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Balyeat's Coffee Shop—Home Cooking Since 1924 in Van Wert OH

Balyeat's Coffee Shop—Home Cooking Since 1924 in Van Wert OH
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  • Balyeat's Coffee Shop—Home Cooking Since 1924 in Van Wert OH

    Post #1 - February 3rd, 2013, 8:44 pm
    Post #1 - February 3rd, 2013, 8:44 pm Post #1 - February 3rd, 2013, 8:44 pm
    Until a few months ago I'd never heard of Van Wert, a town of 10,000 midway between Fort Wayne and Lima. I found a bit on Balyeat's Coffee Shop and the more I read, the more Van Wert seemed like an essential destination. It's a pretty little town with a well-preserved Main Street (part of the original Lincoln Highway) where Balyeat's and the impressive Van Wert County Courthouse sit side-by-side.

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    Balyeat's dim interior doesn't exude the charm its wonderful sign suggests but it's pleasant enough.

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    The menu—a small fraction of which is advertised on hand-written signs posted behind the counter—is a remarkable collection of classic Midwest foods.

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    Almost everything is made in house, from the bread to the apple butter (or marmalade) that start the meal.

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    Chicken soup with hand-cut noodles and pickled beets & egg (great!) also clearly came from the large kitchen in back.

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    At least a dozen entrees were available and every one sounded appealing. We settled on sausage & sauerkraut, Salisbury steak and chicken.

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    No complaints on the loose-textured unsmoked sausage (a smoked version was also on offer), kraut and mashed potatoes. Salisbury steak was homey, but quite sweet. Young fried chicken is no longer available, only a breaded and baked option that's beyond fall-off-the bone. Almost everything is long cooked and minimally seasoned. It's like a living museum of heartland cookery. Balyeat's is known for their homemade pies and a good selection was still available at late lunchtime.

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    I'm not much of a pie eater but I enjoyed this exemplary sugar cream pie so much I thought for a minute about trying another variety. Prices are exceedingly reasonable, with lunch plates (including sides) all under $7. There can't be too many places like Balyeat's left.

    It's worth wandering around town a bit. The Courthouse, with its impressively preserved interior, is still in regular use. We stopped in the Recorder's Office to admire the bound real estate records from well before the Civil War and poked our heads into the Court Room with its recently restored stained glass dome.

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    The Brumback Library, the first county library in the US, is another gem of a building. Unlike the Courthouse, its interior has been thoroughly renovated.

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    B&K Root Beer was a regional chain with over 200 locations. Those that remain are now independently operated.

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    When B&K reopens in the Spring, consider a fried bologna sandwich with fried pickles and a brown cow. Or maybe a creamed chicken sandwich with a side of fried gizzards and an orange cow. You'll eat very well in Van Wert!

    Balyeat's Coffee Shop
    133 E Main St
    Van Wert OH
    419-238-1580

    Van Wert County Courthouse
    121 E Main St
    Van Wert OH

    Brumback Library
    215 W Main St
    Van Wert OH

    B&K Root Beer (seasonal)
    835 W Main St
    Van Wert OH
    419-238-1685
  • Post #2 - February 3rd, 2013, 9:32 pm
    Post #2 - February 3rd, 2013, 9:32 pm Post #2 - February 3rd, 2013, 9:32 pm
    I would eat that pickled egg. Actually, I'd eat any pickled egg, but that one looks magnificent.

    Creamed chicken sandwich sounds like something I'd order. Served warm, maybe over biscuits, I'm guessing?
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #3 - February 7th, 2013, 7:21 pm
    Post #3 - February 7th, 2013, 7:21 pm Post #3 - February 7th, 2013, 7:21 pm
    David Hammond wrote:I would eat that pickled egg. Actually, I'd eat any pickled egg, but that one looks magnificent.

    I'm also a fan of pickled eggs and order them whenever I have the chance. The egg at Balyeat's was better than most and the beets were an excellent accompaniment.

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    David Hammond wrote:Creamed chicken sandwich sounds like something I'd order. Served warm, maybe over biscuits, I'm guessing?

    That's being optimistic. I'm worried it would come on a hamburger bun. Here's B&K's menu in case it's of interest.

