Trains and Toys with Meals

. March 3, 2014.
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The Whistle Stop Inn
100 N. Main St.
North Baltimore, OH 45872
419-257-0203
Mon-Thurs: 11am to 9pm
Fri & Sat: 11am to 10pm
Sun: 11am to 7pm,
Sunday Brunch Buffet: 11am to 2pm
Web site: www.the-whistle-stop-inn.com. Also find them on Facebook under The Whistle Stop Inn.
Carry-out and catering services available. Receive a “little cake” on your birthday and, through June, half off meals for military on Mondays with proof of ID.

You know, it can be pretty cozy, just enjoying a good meal surrounded by train memorabilia. But experiencing the blaring whistle, feeling the powerful rumble, then spying a train engine approaching them with each car flashing by the Whistle Stop Inn – is marvelous.
Few restaurants can touch the particular novelty of a train whizzing past. We saw five during our meal, and each time, you could feel the anticipation as all of the patrons stopped to check out the show.

There’s a lot to take in once inside the Whistle Stop Inn, though Server Annie Carles said changes are coming soon to mirror the Whitehouse Inn restaurant in Whitehouse, Ohio, both owned by John and Tony Fronk. Carles said the train theme will remain, while patrons can expect renovations to the bar area, web site, menu, new social events and more.

Inside, there is an eye catching punch-out of the front of a large, black, iron train. Booth and table seating are available, all surrounded by framed photographs of trains and cranes from CSX’s nearby Northwest Ohio Terminal Facility, miscellaneous train pictures, toy trains, and a real X-shaped railroad crossing sign.

As child friendly as it gets
The Inn is about as child-friendly as you can get. Little mouths fell agape then rose into joyful grins as my kids took in their surroundings. Both were happy to select the option of smiley fries with their meals, with my son ordering dino-shaped chicken nuggets and my daughter, macaroni and cheese. They were pleasantly surprised when fresh applesauce came prior to their meal, with a cup of cinnamon and sugar on the side.

The kids menu itself is primed with games and activities, and each child was given a cup of crayons to use during the meal. There are seven kids’ menu choices including junior prime rib, mini corn dogs, and chopped steak. The kids could hardly believe their luck – great food, the thrill of passing trains, and our waitress even brought each one a cup of gummy bears at the end of the meal.

Extensive choices await adults, sections cleverly labeled in “train speak” like B & O Beginnings, Boxcar Beef, Stem Engine Entrees and CSX Salads. I ordered the pecan crusted tilapia with a baked sweet potato, which came with a salad. Each bite treated me to a light, flavorful crunch followed by the tender texture of tilapia. My sweet potato was also delicious, as was my husband’s hickory burger and fries.

Already ready to go back
The current menu offers several classic appetizers like potato skins and queso dip along with specialties such as fried green tomatoes and artichoke dip. Whistle Stop Inn is known for its prime rib and also offers several chicken and steak meals. Fish dishes are available, burgers, sandwiches, specialty salads, platters, soups, a variety of sides and even selections like liver and onions and baby back ribs. The Inn touts a broad selection of wine, beer, margaritas and a full-stocked bar. The dessert menu includes homemade pies, a pecan ice cream ball, or eight-layer chocolate cake.
The kids insisted that we return to The Whistle Stop Inn very soon, like the next day. Lucky for them, it won’t take any prodding to get me back. There was a slower pace at the Whistle Stop, sociable yet quiet, almost like eating in your own family room with friends. The food was great, and after chatting with the 70-something regulars next to us, I know the trains never get old.

THE SHORT COURSE

Kid-friendly Very
To avoid wait Consider making a reservation on weekend nights and holidays
Noise level Quiet
Bathroom Amenities Adequate
High chairs Yes, and booster seats
Got milk? White and chocolate
Kids menu Yes, a nice variety
Healthy kids options? Yes, salads, fruit
Food allergy concerns Can accommodate, let your server know or even call ahead