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B-Town Diner

Kira, in front of the B-Town Diner“Real • Tasty • Food”

Location
211 N Walnut St
Bloomington, IN 47404
(812) 822-0300

Hours
Monday: 7:00am – 2:00pm, 5:30pm – midnight
Tuesday – Saturday: midnight – 2:00pm, 5:30pm – midnight
Sunday: midnight – 2:00pm

Home Page / Facebook

Prices
Breakfast: $5-$12
Lunch/Dinner: $6 – $14

Review Summary
An excellent late-night diner with great food and friendly service hidden away in the middle of downtown Bloomington.

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Posted by on March 1, 2015 in Info Pages

 

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Erik and Kira (and Neeraj) Eat B-Town Diner

Kira, in front of the B-Town DinerThe B-Town Diner is one of those places that quietly opened up after we’d already passed it in the alphabet. It’s a skinny little place, squeezed into a spot that used to be a late-night pizza parlor (Greeks Pizzeria) right across the street from the Bluebird. They’re clearly targeting the late-night crowd, as evidenced by their posted hours, which unlike most restaurants, list when they are closed instead of when they are open. Most days they are closed 2:00 – 5:30pm, and they’re also closed Sundays after 3:00pm 2:00pm. That’s not a typo by the way; they are closed in the afternoons, not the wee hours of the morning.

We’ve only been there a couple times, which confuses me because we really liked the place. It’s easily the best late-night diner in town, and possibly the best late-night option for any kind of food. We do have a Denny’s, but it’s not exactly in a convenient location, and besides, it’s just a Denny’s. Perhaps the (literal) low profile and unassuming sign keeps it out of our consciousness, and so we just never think to go there. Perhaps it’s because we’re turning into old fogies who are never out late at night.

B-Town Diner. Saturday, August 16th, 2014. Dinnertime.

Neeraj, explaining something.

For the out-of-towners, it’s probably worth mentioning that “B-town” is a common nickname for Bloomington, Indiana. Personally, I think that “B-ton” would make more sense, but nobody asks me about these things.

On this visit, we were joined by our good friend and Eat Bloomington alumnus Neeraj, who was back in town for a short visit. You may remember him from  some of his earlier guest appearances.

B-Town makes good use of its narrow space, with raised booths on one long wall and tables on the other. There were photos by local artists on the walls and small leafy clippings in vases on the tables. The stereo was playing classic folk rock tunes at a reasonable volume (unlike their next-door neighbor Brother’s Bar and Grill, whose music is typically so loud that I’m surprised we couldn’t hear it in the diner).

Three thick, dark pancakesOur server Marco was quite friendly, happy to give suggestions and willing to talk frankly about the restaurant (which does most of its business late at night), the owner (who also owns the computer repair store PC Max*), and the morning servers (who “suck” because they stocked the jam trays with nothing but grape jelly that day). Our orders were heavily influenced by Marco’s suggestions. Later in the evening, we met the owner Chris and had a nice conversation with him about the menu (he was considering adding an item called “hippie hash”), the kitchen (he maintains a separate grill for vegetarian food), and the restaurant itself (which he refers to as his “mid-life crisis”).

*Incidentally, PC Max is my favorite computer store in town, even though I’ve never spent any money there. I’ve been there twice with computer problems that I thought required purchasing a new piece of hardware, and both times, they talked me out of it by suggesting an alternate and much cheaper solution. They don’t have a large selection of hardware for sale, but if you’re looking for a little help with computer problems, I highly recommend them.

Two thick slabs of French toast with powdered sugar on top and cream cheese and blueberries in between.I (Erik) ordered the stuffed French toast with cream cheese and blueberries, which turned out to be more of a French toast sandwich than a stuffed anything, but holy cow was it good. The French toast was made from two enormous slabs of bread, and it was so tasty that I didn’t feel any need to add syrup.

Kira ordered the “spicy” chicken strips, which weren’t really spicy at all. They were a tad dry, but that’s pretty par for the course with chicken strips. The breading was nice and crispy and they came with four different dipping sauces: Cajun ranch, chipotle chile, garlic aioli, and ketchup. The chipotle chile sauce was our favorite.

Crispy chicken strips and a pile of fries covered in steak strips, red peppers, and cheese.They have several varieties of loaded fries, and because I was being indecisive about ordering breakfast or a cheesesteak, Kira decided to replace her ordinary side of fries with a side of the Philly loaded fries. This was probably our least favorite dish of the night as the fries were a bit overdone, but even then, it was still pretty delicious.

Neeraj ordered the cinnamon nutmeg pancakes, and after eating it, we were all saddened to hear that it was scheduled for removal from the menu. The pancakes were thick and had just the right kind of texture for that sort of pancakes. The word “fluffy” comes to mind, but that implies a lightness and evenness that doesn’t belong on a big American-style flapjack. In any case, they were quite good, and the nutmeg and cinnamon were good additions to the flavor.

There are a number of delicious-sounding items on the menu that we haven’t had a chance to try… You know what? I’m feeling hungry right now. Can you wait a few hours?

