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Ohio College Trip in April

We are taking a three day college trip in April. After an afternoon at Kenyon the plan is to spend the evening in Oberlin and drive the next day to Wooster. Any suggestions for dinner in Oberlin and Wooster would be greatly appreciated. Also, any places we should try on the road.


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  1. The College of Wooster has a restaurant on campus called the Wooster Inn. I think a lot of the staff is students. The restaurant is very, very good and I'm pretty sure it's the best place in town. The food is American (you can see the menu on their website) and it's rather elegantly served (although you can go fairly casual for such a "white tablecloth" place).

    The Wooster Inn
    801 East Wayne Avenue
    Wooster, Ohio 44691

    Just north of Oberlin, on Lake Erie, is a town called Vermilion. There, you'll find a French restaurant called Chez Francois, and it's one of the best restaurants in all of Ohio. The food and service are excellent; it's not inexpensive, but it's worth it if you enjoy fine French food. It's rather formal; jackets are required for men. (Their website mentions that they also have an outdoor riverfront cafe that is more casual.) Arrive before sunset for a stroll on the lakefront area before dinner.

    Chez Francois
    555 Main Street
    Vermilion, Ohio 44089

    I realize both of these are fine dining type places, and Chez Francois is more of a "splurge" type place. I'm not sure whether that's what you're looking for, but these are the only places I'm familiar with in or near those two particular towns.

    For suggestions on places between Gambier (Kenyon) and the other two towns, see this topic (ignore everything about Columbus and points south, since Gambier is northeast of Columbus, but see the comments about Mansfield and Ashland):

    1. NSXtasy, The Wooster is is very nicer but Wooster has other restaurants that are just as good.

      The Old Jail is nice and a bit more relaxed than the Wooster Inn.

      TJ's is a classic steak and chops place that has a more relaxed Burgersteins in the lower level.

      South Market Bistro has received great reviews for a new restaurant.

      Matso's has very good Greek food.

      The Coccia house is locally famous for their pizza.

      It isn't really the right season for Ice cream, but Hartzlers Organic Dairy should not be missed.

      The north end of Wooster has all the usual chain restaurants if that is what you seek.

      The Amish Door on Old Lincoln-way is good Amish food.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Kelli2006

        Thanks for all of the Wooster suggestions. We may venture out to the Amish Door, since I imagine it's different than New York City food.

        1. re: matika

          I just discovered this URL link for The Amish Door.

          Both the Amish Door or Der Dutch Essenhaus in Shreve are great recommendations for Amish food.

          Troyers Home pantry at 319 E North street, at the bottom of College Ave in Wooster has very good Amish style baked goods.

          1. re: Kelli2006

            Troyer's Home Pantry will soon be shipping pies and pastries via their website at http://www.troyers-home-pantry.com I cant wait. At the price of gas shipping is cheaper.

      2. I'm an Oberlin alumni so my impressions of good may be a little skewed because of my poor college student status at the time, but the Weia Tea House right on Tappan Square was one of my favorites. It has fantastic noodle bowls and very good entrees, I remember having a wonderful salmon dinner there.

        There are also some more student-y places in town - the Feve for kinda hippie food with a pretty relaxing bar upstairs, Mandarin Chinese (great sesame chicken), and the Black River Cafe had very delicious pancakes (I'm not sure if they're open for dinner).

        6 Replies
        1. re: katebauer

          the mandarin is a great example of classic americanized chinese food. nothing particularly authentic (unless they've overhauled things), but fresh and well-prepared.

          1. re: wleatherette

            I agree completely. Although it may not be authentic, it's some of the best American Chinese I've had - and I've lived in a lot of places that had a much greater presence of Chinese-Americans.

          2. re: katebauer

            Thanks - I have heard about Weia form some other folks and we probably will give it a try.

            1. re: katebauer

              I was just at Weia Tea a couple weeks ago. Here is part of what I said in the Elyria thread:

              "Finally, we ate dinner at Weia Teia in Oberlin. A bit spooky to go back there, since my partner graduated from Oberlin and I attended for 3 semesters, 20 years ago now. I thought Weia Teia was pretty good and certainly a good addition to the town. The menus are on odd, 3 foot long planks which would serve well for issuing corporal punishment. The portions are a bit too large, but the food is good. Especially good was the salmon with a spicy pepper cream on top of sauteed spinach on top of a cylinder of delicious sticky rice, all with a yummy yellow curry. The young lad who was our server wasn't very well educated about the food (e. g., when asked about tea, he said that they had Japanese green tea and Chinese green tea, but didn't know which kinds). For the prices they charge, I think they could better train their young servers. These are all relatively minor, entirely fixable quibbles. I think that Weia Teia has the potential to be very, very good."

              1. re: katebauer

                I just saw this post about Ohio and I, too am an Oberlin alumna -- when I've been back, the food is vastly improved since my college days (not quite 20 years ago!) Here's my question: does anyone know if Mom's Open Kitchen in Elyria is, well, still open? It was divey back in the day, but I have fond memories of eating eggs & potatoes there at 2 in the morning. Just wondering.

