I wish I'd seen this sooner. I am a Kenyon alum, and I came to appreciate certain restaurants in the area. The Gambier Deli, which is in Gambier - right by the bookstore - is excellent. I still miss their veggie subs. Our favorite Mount Vernon place was Hunan Garden, which, I suppose, is not THAT special, but I still crave it, too - and I live in LA now and can get authentic Chinese any time I want!
Between Columbus and Kenyon is Hoggy's. The first location (or one of the first ones) is located in New Albany/Gahanna, which is right on the way from the airport to Kenyon. It's barbecue and sort of down home cooking. I'm a vegetarian now, but I wasn't in college, so I can vouch for the fact that it's pretty good.
110 Gaskin Avenue
Gambier, OH 43022
1516 Coshocton Avenue
Mount Vernon, OH
1370 E Johnstown Rd, Columbus, OH 43230
CC, you might do better to re-post with another title. Gambier is a very small town and I don't believe there is anything there. What kind of food are you looking for? I live in Columbus, which does have some very unique areas - Short North, German Village, etc. Not much of interest around the airport, mainly fast food or chain restos. Assuming you will be going up 71 North, the Polaris Pkwy exit near the big mall has quite a few places, but again mostly chains.
Northeast of Gambier is Amish country, about an hour away and there are definitely some interesting places there. The closest town to Gambier is Mount Vernon and I can't help you there.
If you are interested in Columbus info, please let me know.
re: Diane in Bexley
I'm a frequent visitor to the area northeast of Gambier. The two best restaurants in that area (i.e. without going all the way to Wooster) are:
The Cabin Restaurant
2106 SR 603 (near the intersection of I-71 and US-30)
Ashland, OH 44805
37 East Fourth Street (downtown Mansfield)
Mansfield, Ohio 44906
I consider the Cabin the better of the two; it's really a wonderful place, and has been consistently excellent in my dozen or so visits there. Their cuisine is American; you can get anything from your basic steak and seafood to more creative dishes with with global influences. I've posted detailed reports on a couple of my dinners there in the discussion at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/361607 where you'll also find additional recommendations for this area.
That being said, you're talking about a 40-45 minute drive on the far side of Gambier, so it's out of the way, in the "wrong" direction. You'll find plenty of food options in the Columbus area, so you may want to eat there rather than look for anything between Columbus and Gambier, or in Gambier itself.
The Chowhound Team frowns on posting sightseeing advice that isn't related to food, so for that kind of information, you may want to consult the official Ohio tourism site at www.discoverohio.com and/or the Columbus tourism site at www.experiencecolumbus.com