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    Balyeat's had fresh biscuits that looked mighty fine. Had I seen them before I ordered I might've chosen the creamed chipped beef, served with mashed potatoes and a biscuit.
  • Post #4 - February 11th, 2013, 2:14 pm
    Post #4 - February 11th, 2013, 2:14 pm Post #4 - February 11th, 2013, 2:14 pm
    Awesome report! Awesome sign! I'll be stopping by for sure, thanks!
  • Post #5 - August 26th, 2013, 5:42 pm
    Post #5 - August 26th, 2013, 5:42 pm Post #5 - August 26th, 2013, 5:42 pm
    Rene G wrote:
    David Hammond wrote:Creamed chicken sandwich sounds like something I'd order. Served warm, maybe over biscuits, I'm guessing?

    That's being optimistic. I'm worried it would come on a hamburger bun.

    I think we were both being optimistic by assuming B&K's creamed chicken sandwich would be edible. It was not.

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    B&K Root Beer (seasonal)
    835 W Main St
    Van Wert OH
    419-238-1685

    Got to stop at Balyeat's again for a rather yellowish meal—chicken & noodles on mashed potatoes, pickled eggs & beets and custard pie—with everything made from scratch including noodles, bread and apple butter.

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    A few doors east of Balyeat's is this fine old Lincoln Highway marker. The "first road across America" celebrated its centennial this year.

    Balyeat's Coffee Shop
    133 E Main St
    Van Wert OH
    419-238-1580
  • Post #6 - August 26th, 2013, 9:17 pm
    Post #6 - August 26th, 2013, 9:17 pm Post #6 - August 26th, 2013, 9:17 pm
    Indeed. The creamed chicken looks abhorrent.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #7 - September 16th, 2013, 5:17 pm
    Post #7 - September 16th, 2013, 5:17 pm Post #7 - September 16th, 2013, 5:17 pm
    I was in Van Wert, OH this weekend on a combination surplus store shopping, feed the "starving" nephew, and baby shower road trip that covered 900 miles in 36 hours.

    Ballyeat's Coffee Shop was definitely the high point of the trip although it took a herculean effort to get to the place as two miles of Main St. were closed.

    I did not see much of the food that Peter posted about as I was there for an early lunch. Their lunch menu is somewhat limited as they offer a handful of lunch entrees and a handful of daily specials. That was NOT a problem for me as one of the specials was a favorite - ham and navy beans.

    The ham and navy beans were credible. They were not cooked as long as I am generally used to and the beans lacked a little salt but they were pretty good. Their corn bread was a lot better than you generally find in Ohio restaurants.

    However, the high point of the meal was the apple dumpling which was excellent and large, topped with two scoops of ice cream.

    All that food, with beverage was $10.

    =============================

    My only previous experience in Lima, OH was a job interview. I drove three hours to get to a dinner interview ... just to have the interviewer show 90 minutes late.

    I gave my 21 year old nephew the responsibility to find a good restaurant for dinner Saturday night. Other than the meals with me, his experiences with restaurants have been pretty limited.

    This time, he chose Yamato Steak House of Japan. It is NOT the place that I was expecting but turned out quite well.

    The meal started out weakly. The gyoza, while flavorful, was very greasy which would lead me to believe that the oil was not hot enough.

    The crab sushi roll featured a perfectly prepared soft shell crab and was excellent.

    The hibachi beef tips were very tender and well seasoned.

    The bento box was well done featuring a great salmon filet.

    I forgot that I was feeding a nephew ... he ate nearly all his meal and half mine!
  • Post #8 - September 16th, 2013, 7:10 pm
    Post #8 - September 16th, 2013, 7:10 pm Post #8 - September 16th, 2013, 7:10 pm
    Joe,

    We sat the counter exactly where everyone's food was plated. There was a short skinny energetic old man taking orders from waitresses, plating food and orchestrating food's arrival from the kitchen. It was a fantastic show to watch every combination of food offered roll past. If he turned his back to plate another, then Peter pulled out his camera to take more pictures.

    While we suspect locals know better than to sit where we did. We took the opportunity of being rather bold strangers who offered appreciative comments of his efforts. Surely if we parked there too often, we'd get a comment that there were far cooler and more comfortable places to sit. True, though no better show than there was sitting in front of his workstation.

    I'd go back to Van Wert in a heartbeat to see this energetic display once more.

    Witnessed the same lousy road construction mess, too.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #9 - September 17th, 2013, 4:52 am
    Post #9 - September 17th, 2013, 4:52 am Post #9 - September 17th, 2013, 4:52 am
    Rene G wrote:
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    In this picture, it's really hard to tell where the bun ends and the chicken begins. :?
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #10 - September 17th, 2013, 8:50 am
    Post #10 - September 17th, 2013, 8:50 am Post #10 - September 17th, 2013, 8:50 am
    Cathy,

    In hind sight, I should have sat at the counter where I could have had a lot better view. I sat much closer to the window.

