Sunday, March 28, 2010

Extra Helpings: Breakfast At Tiff ... Err, Twig's

Ever since my first trip to Twig's Diner in Barberton, Ohio, I have been jonesing to return. The last time I went it was in the early afternoon and even though I had been told several times that Twig's is primarily known for their breakfasts, I wasn't in a breakfasty kind of mood. But the siren's song of homemade biscuits (or as Twig's spells them, bisquits) and sausage gravy kept calling to me to come back. Having recently written about the biscuits and gravy at another restaurant, I just had this feeling that something special was waiting for me at Twig's.

While it was 1 PM today when I arrived at Twig's, I was still bound and determined to order up some of their homemade goodness. As I walked in, I was greeted by a woman who turned out to be my server. Even before I had a chance to sit down, she had already asked me what I'd like to drink. As I slung my winter jacket across the back of the opposing chair, my server put down the cup of decaf and glass of water for which I had asked:

As she set it down, she told me told let her now if it wasn't hot enough. Apparently the decaf was being dispensed from a thermal carafe and she was concerned that it was too old. While it tasted hot enough to me, apparently she was worried enough that she made a fresh pot of decaf and replaced one mug with another. While the first one had been hot enough, the freshly brewed coffee was far tastier. I'm glad she took it on herself to replace my original cup.

As I looked at the daily breakfast and lunch specials, my initial thoughts of bisquits and sausage gravy seemed to suddenly come into question:

My eyes were drawn immediately to two menu items, one breakfast and the second lunch. The second breakfast special was two eggs, cheesy bacon grits, and choice of toast. The lunch special that caught my eye was the fresh beer battered fish. Oh, man! Knowing that Lent was upon us, I figured I'd be seeing the fish special again over the next couple of weeks. Which left me with the debate over whether to get the cheesy bacon grits special or stick with my original intention of bisquits and gravy. When my server finally came over, we talked it over and I decided on the cheesy bacon grits special with bisquits instead of the toast and then added a cup of the sausage gravy to round out the meal.

Since my meal took a little bit to come out, I did what I always enjoy doing at restaurants, people watch. There were a few other regulars in the restaurant today and they easily interacted with my server, as she was the only one working the front of house today. I mentioned Twig's unique decor in my last write-up and it seemed that my amped up server fit right in with that uniqueness. With that wonderfully warbly alto voice, she felt very Flo-esque from the TV show Alice without all the "Kiss my grits!" attitude. Twig's has a very down-to-earth friendly attitude to it and even when mistakes are made, people seemed good natured and easy going.

Soon enough, my meal arrived at my table:

The eggs were cooked perfectly. They were tender and the yolks were nice and creamy. Sometimes when you order "sunnyside up" eggs, the whites around the yolks haven't completely cooked. Not this time. The only criticism I had, and I consider this one a throw-away, was that there was no salt on the eggs. While I firmly believe that adding salt as one cooks is a necessity, since these eggs were never flipped over on the flattop, the salt never would've had a chance to interact with the heat. Therefore, a little salt added at the table was all that was required to remedy the situation.

At the rear of the plate was a small dish of cheesy bacon grits:

With a consistency somewhere between gloopy and semi-set, the flavor of these grits was quite good. Everything was nicely balanced and you could taste the cheese, bacon, and corn in every bite. I have had quite my fair share of horribly bland, unseasoned grits in the northeast Ohio area and it was quite a nice surprise to find that someone at Twig's realized that grits do need some seasoning, especially if they have entered savory territory (which these definitely had). Unfortunately, with all of the other food I was served today, I could only eat about half of these.

Along with my breakfast platter, I also received a cup of the homemade sausage gravy:

I tasted this by itself before slathering it over my bisquits. The good news was that this was a very tasty gravy. I got the sweetness from the milk and the saltiness and spiciness from the sausage. Not chili spice, per se, but more like black pepper spice. The bad news was that by the time this showed up on my table, it was a bit too cool. I imagine with only one cook in the kitchen, it's entirely possible that the cook served up the gravy and let it sit while she made the rest of my meal. The bisquits themselves were hot and split easily under the weight of my knife. The bisquits were tasty by themselves, but one of the bisquit halves had a bit of a hard spot. However, once I ladled sausage gravy over it, most faults were forgotten. Twig's has some very good bisquits and gravy. Not slap-your-momma good, but probably some of the best I've tasted in the area.

As my server dropped off my food, she asked if I wanted to try some of Twig's homemade jams with my bisquits. Having read some very positive things about these jams, I quickly agreed. While I was prepared for a single jar of jam, what I was presented with astounded me:

All homemade by Twig herself, you have peach and grape in the front and apple butter and strawberry in the back. Not content to try just a single flavor, I quickly employed one of my remaining bisquits as a jam delivery system:

From left to right you have peach, strawberry, grape, and apple butter. From what my server told me, they have the peach, strawberry, and apple butter year round. Other flavors cycle in whenever Twig felt like it. I noted that as I dispensed each jam, the consistency was somewhere between a sauce and what most of us think of as a hard set jam. I tasted each in turn and the one singular notion that I walked away with was the freshness of the fruit. Sure, they were each sweet, but the main flavor you get with Twig's jams was the fruitiness. The apple butter, by far the most viscous of the four, also had a nice bit of spice that reminded me of the holidays.

My sampling now complete, I was just too full to eat anything else. I paid my check and walked out into the bleak, cold February day now completely sated. My server had told me that lots of people use the jams as toppings for their waffles and pancakes and I can completely understand why. Between the wonderful cheesy bacon grits, the luscious sausage gravy and the over-the-top fresh jams, I am convinced that I have found a restaurant that I will be coming back to again and again. Two visits, two successful meals. I suggest if you haven't already given Twig's Diner a try, now is the time.


Mahala said...

I will be heading off to Twig's again soon! Your write-up made my mouth water! I love how you describe food! If you have never met Twig, she always wears a crazy hat. The last one I saw her in had a propellor on the top. And it's not just something she does in the restaurant. I saw her one day last summer in her convertible with propellor whirring in the wind.

BONNIE K said...

I also love how you describe food. You are bad for me.

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