Christopher's Restaurant serves up home cooking at friendly prices

I would make the argument that summer is the best season for simplified dining. It’s the time to find food as relaxed as you are and spend time on light, streamlined recipes that help seasonal produce sing.

Christopher’s Restaurant in Kettering is one of my go-to spots year-round, but especially during the summer.

This is the kind of affordable family-owned restaurant, featuring home cooking from scratch, that is becoming more and more rare with the chainification of the U.S. At Christopher's, you'll find great lunch specials, modest pricing and a huge variety of familiar menu items.

The interior is a no-frills, simple, somewhat dated aesthetic that goes hand-in-hand with a family owned mom and pop place. It’s not fancy, but it’s comfortable and laid back, with a menu piled high with classic sandwiches, comfort foods that it has been serving up since 1991 when it was opened by Chip and Sherri Pritchard.

The menu is friendly with dishes that appeal to almost every palate and diet. Dishes like the Vegetarian Chili Dinner ($8.95), Grilled Portabella Sandwich ($7.50), Italian Tofu Scramble ($8.50), Veggie Bagel Sandwich ($7.50), Veggie Burger ($7.50) and the Spicy Black Bean Burger ($7.50, which can be made vegan) are tasty options for vegetarians.

There are also good options for folks with food sensitivities and restrictive diets. There’s even a gluten-friendly menu that includes rice and quinoa based sautés as well as soups, salads and select breakfast items.

The dishes feature locally raised beef, organic salmon, local free range eggs, fair trade organic coffee and teas. Locally grown produce is used when available.

The daily specials — both lunch and dinner — are almost always worth checking out. The breakfast menu is packed with omelets, frittatas, pancakes and a variety of classic breakfast combinations. The Sunriser ($7.95), billed as the restaurant’s specialty, is a three-egg omelet made with avocado, scallions, tomato, Swiss cheddar and sprouts served with home fries or fruit.

The extensive number of homemade soups, ranging between $2.50-$3.50 for a cup and $3.50-$4.50 for a bowl, are standouts. Options include a tangy tomato bisque, a savory mushroom bisque, a robust vegetarian vegetable, vegetarian chili, Christopher’s chili, gazpacho, a daily soup special and my personal favorite, the chicken with rice that is always a great choice. The reasonably priced soup and salad combo costs between $5.25-6.25.

Or upgrade with one of their other salads (order a small if you are getting soup). The Cobb with juicy pieces of marinated chicken or portabella mushroom on a bed of lettuce with avocado, cheese, tomato, sprouts and scallions is a great choice (substitute salmon for $4 for the large or $3 for the small).

The dinner menu features a variety of seafood options as well as vegan, vegetarian and a variety of options for meat eaters.

Standouts include a vegetable strudel ($12.95) made with seasoned vegetables, quinoa and cheese baked in phyllo dough and topped with a drizzle of Alfredo sauce. The Teriyaki vegetables ($13.95) made with stir-fried onions, broccoli, snow peas, peppers sautéed in a sesame-ginger teriyaki sauce and served over quinoa with the choice of tofu, portabella, chicken or beef ($14.95) is also a great deal for the price.

This isn’t a restaurant that is going to wow you, but it is a destination that will quietly woo you with delicious, well-executed, fresh food served up at a fair price.

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