Beef tips with melted blue cheese and toasted bread rounds.
BJ's Hide-A-Way Steakhouse is plunked down, oddly, along a street of modest homes. Directly across from beautiful Pearson Park and 12 minutes southeast of downtown Toledo, it serves standard fare, and its lunch menu can be ordered from all day. Portions are generous.
An attractive, low-slung building, it's a step up from family restaurants but not as tony as the area's high-end meateries. The mid-sized dining room is inviting with dark paneling and furniture, red cinched draperies, and white vinyl tablecloths. Bumping it down a notch was the service: On both visits, our waitresses had the basics of service covered but were more yakity-yak familiar than professional.
We were told that BJ's, in its fifth year, was in between chefs, so perhaps a new hand at the wheel will improve some of its mediocrities.
Address: 506 S. Lallendorf Rd., Oregon.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; noon to 10 p.m. Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. Reservations are accepted.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average Price: $$-$$$
Credit Cards: AE, Dis, MC, V.
Web site: No.
★★★★★ Outstanding; ★★★★ Very Good; ★★★ Good; ★★ Fair; ★ Poor.
Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants. The Blade pays for critics' meals.
The place was nearly empty on a Thursday evening. We'd brought an excellent sauce with us (hearty appetites) and enjoyed the mayonnaisy crab cake appetizer with a thin crust (three big patties, $13.95). On another day the beef tips with melted blue cheese and toasty bread rounds appetizer ($10.95) was delish.
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Crispy dinner salads sported a bit of color, and the two homemade dressings (ranch and Italian) were fine. A basket of warm rolls accompanied.
An eight-ounce New York strip steak ($17.95) was lean, tender, but strangely absent of flavor. A special of the evening was fresh Lake Erie perch ($18.95 for a half-pound). Fresh this time of year, I queried the server; isn't that unusual? People do go ice-fishing, she offered. A request for an answer from the chef netted zip. As restaurants invariably say, she described the perch as "lightly breaded." Not. The big pile of fish were small, decently firm, with a thick, deep-fried, not-worth-it coating. I peeled it all off.
Among the sides offered are sweet potatoes, delicious naked but even yummier dressed with cinnamon butter.
Balsamic-glazed chicken (two good-sized breasts) was satisfying. Sauce was plentiful, along with sauteed spinach and portobello mushroom, and a substantial side of broccoli. There likely will be enough to take home.
One of the few homemade desserts on the menu was bread pudding ($4.95) and a big portion was served cold (Gadzooks!), sent back, and heated. It was the comfort food we know it to be, but less buttery and with fewer apples than we'd prefer.
Three sandwiches we liked were the French dip ($9.25), fish (crunchy deep fried), and the no-nonsense steak burger with fries ($9.25). Other than the burger, our sandwiches didn't come with sides. A reuben corned beef ($8.25) was about as far from a New York City reuben as Oregon, Ohio, is.
Divided from the eating area is the bar with the requisite TV sets. They do not, however, intrude in the dining room, especially if you give them your back.
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