I’ve been in Northeast Ohio all week visiting Marvin’s family. It’s a trip I look forward to every year because I love seeing everyone and because Ohio is so different from home. In this part of the country you see more Dunkin’ Donuts and fewer Starbucks, more pizza places and fewer phó restaurants, and a lot of Chinese food, but very little Japanese (which might be a good thing). Northeast Ohio is different from Seattle, and it’s also full of some wonderful surprises, like Baker’s Cafe ’33, a 79 year old restaurant where you can order a perfectly prepared 10 oz. NY strip steak dinner, complete with salad, bread, and potato for only $21.95.
Baker’s Cafe does not impress from the outside. It’s an old cinderblock building without any windows located in an industrial part of Canton. But Baker’s has become one of my very favorite places to eat when we visit our family in Ohio. You just can’t judge a book by it’s cover.
My brother-in-law, Mickey, introduced me to this place (he’s been eating here regularly for 25 years) and now, no trip to Ohio is complete without a dinner at Baker’s.
Why do I love Baker’s? It’s retro without trying. In other words, nothing has changed in this restaurant for years. The service is friendly and attentive. The steaks are grilled perfectly. The prices are straight up and the portions are generous. The owner, Jeff, greets you when you come in the door. What’s not to love!?
Baker’s Cafe ’33 started as a place where the guys coming and going from the Timken Steel plant located just across the street could drop in for a meal and a beer. The restaurant still looks like that kind of place, with a row of bar stools and domestic beer on tap.
In the 1980′s Baker’s was discovered by golfers in town for the Bridgestone Invitational, part of the PGA tour. Now the restaurant is decorated with autographed pictures of some of the world’s best golfers. I am not a golfer, but if you are, you’ll definitely recognize the players.
The menu also hangs on the wall. Check out these prices!
Baker’s is an old-school kind of steak house. Salads, made with crisp iceberg lettuce, a few croutons, and nice, ripe tomatoes are served in melamine bowls. The blue cheese dressing, which I recommend, is homemade and loaded with chunks of blue cheese.
Steaks, chops, and grilled ham steaks (not something you see on a menu every day) are served simply on a hot white plate, without even a piece of parsley for garnish. Baked potatoes are served separately, wrapped in foil with sour cream and butter. No frills – just a seriously well prepared steak by people who know how to grill meat.
So, if you ever find yourself in Canton, Ohio, and you feel like eating one of the best steaks you can buy, anywhere, I highly recommend Baker’s Cafe ’33. I have seen a few reviews by folks who thought the prices at Baker’s where too high, but the dinner I ordered for $21.95 would have cost me $70 or more at El Gaucho in Seattle. No, Baker’s does not have white table clothes, bow-tied servers, or a wine list to die for. But, the chance to experience a piece of local history, a perfectly prepared steak, and a slice of heavenly peanut butter pie more than makes up for that.