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.
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.
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):
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.
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.
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).
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."
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.