Two Dads That Know What Good Food Is
It has been a wonderful couple years for Lakewood, especially in the food and entertainment area, something Lakewood is becoming rapidly known as a hot bed for. First we had Matt Fish and crew come in and turn Lakewood’s second oldest bar and restaurant, Bud’s White Door into the MELT! A restaurant, whose simple but delicious menu is getting attention far and wide, and not just putting Lakewood on the map, but making restaurateurs looking at Lakewood as they once did Tremont, Coventry, The Suburbs and beyond.
Recently I was able to report on the end of The Phoenix Café, only to have it reborn as the Root Café straight out of the dreams and love of Julie and Bobby, and many of their friends and customers. It has quickly become the hottest coffee shop/vegan food stop in Lakewood, attracting those that begged for Panera and Caribou through its doors and have become fixtures there just like bohos, as well as others that just come and go.
Now I am very sad to report that another Lakewood standard has closed, but what has opened in its place will surely make all forget that the space was once the home of the Highlander. The Highlander was always a friendly spot that was known for okay food and pretty good fish fry. It was also the gathering place for many social groups that had formed over the years. But that was then and Two Dads Diner is NOW!
The dream of School Board Member John Kamkutis, and his partner Frank Zingale, Two Dads brings together John’s experience growing up in his father’s restaurants, and Frank's ability to make regular down home cooking very special and very, very good. All of Lakewood is once again, very lucky that some locals took what they knew of the area, the residents, and are delivering a home run for delicious, very affordable dining.
The Lakewood Observer’s own Chef Geoff always told me, “Never review a restaurant their first month of operation. Let the excitement settle down, let them work things out and let them get into their stride as they work out any problems.” So while we all want to review and go to the newest places, to write about them it is only fair to wait. Boy, I never should of listen to Chef Geoff! I missed some damn good eating!
So, I finally went in to talk with John and sample the food two weeks ago. He came over showing the personal touch, as the young woman came up to take my order. John walked over and I said, “Bring me whatever you are willing to hang this review on. Bring me the meal that will make or break you.” Without hesitation both said, “Chicken Papirkash!” Now I have Chicken Paprikash at home about once a month, my wife is an excellent cook, especially with what have become “family standards.” So out came the very appealing salad, which was a mix of greens, no iceberg lettuce (very good) with their own house blue cheese dressing. Nice small size, and a perfect lead in to the main dish.
With much anticipation the paprikash came out, and it was not what I was used to, but it was very interesting. Boned chicken done to tender perfection on a bed of handmade spatzels, that were moist and tender. Smothered in a rich delicious not to spicy sauce that seemed to match the dish, and my visions of paprikash perfectly. As I complimented John and Frank, I asked about their calamari. Really good calamari has been missing in this town. (The West End Tavern recently brought it back on their menu and it is good.) Even though they were getting ready to close John declared, "Let me bring it out! It's great!" It was only slightly later, when I was stuffed on Paprikash, I realized more food may have been a big mistake.
Friday I stopped in again for the Fish Fry, a dinner that is sacred to many in Lakewood. Between our old style Catholic families that are still in the fish on Friday mode, and our access to tasty walleye, perch and even salmon, fish is a way of life for many Lakewoodites, and one of the constant heated discussion points of “who has the best…” This time I started with the calamari, I had the fish fry, and my wife had the Paprikash, obviously wanting to see for herself if it was a good as I had said.
When the calamari came out, I was taken back. First it was served in a way I had never experienced. Folded into a tower of caramelized onions, shallots, green and red peppers, garlic with a balsamic glaze. Hmmmm this will be interesting. So I grabbed a fork and took a bite. What I tasted was one of the most complex and delicious things I think I have ever eaten in Lakewood, maybe the region. The flavors explode in your mouth around delicate little rings of perfectly cooked calamari. My wife tried it and the race to finish it was on. Each bite just as good if not better than the last. A real winner.
Next out was the fish fry. Lake Erie perch, not at market price but as the Friday special, deep-fried with a light breading to perfection. Frank is really proving he knows his way around the kitchen. The homemade tarter sauce really set the fish off nicely. While the fries were a tad greasy, they had their own pleasant thing going on, and were a nice side dish.
Since then I have stopped in a couple times for breakfast, trying their Eggs Florentine, 8x8, and breakfast special. Everything was delicious, and different from the other breakfast hot spots in town, The Coffee Pot and The Place To Be. I am glad to finally add another great spot for good breakfasts to that list.
Yes, I believe what Frank and John have created is yet another new Lakewood Legend- Two Dad’s Diner, check it out, you will not be disappointed.
As we go to press I have just learned that the MELT will be on the Food Channel’s “Diners, Dive-Ins and Dives” I suspect that Guy Fieri will be back soon to try Two dads Diner, and we will see him in Frank’s Kitchen shoveling calamari, Paprikash, Fish, Meatloaf and maybe even the Irish Egg Rolls into his mouth smiling and say, “Man that is money!” Frank, John, thank you for bringing your dream to reality in Lakewood.
Most entrees are well under $10.00.
Hours: Mon-Sat 7:00 am - 8:00 pm; Sun 7:00 am- 2:00 pm
Address:14412 Detroit Rd.