Restaurant Review: Beechwold Diner
Maybe you can't go home again, but you can go back to Rube's and eat that exact same old Rube's Diner food again.
Sure, it's now called Beechwold Diner, but from the same address to the eagerly returning regulars, from its breakfast-and-lunch-only hours to its beloved menu items and cheap prices to even rehiring the same cook, everything Beechwold is Rube's again.
OK, almost everything. Because Rube's infamous and creaky dinginess - which was created by decades of intense diner frying mixing with the fallout from equally intense cigarette smoke - has been, miraculously, wholly exorcised.
Also (if of secondary importance), there's been a decor makeover that shows a definite preference for beige, brown and taupe. That includes the faux-marble Formica counter, the brightly painted walls and newly installed booths (done in two shades of brown).
Standing out as not brownish are new stainless-steel cooking apparatuses and a series of nostalgically engaging black-and-white photos showing vintage scenes of how the old neighborhood once was.
If you want to taste what "once was," dive into a Beechwold Diner breakfast. Now, if you were a Rube's veteran, this review will quickly become irrelevant, because to eat breakfast at Beechwold is like chewing memories of Rube's back into real life.
Everyone else should know that standard-issue egg, pig meat and toast combos are very competent here (and in the $5 range) but it's the hot cakes, omelets and hash browns that gave the old place its loyal clientele and renown.
When you order the unfortunately named Garbage Omelet ($6.50), and I recommend you do, I suggest you recast its homely title in a better light by requesting it with a silly French accent, as in "I'll have le Gar-baj Omelet."
You'll probably get a laugh (I did) but you'll definitely get a folded-over, thin ova envelope crammed with sagey sausage, onions, peppers, diced tomatoes, bacon, cubed firm ham and a mix of melted cheeses that form elastic strings from plate to face. As with all omelets here, it comes with a massive pile of hash browns - almost fluffy and ungreasy griddled potato scallops.
For a more restrained - and meatless - breakfast, the Country Omelet ($5.25, a fave from the old Rube's days) successfully mixes American cheese with sauteed onions and yet more of those good spuds.
Also popular on the breakfast menu are satisfying if industrial corned beef hash ($2.50 - ask for it gilded with garlic and onions) and black-peppery, creamy but not "gluey" sausage gravy (90 cents). Both have the flavors of small-town America.
Beechwold's pancakes ($1.60) - which are poured onto the always-busy griddle from a plastic pitcher - are old-fashioned diner delights. Of course they're not fancy, but they are big golden slabs that somehow manage to be fluffy.
There's lunchy stuff, too, like chili ($3.40 - a huge and meaty bowl with a Wendy's flavor profile), burgers ($5.75), fried bologna sandwiches ($3.50) and such, and I overheard a waitress discussing more future ambitions in that direction.
But for now, Beechwold Diner is basically a seriously cleaned-up version of Rube's - and that's a good thing in my book.
4408 Indianola Ave., Clintonville
For more local food news and reviews, click to G.A. Benton's blog Under the Table at ColumbusDiningGuide.com