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Jan 18, 2007 05:32 PM

Restaurants along I-71 from Cincy to Cleveland

My family and I going to the southern suburbs of Cleveland next weekend (starting in Cincinnati) and I'm looking for good, non-chain, inexpensive, kid-friendly (ages nine and six, adventurous eaters) restaurants along the way. We'd be willing to go a few miles off the highway to get away from McDonald's and Appleby's!


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  1. The German Village area is just east of I-71 in Columbus and has several places I think would fit your bill:

    1) Schmidt's Sausage Haus is in Columbus (German Village) probably 5 minutes east of I-71 (Greelawn Ave exit?). This would be a great place for lunch or dinner and very kid friendly. Be sure to order a cream puff. You have to love a restaurant that puts their dessert menu ahead of all other items! Here is a link to their web site:

    2) Thurman Cafe - great local sandwich shop, also Greenlawn Ave. exit
    183 Thurman Ave
    Columbus, OH 43206
    (614) 443-1570

    3) Mohawk Cafe 614-444-7204; 819 Mohawk St. great local sandwich shop, also Greenlawn Ave. exit

    4) Brown Bag Deli 898 Mohawk Street 614.443.4214 great local sandwich shop, also Greenlawn Ave. exit

    1. I'm bumping this thread as I'm looking for a place to have dinner between Cleve and Cincy close to or just off 71. Not child-friendly, just good and not a chain. Anyone? Bueller?

      1 Reply
      1. re: rockandroller1

        Alana's -- take the Hudson exit off of 71 in Columbus and then turn left at High St.

      2. Along with the German Village idea, G. Michael's is right off the Greenlawn exit and it's consistently good. Very nice atmosphere, too. Their menu is at Once you get north of Columbus there's not much that I have ever found. There might be a few chain-type places or an Amish buffet typr of thing, but I'd eat in Columbus if you want a good dinner.

        13 Replies
        1. re: Lauren in OH

          > Once you get north of Columbus there's not much that I have ever found.

          I frequently travel to the Mansfield area, which is about halfway between Columbus and Cleveland. I've tried most of the places in that area. There are two that I recommend:

          Brant's Bistro
          37 East Fourth Street,
          Mansfield, Ohio 44906

          The Cabin Restaurant
          2106 SR 603
          Ashland, OH 44805

          Somewhat further from I-71, and also good, is:

          The Wooster Inn
          801 East Wayne Avenue
          Wooster, Ohio 44691

          I agree that there are many more options in Columbus than further north; you can find out more about them by searching this forum for Columbus topics.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            P.S. Approximate driving times from I-71:

            Brant's Bistro - 10 minutes
            The Cabin - 5 minutes
            Wooster Inn - 25 minutes

            1. re: nsxtasy

              I live in Ashand not to far from Mansfield.

              Have you ever tried Oak Park Tavern on St Rt 430E? (419-589-2637) It is not that far from the Cabin and I prefer it. The atmosphere isn't the greatest but the food is good. I haven't been in awhile though.

              A place I like in Ashland is The Pump House Grille, 400 Orange St. (419-207-3900). The service can be variable because it is charity running the restaurant, trying to teach restaurant skills. But probably the best place to eat in Ashland.

              I'll have to try Brant's Bistro and the Wooster Inn.

              1. re: heidikay

                Thanks for the recommendations! I'll have to try them next time I'm in the area, in the spring. I'll probably get to Oak Park Tavern first; I usually stay south of Mansfield (closer to the racetrack in Lexington) so Pump House Grille is a bit further for me, although it's pretty close to I-71 for the OP.

                It's funny that you refer to the atmosphere vs the food at OPT, because I feel the same way about the Cabin. I've been there 4-5 times now and I've been really impressed with the food, both with the menu options (fairly creative) as well as the execution (well prepared). The seafood has been particularly good and fresh, with the biggest mussels I've ever seen! The one problem there *has been* that almost all of the seating areas are near the bar area and tend to get cigarette smoke wafting over, but now that Ohio has passed clean indoor air legislation (hooray!) that's no longer an issue. Otherwise, like I say, the food's been great and so has the service. But I'm always eager to try new places.

