The Explorers Club opened last weekend in the old Coyote Jane's spot on High Street in Merion Village. Explorers Club is a diner with an international flair, akin to the Starliner Diner in Hilliard.
The bar retained much the same layout as Coyote Jane's with a more subtle decor. The dining room is decorated with exotic figurines and portraits of icons like Thelonious Monk, Harvey Milk and Woody Guthrie. It makes great use of the space.
The menu at the Explorers Club has a ton of options for vegetarians. It is open seven days a week.
I'm not much of a breakfast person, but the Cuban bread French toast with fruit makes me want to become a breakfast person. Bite-sized pieces of battered bread are dusted with powdered sugar and an avalanche of fruit that included strawberries, blueberries, bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew and pineapple.
The yogurt and fruit is delicious and filling. It contains many of the same fruits as the Cuban toast.
The grilled cheese sandwich is prepared on a sandwich roll with five different cheeses. There is a sharp blue cheese in the sandwich that gives the sandwich a deeply savory character. Some people dislike blue cheese, and the menu would better serve these diners by identifying the five cheeses on the sandwich. The fries were perfect on one visit, and tasty but slightly greasy on a second visit.
The grilled tofu is marinated in lemon and pepper. The tofu is intense, picking up smoky notes from the grill as well as classic lemon black pepper. The sides of rice, black beans and veggies that include squash, corn, onions, peppers and carrots pair nicely with the main dish.
The chile relleno has a thin breading that is slightly crunchy. The creamy cheese filling and the chipotle sauce it is served in have layers of flavor.
The plantains were perfect. The yogurt dip cools the steaming fruit nicely. The dip is good enough to eat on its own, although ordering scores of plantains would easily put a big smile on anyone's face while using up the cool cilantro dip.
The pecan fruit dough dessert special was a savory dough drowned in sweet berries and pecans. The dessert could have used more pecans as it was called a pecan dough. It was nonetheless satisfying.
House margaritas in a pint glass are a great deal at $5. The cucumber margarita is the margarita of the month. It is spicy, citrusy and undeniably vegetal in the most pleasant way.
Service at Explorers Club was exceptional. The staff capably addresses vegan and vegetarian dining concerns.