Fresh Start Diner
Picture a large pizza rolled up like a log, and you'll get some idea of the heft of Fresh Start Diner's Giant Roll-Up Pancake ($7.95). It's a fluffy, 14-inch buttermilk flapjack wrapped around nearly a pint of vanilla ice cream, generously drizzled with chocolate or berry toppings, and finished with clouds of whipped cream. Co-owner Bob Wyman originally wanted to create a dessert for a crowd, featuring his secret-recipe pancakes, and was stunned when guests started polishing them off solo. Novelty notwithstanding, it's surprisingly delish: well balanced, not too sugary, with an enticing interplay of temperatures and textures.
9810 Ravenna Road, Twinsburg, 330-425-2888
The Little Polish Diner's Tour of Poland ($9.95) puts three comfort foods on one huge plate. The five-table hangout's signature dish features stuffed cabbage, two plump pierogi, grilled smoked kielbasa, plus a roll and vegetable. Chef Sophie Hart, a Polish native, makes — and usually sells — 120 stuffed cabbages a day, cooking the oversize favorite with ground beef and no pork, something she learned by trial and error. "Europeans don't really follow a recipe," she says, adding that she measures ingredients by how they feel in her hand. The kielbasa is topped with sauerkraut Hart makes each day using Polish spices she orders from Chicago.
Side Dish: Visiting customers expect to learn a Polish word of the day, which is written on the specials board. If Hart forgets to add a new word, they remind her. "They're more like family than customers," she says.
5772 Ridge Road, Parma, 440-842-8212
The name alone will make you contemplate your sanity. Once you get elbow deep in this gargantuan breakfast special ($6.99) created from the depths of owner Jimmy Lababidi's twisted mind, you'll consider yourself — and him — a little crazy. It all starts with a split buttery biscuit that is topped with two eggs whatever way you like. Then there's two breaded chicken tenders followed by a heaping portion of shredded hashbrowns and a pile of sweet yet spicy sausage gravy. A slice of melted American cheese completes the masterpiece. "We wanted the whole nine yards," Lababidi says. "A lot of customers want all these things together in one bite." We think he's got it covered. This action-packed dish only gets better with a douse of hot sauce — think hot wings for breakfast.
5107 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, 216-281-1600