Balyeat's Coffee Shop
 Van Wert, Ohio        Date of Visit  11/12/12       
No Known Website 

One more beautiful day in Ohio until Fall/Winter takes over full-time we got to see a lot of the state on a drive to Van Wert, which was also a drive down memory lane for many reasons, Balyeat’s being part of the journey. In addition to a fun visit with some family and a tour of ever changing places, we stopped for lunch at a place that is standing strong against the winds of time and change. Balyeat’s has been serving the locals and the Nation (believe it or not) since 1927, you can tell.



That's A Long Time

A long and thin structure sitting just off the town square, most of the fixtures have been updated at some point through the years. The menu and feel of the place remain stalwart. We have time-warped before. Gus’ Chalet, Berry’s, Mr. Beef, etc. have all been traipses through time with varying results. So was Balyeat’s a hit or a miss?

The service was a problem. I don’t know if we got THE struggling server du jour but she did struggle. There was something she was trying to get accomplished at the counter (side work/completing bills) but it seemed to be consuming all of her abilities and kept her from remembering the rest of her job. She couldn’t remember silverwear, beverages, what kind of chicken was ordered, what kind of pie was ordered, what kind of pies they had, what utensils are needed to eat pie and so on. Other tables seemed to be humming along just fine so I guess we were just unlucky. The service has the feel of a place that hires college folk during the summers and our server had the feel of someone who is at the end of the summer and looking to get back to school.

Unique Flavor To The Chowder

Chicken Rice Was Delicious With a Shake Of Salt

Steph Is All About The Cottage Cheese

What In The World Is That?!? Tasty.


The menu is limited and classic. Standing Rib Roast, Chopped Sirloin, Fried Chicken, Baked Ham, Chicken and Noodles, Roast Turkey, Swiss Steak and Baked Pork Tenderloin. All include choice of tomato juice or soup, choice of potato, plus vegetable, salad and dessert. We started with clam chowder and chicken and rice soups and salads of cottage cheese and pickled egg and beets which were followed by the chicken and noodles, the fried chicken and the Swiss steak all with mash and dressing.

The food was much better than the service, and much more interesting than she was interested. I was presented with two new experiences, the dinner rolls and the salad. The dinner rolls were pretty standard yeasty soft squares of bread but they had been topped with some strange substance. It looked like the powdered sugar you might expect on top of beignets in New Orleans. Strange and it wasn’t just sugar although it certainly contained some. There was also a savory flour like something in the mix but it didn’t seem as though just that would account for the taste overall. Served with good butter they were an interesting treat alone or with the savory dinners. Steph had cottage cheese but her mom and I both ordered a salad I had not had before, pickled egg and beets.


Unique And Tasty Salad Option

A small bowl of round ruby rounds arrives. Beets are not my favorite veg but I don’t detest them. I have never eaten them with a pickled egg and found the whole thing to be pretty tasty. Lightly sweet and earthy with the balance of the pickle I would order it again. The soups were also classic. The chicken rice was a heavy yellow and with a pinch of salt was definitely chickeny. The chowder had a unique flavor combination with something I couldn’t put a name to adding to the aromatics, shellfish and dairy. The chowder was also thinner than I had expected as most more traditional places tend to serve something akin to wall paper paste in texture, this was much better.

The dinners arrived and looked just like you would expect. First. The dressing is something I could easily do without. It tasted mostly like dressing but was extraordinarily fatty and had a disturbing mucilaginous texture. The more complicated the dressing the less interested I am and this did nothing for me.

This was counterbalanced by the other starch sitting adjacent to the dressing, the mashed potatoes. These were pristine and delicious. Real and homemade they were smooth as silk. Most places who do real mash will leave a couple of lumps, so you know they are real. They’re not really worried about that at Balyeats. Reeking of potato flavor elevated by just enough dairy and salt, I would hide a bowl of this under the table at Thanksgiving out of pure greed.

No Thanks To The Dressing...Strange In A Not So Good Way...

...Can I Have Eight Scoops Of The Mash Instead?

The proteins were all good but the one mixed with even more starch took the day. The Salisbury steak at first looked as though it might be some sort of cheap rolled or ground product but turned out to be an actual steak topped with a luscious brown gravy and a couple of mushrooms. The fried chicken was super tender and well seasoned, I had ordered white meat a true test of juiciness, but the dark meat our server delivered was certainly tasty. Easily trumping both was the stewed chicken and homemade noodles. This plate contained (aside from the pretty grody dressing) what you always wish chicken and noodles would be whenever you order them somewhere else. Ladle this stuff atop more of the gorgeous mash and you have a frighteningly chickeny/starchy punch to the dopamine pleasure pathway in your brain. The broth is yellow with chicken, the noodles are thick and doughy, Steph had hit the jackpot.

Satisfying Salisbury

Tender Fried Chicken Like The Sign Says Outside

Why Classics Still Exist

You Have No Idea How Much I Wanted To Steal The Plate

Did I say earlier than I had seen two things I hadn’t seen before. I lied. Big time. The rolls and the egg and beet salad were different but it has been a long time since I have encountered a pie I have never seen before. Known for their cream pies, which fantastically are included with the dinners, we ordered a variety plus I ordered a slice of black raspberry just to see if the fruit could contend. Apparently, the server had decided she didn’t particularly care for me…not sure what I might have done. Dark meat chicken and an hour later I found my black raspberries looked a whole bunch like peaches, cause they were. All told the peaches weren’t bad but I wouldn’t stack them anywhere near my grandmother’s version, her specialty. The cream pies were to die for. Banana, Scutter Botch (I was so happy to hear Butterscotch pronounced that way again, I've only known one other person to ever call it that) and the unknown version…the Old Fashioned Cream Pie. The butterscotch was extraordinary and the banana was relished with glee. The OFCP was interesting. It has a thin brown skin laying over a caramel colored cream filling. The combination is less sweet than most pies and has an intriguing progression of flavors including the bruled top, the buttery crust, caramel, custard, maybe some cinnamon, and on and on.

Them's Some Funny Lookin' Raspberries. Still Tasty.

Cream Pies Are Way To Go, Including Banana Goodness

Scutter Botch Is Killer Stupendous

Welcome To Pie You've Never Had. Interesting And Delicious

Just like Balyeat’s the Old Fashioned Cream Pie is what it is and doesn’t much care if you like it or not. I do. And I’m not alone if the line of people waiting for a table is any indication. So many places have come in gone, closed within a year or after ten…Balyeat’s has been treating people for 88 years and lines of people still cue up for a taste. What more do you need to know? Except, if you get the server who has a crumb on her lip the entire time you are there you should have sat in another section. I suppose it doesn't really matter what you order or what your server actually brings you, you will receive a wonderfully classic meal and experience. Just be sure to get there before they start pulling the papers with the daily pies taped to the wall down. You don't want to miss those.




What's Best

What's Worst

  B+ D B A F B  
        Pie. Chicken. Mash.
Noodles. Beets?!? Yup.
Dressing Awesome Outweighs
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