Nightly Special: Wildflower Cafe

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Cue instrumental version of a sod-kickin' John Denver pseudo "classic," but add these new words: "Take me home/ Indianola road/ to a place/ I belong/ Wildflower/ Chicken dinner/ Take me home/ Indianola road."

Catchy, huh? No? Well at least it should make my point. See, I no longer take a totally homemade old-fashioned chicken dinner for granted, because it's about as common around these parts as decent white lightnin'.

But a terrific, down-home fried chicken dinner is exactly what you can get as the Saturday night (and afternoon) special at Clintonville's Wildflower Cafe.

Stepping into Wildflower a couple of Saturdays ago, for a moment I thought I had turned off a country road and entered small-town Ohio (an area I am very familiar with).

The place was filled with mostly regular folk unconcerned with anything trendy - some elderly gentlemen passing time at the counter, a few young couples and taking-it-easy neighborhood families.

They were soaking up the smallish restaurant's checkerboard floor, homages to its name (there are floral flourishes framed on the wall and printed on the wallpaper), a little vintage Bob Dylan and the food, of course.

Chicken and noodles was a soup of the day, but considering I had plenty of poultry and starch on the way, I opted for the summer menu's gazpacho. It was refreshing and chunky, acidic and dark red. Whizzed up out of stewed tomatoes, the biggish serving had flecks of green pepper in it and was sort of like a nice salsa lightened by cucumbers.

The chicken dinner started off with a solo bowl of rich slaw - which was fresh and homey, with thick threads of cabbage and carrots dressed in a sweet mayo base that reminded me - in a good way - of Marzetti's.

Shortly after that, the plate I'd been waiting for arrived. But before describing its stars, I'll credit its worthy role players: a big ol' gut-busting, softball-sized biscuit and a righteously sturdy mound of mashers with lumps of authenticity. Naturally, the spuds were topped with a thick, creamy, made-right country-style gravy.

As for the chicken, it's a delicious illustration of the deceptive difficulty of simplicity. Because to get fried chicken this spot-on takes lots of time and hard-won experience. But don't expect bells and whistles, just perfect pieces of chicken.

I got a leg and a huge breast (approximately the size of a Kia) that showed off an ungreasy, crackly golden brown, slightly salty, floury crust encasing meat that stayed thoroughly juicy throughout eating it.

Speaking to that eating process, I started off carefully working my knife and fork, but I bet you can guess how I lustily polished off that must-eat-every-last-crumb comfort food extravaganza. I mean, that's why they have napkins, right?

For more local food news and reviews, click to G.A. Benton's blog Under the Table at

Wildflower Cafe

3420 Indianola Ave., Clintonville