Walbridge diner a welcome downtown addition.
Susie's Skillet, aka The Skillet, has been an institution in Walbridge for decades, the kind of small-town gathering spot for neighbors, friends, and family to catch up on local gossip and current affairs as memorialized by network TV in the 1950s.
Located at 101 S. Main St., Susie's Skillet shuttered last year, but new ownership -- they also own Village Inn in Elmore -- recently remodeled and reopened the restaurant. In fact, the place is the cornerstone of the downtown Walbridge revitalization project.
It also happens to be an especially good diner with a breakfast selection worth the drive.
For our a.m. visit we opted to sample a wide variety from the menu. The "Hillbilly" biscuits and gravy ($3.99 for two biscuits) were made from scratch, with generous portions of crumbled sausage in the thick-white gravy. The dainty, cinnamon-y sweet French toast was based on hardy sourdough bread slices and served with skillet-browned sausage links ($5.29), and the two plate-sized "fluffy" pancakes ($5.69) had a similarly sweet taste. The pancakes were served with thick strips of smoky bacon -- the perfect blend of sweet and salt. All three options were rousing early-morning treats.
The breakfast highlight, however, was "Skillet's Famous: Grill Cleaner" ($6.99), a monster four-egg omelet crammed with delicate slices of ham, green pepper strips, chopped onion and tomato, pan-fried home fries, and melted cheese. It's so big the menu even suggests it's "great for sharing" and we are not one to argue.
There are six other omelets to choose from -- cheese, Western, Spanish, meat and cheese, veggie, and farmers (essentially a smaller version of the Grill Cleaner sans tomatoes) -- ranging from $4.79 to $5.99. A side order of the home fries completed the nearly perfect diner experience. Susie's Skillet serves breakfast from 5 to 11 a.m. weekdays and all day Saturday and Sunday.
As good as the breakfast was, for our lunch visit we found Susie's Skillet to be disappointingly average.
We tried the Honzberger ($4.99), which was noted as a Village Inn favorite, a thin piece of breaded veal, fried and served on a bun with standard burger toppings. The veal was crispy but too greasy. The patty to the half-pound Angus burger ($7.99) extended about a half-inch beyond the bun -- it required two slices of American cheese to be fully covered. The meat was fresh and the cheeseburger was served with the usual fixings, but the fries were of the frozen bag variety.
The exception to our so-so lunch was a smothered chicken pita ($6.99) served on a large, homemade pita, with chunks of grilled, marinated chicken and a pile of sliced zucchini, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms. There was just enough mozzarella to tie it all together. A fork was necessary to finish the pita, but it wasn't a chore because even though there was a lot to plow through, it was light thanks to all the sauteed vegetables. The accompanying cucumber sauce was merely adequate.
The cheezy cabbage soup ($1.99 cup, $2.59 bowl) was chock-full of cabbage, ham, potatoes, and noodles, and all the ingredients came together nicely on the palate, though the broth could have been thicker.
The generous baskets of onion rings ($2.99) and fried homemade pickle chips ($4.95), which we ordered as appetizers, were lightly breaded and fried to crisp golden perfection -- not too greasy or overcooked.
For dessert we split a slice of homemade cherry pie ($3.49), thick with fruit and filling heaped on a flaky buttery crust. Take note that pie selections vary daily.
For those who have never been to the diner -- or Walbridge -- it's worth the effort to discover what you have been missing.
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Address: 101 S. Main St., Walbridge, Ohio
Hours: 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Reservations are accepted.
Wheelchair access: Yes
Average Price: $$
Credit Cards: Dis, MC, V
Web site: Facebook page
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