What's my favorite restaurant? I get asked that often by colleagues and friends who guess that I have something to do with these reviews.
The plain fact is that I don't have a favorite restaurant; I have a couple dozen. Which one is it today? That depends on what I'm hungry for, how I feel, what part of town I'm in, maybe even the weather.
Most eaters-out could guess two-thirds of my personal list, but today's favorite is a sleeper. Let me tell you about it.
It's on the edge of open country - indeed, honest-to-goodness farm families are no small part of its business - although urban sprawl is creeping out around it. It's Maggie's Family Restaurant, at the intersection of North Dixie Highway and Roachton Road, three-quarters of a mile south of the Perrysburg-State Rt. 25 exit off I-475.
Maggie's menu is a paper place mat, reprinted month by month, with two or three dinner entrees for each day of the month and the sides that without asking come with the entrees. On the whole, the entrees for each day do not change from month to month, but the time lapse is such that it's not like having the same dinner each day of the week.
There are almost as many preferences as people, I imagine, but many call the Saturday special the pick of the week: prime rib, a thick slab, tasty beef fat ringing the lean heart. Add in a spoonful of golden corn niblets and a serving of sweet potato, and for less than $13 you'll see why most customers believe it to be the best beef bargain around.
Another popular favorite that is as good as I've ever had - there must be a Hungarian in the kitchen - is chicken paprikash. You can look for it two or three Thursdays a month, tender meat falling from the bones, heavenly peppery seasoning, and enough on the plate to serve two appetites as hearty as mine.
Maggie's pot roast, usually just one night a month, awakens a nostalgia for “home cooking” more poignantly than most menus that advertise that by-now hackneyed claim.
Besides paprikash, how could there not be chicken, fried, grilled, or stuffed, in a roadside country eatery? Fish, however, perhaps harkening back to the era when transportation was not a regularly dependable source of fresh seafood, does not figure large on Maggie's menu: shrimp, yes, and Alaskan walleye once a week. But pork chops and ham vary the menu.
Once warm weather comes, if you're hungry for a steak off the list of monthly specials you can order from a permanent menu. The only thing is that the steaks are grilled outside, the way you do it at home, and Maggie's cook is spared that cold weather discomfort; wait til spring!
Pies, fruit or cream, deserve a section all their own; they're fresh and delicious beyond description; if you order early, you may be lucky enough to stake out a claim on the flavor of your choice; when they're gone, they're gone.
There is a full bar, including a tolerable selection of wines, in an entirely separate, small room set aside for as many as two dozen smokers in a window-side row of booths.