Review: Calvin’s Corner
Good southern food is hard to come by in Columbus. We’ve got a handful of upscale restaurants that go all out on specific menu items (the Shrimp & Grits at G. Michael’s immediately comes to mind), but when it comes to the “down home” grandmas-secret-recipe type establishments, they rarely seem to hit the mark in an endearing way for me.
Which brings us to Calvin’s Corner. Located near the West Side intersection of Wilson Road and Broad Street, Calvin’s is soul food restaurant launched recently inside a former Wendy’s building. Their menu includes some traditional southern dishes (fried catfish, collard greens, barbeque ribs) and a mishmash of other non-southern offerings (Philly cheese steak sandwiches, pork chops, hamburgers). One thing worth noting is that everything on the menu was affordably priced. The most expensive entree was $12 (includes sides) and most are in the $7-9 range.
Calvin’s Corner is set up for both dine-in and carry-out service, but seems to lean toward the latter, and seeing as how the ambiance of an unrenovated Wendy’s wasn’t going to add anything to my meal, I decided to take this one on the road to eat at home.
The Catfish Dinner ($9.95) is two large breaded catfish filets with a cornbread muffin and two sides (in this photo are the mashed potatoes and fried okra). The catfish breading was light and crispy, but also lacked any sort of flavor definition to the seasoning. The filets were large, providing a good amount of fried fish for the price tag. I found the cornbread muffin to be overly dry, and these two sides were just not doing anything for me. The gummy mashed potatoes tasted as if they were from a boxed mix, and the fried okra was so evenly and roundly breaded that I’d wager a pretty strong guess that they were from a pre-frozen package. Overall, I was left feeling as if I had eaten at an elderly relative’s potluck dinner, but without the made-from-scratch recipes that makes comfort food comforting.
The Perch Dinner ($9.95) includes three breaded perch strips with a cornbread muffin and two sides (in this photo are the green beans and cole slaw). This second attempt was slightly better than before. The perch was more flavorful than the catfish, and the cole slaw was actually quite good. Creamy and fresh, even if it were pre-packaged (I’m not quite sure on this one). The green beans were a standard canned variety, and once again the cornbread muffin was drier than I thought it should be. Overall, a better choice than the catfish, which gives me hope that there are some winners to discover elsewhere on the expansive menu at Calvin’s.
The dessert special of the day was a slice of Sweet Potato Pie ($3.00). I hate to come across as insulting if this was the creation of someone’s secret family recipe, but once again I felt as if I were eating a pre-packaged pie purchased from the bakery at your local chain grocery store. The pie was actually pretty good — light on pumkpin spices but heavier on nutmeg with a creamy finish. But really there wasn’t anything remarkable about it that I couldn’t find in your average Kroger bakery pie.
Calvin’s Corner serves the type of soul food that I’m looking for in this type of restaurant, but doesn’t really seem interested in impressing anyone. I’ll cut them some slack as they’ve only been open for just over under three months, but unless more of the items on the menu are altered to be made from scratch, then I’m more likely to just prepare the exact same food at home in my own kitchen without a lot of extra effort. If you live nearby though, and don’t feel like cooking, Calvin’s is worthy of a cheap exploration. Personally, I’ll probably stick to Creole Kitchen.
Calvin’s Corner is located at 60 N. Wilson Road on the West Side. They’re open Mon-Fri 11am to 8pm, Saturday 1pm to 8pm and closed on Sunday. More information can be found online at their Facebook page.