Crazy Charlie's is a more casual restaurant than its predecessor Walker Station. Perhaps too casual.
Crazy Charlie's is a more casual restaurant than its predecessor Walker Station.
Perhaps too casual.
It's still competitively priced and the chops - still the star of the menu - are hand-cut on premises, the kind of thing you'd expect from its butcher owner, Charlie Walker.
Even so, they're not perfect. The 12-ounce ribeye ($22.99), for example, is exquisitely tender and cooked to the requested temperature. But there isn't even a dash of salt or pepper, something fortunately supplied tableside. A special of the evening, three 3-ounce medallions of filet mignon, served Oscar style ($20.99), are adorned with lump crab meat, while the barnaise sauce, lacking a detectable amount of tarragon, is served to the side. We had no argument with the quality or preparation of the beef, but the presentation left something to be desired.
Entrees are served with buttery, velvety mashed redskins and a vegetable. Salad or soup cost an extra $2.29, while some sides are $1.29 each. Avoid the thinly sliced mushrooms, which aren't thoroughly cooked and are unseasoned.
Founded by Charlie and Robin Walker, Walker Station was the everyman's steakhouse - a more relaxed, less corporate, budget-priced alternative to the high-ticket chophouses strewn across the central Ohio landscape.
The owners attributed a slew of negative forces - for example, major road work in the area - as reasons for closing the place. Charlie Walker, however, wasn't willing to give up.
So he retooled the concept, offering a wider repertoire of less expensive fare. These days, however, too much of it borders on carnival food: deep-fried pickles, pretzel bites and loaded potato skins.
One of the more sophisticated starters is the calamari roll ($8.99), which dates back to the steakhouse's opening (and to the days of Strada, for those who remember that Short
North-area restaurant). It's as good as ever - a tender calamari steak stuffed with boursin cheese, crab meat and poblano peppers, battered and gently fried, lavished with a magnificent jalapeno buerre blanc. It's available as an entre for $13.99.
More basic, but nevertheless enjoyable, is the spinach and artichoke dip ($7.29) cheesy and rich, its top blistered from the heat, and served with neutral-tasting chips that don't compete with the other ingredients.
The menu is heavy on sandwiches, subs and burgers. The smoked pork roll ($7.59) is the restaurant's credible answer to fried bologna. The two respectable slabs of grilled pork, topped with provolone, are lightly seasoned and mild in flavor, making it a nice alternative to the more robustly flavored all-beef patties at other area restaurants. Make it more interesting with a fried egg, an extra 60 cents.
Every restaurant should strive to make ribs ($15.59 for a half rack, $25.99 for a full) as tantalizing as those at Crazy Charlie's. Mopped with a zingy, citrusy barbecue sauce, the lightly smoked ribs are exceedingly tender but firm, not mushy.
Service is pleasant and cheery but not particularly well-organized. On one visit, our starters, salads and entrees all were delivered on top of each other. On a follow-up during lunch, the lone server on the floor seemed overwhelmed.
Located in semi-rural Delaware County, Crazy Charlie's is poised to be a big draw. The food is largely good and the kitchen takes pride in many of its dishes. But food is only part of an overall experience. Service and ambience have to catch up.