Monday, December 3, 2012

"Character and Characters"

Corner Grill SignPerhaps it would be impossible to phrase it any better than the young man sitting at the counter of Corner Grill in Bowling Green, Ohio. The little diner that began life in 1951 and has become a staple in the small north west Ohio college town. It's the type of place where pretense is checked at the door. Where people from all walks of life meet, greet and eat. It’s a place where the unemployed drink Maxwell House Coffee with community leaders. Where a farmer, muddied from a days work in the field will talk Falcons football with a hair dresser. Where people come for a quiet breakfast or some greasy food and raucous atmosphere at 3am. After a hard night of partying of course. It's where, back in the day, you came in to check the pulse of the town. Heck, even the mayor is a regular. Probably couldn’t get elected otherwise. Yep, it's the kind of place that is "Full of character and characters." I couldn't have said it better myself.

Corner GrillSome would say, it has seen better days. Granted a stay of execution in 2010 when city officials cited fire, building and health code deficiencies. Others, such as myself, say you can’t recreate the feeling a place like this has. The stories are legen-wait-for-it-dary. One such anecdote sees judges and attorneys excusing themselves from the local courthouse, huddling in a booth and spelling out terms for a plea bargain. Another has a former owner keeping regulars in line with a fly swatter.
In a delicious microcosm of society, the Health food store/Vegan restaurant directly across the street had gone out of business.

Corner Grill InsideThe interior is exactly what you’d think. Counter service, open kitchen, worn out décor, (usually) cluttered with regulars. There’s a row of booths along the outside wall. All in all, seating for a couple dozen or so.

There’s also a kitchen in back where a lot of the baking and prep work is done. So let’s get a look at the goodies being served up at “The diner.”

Cheese CubesWe started with Cheese Cubes. These are your typical cheese sticks you'd find at a TGI McScratchy's. The only differences are the size,shape and, (perhaps because of the environment) they were much better. They come out of a bag from the local food distributor but I don't discount something simply because of it's pedigree. Taste trumps all right?? They were cheesy, crunchy and had a little kick. The big star here is the Ranch Dip. Made in house it's a little less "Ranchy" tasting than the stuff in a bottle and somewhat more "Mayonnaisy" but ultimately incredibly good. A perfect match these two and a very popular item.

Chili DogThe Chili Dog (with cheese) is a fine specimen. A nice soft bun (toasted) and a great, natural casing dog (a little less spicy/garlicky than I usually like but big snap) and a basic chili. Simple and delicious. A couple of these and you're in business.

Cajun BurgerAnother favourite on the menu is the Cajun Burger. It wasn't one of mine. It wasn't bad or anything like that, it just really didn't do it for me. The patty is spiced with Cajun seasoning and comes plain. I added Swiss cheese (as was recommended) sautéed onion and tomato. There's really nothing wrong with it, it just wasn't a favourite. Clearly, I'm in the minority on that. Along with Mrs. Sippi.

Bacon Double CheeseburgerOn the other hand, the Bacon Double Cheeseburger was "All that." A fine example of what the Classic American Cheeseburger can and should be. Done on a flat top (ding, ding, ding) it's just perfect. The balance of meat to cheese to bacon to toppings (I had to remove the lettuce on my half because I hate that cooked lettuce taste) was spot on. There's just nothing more I can say about this other than, it's perfect.

Apple Pecan Custard PieTo wash it all down I had a piece of pie. Their pie du jour was Pecan, Apple, Custard. A terrific piece although, loving cinnamon, I'd like to have seen some apple pie spicing in it. It came from the fridge and I think it would probably taste better at room temperature. I'm not sure warmed would work that well as the custard might be too loose. This pie is also made in house.

For what it's worth, the Soup du Jour was Chicken Noodle. Another diner had a bowl and it smelled fantastic. The young man of which I spoke before said it's made by "The man in the back." Nice.

So there you have it folks, a local legend, a meeting place, a party place, a community "water cooler." Call it what you will.

You can find Corner Grill in the heart of downtown at 200 N. Main St. (The old Dixie Highway) Bowling Green, Oh.

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You can also find them on facebook or follow the night shift on Twitter.

Corner Grill on Urbanspoon
Corner Grill on Foodio54

Well that’s all for now folks, see ya next time in the food court.


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