                Brant's Bistro, in downtown Mansfield, is relatively new and I went there this past year, when I first heard of it. It's very nice, a nice mixture of casual and upscale, with "white tablecloth settings" in the dining room and the bar room to the side. You can see the menu on their website. Everything I had there was very good. It's a welcome addition to Mansfield. I've tried most of the other "nice" places in Mansfield, and have found them generally disappointing and not worth commenting on.

                Wooster Inn is sort of like Pump House Grille sounds, since it's connected with Wooster College and I think a lot of the service staff consists of students learning restaurant skills. The food was excellent both times I went there, and the service was quite good, although lacking the self-confidence you typically find from experienced staff. Very elegant atmosphere.

                Thanks again!

                1. re: nsxtasy

                  Where is Brandt's Bistro in downtown? I am from Mansfield and am surprised/interested to hear they've finally gotten a good restaurant.

                  1. re: rockandroller1

                    It's on the north side of Fourth Street just west of Diamond St (northbound OH 13). It's in a somewhat narrow storefront. Across the street is a large parking lot that occupies most of the block.

                    Brant's Bistro
                    37 East Fourth Street,
                    Mansfield, Ohio 44906

                  2. re: nsxtasy

                    I spent this past weekend in the Mansfield area, and again ate at the Cabin and Brant's Bistro.

                    The Cabin was once again simply wonderful. This is a true "hidden gem" in the area, with creative cuisine (including very fresh seafood).

                    I started dinner with the "Spicy Crab Wontons: Apricot dipping sauce, $6.95". They were very good, served in a paper cone like French fries would be. The crab filling was finely minced so that the crab and whatever breading were mixed, without lumps of crab. They weren't particularly spicy, but they sure were good!

                    For an entree, I had the "Baked Seabass in Phyllo: Seabass, leeks and shiitake mushrooms wrapped in phyllo, served with lobster perogies and an oven roasted tomato cream sauce, $21.95". Yummm!!!

                    For dessert, I was tempted by the "Vanilla Taster Trio: Vanilla cremem brulee, vanilla bavarian cream, and vanilla ice cream cookie with vanilla sandwich", which is wonderful but I had it last time. Instead, I had the "Peaches and Cream: peaches and cream cheese mixtture baked in phyllo with vanilla creme anglaise with dried cranberry garnish", another big hit.

                    At Brant's Bistro, I started with bacon-wrapped sweet-spicy shrimp with bourbon sauce. For an entree I had crab-topped salmon, which didn't have much crab taste or crab that I could notice - the topping looked more like bread crumbs - with a maple glaze. Both were excellent. I also substituted the gold coast salad, which was also very good indeed.

                    Having visited Mansfield on numerous occasions over the years, these two places are wonderful and definitely worth visiting if you're in the area.

                    1. re: nsxtasy

                      I returned to the Cabin again this past weekend, and it was once again thoroughly excellent. I had their "seafood collage" special, which consists of steamed lobster tail and sauteed scallops and shrimp, fresh and absolutely perfectly cooked. They didn't have those giant mussels in it this time, darn! But it's a wonderful dish. I also had the outstanding bread pudding for dessert. It's so nice to have a restaurant where you just KNOW everything will be consistently and reliably delicious. Kudos for the Cabin!

