Tip Top is my standby restaurant of choice. In the mood for a nice, big lunch? Trying to impress a visitor? Planning an after-work happy hour? Liz Lessner's Gay Street spot is, nine times out of 10, the first place that pops into my mind.
And its Ohio-grown comfort food, vintage decor and super-friendly staff never lets me down. Judging from the healthy crowds you'll encounter any time of day - but especially lunchtime - I'm not the only one.
Only problem is, once summer rolls around, a lot of my go-to dishes feel a little heavy. The justifiably famous Pot Roast Sandwich and the bone-warming Spicy Corn Chowder, for instance, are better suited to the depths of winter, when holing up inside in a dark and cozy booth is just what the weather calls for.
So what to order when the sun is shining and you'd like to soak it up during lunch hour on Tip Top's little patio? Plenty. The salads are an obvious choice, and Tonya's Herbed Goat Cheese Salad is always excellent.
My personal favorite summertime order, though, is the Salmon Fritter Pita ($8), largely because it brings to mind conch fritters from seaside shacks.
The housemade fritters are nice big breaded-and-fried balls of smoked salmon, creamy risotto, cheese and herbs. Three fritters are folded into a thick, soft piece of pita bread, then doused in buttermilk ranch and sprinkled with chopped tomato and shredded lettuce.
These fritters are substantial enough that their creamy middles are distinguishable from the lovely, crunchy outsides. They're rich, but a trio of them is just enough to not push you into food coma territory.
Tip Top's sandwiches all come with crispy kettle chips and a pickle spear. Most times of the year, I automatically upgrade to sweet potato fries, but in the spirit of keeping things light, chips work just fine. As long as your definition of "light" incorporates fried pieces of potato, which I think it should.