The Adams Street Cafe opens downtown

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I have a lot to say about the new The Adams Street Café in downtown Toledo and all of it is good.

For a scheduled lunch meeting with some of my Toledo SOUP babes, we decided to try the newest addition to Toledo’s food landscape. The restaurant, at 608 Adams St., is in the former Ranya’s, a downtown staple for more than 20 years.

When Ranya’s closed, people were devastated. I was devastated. (I am still convinced there is no better lentil soup anywhere.)

It wasn’t long before signs of new life started to show up inside. A small sign on the door went up: The Adams Street Café: Coming Soon. I would walk by and wonder what was in store. In August, I finally just asked.

“Our theme is sort of a BBQ-deli café, making our own beef, pastrami, smoked turkey, and salmon, as well as salads and some vegetarian dishes.” said whoever was manning the restaurant’s Facebook page that day.

Sold.

The restaurant is owned by John Kerstetter, a Toledo guy who went to Bowsher High School and studied culinary arts at Monroe County Community College. Before opening The Adams Street Cafe, he worked for nine years at Stella’s in Perrysburg.

“The motivation for opening really was the progression of my career,” he said. “I’d been a chef for several years working for other people and got the opportunity to finally go out on my own, so I did.”

When I walked in to the restaurant, I immediately noticed how it was 100 percent different from Ranya’s. That might seem like a “Well, yeah?” kind of comment, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into a new, local business and noticed it looked the exact same as the business that just left. There’s definitely been a few places that have recycled décor, and, sometimes they even recycle the name. It’s bad.

Not only is the inside of The Adams Street Café totally updated, but it’s awesome. The walls are a dark, brick red, with the lower half covered in a painted aluminum. It’s very rustic, very barn-like, very appropriate for the food and overall atmosphere. The ceiling was painted black, new light fixtures went in, and some dual-bladed ceiling fans are up and we think they look like carved wood (very cool).

The tables are all covered in mismatched cloths, though the theme of picnic/barbecue is felt and cohesive. The plates are the same way. It’s brilliant. The mix ups make it feel a lot like home, or eating at a friend’s house. Maybe even grandma’s …?

(For the record, that was on purpose. John said the existing tables couldn’t be presented as they were, and there was no room in the budget for new ones, so he went out and thrifted all of the table coverings.)

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The other thing I noticed immediately upon walking in was the smell. The barbecue scent kisses your nose right away. Remarkably, it’s not overwhelming which I imagine could easily happen.

I was so impressed by the quality of the food and service, especially given that, on the day we visited, it was the second day of the restaurant’s soft opening (and, without any advertising, it was pretty steadily crowded the entire time).

Molly, Lyndsey, and I didn’t hold back in ordering. There was way too much goodness to choose from.

Molly went for the soup of the day, a tomato basil, and the side salad. Lyndsey and I agreed to split the burger and each order another entrée that we’d shared, too. She went with the poutine; I got the roasted vegetable roll.

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The burger, ordered medium, came out exactly such. The center was perfectly pink and it was served with fresh – and, really, I mean fresh – vegetables. Lyndsey and I agreed that the quality of the beef was obvious when tasting.

Her poutine was a sight to behold. A mountain of French fries with cheese curds, gravy, and pork shoulder, topped with a fried egg. Wow.

“I’m getting that face I get when I’m eating something I really love,” Lyndsey said after taking a bite.

Let’s be honest: We all know that face. We all have that face.

The roasted vegetable roll was excellent. I wasn’t convinced I’d made a good choice with my first bites – there wasn’t much flavor, but as I kept going, the vegetables melded with a sauce of some kind and I fully understood everything. I mean, secrets of the universe, even.

Fortunately, Lyndsey decided she didn’t want any of my vegetable roll and I ate the whole thing.

No regrets.

I have a feeling The Adams Street Café will become a downtown lunchtime favorite for folks lucky enough to work nearby. The restaurant is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

John said he’s open to exploring expanded hours — he’s assessing the demand for breakfast and is in the process of procuring a liquor license. He won’t start a dinner service until he has one, so don’t expect to have dinner there for about a year or so. The menu will grow, too, with time (and change seasonally).

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Halloween costumes: A retrospective

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I’ve been trying to put together Milan’s Halloween costume (I’m dressing him as a black cat), and can I just say that it’s ridiculously hard to find just simple cat ears for a toddler?

I mean, ridiculous.

Milan likes to meow at things, so I figure a cat is a pretty natural costume for him. Plus, I’m not sure he’ll let me dress him as a cat once he starts having opinions on these things, so might as well get that in while I can.

Last year, as you can see, he was a peapod. A really cute, little peapod.

That got me thinking, too, about the costumes I wore as a kid. Thanks to my mom and her scanning/posting old photos on Facebook, I can share.

These are not in chronological order, not as far as I can tell, anyway:

kitty
I’m actually not sure if this is a Halloween costume, or if my parents just put a hat on me and decided to draw whiskers on my face …?

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Princess Taylor

witch
Pretty sure I was a witch more than once.
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Deputy DungjenjasminePrincess Jasmine. Oma actually made this costume for me. Sassy face not included.

BYOP carving party

img_0086There was a strange debate in my backyard this weekend.

Pumpkin carving: an indoor or outdoor activity?

I never thought about it much, but my family always carved our pumpkins in our living room with a large spread of newspaper as ground cover. But, I mean, what other option was there in Northeast Ohio, where more Halloweens were wet and cold (AND SNOWY) than not?

Tyrel said his family always carved outside, and thought the rest of us were peculiar creatures for ever doing anything otherwise.

So, I’m curious: Indoor or outdoor for you?

