Visited: Friday, April 1, 2016 at 9:30 a.m.
Let’s get this out of the way: you should know of Skillet. It’s one of the staples of modern breakfast in Columbus. I actually feel a little guilty for not having written about it properly since 2009. The old blog post was from a TV visit to the restaurant, but it’s enough to give you a flavor of restaurant. Skillet was also featured (alongside yours truly and The Best in Westerville) on the PBS documentary Breakfast Special. It deserves the continued attention, and hopefully I can properly represent it now.
If, for some reason, you’re not familiar with Skillet, here’s your quick primer: it’s a small spot specializing in brunch at the border of German Village and Schumacher Place. It’s run by the Caskey family, and their tagline is “Rustic. Urban. Food.” Think of it like amped up comfort food that follows through on the promise of local and seasonal sourcing.
If you’ve ever been on weekends, you know that space can be at a premium, but it’s one of those places that’s just worth the wait. (Waiting for breakfast never seems strange to me. I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where we love our breakfast and are familiar with waiting for the good stuff.)
But once you’re in, you’re well cared for. We took our boys on a relatively quiet Friday morning during their spring break. Mrs. Breakfast With Nick and I promptly ordered coffee, which arrived in beautiful mugs with a miniature milk can full of cream. And what followed after was a parade of comfort foods.
Let me say this first about the menu: it rotates constantly. The greatest hits come and go, but because their recipes are designed around seasonal and local ingredients, things change. So approach with an adventurous attitude, and trust that they won’t lead you astray. (Pro-tip: keep an eye on their website for the day’s menu.)
We started with a giant croissant, dusted with powdered sugar and crushed pistachios and topped with vanilla whipped cream. It arrived soft and warm, and balanced the nuttiness with a touch of sweet. It’s the way baked goods should be: sweet without being a sugar bomb.
But we were in the mood for more sweets, so we also ordered a cinnamon roll.
Will pretty quickly declared it one of the best cinnamon rolls he’s ever had (and believe me, he’s sampled around). Again, it came out piping hot and soft enough to cut with a fork, and blended a little sweet with the cinnamon.
And then the savory stuff started to arrive. Will devoured his sausage gravy and biscuits. They’re made with a zesty andouille sausage, with thick chunks in a rich gravy. It’s the type of gravy that you hope the biscuits will completely soak up, so not an ounce goes to waste.
Even a simple side of fingerling potatoes is done well. They’re well-seasoned and soft with golden crispy edges, and they’re mixed with cheese curds. Need we say more?
Mrs. Breakfast With Nick and I split two items. First up was the fish and grits: creamy grits in gravy with a piece of crispy Lake Erie walleye…
…and a sexy poached egg.
And finally, a farmstead cheese omelet. It’s about as good of an omelet as you can get. The eggs are cooked perfectly and filled with a creamy blend of cheeses, then topped with greens and house-pickled tomatoes.
There’s a reason people continue to line up out the door for brunch at Skillet: they serve knock-out comfort food that’s still very accessible. The menu will give you a heavily detailed description of each item, which can get a little overwhelming, but the emphasis is on approachable farm-to-table dining. I once heard Patrick Caskey describe their food as “complex but not complicated,” and I think this holds true.