Review: Michael’s Goody Boy

From the December 7, 2011 edition

Junkies and hookers eyed me with mild curiosity the first time I entered the old Goody Boy. I was a wild kid back then, and creepy things excited me — and the 20th-century Goody Boy qualified. Anyway, that night I diffidently sipped a Coke, attempted to act cool and nonchalant, and then got the hell out of there. Laughter likely ensued the second I exited.

My, how things change, right? Now the iconic Columbus diner, still called Michael’s Goody Boy, has become a respectable part of both a thriving Short North dining scene as well as the mini empire of eateries overseen by Jimmy V.

Thankfully, Jimmy V — aka Jim Velio — has turned out to be a bit of a local preservationist. So the man who acquired the vintage and beloved Otie’s in Hilliard and the vintage and beloved Red Door Tavern in Grandview has done something similar for the Goody Boy: revamped it while managing to retain some of its classic character. In the case of the Goody Boy, that includes keeping alive the spirit of its wonderful neon sign.

Inside, though, things have changed drastically. A metallic bar underlit by sequentially varying colored lights replaces the old diner counter. A recently built-on dining room — decorated sorta dorm-style with pictures of flashy cars and old movie stars — is filled with sporty flatscreens and scenesters in hoodies, fedoras, button downs, argyle sweaters and so forth.

Goody Boy’s huge, gatefold, faithful Jimmy V-style menu speaks with a little Greek accent and naturally mandatory Hellenic cliches are offered like saganaki (i.e. flaming cheese, $9) and the dip round-up here called Jimmy V’s Cold Appetizer Plate ($13). Served with nice warm pita wedges, it was good, but I liked its “Twisted Feta” (that spicy, pimento cheese-like thing Greeks usually call kopanisti) so much better than the coarse and cuminy hummus, loose tzatziki and skordalia (lemony and garlicky cold mashed potatoes, and my second favorite here) that I’d recommend saving cash and opting only for the feta spread ($5.50).

Goody Boy’s menu includes breakfasts, pastas and entrees, but sandwiches take up most of its space. From those, I tried a couple that are easy to recommend.

The built-for-two Spicy Southwestern Chicken panini ($8) combined warm chopped chicken with sauteed onions and bell peppers in a fajita-like manner. Tying it together were salsa, mustardy flavors, melted pepperjack cheese and nicely ridge-griddled toasty bread. Tip: Definitely spring for a side of the A+ handcut fries ($1.75).

Those great fries were actually jammed right onto the slop-tastic but pretty wonderful “Gyro Boy Old World Style” ($8), which should be this place’s signature sandwich. Starring terrific, seared, carnitas-like “rotisserie pork” chunks, this pita-bound monster also featured tzatziki, feta and tons more. That only-here sandwich is worth repeatedly returning to this new Goody Boy for, even (or especially?) now that it’s absent sardonically giggling hookers and junkies.

Photo by Jodi Miller