Restaurant review: Flavorful scratch-made food distinguishes old-school DK Diner

G.A. Benton, Columbus Alive

"You deserve a donut," the doggie bag said. Obviously that bag doesn't know me well, but I liked its style.

I was given it by DK Diner, a refreshingly inexpensive eatery. DK clearly believes I also deserve something rarer than its top-notch donuts: fantastic diner fare.

Don't get me wrong, I like diners as much as the next schlub. But their appeal is often based on nostalgia more than flavor. Because, let's face it, nowadays many of these belovedly downscale establishments serve reheated prefabricated food that tastes generic. DK transcends that trend.

A Grandview classic that has reinvented itself with adult beverages and dinner service, DK continues to pack 'em in for breakfast. So if you get excited about bacon and eggs, this is still the place to go.

If you haven't been in a while, you'll see a gentle redesign to the friendly old confines. Sure, there's a concrete floor, and the Grandview High class photographs and quaint get-your-own mismatched coffee cups remain, but rows of padded booths, foil-covered ductwork and newish TVs contribute to a modernized look.

If visiting on a weekend morning, expect a wait. The wait is made less painful by an enclosed, heated patio and locally roasted Crimson Cup coffee ($1.45).

There are also excellent Bloody Marys($7). They're zesty with horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and spiced rims, but what makes them essential are their garnishes: gloriously odd kebabs of tater tots wrapped in bacon and served crunchy and hot.

Breakfast is available all day, and the whopping DK All The Way ($7.95) might fill you up all day. It comprises two properly cooked over-easy eggs, crispy home fries, biscuits and griddled Canadian bacon. Gilding the lily is sage-forward sausage gravy that's creamy, not pasty. Fluffy, hubcap-sized pancakes fancifully made of donut batter ($3) likewise overachieve.

Moving on to lunch and dinner, DK's necessarily messy Patty Melt ($7.95) is serious business. A hefty handmade burger encased in crunchy buttered sourdough toast was jazzed-up by caramelized onions, crisp bacon, melted Swiss cheese and garlic mayo. Like all sandwiches, it comes with spiral-sliced homemade "state fair" potato chips (nice when crispy, which isn't guaranteed) or marvelous handcut fries. Tack on one of about a dozen craft beers - I savored a limited edition Bell's Hopslam ($5.75) - and say "hello" to relaxing good times.

The Schlamager Bratwurst ($6) was another hit. Specially produced by a local company using DK's recipe, the huge sausage had a snappy casing and excellent seasoning.

If seeking something meat-free, DK's housemade Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burger ($7.25) topped with fresh guacamole and pepper jack cheese lived up to its "spicy" description. The red pepper and corn-studded patty eclipses most competitors.

There are nifty specials too. Chief among these is Wednesday's Meatloaf dinner ($7.50). A fairly tender yet structurally sound slab was perky with green peppers, onions and ketchup. Honest garlic mashers, OK gravy and old-school green beans ably accompanied.

Big, meaty and fried-right $.50 Wings are another Wednesday special to target. Try the racy "spicy garlic" sauce ignited by minced pickled jalapeno and fresh garlic.

Tuesdays are "Italian Night." This usually means homemade meatballs, but when I visited, it was cheesy Lasagne ($8). Served with folksy garlic bread, the massive hunk of good red sauce-swamped pasta nailed the comforting Italian-American classic preparation. Try it with DK's decent spinach salad ($3), boosted up by herby house croutons.

And try one - or three - donuts. From the softball-sized apple fritter to the crisp "stick," they're some of the best in town. If you're worried you don't deserve donuts after enjoying rich diner food, DK has a persuasive doggie bag that begs to differ.