                1. re: Samanth2

                  far as i know still open 24hrs. i will report back after a visit home this summer!

              2. Two other ideas:

                In Oberlin, the College Inn which is on the square has a pretty good restaurant and the inn itself is convenient and affordable.

                In Shreve, OH which is 10 miles south of Wooster in Der Dutch Essenhaus, a good Amish eatery. The drive to Shreve is very interesting as there are a couple of bird sanctuaries in the area.

                Der Dutch Essenhaus
                176 N. Market Street
                Shreve, Ohio

                1. As a Wooster alum I would highly recommend the Wooster Inn and TJs (I think it's still there). Coccia House was always overrated, IMO. The Barn Restaurant is casual but good food. Having been to Weia Teia's "sister restaurant" in North Olmsted I can highly recommend that in Oberlin. Chez Francois...completely under-whelmed. Enjoy...and go Scots!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: gourmanda

                    Why were you underwhelmed with Chez Francois? I've eaten dinner there three times in the past three years, and every time the food was outstanding, the service was excellent, and it's a lovely place. The only objection I would have is their requirement for jackets and ties, but otherwise, it very much deserves all the recognition and awards it has received.

                    I'm from Chicago, so my expectations for fine dining food are pretty high. I can assure you that Chez Francois would be excellent no matter where it happened to be located.

                    1. re: nsxtasy

                      I didn't think the food was very good, the service was mediocre and I was very put off by the fact that, despite "requirements", they did let in some very scruffy looking people sans jacket and tie. And before you ask, yes it was indoors. Even though I enjoy a place that requires a jacket I just think there are much better options than that in Cleveland.

                      1. re: gourmanda

                        Well, I guess we must agree to disagree, because my experience was exactly the opposite of yours, with excellent food and service. And I've been there three times recently; it sounds like you only went there once.

                        Also, keep in mind that the original poster was looking for options in and around Oberlin, not in Cleveland or Chicago.

                        1. re: nsxtasy

                          We shall. I'm glad you enjoyed your outings at C.F. ... perhaps I will try it again one day. Tho', I'm not sure why it was mentioned in this context either. Well, I hope Matika finds some good chow at one of the other recommendations!

                          1. re: gourmanda

                            Vermilion is only a 15-20 minute drive from Oberlin. And away from the big cities, it is unusual to find a top French restaurant like Chez Francois, which has received widespread acclaim from food critics and many other reviewers. If the OP is interested in a fine French dinner while in Oberlin, it's the perfect place to go.

                  2. ONe quick though before giving another Wooster alum's opinion about the Chow...Why go from Kenyon to Oberlin and then back to Wooster? From Kenyon, you will take 71 North, Wooster is only about 45 minutes East on Route 30 from 71. You then can take 83 North from Wooster up and head West on your choice of several routes to Oberlin and you will be poised to take 90 back to NY. Obviously I don't know your scheduling, but it seems like you're covering some extra ground if you head all the way up to Oberlin just to run back down South to Woo. Back to the Chow, Essenhaus is an excellent choice, true amish style, exceptional pies and the broasted chicken is awesome. Go for Maple, Peanut Butter or one of the other less common varieties for a real treat. The Wooster Inn is nice, but awful formal and not the best place to wind down after a variety of tours and admissions interviews. Matsos is my favorite. As a lifelong Cleveland resident who also spent a fair amount of time in Columbus, I would testify under oath that Matsos is the best Greek food in Northern Ohio. Greek Pita is excellent, the salad dressing is worth buying a bottle (if they are still selling it) and for something different (but really good) try the Spaghetti Pizza with sausage and meatballs. Best wishes for a safe trip and Go Scots!!!!

                    1. I am curious about the Amish Door. I looked at the menu and cannot imagine haddock and shrimp are actually "traditional" Amish. I have lived in OH now for 5 years and wonder if there are authentic places. When I lived in DC, when I was a kid, we used to drive to Pennsylvania Dutch country and they had these little farm house places with just a few tables and you ate family style-platters of food brought to the table. Are there any places like this? I went to that Yoders Kitchen out east, and it was kind of like a step up from Shoneys or equal to the cracker barrel. Needless to say I was not impressed (plus 2 out of three of us became ill after the meal). really touristy as well. I am sure our NY friend as well as others would love someone to chime in with ideas!

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: lyn

                        My experience with Amish places in Ohio is they are really touristy. I went with a friend once and stopped at several Amish stores and they do things like buy Brach's candy in bulk and rebag it. Or sell wooden toys that are made in China.

                        I have a friend who lives in Amish country and she said the Amish like to go to Walmart and buy stuff that they sell to tourists. Apparently the Amish love Walmart, and Walmart has buggy parking in some places.

                        http://www.forbes.com/business/2005/0... is a story about how the Walmart in Middlefield, Ohio caters to the Amish.

