Date of Visit: Friday, February 29, 2008 at 9:30 a.m.
IMPRESSIONS: Q: In addition to Jack & Benny’s, where do Ohio State students eat breakfast? A: Hang Over Easy.
The small store-front of Hang Over Easy is located close to the heart of The Ohio State University, right next to the Medical Center. I’ve been driving past it or years, and actually used to grumble that it stole the name for my future breakfast joint: Nick’s Diner. Recently, however, the owner of Hang Over Easy (uncannily named Nick) renamed the restaurant to the current catchy/snarky nomenclature, revamped the menu, and added a bar to appeal to the college crowd. A reader of the blog (yay, I have a reader!) brought it back to my attention, and always in the mood for a new breakfast joint, Karl and I ventured out.
ATMOSPHERE: Hang Over Easy wasn’t busy when we entered, but by the time we left, it was hoppin’. The crowd was mostly – but not exclusively – college students. The restaurant definitely has a classic diner quality going on, with the colorful paint-job, the counter and stools, the chrome-piped chairs, the low ceilings, and the jukebox music.There are obviously elements that are meant to appeal to the college crowd. See above: old six-pack beer cartons used as the salt/pepper/ketchup/hot sauce holders. That tells you something about the place right there! Not necessarily bad, but clearly the owner has a college crowd in mind, and wants to remind them, while they’re eating breakfast, that Hang Over Easy is a bar, too.
FOOD: Hang Over Easy’s breakfast menu is sizable. They use a large, white cardstock menu, on one side of which is the breakfast. The other side offers a huge list of salads, burgers, and sandwiches.All in all, there’s something for everyone in the menu. The main feature is the list of 16 breakfast “staples,” which includes such creatively-named items as the Red Eye, Ramblin’ Man, Amsterdam, Fat Joe’s, Cockadoodledoo, The Angry Egg, and – and this had to be on the menu, given the restaurant’s name – the Ultimate Hangover Cure. (This consists of 3 eggs, 4 pancakes or 3 slices of French toast, 2 meats, potatoes, and toast.) (On a side note… not that I’m an expert at hangovers, but would eating about five pounds of fried food really make you feel better?) The list of staples also includes such, well, staples like French toast, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, yogurt parfaits, and more. In addition, Hang Over Easy serves breakfast sandwiches, a variety of omelets, and skillets. You can “jack up” any item on the menu by adding onions or cheese, subbing a bagel for toast, or adding cream cheese. I’ll also point out that you can add chocolate chips to any pancake, waffle, or French toast. Suffice it say… you can customize your breakfast to your tastes, whims, or needs.
Karl and I both chose the Ramblin’ Man. This is 2 eggs any style, potatoes, toast, and 2 slices of French toast or 2 pancakes. I went with the pancakes; Karl opted for French toast. The reader who recommended this place told me I should try the homemade sausage patty, which I did, and found to be very tasty. I like it when sausage is homemade, so points to Hang Over Easy for making their own – it’s flavorful and well-cooked. If I want perfectly-circular Jimmy Dean sausage patties, I’ll go to Giant Eagle.
The coffee was a “passable brown,” in Karl’s words. Not the “Aristotelian ideal” of Goody Boy’s, but it serves a purpose. We were enamored, however, with the mugs. Nice, thick white mugs, with big walls so you don’t burn your hands, and large handles so you can fit all your fingers through. Minor details, but they do mean something, don’t they?
SERVICE: Our server was excellent – probably the best serving experience I’ve had so far while writing this blog. She was incredibly friendly and outgoing, laughed at all of our jokes, and answered all our questions. She let me take home a menu (she said they’ve been “temporary” for about six months), and told us about the history of the diner. She’s worked there for over four years, so she had seen the transition from Nick’s Diner to Hang Over Easy. She said Nick changed the name because he hopes to franchise the restaurant in other college and university towns. To his credit, I think he has something going, if the crowds of Ohio State students are anything to go by.
OVERALL: Hang Over Easy is definitely intended for the college crowd: the decor, the names of the menu items, the music, the TV’s, the bar. But don’t let that keep you away. I certainly don’t think I would visit later in the day, but its breakfast is more than adequate. Plus, if you’re an early riser, you’ll probably beat a lot of the students to breakfast, so you can easily find a seat. So I suggest taking a look, at least once!
Special note: thanks to reader John for suggesting the place!