This year, Mother’s Day just happened to fall on the same day as our boy’s 8th birthday, and as is the birthday tradition that he established for himself a couple of years ago, we always go out and have a big breakfast together to celebrate. With it being Mom’s Day too, the wife and I decided that a great way to start our day of celebration would be a family fun morning of airplane watching at OSU’s Don Scott Field in Dublin and a gut-busting breakfast at Jack & Benny’s Barnstormer Diner.
Late last year, Geno Garcia – long-time owner of one of Ohio State campus’ favorite hangover eateries, Jack & Benny’s – opened the diner in a space where others had struggled. For over a decade, the tiny diner at the small-engine terminal off of Sawmill Rd. was simply known as “The Barnstormer”, and had seen several changes of ownership before closing and reopening under new management in 2012 as “Barnstormer Grill”. When the grill closed again last year, Caruso’s love for aviation, and for the restaurant business, prompted him to adopt the one-room dining hall as the newest venture for the Jack & Benny’s brand name.
Much like their north campus location, Jack & Benny’s Barnstormer Diner is decorated with a fair amount of OSU kitsch, but also displays a little historical aviation photography and other similar décor to tie in to the airport theme. The dining space itself is quite small but cozy, with eight to ten tables and a little kitchen and counter on one end.
The diner shares an interior wall which connects to a small hanger, housing several small planes. The great thing is, Geno keeps the door opened (though there is a gate up to keep out the curious) so that people can take a peek at some of the aircraft that park there. I have to say, it’s pretty darn cool that you can check out big, shiny airplanes with your kids while waiting for your breakfast to cook. I know it kept us busy!
Aside from the obvious divergence in location, this incarnation of J&B’s isn’t all that different, grub-wise. They actually serve the exact same menu that their campus shop does, so fans of the original can expect the same great dishes at the Barnstormer. I mean, why mess with a good thing, right? Known for their enormous “Gut busters”, Jack & Benny’s can also bust your gut in Dublin now, too! In addition, their scrambles, omelets, flapjacks, and everything else that you love about their menu is all available here.
During our visit, we sampled one version of their famous ‘busters – the Benny Buster ($7.50). It was a huge plate of two potato pancakes, bacon, ham, an egg and cheese, all stacked and topped with country gravy, and came with a side of toast. If you’re hungry, this meal will fill your belly, guaranteed.
Mrs. Grub Guy said that this stack of some of her favorite morning foods was delicious and filling. Just take a look at that plate. That’s some good breakfast grub right there!
The boy wanted a single Buckeye Pancake ($2.85) and a Side of 2 Eggs ($2.00). This griddle masterpiece was a medium-sized serving, which was perfect for him. It was loaded with peanut butter and chocolate chips, and was fluffy and light. The eggs were “dippy” (over easy) just like he wanted. He said it was a great birthday breakfast!
Here’s the Philly Steak Omelet ($6.50) with a Side of Hash Browns ($1.75). Living in Philadelphia for six years, I’ve had many a cheesesteak, and many foods that have been labeled as a “Philly”, from pizzas to French fries to omelets. Most of these attempts (at least at the places outside of Philadelphia) consist of mediocre shredded beef, whatever cheeses might be on hand, and a poor excuse for peppers and onions.
But Jack & Benny’s did fairly well with this dish. It was a big two egger stuffed with a quick-cook sirloin patty, nicely sautéed onions, green peppers and mushrooms, and some cheese (I believe it was white American). The flavors were good and I give them an A for effort. The hash browns were absolutely delicious and perfectly cooked.
Jack & Benny’s Barnstormer Diner is definitely a new favorite for our family, and a welcome addition to the abysmal Dublin breakfast scene. Their hours at this location are also the same as their campus shop, and they serve breakfast “all day”. Right now, I’m betting you can get in pretty easily during the week for some of their outstanding morning vittles, with weekends drawing a little bit more of a crowd. We only had to wait about 10 minutes or so on Mother’s Day, so it wasn’t too bad. I’m sure the faster word spreads that you can now get J&B’s brand of breakfast in the ‘burbs, this place will be packed just about day you choose.
Another cool attraction is that after breakfast, you can head over to the adjacent airport terminal, in which the old control tower has been turned into an observation room! Yep, by simply climbing a few short staircases (way to start working off that Gutbuster!!), you can gaze across the tarmac and watch the planes take off and land, which is definitely a fun thing to do no matter what age you are! We sat and watched for probably twenty minutes, and our son loved it! I took this picture of him & the Mrs. to commemorate the day :) (Notice the Spidey shirts? After breakfast our next birthday stop was to the theater for Spiderman 2!)
So, if you have a morning free, spend it with the family at Jack & Benny’s Barnstormer Diner. The kids will love the planes, and you’ll love the grub!
Jack & Benny’s Barnstormer Diner is located at 2160 W. Case Rd, Dublin, OH 43017 (Map). They’re open Monday – Friday, 7:00am – 3:00pm, and Saturday – Sunday, 8:00am – 3:00pm. For more info, check out their website, or on Facebook and Twitter.