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Just Like Home

By Lora Arduser · October 12th, 2011 · The Nook

Brunch is mimosas, smoked salmon and omelets with goat cheese, right? It’s a snooty menu served at a civilized hour that accommodates hangover schedules, right? A state of mind? Right? Right?

Wrong. It struck me like a lightning bolt when Kent Hugentobler, owner of Doris and Sonny’s Homelike Restaurant, (6856 State Route 128, Miamitown, 513-353-9828) sounded so confused when I called anonymously to asked if they served brunch. 

“Well,” he said slowly, “we serve breakfast and lunch.” 

That was it! Brunch isn’t some newfangled, citified concept. It’s giving people the food they want, good food, when they want it. 

HomeLike has been doing just that since 1963, when Hugentobler’s parents, Doris and Sonny, bought the restaurant. Carrying on his family tradition Hugentobler is there seven days a week. On follow up he told me that they make at least 90 percent of the menu items in house and he oversees 100 percent of the plates that go out of his kitchen. He said, “That’s the secret to staying in business for 50 years.”

When we entered the little burg of Miamitown to pay Homelike a visit, things immediately felt comfortable as we settled into a space by the door.

Regular customers were yelling goodbye to the two young servers buzzing around the cozy dining room in a way that clearly showed the restaurant is a neighborhood anchor. The patrons ranged from senior citizens to those needing booster chairs, and the servers were quick with the coffee as well as answers to our questions. 

My dining companions ordered from the breakfast end of the menu, and I decided to have lunch. On follow up, Hugentobler said that a two-egg breakfast with toast (white, wheat or rye) and coffee runs you about $4. If you add sausage, bacon or goetta it’s about $6. Struggling between which breakfast meat to choose? Consider the fact that Hugentobler makes his own goetta, which he serves in a variety of options that include a buffalo chicken version, “chedda goetta,” spicy goetta, jalapeño goetta and just plain ole goetta. If you’re in the mood for lunch, you might want to try the goetta burger. 

Our breakfast included eggs over easy, hash browns, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, toast and the thinnest slice of goetta I’ve ever seen. My stepdad’s girlfriend liked it because it cooked up nice and crispy. The hash browns were well-seasoned slices that were cooked crisp as well and the eggs provided a bright liquid yellow contrast. 

In the mood for lunch? Homelike has sandwich options during the week, and they run specials like chicken and dumplings, a pulled pork platter and pan-fried chicken (specials run $6.50 to $6.95). 

In a former life I worked as a field archaeologist and we used to have lunch in little places like Homelike all the time. Maybe it was the two arrowhead displays on the wall that made me nostalgic and craving my favorite field food — open-faced roast beef. At Homelike we call that Beef Manhattan (small order is $6.95). It came with lots of gravy, a mound of buttery mashed potatoes and four slices of plain white bread to mop up all that good gravy. It was comfort food done well; the only thing I added was a bit of pepper. 

I also tried the onion rings ($3.25), which were hand cut and battered. The onion rings alone would have sealed the deal for a long afternoon nap, but I had to push the envelop and order the homemade apple crisp ($2.50) just to make sure all those coffee refills didn’t keep me from sleep land.

CONTACT LORA ARDUSER: letters@citybeat.com



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