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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Treasure Island Supper Club, Moraine (SW Dayton)

When I first drove past the Treasure Island Supper Club, images of Spongebob Squarepants came to mind. You know, some sort of “Chuck E. Cheese” type restaurant for kids, with the servers dressed in pirate gear, and occasionally belting out a pirate ballad, or an “arrrgh!” It turns out that the place is much more dignified than my original flight of fancy.

The Treasure Island Supper Club is located right next to one of the huge parking lots of the former GM assembly plant. In the past, this area right across the street from the restaurant was often filled with employee cars, but from now on it will remain empty. You can’t really enter without thinking about how the plant’s closing has affected local businesses.

Although it is called a Supper club, I thought that perhaps we would try it at lunch, since the parking lot had been completely full a couple of nights earlier. It was still a bit busier than we had expected. When we went in, we were ‘greeted’ by a couple of shoeshine chairs in the small lobby. That was actually the only greeting we got, because there was no sign that said “seat yourselves”, and no wait staff greeted us. We wandered about for a minute or so, trying to decide if we should just sit down and wait for menus. I was in the process of asking a gentleman at the bar this very question, when the waitress on duty noticed us and seated us. Not sure if this happens often, but they could probably use a sign at the entrance saying “please wait to be seated”.

As you might guess from the name, Treasure Island has a focus on seafood, as well as steaks. I was tempted by the “Seafood Combo Island Salad Supreme”, which I’ve heard good things about. Then I almost went with the frog legs, which I’ve always enjoyed. In the end, however, I decided to order the seafood platter, which has several of each of the seafood items listed under “today’s catch” – jumbo shrimp, fried oysters and fried scallops, plus a stuffed crab. As a side, I got a side salad, and Lyonnaise Potatoes, which are very lightly browned hash browns and onions. My cousin got the Treasure Island Burger, a double decker with special sauce, plus fried cheese sticks as an appetizer. My wife got a French Dip (roast beef sandwich & dip), potato boat and broccoli.

During the 10 minutes or so before the appetizers arrived, we spent most of our time looking over the tables. As you can see from the photo, there is an obvious ocean theme, as well as treasure (coins) from around the world. Each table had these items buried under a thick layer of clear plastic or polyurethane. We later noticed that each table had unique items on it, so you could go back 8 or 10 times and have a new arrangement to look at.

My side salad was ok, with the dressing appropriately served on the side. About the only complaint I could have was that the tomato (and there was only a single slice) was not very ripe, and there wasn’t really any variety in the greens. (pale iceberg) Now it’s just a side salad, so I wasn’t expecting a lot, and I got about what I expected. An actual ripe tomato and a couple of varieties of greens would really have spruced things up. My cousin’s fried cheese sticks were huge, tasty, and spiced just right.

The main courses came about 25 minutes after we ordered. We were all impressed with the quantity – large plates and good amounts of food. My cousin’s Treasure Island Burger was actually too tall for him to fit in his mouth – he had to remove one of the burger patties before it was manageable. He said it was very tasty. My wife said that her French Dip was a step above what she got other places – she could tell it was 100% real roast beef. Her potato boat was a bit on the dry side, however. The broccoli seemed to have some seasoned salt on it that enhanced the flavor.

As for my seafood platter, one of the fried oysters had a slight aftertaste that detracted a bit from the overall experience. (likely due to how it was treated after harvest, before the restaurant even took possession) The jumbo shrimp were just huge and succulent. The scallops were very tender – it is very easy to overcook them, which makes them tough, so I was glad to find them done just right. In the future, I’d like to see an option with less or no breading – perhaps a seafood platter broiled or grilled.

Overall, the visit to the Treasure Island Supper Club was a pleasant dining experience, and one that I can recommend to anyone looking for a traditional seafood & steak restaurant to try in the area. I’m looking forward to going for supper and trying out the broiled scallops next time.

Treasure Island Supper Club

address: 4250 Chief Woods Lane Moraine, Ohio 45439

telephone: 299-6161


hours: Mon - Thur 11 AM to 11 PM, Fri & Sat 11 AM to Midnight

Dayton Dining

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hasty Tasty Pancake House

I'll make no secret of the fact that the Hasty Tasty Pancake house has become one of my favorite places for breakfast in the Dayton area. I'd never heard of them before moving here, but I look for an excuse to visit them now.

The first time we visited, probably 5 years ago, the experience was mixed. On the one hand, the majority of the place was filled with smoke from smokers, and the "nonsmoking" section, although marked that way, might just as well have been the smoking section too, because all that smoke blew over there. That has changed, since the whole place is nonsmoking now. The other irritant I remember from our first visit was that we happened to sit right next to an overactive children's novelty machine, which made various blaring noises and had moving lights. On the several times I've been back, that machine has been much more subdued.

Your first impression when visiting will likely be the sign. It reminds me of an iconic hotel sign on route 40 on the west side of Columbus - lots of neon, a big "swoosh" symbol - classic Americana. When you go inside, you'll be impressed with the various late 40's to early 60's nostalgia on the walls. They have magazines, signs, comic books, records, various consumer goods - lots of curiosities to spend a moment gawking at. They also have one of those "penny squishers", so for 51 cents you can get a token of your visit.

The restaurant originally had drive-in service, so they even have a menu (with the old prices & such) on a pole that they cut off and preserved. The focus on the memorabilia and even the music in the place is the 1950's, which makes sense, because the restaurant was started in 1952. Over time, they expanded until at one point Hasty Tasty Pancake House became a chain with 19 locations. Had the original owner decided to franchise the setup at that point, it is quite possible that today there might be a Hasty Tasty Pancake House in every decent sized burgh east of the Mississippi today, instead of a Waffle House. However, the founder was getting along in years, and decided that there would be more profit in selling off some of the buildings for other uses, and leasing others. Over time, all of the locations closed except for the one at 3509 Linden Avenue.

On to the food. About 1/3 of the tables were full when we arrived. I ordered "The Super", which comes with 3 eggs, bacon AND sausage (not "or", like a lot of other places), home fries (hash browns that aren't all that browned) and a whole huge plate of biscuits & gravy. My son got #2 kids meal, and wife got pancakes, eggs & sausage. We ordered at 8:58, and the food was delivered at 9:06. Yep, just 8 minutes! Plus, they brought the bill just a minute after the food. I always love it when places do that - it lets you pay right away when you are done, instead of hanging around trying to get someone's attention, waiting more for the check, and then finally paying. It saves a lot of time, and I'd like to see more places do it this way.

All of the food was good. The sausage had good flavor, yet was not too heavily spiced. Bacon was nice and crispy. Eggs were done as I had asked. You get such nice sized portions of food at this place that you should never leave hungry. In fact, they seem to have it balanced just right - I always feel full after eating here, yet I don't believe I've ever had any leftover food. The waitress was very observant and helpful - she brought us finger wipes for the baby after our meal. The music playing in the background was excellent, and not too loud or soft to enjoy. If I was being nitpicky, probably the only thing I could even possibly stretch to complain about was that the hash browns tend to not be as browned or as crispy as I like - but then again, I didn't ask to have them well done. If you like yours crispy, ask them to crisp them a bit longer, and you should get good results.

Hasty Tasty Pancake House
3509 Linden Avenue (north side, between Smithville & Woodman)
telephone: 254-8431
Hours: 5am to 10pm 7 days a week
breakfast served any time

Dayton Dining