PHILOMATH – The Dizzy Hen’s dishes are seasonally and locally sourced, and almost everything is made by hand, said owner John “JC” Mersmann.
That means that it takes a lot of people and a lot of time to prepare meals and pastries, so the menu doesn’t have a massive array of choices.
“We do things in a labor-intensive way,” Mersmann said. “We’ve just honed the menu down to what we do well. We’re highlighting what we get from the farms, organic vegetables in omelets.”
Still, the Dizzy Hen, which opened in May and serves breakfast and lunch, aims to become a community gathering space and offer something for everyone.
“If you look, you’ll be able to find something you like,” Mersmann said.
An interesting thing about the mid-Willamette Valley is the mix of viewpoints, which sometimes is oversimplified (and not just in Philomath) into the dichotomy of loggers and hippies. The ingredients of our culture are more complicated, of course, but restaurants also offer common ground — and the Dizzy Hen's menu is an example.
People at the Dizzy Hen can order a traditional breakfast of two eggs, meat, potatoes and toast. The same menu boasts a vegan hash with mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini and curried green lentil cake.
And, interestingly enough, many residents have taken to combining the old with the new, ordering the vegan hash with a side of sausage. “The veggies are delicious, and if you put a little something on there, it’s really an extravagant meal,” Mersmann said.
So far, the café has received a warm welcome from the community, Mersmann said. As it turns out, regardless of their backgrounds, people love fresh, tasty food.
The Dizzy Hen is in the old CD&J Café space, which operated for decades before closing in 2016. Some locals have stopped by to see what’s happening at the site of the legendary greasy spoon.
Some of the spirit of the CD&J remains.
Wood boards, booths and chairs and other elements from the old restaurant were incorporated into renovations.
The Dizzy Hen also opens early, at 7 a.m., to offer the working man (or woman) a chance to grab some grub before clocking in.
Others customers know Mersmann from his 10-year stint as chef at Gathering Together Farm, just outside Philomath, and they’re curious to see what he’s doing now. Chef Ricky Carlson also worked at Gathering Together.
Mersmann said that the Dizzy Hen has a much broader appeal than the farm’s restaurant, so it attracts a different crowd.
One of the most popular menu choices for breakfast has been the Dizzy, an eggs Benedict dish topped with duck confit.
The pork ragu also has been a big seller for both breakfast and lunch, Mersmann said. “Ricky is a ragu rock star,” he added.
Mersmann said that the restaurant and its menu will continue to evolve.
Customer service has played a role in retaining customers, Mersmann said. “The current trend is a lot of restaurants are doing counter orders to save on personnel costs. But I like it when someone comes to the table,” he added.
Mersmann said that he’s happy to be part of a growing dining scene in Philomath that includes the new location for Nectar Creek Meadery. “There are a lot of choices in this town now,” he said.
And he’s thankful that so many people are choosing to eat at his restaurant.
“It gets full out here and it gets absolutely full of energy. That’s pretty rewarding,” Mersmann said.
The Dizzy Hen, 1247 Main St. in Philomath, is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday through Sunday. The café, which includes a full bar, switches from breakfast to lunch at about 11:30 a.m.
For more information, call 541-307-0472 or go to the business’ Facebook page or thedizzyhen.com.