Simple and consistent

Simple and consistentSimple and consistentSimple and consistent

Christopher’s Restaurant offers quality home cooking

By Tom Baker

There are two things I’ve learned since having my first child: First, simplicity is best, whether it is in discipline or in cooking – you’ve got to get the point across and dinner done quickly. The second, that eating together at a table with family or with friends, breaking bread with each other, talking, interacting and eating for any period of time is being lost in the age of text messages and Twitter feeds. That said, the good folks at Christopher’s in Kettering have based their model on this sort of fellowship and simplicity, a restaurant that was born of a church in Indianapolis around 30 years ago.

The Pritchard family has been running Christopher’s here since 1991 (and 1980 in Indiana), committed to bringing healthy, organic, local, versatile, affordable and simply good food to the community. Offering up chicken from Ed Hill in Xenia, organic Fair Trade coffee, organically farm-raised salmon and a variety of meat substitutes and vegetarian selections, on any given day you’ll find the senior set, skinny jean hipsters and families enjoying a something-for-everyone experience while Bob Marley or Bob Dylan sing softly in the background.

Always offering daily specials for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I prefer to visit most often for breakfast and lunch, the times I feel that Christopher’s is really at its best. Served until 1 p.m. daily, at breakfast I usually go with their eggs benedict ($6.95), the vegetarian version ($7.25) of which my wife may have actually created after multiple requests – I’m just saying. It should also be known that Christopher’s staff is unusually flexible in regards to substitutions. A veggie alternative to biscuits and gravy ($5.95) further reinforces this point, and is even better topped with a medium egg. Perennial favorites such as French toast or pancakes ($4.95, the latter with multigrain option) are a solid bet, and the big salsa-smothered and cheesy breakfast burrito ($6.25) leaves little room for much else.

The lunch and dinner menus, available from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, offer a range of soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees and desserts, including the recent additions of beer and wine. This is a big step for Christopher’s, and earlier this month they held their first wine dinner. My assumption is that they’ve finally decided to give in to what I can only imagine was a fairly constant request from their guests – I know I’d been waiting a long time. Featuring a fairly simple menu of red and white wines, four of each, as well as a decent little beer list featuring some solid names such as Rogue, Young’s and Brooklyn, the list fits the overall concept – good and simple.

Starting with a cup of mushroom bisque or veggie chili ($1.95), a personal favorite of mine, Christopher’s offers a variety of appetizers like the brie w/apricot jam ($7.95), garnished with toasted almonds. Try their all-natural burger ($6.95) on a multigrain bun (making my favorite burgers list), or a hot cheese supreme ($5.95), a gussied-up grilled cheese with mayo, scallions and tomato. Multiple veggie burger options are available as well, in addition to wraps and deli sandwiches. Dinner is where things fall off a bit for me.

Their Thursday theme nights, featuring special-coursed menus, are definitely unique and, judging by business, very popular. One regular menu item, the veggie strudel ($11.95) features layers of phyllo, vegetables and quinoa, covered with alfredo, and is an interesting, veggie-friendly dish, but it begged for more seasoning and the raw veggies and dip sides seem out of place. The chicken Parmesan ($12.95), breaded Hill chicken, linguine, provolone and their great house-made marinara is a solid choice, but could use some more sauce.  My wife’s favorite, the honey BBQ chicken ($13.95), again features Hill chicken, but this time with sweet BBQ sauce, bleu cheese, toasted walnuts, mashed potatoes and vegetable – very good. A fresh catch is available daily, however I’ve never had a lot of luck with their seafood – nothing bad, but nothing great either. For the money I stick with the items above, or simply go with a burger and fries.

Service and desserts are high points: staff is always friendly and very accommodating, however be sure that when you arrive and seat yourself that you make eye contact with someone, especially when busy. A floating staff of host/assistants will usually follow you to your table and get things started, but if missed, you may be waiting until someone realizes you’ve arrived. Most desserts are made in house, and you can’t go wrong with either their carrot cake or bread pudding with butter rum sauce (both $3.25).

As I’ve learned over the eighteen or so months writing for the DCP, and as Anthony Bourdain adeptly points out in “A Cook’s Tour,” sometimes the most enjoyable experiences are “very rarely the most sophisticated or expensive ones.” This is certainly true of Christopher’s, a place that keeps it simple and consistent, and that works just fine for me.

Christopher’s Restaurant is located at 2318 E. Dorothy Lane in Kettering. For more information including hours, visit christophers.biz or call 937-299-0089.

Reach DCP food critic Tom Baker at TomBaker@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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