Three hours later…

Well, that was a bust. Apparently they close at 2 on Sundays, not 3 like their website says. That’s one black mark on an otherwise exemplary service record. We even called at 1:50pm and asked if they were open. Kira and Erik, smiling after a good meal.The natural thing to do would be to say “Yes, but we close in 10 minutes,” not just “Yes.” Ah well. We’ll have to stop by some other time.

Final Thoughts:

An excellent late-night diner with great food and friendly service hidden away in the middle of downtown Bloomington.

 

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Erik Eats Bob Evans

Interior Bob EvansBefore we ate at Bob Evans, I suffered under the impression that the restaurant chain was functionally equivalent to Denny’s or IHOP. Now that I’ve eaten there, my opinion has not changed much. I suppose that the corporation’s attempts to give their restaurants a homey feeling have met with slightly more success. The interior reminded me more of a Marie Calendar’s than of an IHOP. But apart from a predilection for biscuits, I didn’t find many clues that would help me tell a Bob Evans breakfast from an IHOP breakfast in a taste test.

Upon our waitress’s recommendation, I ordered the breakfast crepes with strawberry and banana, and they tasted fine. I also ordered a small breakfast with all the old standards: scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and biscuits. Breakfast crepes with strawberry and banana at Bob EvansActually, I only tried to order a small breakfast, but instead of getting the meat option split into both sausage and bacon, as I thought I’d ordered, I ended up with a full serving of each meat product.

I’ve found quite a bit of difference in people’s bacon preferences. Some people like their bacon very chewy. I can definitely go for a good rasher of chewy bacon, as long as it really does come out chewy and not tough. (In the interest of full disclosure, I feel I should mention that I don’t really know what “rasher” means, but it I do know that bacon comes in them.) Others prefer their bacon on the crispier side. I can also get down with a few pieces of crispy bacon, as long as they don’t end up burnt (a very fine line). However, if given the choice, I prefer my bacon much meatier than it usually comes, especially if the bacon makes up a significant part of my meal. Fat has its place, but I wouldn’t want to make a meal out of it. The bacon at Bob Evans falls in the chewy+meaty quadrant of the bacon plane.

The Bacon Plane

The sausage did not fare as well as the bacon, but I get much more picky when it comes to sausage. I won’t say that the sausage tasted terrible, but when I ran out of appetite, I only regretted not finishing the bacon.The remains of the meal at Bob Evans. They didn’t screw up my scrambled eggs, but even I can cook scrambled eggs without screwing it up occasionally, so they don’t win any points for that. So I suppose it all boils down to the biscuits, and while I don’t have any complaints, I can’t say that they inspired me either. Kira ordered the chicken fried steak, which also tasted acceptable without wowing me. My opinion on the biscuits pretty much sums up my opinion on the restaurant: reliable, but uninspiring.

I understand and sympathize with our few loyal readers who have probably gotten sick of me saying that some restaurant or another fails to make much of an impression in either way, but after sixteen restaurants and much thought on the matter, I’ve come to the inescapable conclusion that many restaurants are boring.

Erik’s Rating: Yum – 3, Ooh – 3, Ah – 3, Wow – 1 (Huh?)

 

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Kira’s Number 14: Bob Evans

Kira at Bob EvansThe Place: Bob Evans Restaurant

I had noticed this place, and had always wondered what it was, but had never been there before.

The Time:
Friday, July 07, 2006, 7:00pm

The Atmosphere:
Bob Evans tries very hard to get that country, family feel. It has a diner as well as booths and tables to sit at. It is very similar to a Denny’s or a Village Inn, if they even have those out here. Although they try to make it “family friendly”, we were by far the youngest people there. I would say that the average age of the customer was well over 60. Then again, we were there at 7pm on a friday night.

Kira's meal at Bob Evans: chicken fried steak and mashed potatoesThe Food:
They serve breakfast all day, as well as fair portions of typical American diner food. I don’t remember too much about the food at Bob Evans. This could be because it’s been about a month since we actually ate there, or perhaps the food just wasn’t memorable in one way or the other.

I do know that Erik opted for breakfast with the strawberry-topped crepes and a 2 egg breakfast, while I went for the typical chicken fried steak. They both came with our choice of breads, so we got some delicious buttermilk biscuits and zucchini bread. My entree also came with a simple salad, although I remember liking the dressing. Erik realized that he had ordered way too much food, and breakfast does not take home well. My steak was ok. Not much to complain or praise about. I ate about half of it and took the rest home to eat the next day. While it seemed that they had a good selection of pies, we had to say no this time since we were already so full.

The Service:
The young lady serving us was very friendly.


The Price:

Nothing outrageous here. Everything seemed reasonable.

Salad at Bob EvansThe Rest:
It’s definitely not the same as home cookin’ like they claim, but I would go to Bob Evans over Denny’s any day. If only they were open 24 hours…

How Often Would I Go Back?
Every 4 Months

 

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Bob Evans Restaurant

Exterior Bob EvansA home-style diner

Location:
3233 Whitehall Pike (map)
Bloomington, IN 47401
(812) 334-2515

Hours:
Daily: 6:00am – 10:00pm

Website: http://www.bobevans.com
Menu: Bob Evans Menu

Erik’s Rating: Yum – 3, Ooh – 3, Ah – 3, Wow – 1 (Huh?)
How often would Kira eat there? Every 4 months (what’s this?)
Reviews: Erik, Kira

 

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