Saturday, March 31, 2018

This Week's Counter (and our 75th!!!): Isaly's II

We hit 75 counters!!! 

The milestone was achieved at Isaly's II down in Stow. Apparently there was an Isaly's (I) way back in the past -- it was in the nearby heart of Stow, but the owner sold the land to development. It was known for ice cream as well as good food.  Now the reincarnation is tucked away in the back of a shopping plaza on Kent Road. It retains some of the old artifacts from the original (old signs on the walls, an old ice cream counter, etc).

We visited late morning on a Saturday and were surprised to find it fairly quiet -- no problem getting seats at the fairly large U-shaped counter.  The servers were friendly (although not super-attentive -- took awhile to get someone's attention to put in our orders). The menu is pretty extensive, as they service a wide range of breakfast items, as well as complete lunches, dinners and desserts.

Being close enough to lunchtime, Cam went with chicken and fries.  Ted chose a cheese omelet and potatoes (well done).  The food arrived very fresh and hot -- all cooked well, particularly the potatoes, which really were crispy.  Coffee was pretty good, but not standout.  Overall, the food quality was solid -- probably not the best we've had, but good value for the price.

All around, a good counter experience and a nice place to mark the #75 milestone -- very traditional diner atmosphere.  Well worth a visit if you are down towards Akron.


Cam says: "Slightly uncomfortable counter but good food quality. Atmosphere was a little bit hard to read. I'll give it 7 frying pans."

Ted says: "Very nice and friendly place, spacious counter and decent service. Food was great -- one of the few that gets the potatoes right!  A strong 7 pans."


Sunday, February 4, 2018

This Week's Counter: Sammi's Deli

Last time we were out on the West side for a counter, we happened to notice Sammi's Deli -- in the shopping plaza off of Dover Center Rd, a block behind Lorain in North Olmsted.  So we went back over on a Saturday morning, planning to check it out before making a stop at Guitar Center just down the road.  

Around 11:00, the place was full -- seems to be really popular.  Fortunately we got 2 seats at the counter without waiting.  Service was friendly and pretty efficient -- Sammi's appears to be a family-run operation, with the owner (maybe Sammi?) cooking in the back and the rest of the family serving and cleaning out front.

We both opted for breakfast -- bagel sandwich with egg, bacon and cheese for Cam and a veggie omelette and coffee for Ted.  Both with sides of home fries.  The food came out very fast.  Portions (particularly the omelette, but also the home fries) were really big -- well worth the price.  While reasonably tasty, there was really nothing standout about the meals, and for sure the potatoes could have been cooked a lot longer -- no effort to make them well-done as requested.

Overall, a decent but somewhat average meal -- it was fine, but maybe not our favorite in that part of town. Side note: this was counter #74 -- next up, our diamond counter visit!

Cam says: "Fair service with limited atmosphere. Decent food quality.  I give it 4 frying pans."

Ted says: "Clean and efficient place, friendly service, decent value but pretty average food. 5 pans."


Sunday, December 31, 2017

This Week's Counter: Biagio's Donuts & Pizza

We knew this place was going to be different -- just because of the name.  Donuts and pizza?  And in fact, that is all they have on the menu.   Many kinds of donuts and many kinds of pizza -- but it's all donuts and pizza.  Oh, and coffee.

We stopped in midday on Saturday while enroute to Stebal Drums in Willowick.  Biagio's is right down the road on Vine Street @ 91.  It's clearly all about takeout, with just a few seats and a very small counter inside.  There's a constant flow of people in and out, picking up donuts and coffee -- which, given the frigid temps outside, kept the place a little uncomfortably cool.

When we got there, there were no seats open at the counter, but after a few minutes several people left and we were set.  The counter staff was friendly enough and we quickly got drinks and ordered a few donuts.  Cam had glazed and chocolate frosted, and Ted had plain cake.  They were all fresh and very good, while the coffee was just average.  This had to be by far our cheapest counter meal -- $5 for the two of us!

We'd definitely recommend this place for donuts, but not for a leisurely meal at the counter.  Although we'll have to stop in again to give the pizza a try.

Happy new year!

Cam says: "Odd atmosphere with an odd counter. Service was there, but food selection was not.  I give it 4 frying pans."

Ted says: "Not sure about the pizza, but the donuts were great!  Probably better in the warmer weather, since it's mostly about takeout -- we should stick to that. 5 pans."


Saturday, December 23, 2017

This Week's Counter: Shay's Restaurant

Shay's, on St. Clair at E. 40th St, was recommended to us by a relative who had been there -- and we were happy to give it a try as we'd started to run short of East side and central/downtown counters.  So we dropped in on a Sunday late morning.   We were warned it's popular and that was clearly the case -- while it's fairly large, every table and much of the counter space (2 large, semi-circular counters actually) was full.  Fortunately we were able to find 2 open seats together.

Shay's is not just popular and busy, but it has a pretty hectic, almost chaotic feel -- the staff seems to always be rushing and there isn't a lot of coordination between them (leading to multiple servers asking if anyone had taken our orders, for example).  The interior is older and looks a little rundown in places, which adds to the feeling.  Having said that, everyone was very friendly, welcoming and polite -- they seem to really care about their customers.  

Although it took a little time to get our orders in, the food arrived FAST -- like, inside of 10 minutes.  Almost unheard of in any diner or other restaurant that isn't "fast food".  And it was good!  Cam had eggs, bacon and waffles, and Ted had a cheese omelette and potatoes -- all cooked nicely and very tasty.  Coffee was just OK, a little on the weak side.

Shay's is a really great value -- low prices ($15 for the two of us), good quality, and friendly people.  Another simple and good option near downtown, well worth a try.


Cam says: "Fair food quality with decent service. Atmosphere can only be described as awkward. I give it 5 frying pans."

Ted says: "Very good food, friendly and fast service. I enjoyed it, and can see why it's so popular. Points off for atmosphere. 6 pans."