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Monthly Archives: July 2012

One Line Coffee | Columbus, OH

One Line Coffee (Facebook / @OneLineCoffee)
745 N. High St. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 289-2939

Accepts cash & credit/debit
Open Mon-Thurs, 7a-7p; Fri, 7a-1op; Sat, 8a-10p; Sun 8a-7p

Date of Visit: Monday, July 23, 2012 at 10:30am

IMPRESSIONS: When my wife and I first moved to Columbus, we lived in Short North across the street from The Coffee Table, a ramshackle little corner coffee shop that served good espresso. We used to judge the weather based on how many of their white plastic tables they set out each morning. Alas, Coffee Table is now gone, but Short North is still well caffeinated what with Cup O’ Joe, Impero, and Travonna opening their doors up and down the district (while a Starbucks did not survive – ha ha!). And now a new roaster has set up shop, right in that central part of the neighborhood, around the corner from where Coffee Table once stood: One Line Coffee.

ATMOSPHERE: One Line has roots all around Ohio – Granville, Newark, Heath – but this is their first permanent spot in Columbus itself. In my mind, they’ve found a good location. Large exposed brick walls are complemented by a nice wood floor and rustic chalkboard signage that can be rewritten to feature the day’s roasts. The room feels nice and bright, with big windows facing right onto High Street. The main counter is in the middle of the space, with thinner counters running along some of the walls.

One of the most enjoyable parts of our visit to One Line was interacting with the owner Dave and his employees. They are enthusiastic about coffee, and about informing their customers and including them in that excitement. The best coffee shops around town are able to educate you while still serving you as a customer and not intimidating you. All of One Line’s signage (and there’s a lot of it) goes toward explaining what you’ll get with each roast and each preparation.

FOOD: We ordered a couple drinks. My wife opted for an espresso out of one of their daily roasts (a Burundian coffee). The shot was expertly prepared, and had such a pleasant, surprising flavor. It was sharp, nutty, and fruity. Really a delight.

I ordered  Kenyan coffee prepared in what’s called Kyoto-style. It’s a cold preparation that involves slowly dripping ice water over a matter of several hours through the grounds.

The glassware keeps the water in contact with the grounds for an extended period.

The water drips at a slow rate. Dave said he was aiming for one drip every one-and-a-half seconds. It’s a fascinating setup to watch. Like a big chemistry set.

The result is a concentrated coffee liqueur that’s served over ice in a tumbler glass. Dave said the drink is meant to be sipped like a glass of scotch or bourbon served on the rocks. The cold brew certainly did retain a lot of flavor while losing a lot of the bitterness. Very strong notes of citrus fruit.

Their hot coffee is served with a pour-over cone (I think these were Hario V60s). This apparatus allows the barista to prepare a single cup of hot coffee in a way that ideally brings out the coffee’s intended flavors. A few other shops in town use this method at their brew bars, too.

SERVICE: Dave and his crew are very welcoming. They weren’t busy when we visited mid-morning Monday, so they took extra time to chat with us and show us around the shop. So far, they’ve created a pretty low-pressure way to explore and enjoy coffee.

It’s also nice that One Line (like many other shops around town) is serving their own roasts. Which means they can serve coffee that fits their preferences; they’re controlling nearly every step of the process.

They sell coffee beans and roasting equipment at the store, too. We picked up a bag of the Kenyan peaberry.

OVERALL: It’s great to see another high-quality coffee shop in town. Columbus’ coffee scene is very strong indeed, as evidenced by the huge turnout at the North Market Coffee Roast (where One Line first made an appearance). Already I’m a fan of One Line’s space, roasts, and hospitality. I look forward to returning, and hope others go explore it, too.

One Line Coffee on Urbanspoon

Legacy Pancake House | Dayton, OH

Legacy Pancake House (Facebook)
1510 N. Keowee St. (map it!)
Dayton, OH 45404
(937) 222-2037
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Open Mon-Sat, 6a-7p, Sun, 7a-3p
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Monday, July 9, 2012 at 10:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: This summer we’ve tried taking a number of family day trips around Ohio, and we finally nabbed the opportunity to take our boys to the Air Force Museum in Dayton (which is well worth the visit). Of course, any day trip is automatically preceded by breakfast somewhere nearby. A couple years ago, a student of mine told me I needed to visit the Golden Nugget; unfortunately, it isn’t open on Mondays. Also unfortunately, I didn’t do good enough research to know they weren’t open, so we found ourselves scrambling and searching for a place that was open. But we lucked out and discovered the Legacy Pancake House.

Legacy is actually located in the space of the original Golden Nugget, on the north side of Datyon. The current GN is in a fancier building further south.

ATMOSPHERE: The pancake house is a genre of breakfast joints that I haven’t explored much. Of course, they most recognizable version is IHOP, but apparently Dayton is a pancake house hotspot. What’s different about a pancake house? I can’t really tell, except that pancakes feature significantly on the menu. Legacy’s building is shaped with the tall, slanted roof. There are different sections for seating, mostly booths. Otherwise the decor consists of mauves and beige, dotted with plastic hanging plants.

FOOD: The breakfast menu is fairly broad. You can read through it by visiting Legacy’s website, which is essentially a giant image of their menu and the paper placemat full of local advertising.

Of course, I had to order some of their “famous” pancakes.

