Thursday, June 4, 2009

Olde Village Diner

By Evie Ebert

After the welcome sensation of bitter cold air conditioning, the first thing that my dining companion and I noticed about Olde Village Diner in Pickerington was that we were the youngest patrons there – by a long shot. An elderly couple held post near the cash register, smiling at each other over their mugs. An imperious older gentleman in a crisp mesh ballcap stretched out his arm along the empty booth, a newspaper unfolded before him with precision like an architect’s blueprint. As we took our seats, the diners and waitstaff discussed a grandchild’s orthodontia and a daughter’s driving permit. The Regulars continued their conversation as they received a warm-up on their coffee and we quietly picked a booth, hoping not to seem too obviously, well, Irregular.

They serve up typical diner fare with hints at the establishment’s Greek history, the open-face meatloaf sandwich sharing menu space with lamb gyros. On the dessert board, rice pudding and galaktoboureko are listed right next to the fresh pies du jour. Breakfast items are served all day, and this gourmand was particularly intrigued by the Friday special of all-you-can-eat fish and fries for $7.25.

Olde Village Diner is cozy, the walls are lined with booths and the windows trimmed with toile valances. Metal and red vinyl swivel stools stand at attention by the bar, and white boards on the walls boast the daily specials. The friendliness of the staff put to rest any worries about feeling uncomfortable about our first-timer status, and soon I was halfway into a cup of black coffee. When our server noticed we were working on a crossword puzzle, she cautioned with a wink, “No cheating!”

We finished our meal by splitting a slice of apple pie a la mode, molten ice cream pooling artfully around the flaky, homemade crust. As we paid our bill, our server recalled an older couple who comes in every week. The wife clips out each day’s crossword from the newspaper and staples the solutions to the back. Penciling their names at the top, they meet at the diner and tackle the week’s puzzles together.

It’s not hard to see how the Olde Village Diner could become an extension of one's own hearth. And if I lived near Pickerington, I’d certainly investigate that all-you-can-eat situation on Friday.

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