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Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Angry Baker | Columbus, OH

The Angry Baker (Facebook / @TheAngryBaker)
891 Oak St. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43205
(614) 947-0976
Open Sun & Mon, 8a-5p; Tues-Sat, 8a-7p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/Y/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Friday, April 6, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: If you haven’t been to Olde Towne East lately, or if you think it’s nothing but a neighborhood of run-down old houses, you need to re-evaluate. Case in point: The Angry Baker and the booming corner of Oak and 18th Streets. Alongside AB, Yellow Brick Pizza is serving up pizza and beer, and The Tavern recently opened next door to the bakery.

ATMOSPHERE: The bakery itself has a bright, colorful little cafe in one corner, with a polished wooden floor and big brick walls.  There are a handful of tables for enjoying coffee and a pastry, or a breakfast or lunch sandwich. There’s even a long counter with stools, overlooking the kitchen itself.

FOOD: Angry Baker offers both the retail bakery experience, as well as the quaint cafe vibe. Their display cases are chock full of baked goods, and three separate chalkboards communicate the bakery items, breakfast, and lunch offerings. I love chalkboard menus. Denounce them as hipster if you like, but an erasable menu means that you can refresh your menu easily to accommodate seasonal changes and ingredient availability.

As Olde Towne East continues to develop, I’m sure Angry Baker has already become one of those neighborhood stops where residents walk over for coffee and a pastry as they begin their day. Just read through this list of goods and try not to get hungry. There’s everything from kolaches and cookies to bear claws, muffins, and scones.

Or you could spend your time at the bakery cases, staring…

…and staring…

…and staring.

And then finding more things to stare at.

For breakfast that morning, we chose one of the breakfast sandwiches, specifically the French toast sandwich. The breakfast menu focuses mainly on the sandwiches, but they also offer baked eggs, vegan pancakes, and biscuits with a mushroom gravy. Points to AB for expanding the vegan breakfast offerings in Columbus. But back to that sandwich… this isn’t the type of sandwich that you eat with two hands. This is a knife-and-fork one. It’s essentially their version of the monte cristo: local ham and cheese between two slices of French toast made with their brioche, then drowned in real maple syrup. As expected, it cuts easily with the side of a fork, and is a delightful mix of the salty and the sweet. If you’re a French toast fan, you need to sample this one.

SERVICE: With the small, intimate space, it’s hard not to get to know the crew there. You can chat with them about their baked goods, and they’ll answer any questions you have. The prepared foods are made on a small flattop right in front of the counter. This is owner Vicki Hink cooking up my French toast!

OVERALL: Angry Baker is well worth multiple visits, to sample the rotating offerings of baked goods and the seasonal changes to the cafe menu. Like I said, it’s great for a coffee-and-a-snack stop or a quiet sit-down breakfast.

OTHER LINKS:

The Angry Baker on Urbanspoon

Photos: hodduk at Ajumama

We’ve made a couple stops at Dinin’ Hall, Columbus’ first mobile food pod, to sample the different trucks and carts parked there. One recent Tuesday, we found ourselves in the neighborhood and swung by to try one of the newer trucks that’s making a splash: Ajumama.

Ajumama is unique to Columbus, in that they’re serving up Korean street food. I’ve heard tell of long lines of eager customers, ready to try something new in Columbus’ culinary makeup.

And frankly, I can see why. By my account, Ajumama is a breakfast truck (I’m always looking for an excuse, aren’t I?). Their signature dish is called pajeon, which are savory pancakes filled everything from grilled chicken, seafood, veggies, and kimchi. They also serve a mushroom rice porridge, and these beauties, pictured above. They’re called hodduk, and are like tiny stuffed pancakes.

They’re loaded with brown sugar, cinnamon, and walnuts. They get flattened on the grill and browned, then are served piping hot.

When you tear it open, the insides come out like a volcano of sweetness. You need to let it cool a bit, but once it does, it’s delicious.

If the hodduk are anything to go by, I’m going to love the menu at Ajumama. I’m looking forward to reporting on return visits!

If you want to give them a try, here’s their info:
ajumama.com

facebook.com/ajumama
@ajumamacbus

Through the end of May you can find them Tuesdays and Thursdays at Dinin’ Hall on 400 W. Rich St., from 11a-2p.

Barnstormers Grill | Columbus, OH


[UPDATE: Barnstormers Grill has closed, but has been re-opened under new owners as Jack & Benny's Barnstormer Diner.]

Barnstormers Grill
2160 W. Case Rd. #13 (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43017
(614) 292-5699
Open Mon-Sat, 7a-3p (bfast served all day!)
Accepts cash and credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 9:20 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: Oh, how I had loved the idea of The Barnstormer. Breakfast in an airport? Are you kidding me? Two of my favorite things! But alas, it wasn’t meant to be: I visited once in late 2009, had an okay experience, and then the restaurant quietly closed a couple years later. It was a missed opportunity. Until two days ago, when a reader sent me a message saying that the restaurant was re-opened under new management and serving good food! On top of that, the reader pointed out that you can you can go up in the old control tower, now converted into a simple observation deck. Needless to say, less than twenty-four hours after finding this out, I was eating breakfast and watching airplanes with my boys.

