….To eat with us.
Nola Schmucker had an ability to make pies like no other. In 1948 she and her husband opened Schmucker's Dairy Bar. Serving the fine folks of Toledo ice cream and her delicious home made pies. Their son Allen would peddle his bike around the neighbourhood selling ice cream novelties to the locals. Eventually Allen would dedicate his life to the family business which would go on to become Schmucker's Restaurant. A basic, no frills diner serving scratch cooking for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
While Allen's kids would work the restaurant all through high school, it would be Doug who would take over and become the third generation behind the counter.
Some of the things I love most about places like this are the big neon signs out front and the feel inside. These classic signs from yesteryear have gone the way of the dinosaur. The chrome stools and phone booth inside are original and for the most part, everything is as it has been for decades. There's a certain charm that comes with that kind of tradition.
Schmucker's has always been about family dining. Even employees are treated as one of their own. All wear name tags and how long they've been a "Family member." For some, it's "Since 2010." Others, such as Doug himself, has a tag that says "Since birth."
The diner is a fairly inconspicuous box in the Reynolds Corners neighbourhood of Toledo. Were it not for the sign, you may miss it. Inside it's all diner. Counter seating, booths, open kitchen and of course, a dessert cabinet that looks more like a trophy case. That's where Doug keeps his pies. And make no mistake, this place was built on those pies. So well known, so good, so in demand it's not unheard of for them to "whip up" nearly 2,000 of them around Thanksgiving. All from their main kitchen in the back. There’s a standard line up with "Doug’s Pie of the Week" rounding things out.
They say man can not live on pie alone (though I'm willing to try) so the rest of the menu better deliver. Let me tell you, it does and then some.
I ordered a side of chili. It was nice but nothing mind blowing. I found it rich in tomatoey goodness and chili spice but seemed to lack some balance. A little Tabasco helped with that. The acidity and heat provided perked it up. While it's not the best I've had it's a good solid bowl of red none the less and as such, enjoyable.
Mrs. Sippi, as you can imagine, was all over the Hot Beef Platter. A gravy enveloped roast beef sandwich on white bread with mashed potatoes. The picture on the menu was inviting. What arrived at the table was mouthwatering. It hit on all points. Gravy; nice and rich. Beef; Beefy and tender. Bread; Just there to provide structure. Mashed Potatoes; Creamy and flavourful. If all that wasn’t enough, the horseradish was potent. Seriously, this stuff is not for the timid. Use it respectfully. Just a fabulous dish.
My Dagwood was more or less a Club without the chicken or a BLT with ham. It also had a fried egg on it. Either way you (ahem) slice it, it was great. It was just one of those satisfying, “Comfortable old shoe” type foods. Calling it a "safe bet" doesn’t do it justice but that’s what it is. It’s not sexy in anyway, shape or form. It’s just a terrific sandwich.
The fries were a bit undercooked and as such, underwhelming. They’re fresh cut and tasted great but were a little too flaccid and a few were al dente. Next time I'll order ‘em well done.
It would be nice if everything was made in house at every restaurant. Sometimes this is not possible. That doesn’t mean it can’t be good though. Take for instance the Perch Sandwich. Unless you have the ability to buy a large piece of whole fish daily and cut to order, you’re best off with frozen. Fish and seafood deteriorate as such a rapid level, IQF is the way to go. Here, locally caught Perch from Lake Erie is enveloped in a crunch, tasty batter. Encasing the delicate tasting and creamy fish. Topped with mayo, lettuce and tomato on a dinner roll it’s one fine sandwich.
I added a nice pile of Hash Browns (with onion) on the side and they were quite satisfactory.
Now for the pies.
Mrs. Sippi went with the Cherry Crumb. It’s tough to say that this is the best cherry pie I’ve had. All the others have been the traditional double crust type. This has your typical “Crumble” on top and it adds a dimension that’s really difficult to beat. The balance of sweet to tart from the cherries was perfect. It was spectacular.
A long standing tradition is the use of the term “Scutterbotch” which in Schmuckerese means Butterscotch. One of their more popular pies is the Scutterbotch and it’s easy to understand why. Delicious butterscotch pudding under a pile of whipped cream and caramel drizzle.
Being the gigantic chocolate fiend I am there was no way I could turn down something named Triple Chocolate Indulgence. I would however be lying if I said it was everything I hoped it would be. It was just that much better. The crust is nothing special but it’s really just an exoskeleton for the most part. On the bottom is chocolate pudding topped with chocolate mousse and garnished with hunks of chocolate brownie. I know, right?? Well, I took a couple bites and was utterly blown away. Ya see those coloured streaks in the mousse?? Well those are M&M’s. Totally unfair!!
So there you have it folks. A fantastic little family diner serving all your favourites.
You can find Schmucker’s at 2013 N. Reynolds Rd, Toledo, Oh.
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You can also find them on the web and facebook.
Well that’s all for now folks, we’ll see you next time in the food court.