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Entries in Breakfast (2)


Country Kettle

Country Kettle

27 Sterling Street
West Boylston, MA 01583-1281
Phone: 508-835-4027

The text message came in late on a Saturday.  

“Want to go to breakfast tomorrow?”  Breakfast?  Me?  I love breakfast…any time of day.

“Sure, where should we go?”

“Someplace none of us have ever been.”

What an innocuous statement.  Think of all the places everyone coming tomorrow hasn’t been.  (Let’s compile a list of where you HAVE been first!)  Command decision one - go outside MetroWest.

I really like the idea of trying some place new, and quickly looked in my “to do” folder of places to try.  Sadly, no breakfast places.  Hmmm, time to Google.

Amazingly quickly, reviews for Country Kettle started popping.  Amazingly since the restaurant doesn’t have a website.  Yet there were great reviews….and we were off.

Country Kettle is a pleasant drive away, including a trip by the Wachusett Reservoir.  For the past three years the restaurant has been owned by a newcomer to the restaurant world, Wayne Mogel.  Wayne Mogel (Godson of Milton Berle) was omnipresent during our visit, replacing light bulbs outside, getting coffee for those in line, cleaning tables, and generally checking in.  While checking on the place, I came across the attached YouTube video, capturing the man nicely.

Arriving around 9:30, we found the tiny restaurant packed.  That’s an encouraging sign…people are willing to stay in line.  One guy even showed how he was using a cell phone as a baby monitor, yet I digress.

Uncle Miltie’s Godson made sure everyone waiting had some coffee, and couldn’t be more accommodating of the waiting group.

Once seated, we were quickly greeted by our server (daughter of the General Manager.)  She provided the large menu, with a specials menu.

We peppered her with questions and her responses were honest (“Is the hash fresh?”,  “No, it’s scooped directly from a can.)  The curve balls thrown at her, “I’d like an Iced Venti Skim Mocha,” where handled with a smile, and “I’d like one, too.”

Our large group worked through a good sized order, making sure we didn’t overlap, and sampled a lot.

We had Eggs Florentine (two poached eggs, spinach, (really nice) tomoato slices on an English muffin topped with Hollandaise sauce.  The home fries we tasty, with a nice subtle seasoning.

Egg White omelet….just dull, and cooked on too high a heat.

The Polish Scramble was made with kielbasa, uncooked onions, and cheddar cheese.   We were surprised the cheese was on top of the Scramble, and not cooked in.

The (apple) stuffed French Toast was made with large bread slices and nice apple stuffing.

The hash was really tasteless.  A military man suggested he would prefer MREs to the hash.  The frozen rectilinear hash browns were deep fried, and heavy in grease (I suggested I could lube my car with the grease coming off these.)

We had a pancake.  Maybe it is me…I like to be able to cut my pancake with a fork…and not a knife.  Hard and processed is what came to mind.

It was time for the moment of truth…what “grade” to give this on the RAG scale.  It was a split decision. 

As we debated, some themes emerged.

  • The grilled meat products were all overcooked on one side (see picture.) 
  • The use of processed foods led to a quality issues.  Sometimes processed foods can be augmented and enhanced…in this case items like the frozen hash browns, or the canned hash, just disappointed.  We commented on the hash to the waitress when she came by and asked how things were, and as we were leaving the owner told us he removed from the bill.  A nice gesture.
  • Items like the Eggs Florentine or the stuffed French Toast were good.

We then all came to the same conclusion.  The broad menu was leading the kitchen to use processed foods to help with meal times.  If we were consultants to Mr. Mogel, we would suggest he dramatically narrow the menu focusing on those items they can produce perfectly with the freshest ingredients.  Get rid of anything coming out of the freezer.  On the items clearly made fresh, Country Kettle was a hit.

Alas, in the end, Country Kettle missed a bit.  If you are out in the area, give it a try making sure you stay to the home made items.  Sadly, the food wasn’t of a quality to make this a must-go destination.  If it were, this place would be a find!


