Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Nice Day Trip to Limburg's Patio Grill

While talking about restaurants to try, a good friend of mine suggested that I try out his uncle's place connected with the Coshocton Airport. Apparently it is a very small and seasonal grilling place that offers simple, but tasty food. Having just eaten there the previous week with his family, he assured me that the burgers were excellent and the ice cream even better. Having a completely open Sunday, I thought today would be the perfect opportunity to try Limburg's Patio Grill located at the Richard Downing Airport (aka the Coschocton Airport).

The address I found on-line for the airport is 24569 Airport Road, Coschocton, Ohio 43812. That being said, Google Maps couldn't make heads or tails of that address. Therefore, I'll give you the quickie directions. Take I-77 south past New Philadelphia. Get off on State Route 36 heading west towards Coshocton. Once you pass State Route 621, look for Airport Road (there is a sign for it). At the light, make a right onto Airport Road and follow the heavily wooded, twisty and turny road up the hill for about a half-mile. Suddenly the trees will part and you will have found the airport. A good sign that you've made it is when you see this marker:

There is ample parking around the airport and I choose to park in the outer lot because most of the closer spots were already taken (ominous foreshadowing, I suppose). From here you could see several of the parked aircraft:

As I walked toward the main building, my confidence was bolstered that I was at the right place when I saw this sign:

And right next to that sign was a sign hanging on the fence that only served to reinforce how fleeting this little "restaurant" actually was:

Clearly this is a limited-time summer treat. Only Friday, Saturday, and Sunday hours and even those didn't start until June 13th. I didn't have a chance to ask when they close up shop for the year, but my guess would be sometime in August. I walked around the corner following my nose as a guide only to discover that to my horror, apparently everyone from Coshocton had shown up and gotten in line just before me:

One thing as a Sunday restaurant go-er you always needs to be conscious of is the post-church crowd. Clearly they were out and in-force today as all the people in their nice clothing and the little girls in their Sunday dresses were here for some backyard grilled food. While I was slightly annoyed that I picked the exact moment when everyone was going to order, it also gave me a chance (actually about 30 minutes worth of chances) to do some people watching and as I got closer, to start observing the operations going on in the restaurant ... er, tent. Yes, everything from taking orders to cooking and plating food was all being done under this one large tent. As I got closer, I got a better idea of how the service was going:

As I got close to the front of the line, I took a gander at the posted menu to the left of the tent:

(c) Copyright 2009, Dale Limburg. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

The menu is extremely simple: hamburgs (to use their vernacular) and cheeseburgs, double hamburgs and double cheeseburgs, hot dogs with optional coney sauce or sauerkraut, grilled chicken breast sandwich, and something called a Patio Grill Salad. There were no fried sides like french fries, but you could get cole slaw, baked beans, and bagged chips. There was sweetened and unsweetened fresh brewed iced tea and a soda fountain with five or six different choices of nationally branded sodas (Coke, Diet Coke, etc.).

In trying to figure out exactly how the ordering / picking up of food transaction was to take place, I noticed that to the left side of the tent, people were picking up their food on plastic trays and taking them to one of the many picnic tables available. But the one thing I really noticed was this one woman in a green shirt and khaki pants who seemed to be at that counter an awful lot. Realizing that there were a lot of families there today, I figured she had put in a huge order and was dutifully picking up finished food and taking it back. After a while of seeing her do this, however, I actually thought to myself, "Jeez, lady, how much food did you order?!?"

By the time I got to the front of the line, I had figured out that when you order your food, they give you a little card with a letter or symbol on it. You take that card and find a spot to sit. When your food is ready, they bring the food to you. The woman who I had originally thought was ordering enough food to feed an army was actually WORKING for the restaurant. Okay, mystery solved. I placed my order and was given my card. Today I was the letter 'L':

I took my card and found a picnic table at the opposite end of the tent. A perfect spot to watch the goings on of the grilling area:

Everything is essentially done on two grills, one for meats and one for toasting buns. Speaking of the buns, I should mention that the hot dog buns they use are extremely unusual for this area. Well, really, any part of Ohio. Instead of using what most of us think of as hot dog buns, they actually use a New England lobster roll, similar to this picture. All the buns are buttered and then subsequently grilled.

While sitting at my table watching the various workers doing their jobs, I almost noticed a no-no, but the owner, Mr. Limburg, actually caught himself before making it. The chicken breasts are kept in the cooler marinating in a large bucket of what looked to be Italian dressing of some kind. There were tongs associated specifically with the chicken breasts. There were also tongs used for grilled meats that were hung over the end of the grill. When Mr. Limburg reached in to grab the bucket of chicken, the "chicken" tongs fell onto the ground, obviously contaminating them. Instinctively, he went to grab a second pair of tongs to transfer the raw chicken to the grill, the "already grilled meat" tongs. However, as soon as he touched the "grilled meat" tongs, he immediately realized his error and instead used a gloved hand to reach into the bucket and grab the number of chicken breasts he needed. He then discarded the used glove and got a new one. The problem was that once he used the pair of tongs that were for only cooked meats to transfer raw chicken breast, they were now potentially contaminated. Had he then touched a cooked burger or hot dog right afterward, he could've potentially caused salmonella poisoning because of cross contamination from the raw chicken. Excellent save on his part.

