Date of Visit: Friday, June 27, 2008 at 10:00 a.m.
IMPRESSIONS: German Village Coffee Shop has been on my list of local to-visits for a while, and just recently my wife and I stumbled upon it during a Saturday afternoon drive through German Village. Ever have that? One of those moments when you’ve heard of a place – say, a restaurant – many times over, and always intend to go, but you never actually do it until you see the place yourself. Such was the case for me with the GV Coffee Shop.
The Shop is in a strip of restaurants on Thurman Ave. in southern German Village, just south of Schiller Park. In the same row stands the Easy Street Cafe and the Columbus-landmark Thurman Cafe, which serves up the best and biggest burger in town. The GV Coffee Shop’s small exterior makes it easy to pass by, and thus more of a treasure when you do discover it.
ATMOSPHERE: This breakfast joint is classic small diner. Cuh-lassic. Open the door, step inside, and you’re standing on top of half the patrons. To your right sits the grill, with a long counter and swivelly stools observing it. To the left is a row of booths. Mere feet above your head is the ceiling. And that’s it.
My breakfast partner Chip and I counted 5 thin booths, 2 bigger tables, and about a dozen stools at the counter. From the ceiling hangs one – ONE – florescent light. Aside from a small series of lights at each table (see below), there’s nothing else to light the place. Like many classic diners (think Goody Boy in Short North or Nancy’s in Clintonville), your meal is a group affair, whether you like it or not. You can overhear (and be overheard) every conversation in the room, over the sound the grill. This is great if you’re a regular. And a steady stream of them poured through the door; we watched two couples at the counter share pictures of their kids.
The fake wood-paneled walls sport old black-and-white pictures of the cafe, and each table has the little wooden set-up pictured above. I suppose it’s a nice space-saver, this little condiment shelf. I love the stack of napkins way up top.
FOOD: Oh, and now to the food. Chip and I frankly enjoyed it. The German Village Coffee Shop offers some of the standard diner fare, with a few stand-outs and a few weak spots. First, we both ordered coffee – we always do. This coffee is good diner coffee, if a little weak. But one of the big things about the GV Coffee Shop menu is that it’s cheap! You can get a handful of eggs for $2.25, 3 slices of French toast for $2.50, your coffee is .75, and the most expensive thing on the menu, an omelet, is $5.25. That’s amazing.
I ordered the standard breakfast combo: eggs, bacon, potatoes, and toast. That all came for about $3.50, and everything was pretty much as good as you could hope. Nicely done eggs, hashed browns were brown enough, bacon nice and crispy, and the toast was good, though a bit dry. None of the food was mind-blowing – let’s face it, diner food rarely is – but at $3.50 for the whole bunch, it was hard not to like.
I decided to stretch the budget and blow $2 on a couple slices of French toast. This is where things got a little interesting. Do you see that dull glow on the top of the toast in the picture? Yeah, that’s butter. Lots of it. It was probably the single most excessively buttered breakfast item I’ve ever laid eyes on. Seriously, I pressed down on it gently with my finger, and the butter pooled around it. Oh, my heart! Needless to say, this meant it tasted awesome, but that I could only eat three bites before I had to stop. I kindly decided to share the butter-with-a-little-toast with Chip.
Quick picture here of Chip’s omelet – apparently GV Coffee Shop is known for these. Chip picked one of their standards that came with meat and veggies, and he said he enjoyed it very much.
SERVICE: Service was pretty good. Diner servers typically know all the regulars, and sometimes you can feel out of place as a newcomer. It didn’t help that our server was a little snotty at first; when we ambled toward an open table, I asked him if we could sit there, and he curtly replied “Well, let me clean it off first!” Not a good start, but it got better from there. Certainly won’t keep me from returning.
OVERALL: Speaking of returning… yes, I could go eat at the German Village Coffee Shop again. It’s probably the cheapest breakfast I’ve had in Columbus, and I welcome the ratio of cheap prices to filling portions. So I recommend taking a peak at the shop, as well as that whole strip of restaurants on Thurman Ave., and, if you haven’t been, all of German Village!