Sometimes it takes a while to discover a perfectly great restaurant that’s right under your nose. Such was the case with Grinders Above and Beyond, a local chain of six family restaurants in Stark County and surrounding areas. While the term “family restaurant” often conjures unpleasant imagery of tired menu offerings, old people, and a general lack of culinary creativity or “scene”, Grinders goes above and beyond all that (ha) and manages to stay pretty cool. This post is centered around the North Canton location, which I find to have a comfortable and visually-interesting dining room, a better-than-average patio, excellent servers, and a bustling crowd pretty much every time I visit. But it wasn’t until last summer at a company luncheon, catered by Grinder’s, when I finally became a fan of their cuisine. It was the Key West salad that sucked me in.
I’m still not entirely comfortable revealing to just anyone that I’m a food blogger. Sometimes it seems like a strange thing to bring up in conversation. So when dining with people I don’t know well, I skip my typical nerdy blogger routine, which includes photographing not only my food, but everyone’s at my table as well. This process is saved only for those “special” family and friends, who recognize my food obsession and tolerate me anyway.
When I went on a trip to Atlanta and Chattanooga recently for business, I somehow managed to restrain myself for most of our meals. Except for one. By the end of the three-day trip, I finally decided to throw caution to the wind and snap some pics for this blog post. (Who even has to know I’m taking pictures? That’s why the iPhone is the best camera ever – nobody needs to know you’re not texting or checking email!)
For the first ever Downtown Akron Restaurant Week, we decided to hit Bricco, one of our favorite spots. Akron’s Restaurant Week was structured much like San Diego restaurant week, whereby participating restaurants offer a “fixed price” menu with three to four selections for each course – typically, appetizer, entree, and dessert. (BTW, this seems like such an ideal way to attract new business – I wish Canton would do this to encourage people to dine downtown!) In any event, we started with cocktails:
There are few culinary creations more satisfying than a delicious bowl of lobster bisque. It is not often that one has a chance to indulge in lobster, so lobster bisque, while still a luxury, makes the the experience a little more frequently obtainable. I give full credit to my good friend Melissa for turning me onto it some years ago. We were at Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza in La Jolla, California when Melissa got noticeably excited to see lobster bisque on the menu, (a dead give-away of a true foodie: spontaneous mood change at the mere thought of certain dishes). While it turned out that Sammy’s bisque fell slightly short for Melissa (she remains partial to Bon Vie in Columbus), all was not lost, because for me, a new obsession was born. Now, like Melissa, a smile comes to my face when I see lobster bisque on the menu. And that is one of the main reasons why Mulligan’s Pub in Canton is a must try.
Like ice cream shops and burger joints, Italian restaurants abound in NE Ohio. When Danny Boys opened in North Canton last year, I confess, I was far from excited to see yet another Italian restaurant popping up. So they had probably been open for a few months before I finally got around to stopping in. Fast forward one year to now, after many visits at different times of the day and night, Danny Boys has completely won me over, for many reasons including their vast menu of delicious Italian dishes. Having read some rather harsh reviews online, I feel compelled to speak up for Danny Boys. Not only has it become part of my lunch-time rotation, it’s just an all-around great place to meet, eat, and enjoy a carb-o-licious feast. So if you’re trying to decide if it’s worth a visit, consider my top five reasons to love Danny Boys: Continue reading
In the category of quick weekday lunch, Mo’ Joe’s on Hills & Dales in Canton is a great little place for soup, salad, sandwiches, and coffee, as you might have guessed. It’s perfect for take-out, with reasonable prices, great quality ingredients, and a nice well-rounded menu. Thankfully Mo’ Joe’s is close enough to my office that I can go at least once a month; it’s in the regular rotation. They always have “feature” items and specials, so you can try something different every time you go. Most recently I tried the spinach quiche which was very tasty with lots of cheese and flavor. Even the crust was yummy.
In my old stomping grounds, a part of East Akron called Ellet, you’re definitely limited on worthwhile restaurants. But Ellet happens to be a great meeting place between Canton and Akron, wherein lies Lembo’s. Lembo’s is primarily an Italian restaurant that’s been around for years. Apart from the Italian dishes, another draw is their salad bar, which is much more than salad. I mean, who even has a salad bar anymore? Well if this is your bag, Lembo’s is worth checking out, because after all, who can make a better salad for you than you?!
If you think a typical menu in the midwest consists of meat-and-potatoes, fried foods, and homestyle cookin’, you’re sort of right. But luckily there are some exceptions like BAM Healthy Cuisine in North Canton. BAM is one of the only restaurants of its kind in this area – a locally owned, made-to-order, all things fresh, often organic, health food cafe. Continue reading