After about another twenty minutes or so, my food finally arrived. A shot of the large unsweetened iced tea that I sipped on slowly while waiting for my food:

And a shot of the two sides that I ordered with my burger:

First let's talk about the cole slaw:

This slaw was strange to me. It wasn't that it was bad; it wasn't. But the dressing used to make the slaw really had no discernible character of its own. Normally most of the flavor comes from the dressing and the cabbage and carrots are there for the textural contrast. In this case, the dressing was so mild that I could actually taste the cabbage. And raw cabbage definitely has a very subtle flavor. I tried bite after bite of this to try and nail down whether I liked this version or not. I will simply say that I was wholly intrigued by it. My perception up to this point is that I prefer dressings with a bit more vinegar, sugar, and salt. This was lacking in all three. I certainly have never found cole slaw that tasted like this.

Next, let's talk about the baked beans:

These were nice. Nothing out of the ordinary, but hot and creamy and delicious. They had that nice sort of brown sugar / molasses / tomato sauce flavor combination to them. They also had a nice amount of sauce and weren't overcooked at all. I would definitely order this as a side dish again.

Finally, the reason I had driven 90 minutes to get here, the double cheeseburg:

I had ordered mine with ketchup, mustard, and pickles. The pickles they added directly to the bun before putting the meat on top. The other condiments, however, were my responsibility (if you look closely in the above photo, you can see the packets of mustard and ketchup peeking out from behind the burger on the left). Upon taking off the crown, I discovered a nicely buttered and toasted bun:

When my friend was telling me about the burgers at Limburg's, he mentioned that they are grilled to order. Not exactly. They are grilled only after you order. All the burgers are cooked the same way: done. There is no ordering your burger cooked medium well or medium rare. Also, don't make the same mistake that I did, a double cheeseburg is a large sandwich. Each of the patties was easily 1/3 of a pound. I didn't actually manage to eat the entire sandwich, although I did get through most of it.

The burger itself was seasoned well. The meat was thoroughly cooked, but just a tad bit dry. The ketchup and mustard I applied helped a bit, but I found myself going back to my iced tea just a bit too often. The meat had a wonderful smoky flavor from the grill and the grilled bun stood up excellently to the enormousness of the sandwich. The bun itself was nice and fresh as well. This certainly isn't the best burger I've ever had, but it was a decent example. I would say that this level of burger is what I would expect at a back yard BBQ at the neighbor's house. A neighbor who knew how to properly season food and cook the burgers until they were totally safe to eat. And I suppose I have to at least say that if I was grilling burgers for my closest 200 friends in my back yard, I don't imagine that I'd be grilling them to specific temperatures either. You'd get your choice of "done" or "done", which would you like? That being said, if you were in my back yard and I was grilling you a burger, I wouldn't be asking you to pay for it either. So there is that to keep in mind.

Part of the charm of Limburg's Patio Grill is its location at the airport. While you sit lounging in the sun, you get to watch planes come and go:

A real crowd-pleaser, a helicopter landing directly on the parking area for the planes drew lots of attention from the crowd:

Honestly, I had the theme song from Magnum, P.I. running through my head while watching this helicopter swoop in and land on the ground. I half expected Tom Selleck to come climbing out of the cockpit. Alright, gentle reader, I hear you, enough with the 80's flashback.

One of the other reasons for my visit was to experience a unique Ohio-based company, The Velvet Ice Cream Company, and some of their flagship products. They had eight different flavors from which to choose, and after carefully considering my options, I decided on a small bowl of the Buckeye Classic:

And a closer shot:

This was marvelous! Studded with bits of the Buckeye candies, the veins of chocolate-y fudge and creamy vanilla ice cream, this was a mouthful of flavor from the first bite to the very last. The fact that this dish of ice cream was only $1.25 also made my wallet very happy, too. I was hoping to try some other flavors of Velvet ice cream while I was there, but with that very large burger, my sides, and my small ice cream, I was absolutely stuffed. I felt a food coma quickly approaching. I returned to the now much shorter line and got a free refill on my iced tea, hopped in my car and headed back down Airport Road preparing for my return trip to Akron.

While lunch certainly wasn't a short affair, I really did enjoy my time at the airport. Well, except for the slight sunburn I am now sporting on my arms and neck. It honestly never occurred to me that I might be sitting out in the sun at the hottest part of the day. I'm not sure when their "slow" hours are, but I can certainly tell you it isn't at 12:30 pm on a Sunday afternoon. The hours were posted in an earlier photo, but I'll provide them here so you don't have to go scrolling upwards in order to find them. They are open on Fridays from 5 - 8 PM, Saturdays from 11 AM - 8 PM, and Sundays from 11 AM - 6 PM.

Just for the sake of self-disclosure, I wanted to point out that I have never met my friend's uncle nor did I mention to my friend exactly when I would be showing up to try out the food. In addition, I paid for everything I ate today and neither expected nor received any complimentary food. While I certainly understand the fact that I was reviewing the restaurant of a good friend's relative, I tried to be completely fair and objective in my assessment.

If you happen to find yourself in the Coschocton area over the summer months (perhaps visiting the Roscoe Historic Village) and you are looking for an interesting and unique culinary outing, I would definitely recommend you stop by and check out Limburg's Patio Grill at the Richard Downing Airport. But go soon or they may be all closed up for the year.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

That ice cream looks fantastic! Sounds kind of like moose tracks, which is one of my faves.

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