Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Restaurant Review: Scrambler Marie's

Scrambler Marie's on Urbanspoon

Somehow more than a month has past since my last blog post, and wow have the past weeks been flown by with foodie flare! Before I catch you up on my latest adventures--more recently those from Texas--I wanted to post a review of a brunch place in the Polaris area of Columbus. For those of you who may not have known, earlier this year Learning through Food was featured (along with local bloggers The Breakfast Grub Guy and Leptologists at Lunch) in the January 2014 issue of CityScene Magazine. Shortly thereafter, I was contacted by Amy Burns, who teaches (and has since revamped) Family and Consumer Sciences at Centerburg High School. I presented to her Foods for Life classes, as well as students studying agriculture sciences. Throughout the semester, Amy's Foods for Life students have been blogging about food (coincidentally, and not at all surprisingly, on-line blogging and food critique were the foci of my presentations); now that their semester is coming to a close, they had one blogging assignment left: to take all they learned and put it into practice into an in-depth restaurant review. Grateful for the opportunity to join them, I gladly accepted Amy's invitation and alongside her seniors and Steve (a guidance counselor at the high school), I embarked on a journey to Scrambler Marie's.

All Scrambler Marie's locations are open daily from 6.30am-3.00pm
 Tucked away in a little shopping area off Sancus Blvd, the Polaris location is one of seven in Columbus, this family owned restaurant concept of which is spread throughout Ohio and extends into metro Detroit. Upon first glance and entry into the space, Scrambler Marie's reminds me of what I might generally categorise as a restaurant with a Midwestern pseudo-diner feel. It seems right off the bat that everyone's friendly and that diners have been coming here for years. I suppose "years" is all relative, in that the first location didn't open until after I was born, but a few decades of business have gone and past and it seems the franchise is as strong as ever.

I arrived first, was pleasantly greeted by the waitstaff, and then shown to the area which had been reserved by the manager. Amy, Steve, and the students arrived within a few minutes and when all was said and done, I had a fairly clear view looking into the restaurants. The small group of students broke off into even smaller groups, and already they seemed engaged in the assignment. From table etiquette to placing an order to eating and subsequently checking off their review rubric, it seemed unfailingly obvious to me at least that these students were clearly demonstrating what it means to learn through food.

As for my own order, my eyes were drawn to the Stuffed French Toast, proclaimed on the menu as "famous." I asked our waitress, Brittany (who was friendly and ever-attentive), just how famous "famous" was, and after her affirmation of just how good they were, I felt comfortable ordering that. The seasonal mixture blending with the sweet cream cheese was strawberry, a concoction which seemed appetizing.

A reddish-pink plate eventually made its way to me, atop which sat the slices of French toast layered with the cream cheese mix. I would have hoped to say drizzled, but more so healthily piled, all over the toasts was something of an electric and intensely sweet red glaze, followed then by whipped topping. Certainly bonus points go toward interesting and vibrant colours (a refreshing departure indeed from the traditionally bland-looking, monochromatic palate of most breakfast fare). This being said, quite honestly I found the conglomeration a bit much and slightly off kilter from the quality, fresh-prep, made from scratch emphases printed on the back of the menu. In other words, what I tasted did not seem to match my level of expectations.

My biggest gripe of the entire dish was hands-down the glaze, where hues of breakfast browns were replaced by hues of reds. In addition to the already moist cream cheese layer (can one really say it's "stuffed"?), the glaze not only took down any savoury quality to the French toast, but together the cream cheese and glaze turned what little crisped, toasted bread there was (or had been) into a rather soggy, borderline gummy, series of bites. I found some tastes of textural contrast, but unfortunately too few for my liking.

Yeah, I need to lighten this photo a bit...
On the other hand, much more praise I feel can be directed toward other aspects of the dish. Most obviously, the French toast (and really the entire menu) is economical and incredibly filling. Full orders of the griddle dishes (i.e., pancakes, waffles, and French toast), for example, are all "bottomless" and half orders of any of these are possible. There are many healthy options, too, and accommodations for particular allergies and restrictions are handled with care. A word to the wise: don't come to Scrambler Marie's having previously eaten (unless you plan to take leftovers or you really like to eat); the serving portions will fill you up without much problem. Though it seemed all of the students loved their food, I saw a few more leftovers on plates than I had expected for whatever reason. The service we received was also outstanding and incredibly personable, and if nothing else at the end of the experience, I thoroughly enjoyed the company and the overall atmosphere. Having said all of this, I would venture to Scrambler Marie's once more and give it another go. I just probably won't be ordering the French toast that time around.

A sincere thanks go to Amy for the invitation to join everyone at this final assignment review. To check out what the students have been learning throughout the semester and to read their blogs, click here to view Amy's entries (the students' blogs are on the right-hand side under "Following").

1 comment:

  1. Mark,

    Thank you for your visit to Centerburg and for putting a spotlight on the work of our students. I appreciate this very much!

    Mr. Gallwitz, Principal Centerburg Local Schools