Der Dutchman (Facebook)
445 S. Jefferson Route 42 (map it!)
Plain City, OH 43064
Open Mon-Thurs, 6 am - 8 pm; Fri & Sat, 6 am - 9 pm (bfast served until 11)
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? N/N/N
Date of Visit: Saturday, February 26, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.
IMPRESSIONS: Alton Brown once said, in the opening of his miniseries Feasting on Asphalt, that a good restaurant, above all, will not deny its DNA. Meaning that a restaurant should always be true to what it really is. If you're a hot dog stand, he said, be a hot dog stand. Don't try to be a BBQ joint. Be honest with what you do, and do that well. More and more, I find this is true, especially for breakfast joints. Some of my favorite places aren't very sophisticated. They're not that original. They serve food that you can find in thousands of restaurants across the country. But when they're true to themselves, and honest to their customers about what they really do, the result is delightful. This is why die-hard fans treat the average neighborhood diner like a mecca for haute cuisine: because the restaurant is honest about what it does, and customers can accept and love it for what it is, and nothing more.
Such is true for Der Dutchman. It's a giant restaurant with parking for tour buses. It's a prime example of that genre of restaurant labeled Amish or Dutch. They serve simple comfort food in large portions. And we love it.
ATMOSPHERE: I had one request for my birthday this year: to eat at Der Dutchman's breakfast buffet. So a large group of friends and family (nineteen in all, yo!) joined me on the twenty-five minute trek out to Plain City, Ohio. Even on a busy Saturday morning, when we called about 30 minutes ahead, we were still seated fairly quickly. It's a testament to Der Dutchman's ability to handle large groups that the waiting area is so large.
Here we are at the table. Nineteen of us. They didn't bat an eye.
The dining room is extensive and infinitely arrangeable. The largest portion can be subdivided into smaller rooms.
It's a busy place. Lots of people. Lots of servers. Lots of food.
FOOD: And behold, the glorious breakfast buffet. It's a breakfast blogger's dream: scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, French toast, potatoes, sausage gravy, grits, and all of the accoutrement. Piles and piles of it, in a piping hot buffet. There's something for everyone (although vegetarians and vegans may be hard-pressed).
There are actually two buffet lines, and you can approach each from either side. Clearly designed to handle the crowds.
Mmm... large bins for bacon.
Funky jellied fruit desserts.
A visit to Der Dutchman wouldn't be complete without a taste of their donuts. The restaurant has a separate in-house bakery with cakes, bread, and pastries (see below for pics). They helpfully cut the longjohns into manageable sections; otherwise, you'd be stuffing yourself on a single donut. (If you're a fan of Der Dutchman's donuts - which you should be - look in the upper right hand corner of their bakery's website to download a PDF telling you where to find them in Columbus. I recommend Hills Market for a stop.)
Plate #1: scrambled eggs, fried corn mush, potatoes, sausage gravy, a biscuit, some bacon, a piece of donut.
Plate #2: more scrambled eggs and sausage gravy, pancakes, French toast sticks.
Plate #3 (don't hate me - it's a buffet and it was my birthday): sausage gravy, mush, bacon, sausage links, and some lava hot raspberry crumble. All of the food is good. Not exceptional, but good. The eggs, for instance, are a tad undercooked so they don't dry out in the buffet. The bacon and sausage is simple. Sausage gravy is chunky and well seasoned. Fried mush is crispy and oily. You won't find any surprises in the buffet, but there's plenty here to satisfy the breakfast lover.
As an added bonus to the experience my wife and our friend Libby (who runs the bakery at Hills Market) made me a special breakfast diner birthday cake. Everything on it was edible. The folks at Der Dutchman were kind enough to let us bring it in.
If you're not full enough, you can stop by the bakery for more donuts. I'm surprised there's not a checkpoint in northwest Columbus, at which armed guards require you to show a box of Der Dutchman donuts if you're traveling in from Plain City. Like everything else they do, Der Dutchman donuts are big and tasty.
SERVICE: In order to run their buffets successfully, Der Dutchman employs a veritable army of servers, all wearing these slightly outdated red aprons. But they handle the crowds smoothly. I was amazed that our entire table had ONE server dedicated to it. She hardly flinched. Do note, though, that with big groups they can split checks, but they'll calculate your tip, too, at only 10%. Make sure you tip appropriately.
OVERALL: Der Dutchman is true to its DNA. Nothing fancy. Lots of comfort food. Served in bulk. With a bakery and a gift shop attached. Be a good tourist and pay it a visit.