Dale's Diner experiences the lunch crowd in Waterville, Ohio.
The Blade/Zack Conkle
Streetside, it's all small town, vintage charm; inside, understated contemporary design and good cheer. With broad offerings at reasonable prices, you'll wish there was a Dale's Diner just down the street from you.
Open in Waterville since December, it's a new and by all appearances successful venture for Bill Anderson, long-time owner of Dale's Bar and Grill on Conant Street, the Maumee fixture with whom it shares several menu items. Serving breakfast and lunch seven days a week (it closes at 2 p.m.), the kitchen turns out most anything one might want with some welcome treats such as Michigan dried cherries, high-end oatmeal, and homemade soups. For glorious autumn days, there are cafe tables on the sidewalk and insect-zapping rackets.
Served all day, the breakfast menu has waffles (the malted, $4.79, made with buttermilk and malt, was perfection). There's sourdough French toast ($4.59), cherry granola pancakes ($7.99), and eggs cooked every which way with all the usual suspects along with chorizo, jalapenos, and fresh-baked biscuits. There's eggs Benedict (with home fries, $7.59), corned beef hash with eggs ($5.79), and eggs quesadilla ($6.99, a cheesy scramble in a grilled tortilla). Rounding it out are steel-cut oatmeal (cup, $2.79) and dry cereal ($2.49).
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Address: 34 N. Third St., Waterville
Menu: Breakfast and lunch
Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Reservations taken for groups of five or more.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average Price: $
Credit Cards: Dis, MC, V.
Sundays, the place is bursting at the seams, but people move in and out at a good pace. Conversations with other customers start easily, especially if you're sitting along the long wall-side bench or on stools at the counter. The old building was top-to-bottom renovated with a palette of yellow, black, red, and white: Walls bear entertaining black-and-white photos of the village in days of yore. Near the entrance, there's a huge photograph and a painting of the town's scenic bridge, both locally produced.
Good enough to write home about were chicken noodle soup ($2.49/cup) and a big slice of crumble-topped blueberry pie ($2.49), packed with fat berries that were still a little firm.
There are 17 sandwiches, eight wraps, and seven burgers, most in the $5 to $7 range. Adding to the cost of a meal, fries, chips, and other sides are usually a la carte.
The Maumee Dale's rep for a good burger travels upriver to the diner. The bleu burger ($6.49), bleu cheese bits and cherry-smoked bacon, was delicious, and if you like thick onion rings, these beer-battered ($2.79) babies are crunchy good.
As tasty as the burger was the marinated and grilled chicken breast with bacon, Swiss, and barbecue sauce on a toasted multi-grain bun ($6.99).
The "Up North" salad ($6.59 for the small) had dried soft and sweet dried cherries, toasted pecans, and bleu cheese. A good choice, it was described as having mixed greens but all we saw was pale iceberg lettuce, some with brown edges.
Mac n' cheese (white cheddar, $2.99) was passable.
A children's menu has $3.49 breakfasts and $4.39 lunches.
Clientele skews older, with Koral Hamburg and a Subway a few doors down attracting the younger crowd. The noise level is modest, thanks to an acoustic-tiled ceiling and lack of alcohol.
Shocking note: A waitress, opening the door for a man struggling with crutches, referred to him as gimp. Giving her a double-take face, she grinned and fessed up: It was her dad. We all laughed. It's that kind of place.
Contact Bill of Fare at Fare@theblade.com