Daily except Christmas,
Monday – Friday            6AM – 2PM
Weekends                     6AM – 1PM

Country Kettle gets an

       Amber Light – Use caution

About the RAG scale:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money


Chet's Diner

Chet’s Diner

191 Main Street
Northborough, MA 01532-1623

(508) 393-9403

During the week, it’s always rush-rush-rush out the door.  Regular readers know my regular weekday Chet’s has that diner feel we likebreakfast is at a drive-thru.  On the weekends, I want to slow down, enjoy a breakfast, maybe read the paper (on my BlackBerry – I’m sure everyone thinks I’m playing a game.)

My preference is a good diner; the kind of place where they greet everyone when you come in, and you can sit at the counter and watch the action.

For me, a trip over to Northborough fills the bill…at a place on Rt 20 called Chet’s Diner.

I sat with Jessica Fidrych, the high energy 24 year old who is marking the end of her 1st year of Chet’s Diner ownership as the restaurant enters its 81st year of operation. 

Why would someone from Westborough come all the way over to Northborough on a Saturday morning for bacon and eggs?   Without hesitation, Jess gestured around the restaurant and said, “It’s the Chet’s experience, and that’s hard to describe.  It’s a show and a family.  You’ll be part of the family when you walk in.”

Owner Jess Fydrich dishes it outI can vouch for that.  During the 15 minutes of our conversation sitting at a table, Jessica acknowledged customers entering the restaurant 8 times….and gracefully dealt with 6 additional customer interruptions.

The restaurant was opened by Chet Warren in 1931, and some short time later was sold to Paul Strassero. On October 10, 1960 the business was purchased by her grandparents, James and Nancy Pantazis.  Jess took over ownership last year, making her the third generation.

What’s been your biggest surprise?  “How much work running a business is; I’m an amazing multi-tasker and there’s a lot to do cooking and cleaning.  Even though I have been in the restaurant business my entire life, I never saw the other side…payroll, quarterly tax filings, keeping the books (and keeping funds available for the inevitable surprises.)  My mom (Ann Pantazis) is a big help with the books and cooking on Saturdays.”

The most popular items on the menu are the hash & eggs and the blueberry pancakes. 

Jessica is a boisterous personality, one of those people where their personality fills the room.  When I first tried Chet’s Diner, I asked what a “one time” visitor simply had to have.  “The hashish…,” was Jess’ conspiratorial stage whispered reply.  “I’ll cook it a little longer just for you, so you’ll have crisp hashish.”   

I was a little scared, but what the heck, right?  Well, the corned beef hash was really quite excellent,The Battered Fish is a Fish Fry, run by friends complimented with eggs of my choice (dropped) and toast.  Jess tends to call things a little differently, and you’ll come to love Pumpersnickel over the more traditional Pumpernickel.

Chet’s Diner really is a diner, from the Worcester Lunch Cart Company, “the longest one built on site,” beams Jessica.  Jessica is quick to point out there is a conception all diners had to be on tracks.  As with many diners, the original shell has been augmented many times with additions.  Yet, there’s no mistaking the diner feel. Knowing a good thing, Jess doesn’t plan to do any major changes beyond a fresh coat of paint, new tables, and a flat screen television (in the full bar.)

Chet’s hours have a decidedly breakfast feel to them:


Mon-Fri 5:30 am - 11:00 am
Fri 4:30 pm - 8:00 pm (Battered Fish: FishFry & bar)
Sat 6:00 am - 11:00 am

Bring cash, as no credit cards are accepted.

With fiancé David back safely from Afghanistan, they are looking at opening on Saturday nights, and Sunday’s for breakfast.  They are training additional staff for the extra hours.

Jess’ late dad, hometown baseball star Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, pitched his entire professional career for the Detroit Tigers (1976–1980).  The “Chet’s Family” continues his memory with events like the first annual “Make Your Mark” softball tournament benefiting The Mark Fidrych Children’s Fund and The Genesis Fund. You’ll see a number of mementos around the restaurant from the whole family.

At this point, I’ve been back to Chet’s Diner many times, and always find the place welcoming.  There’s a healthy banter between the staff and customers, always bringing a smile to everyone’s face.

The hash is very good, and Saturday’s bring special menu items (like a Caprese Omelet).  I especially like the breakfast potatoes, prepared freshly on the grill in small batches.  You will have to watch your coffee intake, the staff at Chet’s chafes if a cup goes empty. 

What more could you ask for from a breakfast place?

Chet’s Diner gets a:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

About the RAG scale:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money