as well.  Cam had a breakfast sandwich on a bagel -- eggs, bacon and cheese -- and home fries.  Ted had eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast.  The coffee was good, served in a sturdy mug. The food was good and portions were big, good value for the money.

Overall, a friendly place in a somewhat unusual area that you normally wouldn't go unless you happened to work over that way.  But we enjoyed the breakfast and hope they do well and continue build a following.

Cam says: "Decent food quality and generous portions. Service was OK but slightly lacking.  Even with theme of the restaurant, still lacked atmosphere.  I give it 6 frying pans."

Ted says: "Too new and modern, so not my kind of place atmosphere-wise  But the food and service were good and it was filling. I think it deserves 6 pans."


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

This Week's Counter: Mama D's Diner

What used to be the Lyndhurst Diner on Mayfield Rd in the center of Lyndhurst recently reopened as Mama D's. We got a chance to stop in on a recent weekday morning to give it a try.  

A very small space in a block of stores, the diner has a small counter and maybe 6 or 7 tables.  Everything about the place looks really modern and new, as they've only been open a couple months. No problem getting spots at the counter, and service was pretty quick and friendly. 

The menu is not too extensive, but has enough breakfast and lunch choices to satisfy most everyone. Ted did breakfast -- eggs, potatoes, bacon, toast and coffee -- while Cam went with a triple-decker (which turned out to only be double-decker) grilled cheese with bacon for lunch.  

The food took awhile to show up -- seems they had just one guy cranking out the orders and with a moderate crowd in the place he was struggling a little bit to keep up.  But it was worth the wait -- fresh, hot and cooked as ordered -- they got it all perfect. 

Service maybe could have been a little more attentive throughout our visit (offering more coffee, for example), but overall it was a good experience.  Hope they stick around -- it's one of the few good diners in that part of the East side. 

Cam says: "Bland atmosphere with just OK service. Impeccable food quality made up for it. I give it 8 frying pans."

Ted says: "A nice, small and welcoming place. Very good food quality, well worth the price. I'll give it 7 pans."


Sunday, May 6, 2018

This Week's Counter: Cafe in Stow

On our last trip down to Stow, for Isaly's, we happened to notice the Cafe in Stow on the way back.  It's on Rt 91 just North of the center of town.  When we figured out it has a counter, we decided to make it our next place to try.  So we dropped in on a late Sunday morning. 

The parking lot was packed and there were lots of people waiting for tables, but fortunately there were plenty of seats open at the fairly large counter.  Service was fast and friendly -- we had menus and drinks right away, and quickly ordered.  Cam did a breakfast sandwich -- eggs and bacon on a bagel.  Ted had the omelet special -- bacon & cheddar, with potatoes and toast.  Tami joined us on this trip and had french toast, eggs and bacon.

The food came out in a reasonable time and everything was cooked well, although the eggs could have been hotter.  Coffee was pretty good also.  Overall we liked this place -- above average food quality and service, and certainly a welcoming atmosphere with friendly staff.  Worth stopping in if you are down that way.

Cam says: "Comfortable seating, with homey atmosphere.  Decent food quality and fine service.  I give it 8 frying pans."

Ted says: "Liked the large counter and that it wasn't chaotic even though the place was very busy.  Pretty good food for the price, everything cooked fine.  Nothing standout, but solid.  Worth 6 pans."

Guest Review Tami says: "Fun to be with the counter guys.  Very clean, food was good but eggs could have been hotter. I would give it 7 pans."