    I will say that the place is a great operation. Most repeat customers are addressed by name and the regulars, well, the staff knows what they drink and what they will be ordering.

    There were several items on their menu that you just do NOT see anymore -

    Beef Heart
    Veal Loaf

    I am going to go back there during the spring.

    ==================

    I am sorting through two banana boxes of groceries from the trip.
  • Post #11 - September 17th, 2013, 12:32 pm
    Post #11 - September 17th, 2013, 12:32 pm Post #11 - September 17th, 2013, 12:32 pm
    jlawrence01 wrote:I am sorting through two banana boxes of groceries from the trip.


    Joe, given that you drove 900 miles in 36 hours, that's a banner quote, or a "You know you're an LTHer when..." !

    :wink:

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #12 - September 17th, 2013, 3:00 pm
    Post #12 - September 17th, 2013, 3:00 pm Post #12 - September 17th, 2013, 3:00 pm
    Geo wrote:
    jlawrence01 wrote:I am sorting through two banana boxes of groceries from the trip.


    Joe, given that you drove 900 miles in 36 hours, that's a banner quote, or a "You know you're an LTHer when..." !

    Geo



    The original plan was Chicago - Cincinnati - Van Wert - Cincinnati - Chicago, but my DW agreed to taking a Megabus to Cincinnati.

    In all, it was a productive trip. I found two good surplus groceries. a couple of good restaurants, and saw most of my family - in 36 hours.
  • Post #13 - September 17th, 2013, 3:12 pm
    Post #13 - September 17th, 2013, 3:12 pm Post #13 - September 17th, 2013, 3:12 pm
    stevez wrote:
    Rene G wrote:
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    In this picture, it's really hard to tell where the bun ends and the chicken begins. :?

    I am one who does not like to see food wasted. I can take a bite of something I don't especially like and often finish it. This sandwich was an exception. It was chicken paste on bread with barely any texture. This was not left unfinished at the stand, instead it was disposed at the next opportunity.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #14 - September 17th, 2013, 3:13 pm
    Post #14 - September 17th, 2013, 3:13 pm Post #14 - September 17th, 2013, 3:13 pm
    jlawrence01 wrote:I found two good surplus groceries. a couple of good restaurants, and saw most of my family - in 36 hours.

    Where are these surplus groceries? I always find something worthy to take home.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #15 - September 29th, 2013, 11:18 pm
    Post #15 - September 29th, 2013, 11:18 pm Post #15 - September 29th, 2013, 11:18 pm
    Rene G wrote:Until a few months ago I'd never heard of Van Wert, a town of 10,000 midway between Fort Wayne and Lima.

    Actually that's untrue. I forgot I participated in a old thread in which Van Wert figures prominently. Liederkranz cheese was produced in Van Wert for many years.

    jlawrence01 wrote:Ballyeat's Coffee Shop was definitely the high point of the trip although it took a herculean effort to get to the place as two miles of Main St. were closed.

    I did not see much of the food that Peter posted about as I was there for an early lunch. Their lunch menu is somewhat limited as they offer a handful of lunch entrees and a handful of daily specials. That was NOT a problem for me as one of the specials was a favorite - ham and navy beans.

    The ham and navy beans were credible. They were not cooked as long as I am generally used to and the beans lacked a little salt but they were pretty good. Their corn bread was a lot better than you generally find in Ohio restaurants.

    However, the high point of the meal was the apple dumpling which was excellent and large, topped with two scoops of ice cream.

    I'm so happy someone here actually visited (and appreciated) Balyeat's. It's among the last of a vanishing breed.

    I think they almost always have more on the menu than they let on to. The posted signs don't seem to be complete, the oral menu can vary significantly between recitations, and I think one is expected to know about extras like pickled eggs or apple butter. It's always worth asking a few questions (if they're not too busy).

    I had ham on one of my visits. Credible is a good description. Nothing at all wrong with it but honestly it looked better sitting there waiting to be carved.

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    A side of creamed cauliflower was surprisingly satisfying though. When was the last time you saw that on a menu? In general, Balyeat's food wants salt; indeed much of it seems almost unseasoned. That's simply their style. Salt and pepper shakers are within easy reach.

    I never saw apple dumplings on offer but I'm not surprised to hear they're good. Everything is baked in house and everything I've tried has been excellent. Like those muffins and biscuit-y things that came with the ham dinner.

    stevez wrote:
    Rene G wrote:
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    In this picture, it's really hard to tell where the bun ends and the chicken begins. :?