This all came about because a group of pals and I got together Sunday afternoon (we had near-perfect weather, too) to eat snacks and carve pumpkins. It was a good, old-fashioned BYOP pumpkin-carving party, my second time hosting such a festivity.

Let’s do it again next year, OK? OK.

img_0072I had a bowl of snacks that Milan kept getting into, grabbing handfuls of, and then throwing it on the ground, so I put the bowl in the wagon, which is why he’s trying to climb in. *eye roll*

img_0074img_0076Tyrel and Molly came super prepared. I mean, these guys sketched out their pumpkin designs before coming over. Tyrel has a thing with squirrels, and I can’t remember why, but clearly his affection for them knows few bounds.

His pumpkin was the all-around favorite.

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It took the neighborhood squirrels LESS THAN 12 HOURS before my pumpkins became food. I blame Tyrel.

Pumpkin Hill

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Dudes. If you haven’t been to Pumpkin Hill, go.

(And go soon; there’s only about a week left!)

My friends Glenn and Meredith Hill run the place. It’s on their little-slice-of-heaven property in Northwood, right on Curtice Road. It takes approximately 7-ish minutes to get there from downtown. Autumn is one of my favorite seasons, in part, because of this place.

I met Meredith and Glenn in the same way I’ve met so many awesome Toledo-area folks: By writing about them.

// Pumpkin Hill
4508 Curtice Rd., Northwood
Open 24 hours; honor system if Meredith and Glenn aren’t around
Cash only

* This year’s profits will be donated to a local mother whose 38-year-old husband died unexpectedly after suffering a brain aneurysm.

I was tipped off by a mutual friend that this place existed, and was run by two Toledo firefighters, and that the pumpkin proceeds are always donated to a local family in need. It’s not a hard sell, you know?

I’ve visited Pumpkin Hill every year since and I expect to buy pumpkins from no other pumpkin place so long as Glenn and Meredith are at the helm. They are wonderful humans.

Natalie and I took Milan today to pick out pumpkins since, tomorrow, I’m having pals over to carve pumpkins (Why not?).

We all had a pretty good time as you can see:

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Milan had a blast running around Pumpkin Hill, petting Seven (the Hill’s dog — ask them about how they found him/his name when you visit; it’s great), being pulled around in a wagon, playing with Glenn, and basically being the center of attention for about an hour. Usually he’s starved for that, you know? Life is rough for this guy.

CAN WE TAKE A MOMENT TO OBSERVE HOW LITTLE HE WAS LAST TIME WE WERE AT PUMPKIN HILL?!

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There he is, 3-month-old Milan. Just chillin’ with mom and his little lamb slippers. I literally did not think he could get any cuter than he was at this point, but, guys, he’s extra cute now. It’s stupid.

He’s also less cooperative.

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Reality, baby.

Also, I totally had to remind him who is in charge around here and that, no matter how much he thinks he is, I can still totally school him in hoops. (He’s a prolific fouler.)

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Weekending: Oct. 21-23

A weekly round-up of fun happenings in the Toledo area, all perfect for kiddos.

The Children’s Theatre Workshop Players Company is putting on “Gran’s Guide to Stop an Ogre (Also Works for Witches and Bullies)” Friday through Sunday at various times. The show is in the Lois Nelson Theatre at the Collingwood Arts Centre, 2413 Collingwood Blvd. Tickets are $6 for students and seniors; $8 for general admission. Tickets are available at the door and online at ctwtoledo.org/upcoming-productions.

West Oak Walk Fall Festival is all day Saturday, noon to 7 p.m., along Sylvania Avenue in West Toledo. The first-time festival will feature musical acts, roving entertainers, and an “artist village” near the Cake Arts building.

Welcome the Toledo Walleye season with a free Opening Night Tailgate party from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday in Hensville. There will be a bean-bag toss, inflatable games, face painting, college football on multiple screens, live music, and a DJ plus more at NINE and Fleetwood’s. For more information, visit hensvilletoledo.com.

Catch a carriage ride from a headless horseman at the River Raisin Halloween Festival from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday in downtown Monroe. The festival will also have trick-or-treat and live music. For more information, visit monroeinfo.com.

The Hancock Historical Museum is hosting Spooktacular, 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, at the museum, 422 W. Sandusky St., Findlay. The family friendly event has crafts, games, treats, and tours of a “haunted” house. Admission is $1. For more information, visit hancockhistoricalmuseum.org.

Spirits of the River Raisin are hosting an annual Halloween event at the National Battlefield Park from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday. There will be “chilling stories of people and events,” crafts, a spirits tent, a spy hunter game, trick-or-treat, and snacks. The event is free. For more information visit nps.gov/rira.

Celebrate the Glass Pavilion’s 10th birthday at an afternoon bash from noon to 5 p.m. There will be hands-on art activities, a Ratatouille screening, birthday cake, music, beer and wine garden, tours, food trucks, and a farmers’ market. The event is free – although the alcohol is not.

Check out the Pumpkin Path at the Toledo Zoo this weekend. There’s costumed trick-or-treating, games, pumpkin carving demonstrations, bounce houses, and magic shows. Tickets are $7 in addition to the regular admission fee. There’s a full entertainment schedule here.

Also at the Zoo is Little Boo at the Zoo, a special event for toddlers and preschool age kiddos. They’re invited to wear costumes and trick-or-treat and participate in crafts and games. Tickets are $7 in addition to regular zoo admission.

Toledo’s Pet Bull Project is hosting its second truck-or-treat, 5:30 to 8 p.m., at 12 E. Bancroft St. Bring the kids and the dogs!

Justice for Nevaeh is hosting a free Halloween party for kids Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m. At the 1755 E. Broadway St. There will be food, games, music, dancing – all free! Kiddos get a goody bag, can participate in costume costumes and truck-or-treating. RSVP to Risa at 734-419-3232.