                        But I have had some awesome Amish pies.

                        1. re: kura kura

                          Lyn and Kura Kura,
                          Boyd and Wurthman in Berlin, and Mrs Yoder's kitchen in Mt Hope are both small restaurants in Amish country.. Both have very good and traditional Amish food, and are usually packed with locals. Yoder's bakery has locations in both Apple Creek and Wooster and sell great pies and baked goods. I have lived in this area most of my life and I am very willing to provide authentic chowish food and lodging.

                          Lyn, Yoder's Amish home on on SR 515 at CR-172 in Walnut Creek, is a Amish home that serves a traditional dinner family style.

                          Kura Kura, I live just north of Amish country and you are very correct about many the restaurants being touristy and the repackaging of candy and trinkets. IMVHO, Berlin is the center of the Amish tourist industry and you would be wise to avoid it on the weekends.

                          BTW, The Amish do love Wahl-mart and both the Wooster and Millersburg location provide food and water for the Amish horses.

                        2. re: lyn

                          I really like to eat at Grandma's Homestead Restaurant in Charm, Ohio. I have been eating there every so often for over 15 years. In that time it has expanded and changed a bit but it is still quite good. It is owned by someone that grew up on a farm in Holmes county. You see local Amish eating and working there. I like the pan fried chicken but it is only served on certain days. I believe Friday is one of them. The stuffing is delicious. And recently I was there for breakfast, the fried potatoes really tasted like something Grandma would have made and the cinanmon rolls, YUM!

                          Charm is a little less touristy Amish town. It might be fun to check out. The shopping opportunities have grown over the years but it is still pretty small.

                          In 2002, the owners of Grandma's Homestead in Charm bought a restaurant in Wilmont. It is called Grandma's Alpine Homestead Swiss Village. I have never been there, but I would guess it is similar.

                          1. re: lyn

                            If you want great "traditional" Amish food, you should go to Dutch Essenhaus. It's a little more out of the way, but it is authentic and delicious. Amish Door is just another chain restaurant.

                            1. re: lyn

                              My family and I have been going to Amish country my whole life and I'm well into my 30's; we go several times a year. The Amish Door is a disappointment. So are most of the other tourist trap restaurants like The Der Dutchman. The best Amish food we've found has been at Grandma's Homestead Restaurant in Charm, Ohio. It's a little off the beaten path (very close to Berlin, but not on the main roads thus easy to miss). Now that we have discovered Grandma's Homestead we know we've struck gold; it's the only place we'll eat. I'm a little hesitant to post this because the wait is sometimes an hour or more depending on when you hit it, so part of me wants this place to remain a well kept secret to avoid it becoming more of a mob scene. Alas, I'll be generous. Amish work there and serve the food. The strawberry jam is NOT to be missed -- reminds me of old fashioned freezer jam. The pan fried chicken is out of this world. Mashed potatoes, stuffing, roast beef, bread, you name it -- it's fantastic. Simple, old-fashioned country/Amish comfort food is what you'll find. You will not be disappointed with Grandma's Homestead. I promise you will go again and again and pass on the name of this gem to friends and family when they announce they're taking a trip to Amish Country. You'll be warmly thanked when they return.

                            2. thanks kelli, I take it Yoder's is such a common name that there are several (the one I went to I believe, as in Geagua cty-next to a McD's, which a full hitching post, no less)? thanks for the recs. I am sure one day I will put them to use.

                              1. Thanks for all for suggestions . There have been some changes to our Ohio trip and we now also are stopping in Yellow Springs. Someone told me about The Winds Cafe and am wondering if that is the best place for dinner. Other ideas and thoughts about road stops from Yellow Springs to Wooster would be great.

                                Thanks again

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: matika

                                  Yellow Springs is just east of Dayton. You will be going through Columbus to get from Yellow Springs to Wooster; it's around an hour from YS to Columbus, then another 75 minutes or so from Columbus to Wooster, so Columbus is a good stopping point.

                                  There are many, many topics in this forum on Columbus, including this one on dinners in general - www.chowhound.com/topics/375587 - and this one on brunch - www.chowhound.com/topics/364156 - and many more, on everything from sandwiches to Mexican to just about anything you can think of. As previously noted, this topic covers the drive from Columbus to Wooster - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/361607

                                2. coccia house has always been good...ask for the homeade spagetthi and the pizza is different...thick crust but good..eat in the bar...ask for Karen Calabria the owner...tell them the old bartende who made spikes sent you...they will know

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: sodagirl

                                    Sorry that I never replied after our trip. Plans changed along the way, but we did eat very well. The South Market Bistro in Wooster and Four Winds in Yellow Springs.

                                    Thanks to everyone for their suggestions

                                    1. re: matika

                                      even tho THE WINDS is great, i am sorry you went all the way to yellow springs to visit antioch. i'm sure you heard they are closing the college. very sad ohio news.