                      I also ate at another restaurant for the first time, one that has me disappointed but also a bit perplexed. This was the Malabar Farm Restaurant which is actually located in the Malabar Inn down the road from the farm itself. (Malabar Farm is a well-known local landmark, founded by famous author Louis Bromfield in the early 20th Century in order to establish farming practices that we now know as environmentally sustainable etc, far far ahead of its time.) I hadn't heard anything about the restaurant. When I looked at the menu on their website at it sounded interesting and creative, using local and seasonal ingredients where possible. The dining room is lovely and the service was okay, and the prices are reasonable, but the food just did not impress. Which was especially surprising considering how good everything on the menu sounded. But gee whiz, it just seemed like everything used tastes that I just don't like, tastes that destroyed the dishes; the crab cakes had too much black pepper, the duck with mango was served in a brown sauce, and I skipped dessert after hearing that the creme brulee flavor of the day was coffee, which I detest. Also, I ordered the duck breast "medium" which should be at least pink in the middle, not gray all the way through, although the confit part was decent. Since I haven't seen any posts here, I don't know if other people feel the same way about these flavors, or if people aren't aware of the restaurant or haven't tried it, or what the story is.

                      1. re: nsxtasy

                        I was back in Mansfield this past weekend.

                        >> Have you ever tried Oak Park Tavern on St Rt 430E?

                        This trip I tried Oak Park Tavern. I was not impressed. I had an appetizer of steamed mussels; the mussels were fresh and good, but the broth was not worth consuming, rather like dishwater. I had the roast prime rib, which was a slice individually cooked (like a steak); it was fatty and chewy. It came with soup - a so-so onion soup, with gloppy cheese and not much onion in it - and salad - the one really good thing in the meal, a small spinach salad with excellent hot bacon dressing - and vegetable - undercooked (almost raw) broccoli. I ate out on the deck (newly built for this year) which was very pleasant. Oak Park Tavern is an old time "supper club" type place, with very conventional, mainstream food. Its main attraction appears to be that it's inexpensive, with most main courses around $13, including soup/salad/veg. I just didn't think the food was all that good.

                        I also ate at the Cabin again, and once again it was superb. I had pistachio-crusted Chilean sea bass, which was wonderful, along with a wedge appetizer salad and their excellent onion soup. Always a pleasure. If I'm not mistaken, the Cabin may have lowered their prices; most entrees are around $15-17.

                        I also ate at Brant's Bistro again. It was okay. It struck me as a bit overrich, with rich sauces, rich desserts, etc. Just a bit too much. Not bad.

                        The Cabin is still the "class act" in town.

                        1. re: nsxtasy

                          Sorry if I steered you wrong. My husband and I used to eat at Oak Park fairly often before kids. And we hadn't been there for quite awhile when I wrote the suggestion. Since I recommended it, we did return and it just wasn't the same. I'm not sure if my palate has changed or Oak Park. The meal we had wasn't bad just not as good as I remembered.

                          If you ever get to Wooster, I like Broken Rocks Cafe'. Maybe I can redeem myself.


                          I also like South Market Bistro but haven't been there in quite a while.

                          1. re: nsxtasy

                            I understand that Oak Park Tavern is considered a Mansfield "landmark" in dining. My parents used to eat there when they dated decades ago. When my husband and I ate there one day, as a diversion from The Cabin, just to try something new, we were not too impressed. While the dining room had the charm of days gone by it seemed small and cramped by todays standards and the food was just okay and un-inspired. We frequent the Cabin and will continue to do so.

                            Brandts Bistro closed this past fall. Pity, the food was great. Another place we really liked was Ashland's Pump House Grille. Pity, again. We liked our money supporting local interests but it's getting harder to do these days with the recession shutting the door of many creative, interesting and family operated establishments.

                    2. re: heidikay

                      The Pump House Grille is now closed.

                2. Another good German Village place would be Barcelona, but it's not cheap. Definitely an adult place, I wouldn't bring children there. URL =

                  1. What's it near, store-wise. Is it near Sid's Camera Shop or the Coney? Aren't those on 4th street? I can't imagine them selling Osso Bucco to Mansfielders but the rest sounds fairly normal for them (and tasty)!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: rockandroller1

                      Sorry, I'm not that familiar with other places in downtown Mansfield.

                      If it helps, here's an aerial view of the location:

                      If "the Coney" is the Coney Island Diner at 98 North Main Street, that's Main Street at the western end of the parking lot across the street from Brant's, and Mapquest puts 98 North Main Street at the corner of Main and Fourth, at the west end of the block that Brant's is on.