ATMOSPHERE: The restaurant space isn’t radically changed, although there are a few more dashes of OSU colors, and it’s brighter overall. Still a lot of aviation-themed decorations. It’s a three-and-a-half-year-old’s dream. (Oh, heck, I loved it, too.) There are plenty of tables scattered throughout the space; only one other was filled while we ate.

FOOD: The menu is simple and straightforward: four omelets (including a vegetarian option), four combination meals, and a kid’s menu. There’s plenty of a la carte items, too. Breakfast is like that. My son chose the Little Flyer: eggs, toast, bacon, and a drink. He didn’t have much of his bacon, so I tried some. Crispy, just the way I like it.

I was in a sausage gravy and biscuits mood (the dish is a new addition to the menu). It came with a heaping side of two eggs and hash browns. This is just one of the plates. Good crispy hash browns, and the eggs were wet enough, although they tasted slightly of that generic diner flattop cooking oil.

And this is the plate of biscuits and gravy. Two dense biscuits halved, covered in gravy. It was perhaps the thickest, meatiest sausage gravy I’ve had. Very dark, and pretty well seasoned.

At $5.75, it’s a lot of food, and a fairly heavy meal.

Our breakfast companion, Bill, ordered the pancakes and gave me a taste. Overall, very good. It was browned well on the grill, but spongy throughout. Good example of diner pancakes.

SERVICE: We were treated very nicely by our server and by owner Jodi Perez. It certainly helped that there weren’t many people in the restaurant, but they were very attentive and our food came out quickly. Our server left this card with us at the end of the meal. I don’t think I’ve seen a breakfast punchcard before!

OVERALL: I think the new management and little makeover for Barnstormer (now renamed Barnstormers Grill) is just what it needed. The space is brighter, the menu is more focused (I’m told they have good burgers for lunch), and it’s a little better connected with the airport itself. The improved food makes me want to return, whereas the previous version didn’t. And knowing more about the airport grounds makes me want to visit every morning. The restaurant is just a small room connected to one of the hangars. This is the view through the service door that leads into it.

Of course the boys and I went exploring afterward. Just outside the door to the restaurant is this entrance to the airport terminal. At the top of the picture is the old control tower, now the observation deck. It’s reachable by a series of short flights of stairs.

But the view from the top is pretty awesome. You’re right next to the runway and the plane “parking” area. There’s a table and chairs, so you could order your breakfast to-go and then come up here. Just sayin’…

Breakfast and some plane-watching made for an enjoyable morning, especially given the company.

Barnstormer on Urbanspoon

Photos: Earth Fare Columbus grand opening

The good folks from Earth Fare Columbus invited me to their grand opening day last week Wednesday. I had never heard of Earth Fare before they contacted me, even though they have 26 stores total, 4 of which are in Ohio. The chain of health food markets (similar in style to Whole Foods), is based in North Carolina. This store is their first in Columbus, located up on Gemini Place in the Polaris area, right next to Costco.

As you can imagine, for opening the day the store looked impeccable. Beautiful produce laid out, lots of employees to greet new customers.

Earth Fare wears their food philosophy on their sleeve, and they ask customers to hold them to it. If you find something on their shelves that doesn’t keep to their philosophy, they’ll ask you to show it to someone.

Very colorful shelves of produce.

Naturally, I’m curious to see anything breakfast-related, so when our guide mentioned bulk maple syrup, I was all ears. You can purchase the syrup – Grade B – by the pound, in the same place you can get fresh-made peanut butter.

When we came upon the coffee section, I was impressed to find Chicago-based Intelligentsia represented.

There aren’t too many places around Columbus that serve or sell Intelligentsia beans. Nice to see them in bulk.

But I was even more excited to see Columbus represented! Earth Fare seems to pride itself on selling local goods (and specifically local to each store, not just local to their base stores in North Carolina). So I was happy to see barrels of Backroom Coffee Roasters‘ beans, too. I made a point to buy a couple pounds of it.

Bacon! Nice thick cut available, although we found they do not smoke it in-house.

Sausage! Made in-house.

They have a charcuterie station as well. You can try a slice of anything they have there. They’ll cut on their old-fashioned slicer, which works purely on mechanical power, not electrical.

Pretty significant beer and wine section, too, although I’d like to see their beer selection include more local brands. At present they have the standard selection available in any grocery. Ohio is represented somewhat: Hoppin’ Frog, Great Lakes, etc. But they need more Columbus local represented: Columbus Brewing Company, Elevator, any of the new breweries starting this year. Points, though, for having Rockmill Brewery bottles available.

Many gluten-free items, too. They use wooden shelving (see the bottom right of this picture) to indicate GF items throughout the store.

Lots of cereals, too!

Overall, it’s a beautiful store, nice and clean and new. It’s smaller and easier to get your head around than, say, a large Whole Foods store, so it’s a little less intimidating, especially if you’re easily overwhelmed by organic or gluten free options. So far they have a good selection of local goods (they define local as within 100 miles of the store), and I hope they will expand as they settle into the market. I’d love to see more Columbus coffee roasters, Ohio beers and wines, Snowville Creamery milk, and more Ohio cheeses.

If you want to visit:
Earth Fare Columbus
1440 Gemini Place
On Facebook
@EarthFareCBUS

(Disclosure: Earth Fare Columbus invited me to visit their store, to shop there, and write about it. Opinions remain my own.)

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