Restaurant Notes extra: See what the locals eat at Fort Wayne’s new Metro Diner
We talked to Richard Cieslinski, managing partner of the newly opened Metro Diner on Coldwater Road, to see what locals are eating there. After all, the chain’s motto is “Where the locals eat.”
Cieslinski used to live in Jacksonville, Fla., where Metro Diner started in 1992, he used to go as a guest to the restaurant.
“That’s why I’m on board,” he said.
After living in Fort Wayne for eight years, he’s bringing the heaping helpings of fried chicken and the strawberry butter that he says tastes like ice cream to stomachs in Fort Wayne.
Yes, it’s best to bring a healthy appetite.
“We have very large, large portions,” he said.
Notice the double “large.”
For the Fried Chicken & Waffle you get a “whole chicken” – a leg, wing, breast and thigh – with a full-size waffle. And then there’s that signature strawberry butter. We took a taste and found it bursting with fresh fruit flavor.
The all-day breakfast restaurant opened Tuesday, and on Wednesday it was full at lunchtime, Cieslinski said. The 4,040-square-foot restaurant seats 130. It’s one of 44 the company plans to open nationwide this year, he said.
So far, the Fried Chicken & Waffle, Charleston Shrimp & Grits and the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich seem to be popular with diners, he said. The restaurant has fried jalapenos, and a couple of guests added those to the Philly for a boost of taste, he said. It has regular tea and a flavored tea that will change weekly. The flavored coffee option will change every couple of days. Two breakfast, lunch and dinner features are served daily. Wednesday’s dinner was a stuffing made with waffles along with roasted turkey, gravy, cranberries and mashed potatoes for $11.99. The made-from-scratch options include soups and desserts.
We tried the Fried Chicken & Waffle. The waitress added the requisite 7 drops of Louisiana Hot Sauce to a small bowl of maple syrup.
“It makes it sweet and spicy,” Cieslinski said as he stopped by the table. “People usually dip their chicken in it. You’ll love it,” he assured us.
The pile of hot, temperaturewise, fried chicken pieces appeared daunting and we contemplated how to tackle it with a knife and fork. Even 10-15 minutes into the meal steam rose from the chicken leg after we took a bite. The chicken is brined for 48 hours, an employee told us. We dipped a piece of the meat into the sauce and took a bite. We felt a sensation in the back of our throat, not a burning feeling but something like an urge to cough as our eyes watered. Whoo, boy, as New Orleans Cajun cook Justin Wilson used to say.
Metro Diner, 5525 Coldwater Road, Suite B, where Lone Star Steakhouse once was in Coldwater Crossing, held a fundraiser over the weekend. The RSVP-required event included free food in return for donations for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana on Saturday and Franciscan Friars Minor on Sunday. The 1,000 diners donated $12,000 to the groups, Cieslinski said.
The interior has black-and-white square tiles, wooden booths and light fixtures with the logo’s signature green color. Stools line a glassed-in kitchen so diners can watch the cooking.
“We call that ‘dinner and a show,'” said Cieslinski, who has 70 employees.
The restaurant is open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.
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