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Restaurant Review: Philco Bar + Diner

 Miriam Bowers Abbott Restaurant Review: Philco Bar + Diner
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From the looks of it, Philco Bar + Diner is the sort of thing that’s in the right place at the right time. Filled to the gills with patrons, Philco is a petit little joint in the Short North. It just opened in the old Phillip’s Coney spot, filling the shoes of a century-old local institution. Things are different now. The new diner is slick. It’s a diner where you’ll see guests swirling their wine glasses… while gulping down a biscuit sandwich: clearly a good fit for the neighborhood.

In the great diner tradition, breakfast is served all day (hurrah!). The Steak & Eggs ($13) is good stuff at a pretty good value. An order offers a decent sized pile of eggs (the scrambled ones were pleasantly fluffy, and the menu says they come from free-range chickens) with nice wedges of trimmed steak piled up with some home fries. The beef is a grade or two higher than truck stop steak, which makes the dish a treat.

For the Breakfast Biscuit ($6) crowd, there’s a fluffy biscuit filled with fried egg, creamy chèvre and chorizo for sausage. The chorizo (nicely non-greasy) is an interesting twist, and makes a fine substitute for regular sausage.

Moving beyond the breakfast tray, there are a variety of other edibles for guests to nosh on after 11am. From the Salad department, consider an Iceberg Salad ($7). It’s a big, intact wedge, drizzled with gorgonzola dressing, plus a few croutons and some crispy fried slices of chorizo.

The Grilled Cheese Sandwich ($8) was sort of underwhelming. It’s more of an apples and bacon sandwich with a teeny touch of cheese –not really enough to even glue the parts together. Of course, if you like crunchy-apples-and-bacon sandwich, then this is totally up your alley.

More beloved is the Phillip’s Burger ($8). That one is pretty darn good. Teamed with Ohio cheddar, a loaded mayo, and an intense dose of oven-dried tomato, the burger nicely executed and served in soft challah.

While almost the entire menu is served by 11am and runs throughout the day, there are just a few items that are for the evening crowd only: Steak Frites, 40 Clove Chicken, and a Pork Shoulder Pot Roast. You can find those after 4pm.

Sides are sold separately. Two of them in particular are exquisite. The Fresh Cut Fries ($2.50) are thick cut, soft inside and crackling outside. The Maple Ricotta Cornbread ($2.50) is also outstanding. First, because the combination in itself is conceptually divine. The execution is top-shelf too: a dense cornbread with a soaking pour of maple. The sodden bites are, as expected, the best bites.

The menu-slash-placemat offers a modest, manageable selection of edibles, but there’s room on the sheet of paper for six desserts. The Chocolate Chip Cookies ($4) were really interesting. They were puffy and crumbly – an unusual texture. Still, the texture made them team especially well with a cup of milk. Worth a try for those who find the regular tollhouse version to be passe.

You can find Philco Bar + Diner at 747 N. High Street. It’s open early for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

More information can be found online at www.facebook.com/PhilcoBar.diner.

Photos by Mollie Lyman of www.fornixphotography.com.

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  • RhondaH

    Drat it has been Short Northed…that was inevitable but I will miss poppin in for a cheap coney.

    The comfort style food looks good at Philco though I am not sure I am into some of the decor. They are pushing that slick aspect which probably works better as a bar at 10pm than eating home fries at 8 in the morning.

    hours are 8am-11pm tues-thurs, 8-12,9-12,9-11 respectively (closed mondays)

  • Anti

    You can still get coney dogs for 2-2.5 depending on cheese or not. Not sure if that qualifies as cheap, but they are there, and they are pretty standard (as opposed to some sort of “updated” tricked out version). The rest of the food in my experience has been fantastic.

    Not sure I quite agree with the decor gripe (subjective obviously), the diner bar is metal and the back wall is the same sort of bricking you’d find in a Waffle House. (just ignore the bottles of wine haha!) I’ve never sat in a booth, but the counter does feel sufficiently diner-esque. (I mean, a trendy yuppie diner, but hey!)

    After a long series of bland duds in the neighborhood whose concept begins and ends with “a place for young professionals to come unwind” or “upscale bar” this is an extremely welcome breath of fresh air.

  • mrmann

    ‘You can still get coney dogs for 2-2.5 depending on cheese or not.’

    That is good to hear. I used to stop into the old place from time to time. The wine bar aspect throws me but I can adapt. For cheap eats there is always White Castle.

  • The coneys are actually mini coneys kind of a slider size.

    The best thing I’ve tried so far are the duck wings with potato salad. The potato salad is make with Nueske’s bacon and it’s really good. I also like the iceberg salad and fried mortadella sandwich.

  • Anti

    Yeah, I’m not sure why the wine is so prominent in the restaurant. Their list isn’t super extensive or anything, and doesn’t seem to be a focal point of the menu.

    3 coneys and fries is $8-10, while not extremely cheap, it’s rather cheap for a large amount (probably 2 coneys and fries is sufficient) of high quality junk food.

  • FSonicSmith

    OK, it’s been two and a half years since the last comment here and Philco deserves more talk IMHO. The original review fails to take note of what Philco does well. Namely, breakfast. There is no place in town with better hotcakes. They are fluffy, light, and slightly sweet with what I suspect is a perfect mix of flour and cornmeal. The “traditional breakfast” with two hotcakes, two eggs, and bacon can’t be beat for under ten bucks with coffee if you are looking for something a cut above Bob Evans fare. The bacon is not just any bacon either. The breakfast tacos are even better than the “traditional breakfast”. The Huevos Rancheros, I admit, are a bit ordinary and could be elevated. This is also a great place for lunch and dinner if you want very well executed comfort food in a diner setting. It is not a place to dwell over a long meal-the pace is high as it ought to be in a diner, though the staff do nothing to push diners out the door. And lastly, I have never encountered more professional staff in a similar setting. Strange since the staff at the other restaurants in the same group are not nearly so polished, particularly at The Rossi and El Camino. In the last year Philco has become one of my top 5 casual spots in Columbus. And you can eat in that time slot that is generally dead in the SN, or any other non-chain restaurant, between 8:00 and 11:30.

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