Blazing success . . .
The modest chicken-and-waffles Sunday brunch started by caterer Phil "The Fire" Davis this summer at the Cleveland Heights Civic (3130 Mayfield Road) has been such a hit that Davis has expanded both the hours and the menu. Now, diners searching for soulful sustenance can feast buffet-style on ham, hash browns, and scrambled eggs, along with the usual fried chicken and fragrant waffles and syrup, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each Sunday. There's live entertainment, too. Cost is $14.95 for adults, with reduced prices for seniors, college students, and kids ages 5 to 9. Call 216-556-2996 for reservations.
Northern exposure . . .
Although Mexican food has become an Ohio mainstay, our neighbors to the north have so far failed to inflame our culinary imaginations. Other than the occasional recipe request for maple-syrup pie or a shared reverie about the smoked meat at Montreal's Lesters, Canadian food has been pretty much ignored on this side of the Great Lakes. But a quick trip to the Windsor area hints that change may be afoot. For one thing, poutine -- that wickedly tasty Quebecian comfort food of french fries topped with fresh cheese curd and gravy -- is making its way ever closer to Cleveland, with a not-so-bad version showing up at a KFC location less than 30 minutes outside Detroit. And Tim Horton's, a Canadian icon since its inception in Hamilton in 1964, seems to have one (and sometimes two) of its tidy coffee-and-doughnut shops on every street corner in the greater Detroit-Windsor area. But while poutine may be slow to show up on Midwestern menus, Tim Horton's, with around 1,900 Canadian locations, is making a concerted effort to conquer this region. The company merged with Wendy's in 1995 and already has 125 U.S. locations, primarily in the Detroit, Buffalo, Toledo, and Columbus areas. Although die-hard Horton's fans have grumbled that the U.S. installations lack the homey charm of the Canadian spots, it's hard to argue with the taste of Horton's tender doughnuts, tea biscuits, and fritters. Sadly, company officials say there are no immediate plans for Cleveland.