The Blue Door Cafe & Bakery has been operating as the since July, despite the outward appearance that it's still the Golden Goose. But local diners seem to be catching on that this is something completely different.
Owner Mike Bruno got his start on the bakery side of the Golden Goose, which was owned by his mother-in-law, Annemarie Leipply, before he bought and took over the operation this year.
Rather than plow a lot of money into changing the physical appearance, Bruno is putting his money into a veteran staff of chefs to prepare fresh, mostly made from scratch meals with local food sources whenever possible (salmon and scallops are kind of tough to find in Ohio). The changes in appearance will be more gradual as budget allows.
Bruno told that he was trying to build up weekday business, but that his weekend business was fine because he drew crowds from outside the Cuyahoga Falls area.
A recent midweek visit for lunch found the Blue Door busy but not overwhelmed. There was a wait for booths for a spell, although a few tables were available. I was hogging one of those booths by myself (sorry, folks). Breakfasts, I overheard someone tell a friend, are hopping.
The regular menu features some standard fare with emphasis on fresh and local: Corned hash ($8.95), bacon and eggs ($7.95) and more. All the bakery is done in-house.
Then there are the daily menus, which give the chefs a chance to try new things and shake things up a little. Wednesday's menu featured a frittata with local sausage, Yukon gold potatoes, sharp Australian Cheddar and fresh spinach ($8.95) and crepes with local chicken-apple sausage, melted fromager d'affinois brie and brandied apples ($8.95) Or nueske bacon pan-seared shrimp and scallops, roasted red peppers with house-made pesto over house-made red lentil risotto ($10.95).
I almost went for the frittata. Then again I almost went for the crepes, or the Wyoming campfire burger ($11.95 – I noticed later that it's a bison burger, which probably explains the higher price, and gives me an excuse to go back).
Then I remembered the monte cristo, and the roasted turkey I saw upon an earlier visit to the kitchen (on a Tuesday, they were closed). That turkey looked really good. It was just before Thanksgiving.
The monte cristo ($8.95) features the aforementioned roasted turkey, leoncini ham, cave-aged Gruyere cheese (aged in caves for the cool humidity – who knew?) on challah bread. It comes with a choice of fresh fruit, salad greens with a balsamic vinegar dressing or fresh chips. Still recovering from Thanksgiving, I opted for some fresh greens.
On a lark, I ordered a small glass of chocolate milk ($1.95) that had some fancy sort of chocolate in it that I didn't recognize, and failed to write down. Sounded interesting.
When it arrived I took a swig, and whoa! That's some chocolate. It's a strong, slightly bitter chocolate you'd associate more with dark chocolates than chocolate milk. Definitely not the chocolate milk that comes in a carton. Chocolate aficionados will appreciate it. Little kids, probably not so much.
Then the monte cristo arrived. Some places deep-fry the monte cristo, which almost seems like overkill on an already big, calorie-dense sandwich. The Blue Door gives it the French toast treatment instead, pan-fried to a light brown, then dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar. But how to eat it? With hands or fork and knife? Fork and knife.
Thick slices of turkey and ham each had distinct flavor, and the gooey Gruyere had a rich, buttery taste, a little like brie. It reminded me of the cliche advertising pitches for chain restaurants that, without fail, talk loudly about the "melty cheese" in their dishes. Sure, it was melty, but it had real flavor. The cinnamon and sugar didn't overwhelm but added a distinctive touch to the monte cristo. Very good. I managed to finish off half of the sandwich and took the rest home to share.
The greens, a nice mix of young romaine, red and I think leaf lettuce, were crowded onto the same plate as the sandwich. The balsamic vinegar was good, and then a surprise -- a dash of salt or two brought some extra flavor to the greens, which can get a bit bland all by themselves after a while. I don't usually associate salad greens with salt. But I like it.
I didn't have room in my stomach (or the budget) to sample some of the other bakery items this time, which is a shame because the bakery side of the business has generated some serious buzz. There, I have yet another excuse to go back sooner, rather than later.
The Blue Door updates its Facebook page fairly regularly with changes to the menu and other news. It's not a nightspot. But for bakery and way-above-average breakfast and lunch, it's a great place to go.
The Blue Door Cafe & Bakery is at 1970 State Rd. Phone 330-926-9774. Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m Wednesday-Sunday. Closed Monday and Tuesday.