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Published: Thursday, 9/6/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

COMMENTARY

New diner in Waterville hits the spot

BY BILL OF FARE
Dale's Diner experiences the lunch crowd in Waterville, Ohio. Dale's Diner experiences the lunch crowd in Waterville, Ohio.
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Streetside, it's all small town, vintage charm; inside, understated contemporary design and good cheer. With broad offerings at reasonable prices, you'll wish there was a Dale's Diner just down the street from you.

Open in Waterville since December, it's a new and by all appearances successful venture for Bill Anderson, long-time owner of Dale's Bar and Grill on Conant Street, the Maumee fixture with whom it shares several menu items. Serving breakfast and lunch seven days a week (it closes at 2 p.m.), the kitchen turns out most anything one might want with some welcome treats such as Michigan dried cherries, high-end oatmeal, and homemade soups. For glorious autumn days, there are cafe tables on the sidewalk and insect-zapping rackets.

Served all day, the breakfast menu has waffles (the malted, $4.79, made with buttermilk and malt, was perfection). There's sourdough French toast ($4.59), cherry granola pancakes ($7.99), and eggs cooked every which way with all the usual suspects along with chorizo, jalapenos, and fresh-baked biscuits. There's eggs Benedict (with home fries, $7.59), corned beef hash with eggs ($5.79), and eggs quesadilla ($6.99, a cheesy scramble in a grilled tortilla). Rounding it out are steel-cut oatmeal (cup, $2.79) and dry cereal ($2.49).

DALE'S DINER

* * *

Address: 34 N. Third St., Waterville

Phone: 419-441-0044.

Category: Casual.

Menu: Breakfast and lunch

Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Reservations taken for groups of five or more.

Wheelchair access: Yes.

Average Price: $

Credit Cards: Dis, MC, V.

Sundays, the place is bursting at the seams, but people move in and out at a good pace. Conversations with other customers start easily, especially if you're sitting along the long wall-side bench or on stools at the counter. The old building was top-to-bottom renovated with a palette of yellow, black, red, and white: Walls bear entertaining black-and-white photos of the village in days of yore. Near the entrance, there's a huge photograph and a painting of the town's scenic bridge, both locally produced.

Good enough to write home about were chicken noodle soup ($2.49/cup) and a big slice of crumble-topped blueberry pie ($2.49), packed with fat berries that were still a little firm.

There are 17 sandwiches, eight wraps, and seven burgers, most in the $5 to $7 range. Adding to the cost of a meal, fries, chips, and other sides are usually a la carte.

The Maumee Dale's rep for a good burger travels upriver to the diner. The bleu burger ($6.49), bleu cheese bits and cherry-smoked bacon, was delicious, and if you like thick onion rings, these beer-battered ($2.79) babies are crunchy good.

As tasty as the burger was the marinated and grilled chicken breast with bacon, Swiss, and barbecue sauce on a toasted multi-grain bun ($6.99).

The "Up North" salad ($6.59 for the small) had dried soft and sweet dried cherries, toasted pecans, and bleu cheese. A good choice, it was described as having mixed greens but all we saw was pale iceberg lettuce, some with brown edges.

Mac n' cheese (white cheddar, $2.99) was passable.

A children's menu has $3.49 breakfasts and $4.39 lunches.

Clientele skews older, with Koral Hamburg and a Subway a few doors down attracting the younger crowd. The noise level is modest, thanks to an acoustic-tiled ceiling and lack of alcohol.

Shocking note: A waitress, opening the door for a man struggling with crutches, referred to him as gimp. Giving her a double-take face, she grinned and fessed up: It was her dad. We all laughed. It's that kind of place.

Contact Bill of Fare at Fare@theblade.com



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