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That One Place
** 1/2
Out of a possible five
$

Tasty menu matches memorable moniker

You can’t help but talk about the name.

Is it genius or lunacy to call a restaurant That One Place. Where did you eat last night? Where do you want to go for supper? Have you tried That One Place?

What I found ironic about the name of this Leo-Cedarville eatery is that the location – just before the big curve heading into town on St. Joseph Street – has been a lot of places over the years. In fact, the building is That One Place that has been a diner, a pizza place and so on.

So what makes That One Place different than the other places?

The rather bland, dated exterior of the restaurant doesn’t do justice to its warmth inside. The log cabin décor gives it a clean, shiny, somewhat new look, and the wide, church-pew-like booths give it some flair.

The menu seemed mundane at first with breakfast all day and a smattering of sandwiches, but a closer look uncovered some interesting fare.

Take the Inside Out Burger, for example. This good-sized burger was served perfectly pink and juicy and its fresh kaiser roll was great, but what made it different was that it was stuffed with cheese: American, Swiss or pepper jack. The cheese was completely encapsulated in the ground beef and you would not even know it had Swiss until you bit into it and the gooey, sharp cheese oozed out. It was definitely worth going back for, maybe twice so I can try all three varieties.

I would also go back for the nightly special perch. I chose pan fried over deep fried and received four decent-sized filets with a light, not-at-all-oily flour breading that was brown and flavorful. But not so flavorful you couldn’t taste the perch, which had that signature sort of wild game fish flavor. I was surprised at how dry the fish was as pan-frying usually gives fish an almost-buttery texture and would dare say it was the healthiest-looking pan-fried fish I have had in a long time.

The hot turkey croissant was a healthy option flanked with a tiny cup of slaw and an unexpected serving of a fresh pineapple and melon salad. The croissant, like the roll on the burger, was super fresh and delicious, and the turkey breast inside had been nicely browned on the griddle.

That One Place’s soups also found favor. The most interesting was the cream of onion, something I had not tried before. This thick, light brown soup got a lot of flavor from its chicken stock base and was full of sweet onions that still had a little bite to them. It was topped with a sprinkle of black pepper and a few crunchy croutons.

The chili seemed ordinary at first, but it grew on me. It, too, was quite thick and the finely diced ground beef gave it sort of a mealy texture. The heat sneaked up on you as you tasted sweetness at first. I think it would have been really nice on some fries or with nachos.

The beef and noodles dinner was OK but suffered from a duality issue. The beef was plentiful and hearty and the fat egg noodles were right on cue, but the beef base that bound it all together had a unique flavor almost like mushroom gravy or something.

It was not bad, but the lighter beef gravy that topped my side of real mashed potatoes was more to my liking as it had a traditional beef flavor.

The only real issue I had at That One Place was being served a bad baked potato that was brown inside and even smelled off-putting, an error that should have been caught since it was split open in the kitchen. I also struggled to get my coffee refilled during one visit.

For dessert, the offerings were boring and ready-made, but proper treatment made them worthwhile. The cheesecake was fine – thick graham-cracker crust and the usual rich filling – but the addition of plump, whole berries in the strawberry and blueberry sauces that topped it was great. The apple blossom was a great belly-warmer: this floret-shaped tart filled with gooey, syrupy apples was served piping hot with whipped cream and ice cream on the side.

As my waitress walked over to clear my plate during my last visit, I chuckled as I read her shirt. On the front, it was embossed with, “You know …” and as she walked away, I could see “… That One Place” on the back. The burger was worth the trip to Leo-Cedarville, and I don’t think there is any way I will forget that name.

So, I guess I’d have to say eating there was a memorable experience.

Restaurant: That One Place

Address: 9726 St. Joseph St., Leo-Cedarville

Phone: 260-627-0100

Hours: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

Cuisine: American

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Alcohol served: None

Credit cards accepted: Yes

Kid-friendly: Yes

Menu: Inside Out Burger ($6.19), hot turkey croissant ($5.49), beef and noodles ($6.99), cheesecake ($2; 50 cents for toppings)

Rating breakdown: Food: 1 1/2 (3 star maximum); atmosphere: 1/2 (1 maximum), service: 1/2 (1 maximum)

Note: Restaurants are categorized by price range: $ (less than $20 for three-course meal), $$ ($20-$29); $$$ ($30-$39), $$$$ ($40-$49), $$$$$ ($50 and up).

Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. This review is based on two unannounced visits. The Journal Gazette pays for all meals. E-mail him at rduvall@jg.net, call at 461-8130, or go to the “Dining Out” topic of “The Board” at www.journalgazette.net. DuVall’s past reviews can also be found at the Web site, and you can hear Ryan from 5 to 6 p.m. every Thursday on 92.3 FM, The Fort.

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