    It would've been better if the creamed chicken never began.

    Interestingly, Balyeat's offered creamed chicken to-go for something like $3 per pound (I think it was the only sign highlighting a takeout item). If I hadn't recently been traumatized by B&K's version I might have bought some. Van Wert must like its creamed chicken.
  • Post #16 - September 30th, 2013, 8:19 am
    Post #16 - September 30th, 2013, 8:19 am Post #16 - September 30th, 2013, 8:19 am
    While I would like to comment, unfortunately, I am too envious of you all and your tastes of Balyeat's world-class nostalgia load to write anything coherent. Damn!
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #17 - May 26th, 2014, 8:29 am
    Post #17 - May 26th, 2014, 8:29 am Post #17 - May 26th, 2014, 8:29 am
    Another meal at Balyeat's.

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    Meat loaf, mashed, creamed corn, plus a pickled egg & beets. Slice of old-fashioned.

    Balyeat's Coffee Shop
    133 E Main St
    Van Wert OH
    419-238-1580
  • Post #18 - June 18th, 2015, 10:51 pm
    Post #18 - June 18th, 2015, 10:51 pm Post #18 - June 18th, 2015, 10:51 pm
    I was back at Ballets recently.

    We were there about 12:30 pm and sat in the back of the restaurant. I think that Ballets serves as a place where you meet all your neighbors as the courthouse and banking crowd was in there.

    I took my wife for the first time. I think that the draw of this restaurant is that it serves a menu that hasn't been served in about 40 years. They offer a lot of great items that you just don't see anymore - beef hearts, beef liver, etc.

    However, some aspects of the place is irritating. We arrive at a decent hour to find that two of the four specials were not available. The veal loaf is now made with beef, which is not noted on the menu.

    I ordered the beef with noodles over mashed potatoes. Great noodles, good sauce, but where's the beef. If I received 2 Oz of meat, I would be surprised.

    The blackberry pie was good, but was the tartest pie that I have had. I did not notice it as much as I ordered it ala mode.

    The service, as usual, was very efficient. However, the cashier was tarter then the pie. She seemed upset that I was using a credit card.

    ===========================

    Cathy2 -

    Here are the salvage groceries that I found and approximate location:

    Sherman & Lins, Warsaw, IN
    Big C's - Fort Wayne, IN
    States - Lima, OH

    You could probably do great if you could head up to Nappanee and Goshen, IN. However, I did not have the time to head that far north as I have a schedule that I have to keep. (g)
  • Post #19 - June 19th, 2015, 1:31 pm
    Post #19 - June 19th, 2015, 1:31 pm Post #19 - June 19th, 2015, 1:31 pm
    jlawrence01 wrote:I ordered the beef with noodles over mashed potatoes. Great noodles, good sauce, but where's the beef. If I received 2 Oz of meat, I would be surprised.

    I like the beef & noodles but agree it's a little light on the meat. Considering the price, which includes homemade bread and apple butter plus mashed potatoes and a side dish, I can't complain too much. Here's a recent meal at Balyeat's: sausage & kraut over mashed potatoes, beef & noodles over mashed, ham & beans over cornbread, green beans, pickled egg & beets, stewed cabbage, bread, apple butter. Not a thing I wouldn't order again (well, I guess the green beans, though prepared from fresh beans, weren't particularly notable).

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    Daily menu, 2013
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    jlawrence01 wrote:The ham and navy beans were credible. They were not cooked as long as I am generally used to and the beans lacked a little salt but they were pretty good. Their corn bread was a lot better than you generally find in Ohio restaurants.

    I liked this dish a lot. Loved the texture of the beans—you know they didn't come from a can. Definitely light on the salt, but that's the Balyeat's way.

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    jlawrence01 wrote:The blackberry pie was good, but was the tartest pie that I have had. I did not notice it as much as I ordered it ala mode.

    A recent peach pie (fresh peaches, of course) was quite tart as well. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, and even I thought it might have benefitted from a little more sugar. Their old fashioned (sugar cream) and custard pies seem normally sweetened.

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    jlawrence01 wrote:However, some aspects of the place is irritating. We arrive at a decent hour to find that two of the four specials were not available.

    I have a feeling the Balyeat's crowd dines very early. We visited at 8pm on a Saturday (they close at 9) and the place was completely deserted. Not a soul eating or lingering. I'm glad you appreciate the whole package though. There simply are not many places like Balyeat's left.

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