Off The Griddle

IMG_6174The griddle is a pretty amazing invention, when you think about it.  Virtually everything worth eating can be cooked on a griddle — from eggs to burgers to hash browns to grilled cheese sandwiches.  When you’re done with one effort, you just scrape the griddle clean, towel it off as the steam rises, and then move on to the next dish.  And, in any true diner, customers get to sit at the counter and watch the griddlemaster working his magic.

Kish and I had heard that you can find that true diner experience at the German Village Coffee Shop, so yesterday we walked down to Thurman Avenue to check it out.  I’m pleased to report that the word-of-mouth is right on the money.  From the paper placemats touting tourist stops in New York City (of all places), to the piping hot mugs of coffee, to the savory sounds of all kinds of food cooking on the griddle, the GVCS has it all.  We grabbed seats at the counter to take it all in.

IMG_6169It was about 12:30 p.m. and we hadn’t eaten yet, so . . . what to get?  I’ve long had a passion for burgers cooked on a griddle, ever since Grandma and Grandpa Neal took UJ and me bowling at Riviera Lanes in Akron on Saturdays, and we would end our visit with cheeseburgers and crinkle-cut fries from Riviera’s in-house diner.  Griddle-cooked burgers have a wonderful taste and finish that you just can’t get with a grilled version.

But yesterday I resisted the burger temptation when I saw that the Coffee Shop had a corned beef hash special, because corned beef hash also is better cooked on a griddle.  Hash and pancakes sounded good.  Boy, was it ever!  The corned beef hash was delicious, and the pancakes were larger than a man’s head, with that perfect golden griddle crust.  I polished off the hash, slathered the pancakes in butter and syrup, relished every bite, and did my best — but standard stack of three was more than I could finish.

As we left, I thought that Grandma Neal would have said that my eyes were bigger than my stomach.  But my stomach was happy, anyway.

Corned Beef Hash At Katzinger’s

IMG_5584In one way — and admittedly probably only one way — I’m like the Most Interesting Man in the World:  I don’t normally eat breakfast, but when I do I prefer it to be a good breakfast.  An Egg McMuffin just isn’t going to do the job.

Fortunately, there are many great breakfast places near our house.  One of them is Katzinger’s, the deli at the corner of Livingston Avenue and Third Street that many people identify as the kind of gateway to German Village.  Katzinger’s is legendary for its excellent sandwiches (the chicken liver options are particularly compelling) and has a terrific cheese section too, but it’s no slouch when it comes to breakfast, either.

My rule of thumb at a breakfast place are pretty basic:  can it deliver of a mouthwatering plate of corned beef hash?  Even a borderline kitchen hack like me can prepare scrambled eggs and toast some bread, but corned beef hash requires much more skill.  Is the corned beef cooked so that it is tender and flavorful, or is it so tough and chewy that it needs to be soaked in egg yolk before you can choke it down?  Does the proportion of meat to onion and potatoes hit the sweet spot?  And, equally important, does the resulting platter that comes to your table look like the glorious definition of everything that a really good breakfast should aspire to be?

Yes, I’d say Katzinger’s does a pretty good job on the corned beef hash test.