I had never been to Waynesville, Ohio before; apparently it’s the “Antique Capital of the Midwest” or some such tomfoolery, so I dug it instantaneously upon stepping foot on its soil. The picture on the left serves as a nice example of its modest downtown, a sleepy little community more interested in dusting decade old dishes than adultery or reality television. This restaurant serves as a hub of communication, a place where locals can come and chat about their loved ones, hear the latest gossip, and if feeling crazy enough, perhaps indulge one another with a scandalous dirty joke. They can also eat there.
To help understand the place’s ambiance I took a picture of this aloe vera plant that was used as decoration – it’s also where I buried a piece of chewing gum, but that’s neither here nor there. We came right around lunchtime, and almost every other table and booth was full. The other patrons were small town folk to the core, a loyal group of laborers just making it through another day, not sure what to make of my crew, nor myself, or the notebook of poetry and Buddhism notes I held, least of all the sleek digital camera I used to document our run-in. On the right is my soda, a thirst quenching choice, surely inspired, and refilled routinely by a pleasant waitress who couldn’t have yet graduated high school, and had likely succumbed to the pressures of her equally naïve boyfriend and his wishes of late night explorations of the squalid sort.
There I am on the left, creator of this bizarre website and big-time fan of Contra. Also joining me on this raucous romp were RtW staff members Nick (of the Freestyle Walking Club, and the RtW TV project) and Adam (of the famed wrestling section) who promised to be my strength should I falter.
The menu had some diversity, which was a welcomed surprise. I assumed there’d be the usual diner fare, like meatloaf, etc. and little else to select from. However, there were many options and it honestly took awhile to make a final choice. I went with the perch dinner, a bold choice from a bold dude. On the far right you’ll see the coleslaw that came with my entrée, and I can safely say I’d rank it near the top of my all-time coleslaw list; that is, were I ever to create such a mad thing. The meal also came with fries, which were unfortunately not so spectacular, in fact, they were downright bland; as well as a breadstick, which I used as a submarine in a little production I put on to the delight of nobody. The fish reminded me almost instantly of the frozen variety fed to me in elementary school lunches of yesteryear. It’s odd how a taste or flavor can catapult you back into the past so effectively, but nostalgia alone couldn’t save these pieces of fish from my biting review powers, which deemed them uninspired and lacking in taste and texture. Later, I wanted to learn more about the variety of fish I ate, Perch, and stumbled upon the picture in the middle which does little in assuring me that I made the right choice for lunch. Damn, I knew I should have got the steak sandwich!
Nick got an individual cheese pizza and an order of fries. Either Nick’s usually hearty appetite didn’t show up in Waynesville, or he simply loathed the food, as he only finished about half of it. He did make mention of there being too much sauce on the pizza, and that it was also a tad too sweet for his personal liking. Adam got the chili spaghetti, which he appeared to be satisfied with for all intents and purposes. Overall, in terms of food quality, our experiences ranged from acceptable to below average.
Near the counter I found a rack containing a variety of Christian themed books and pamphlets. To my utter shock, there were also a couple religious comic books that floored me. As depicted in the picture, I was temporarily astonished by this crudely drawn caricature of the mighty Samson, complete with loincloth and rock and roll red headband.
Ultimately, I enjoyed my experience, even if I couldn’t wholeheartedly recommend this place. The food was tolerable, at best, but on the other hand the atmosphere was unique, and the service and price was swell. The antiques aren’t the only things of a forgotten era in Waynesville, as places like this have become extremely uncommon, in our society where chain restaurants like Taco Bell and Subway outnumber these small homely places in a relentlessly major way. These factors aside, they scored bonus points from me for schilling with a straight face comic book adaptations of bible stories – any place where I can get a decent piece of pie and an issue of Samson is okay with me.
Overall Grade: B-