Visited: Saturday, April 2, 2016 at 10:30 a.m.
The Nutcracker in Pataskala has been a frequent suggestion from readers over the past few years. Many of the outlying towns around Columbus have at least one great diner worth visiting, and Nutcracker seemed to be the destination for Pataskala. So while planning activities for our kiddos’ spring break, we decided on a trip to The Works in Newark (for place to go with the kids, by the way), with a stop for breakfast at The Nutcracker on the way.
Nutcracker has all the makings of a classic diner. It’s pretty nondescript from the outside, but once you’re inside… the black-and-white tiled floor is rolled out before you. There are neon signs, a display case with homemade pies, old Coca-Cola knick-knacks.
All the tables are covered in that familiar swirling diner countertop pattern.
There’s a counter with red plastic-covered stools.
Oh, wait – did we mention the nutcrackers? They aren’t kidding about the name. Every available surface is stacked with nutcrackers of all shapes and sizes. Hours of entertainment for everyone, especially the kids in your group.
And the menu matches the decor. It’s all the filling classic dishes you’d expect from a diner, starting with soft cinnamon rolls straight out of the oven.
Both of our boys wanted pancakes with sausage. One of them (the pancakes, not the kid) arrived with a vaguely Mickey Mouse shape.
More pancakes and sausage. Thumbs up from the boys.
Corned beef hash. House-made, of course! Nicely seasoned – actually pretty fragrant for corned beef hash. And comes with appropriately crispy potatoes.
I spied the country fried steak on the menu. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a good one, and even though this was our first ever visit to Nutcracker, I felt like I could trust them to do it justice. My instincts were correct: it’s a lean, tender steak with a crispy crust and a very peppery gravy. My benchmark for good country fried steak is being able to cut it with the side of my fork, and it easily sliced through this one.
I see now why everyone has recommended The Nutcracker for so long. It’s a must-visit for fans of diners, and offers a fun destination breakfast, with plenty of filling food and colorful decorations that make for an entertaining outing.