I was most definitely in a sweet mood, so I requested the peanut butter chocolate chip pancakes. They were delicious and easy to like, if maybe a little rich. Of course, it’s hard to complain about them when I’m the one pouring syrup over them.

I wanted some savory, too, so I chose a plate of bacon (crispy and good) and scrambled eggs. The eggs were funny. Not bad, but they almost tasted a little milky, like they had added too much milk to them. (I grew up adding a dash of milk to my scrambled eggs. Did you?)

Our four-year-old chose the happy clown waffle, which was a waffle with some peaches. He seemed to like it.

The real winner of the morning for us were the potato pancakes. They were served with the tradition garnishes of sour cream and apple sauce. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly stood out about them, but they were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and seasoned just right.

We also ordered up a side of the biscuits and gravy. Buttery homemade biscuits and a solid gravy, good meat and seasoning.

Breakfast in progress.

SERVICE: Our service was really stellar and charming. We were seated by Bertie (on the left), who was incredibly sweet. On the right is Stacie, one of the owners (also very sweet). Another customer told me that Stacie and her husband once owned a small diner in downtown Dayton. They closed the diner roughly six years ago, but a year later, when this location of the Golden Nugget went up for sale, they bought the building and opened Legacy.

Here’s Stacie behind the counter. Gotta love her hair.

At the cashier’s counter is a display of wooden carvings made by a local artist, all for sale.

OVERALL: Legacy Pancake House is uncomplicated but completely charming. I get the sense that we experienced a little bit of Dayton culinary history when we were there. The food doesn’t stand out as spectacular, but it’s easy to love, from the pancakes to the waffle to the potato pancakes. I’ll continue exploring other breakfasts around Dayton, but I think a trip to the Legacy is certainly worth making.


Legacy Pancake House on Urbanspoon

Phoenix Street Cafe | South Haven, MI

Phoenix Street Cafe 
523 Phoenix Rd. (map it!)
South Haven, MI 49090
(269) 637-3600
Open 7 days a week, 7a-9p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 9:15 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: I always say that my favorite way to get to know a city is by experiencing its breakfast. Example: we’re in South Haven, Michigan for some friends’ wedding. Even though I grew up an hour north in Grand Rapids, this is only the second time I’ve been to South Haven. So it’s time to grab some breakfast. We met with a group of friends on a busy Saturday morning, and South Haven’s little beach town vibe was in full swing. Phoenix Street Cafe (oddly enough, located on Phoenix Road, according to Google Maps) is located on the main drag, a fairly small storefront amongst a variety of shops, restaurants, bars, and the like. Phoenix Street/Road leads directly to the harbor and to the South Haven beach.

ATMOSPHERE: The vibe that morning was quintessential West Michigan Saturday going-to-breakfast: people breakfasting with purpose. As you might expect, there was a line at the door and the place was packed.

Phoenix Street has chosen a lot of warm, bright colors for their cafe. The space itself feels fairly new; I’m guessing this restaurant is only a couple years old, or was recently renovated. There’s a lot of seating – although only a small waiting area – and it was all full when we visited.

A fun little detail that I liked: syrup served in an olive oil container.

Ah the small-town cafe, with their paper placemats full of local advertising. It’s always fun to read these while you wait. They give you some sense of the local businesses.

FOOD: The nice thing about eating with a big party is that you get to see and photograph more dishes. This is the sampler breakfast, with eggs, meats, potatoes, and toast.

And the mini breakfast. It seems like Phoenix Street can handle the basics well. Eggs done right, pretty good meat, potatoes seasoned nicely, wide variety of bread choices.

Here was a first for me: quinoa oatmeal! I haven’t seen that on a menu yet, although it makes perfect sense. This is the version with raisins and bananas.

And a version with raisins and cranberries. Our friends who ordered it said they liked it. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a very protein-rich grain.

My wife ordered the California benedict, which is essentially a benedict with avocado and some crumbled bacon. Beautifully plated and well-made, although not the most mind-blowing benedict. I think the hollandaise could have used a little more seasoning.

A friend ordered the crispy chicken sandwich from the lunch menu, Florentine style, with provolone, roasted red peppers, and artichokes, and gave it a thumbs-up.

I’m a sucker for a good chicken and waffle, especially when the menu says they’ll cover it in sausage gravy and give you a side of their homemade smoked Jack Daniels syrup. Again, beautiful plating, and all told the dish came together well: crispy chicken, the very smoky syrup, good waffle and gravy, although I do think the gravy needed a better punch of spices. That seemed to be a common problem with the food: good ingredients and plating, maybe a little more creative seasoning needed.

SERVICE: Our server was nice, although the food took quite a while to come out. Granted, we were a bigger group and the cafe was busy, but it felt inappropriately long. There’s also a little confusion at the door, where newly-arrived customers are unsure where to sign in or check in with a server. I’ve seen this problem at a number of cafes.

OVERALL: I think Phoenix Street is a solid visit if you’re in South Haven, even if there are a few misses. There’s a diverse selection of dishes, and although none of them were completely mind-blowing, there are some interesting things that don’t see everywhere: chicken and waffles with gravy, quinoa oatmeal, also some oatmeal cakes and a lox omelet. Be prepared for a big crowd and slower service on the weekends, especially if you have a big day of shopping and beach-reading planned!


Phoenix Street Cafe on Urbanspoon

Photo: a preview of Mya’s Fried Chicken

This is just a quick preview. Last weekend, my friend Mark opened his new food truck, Mya’s Fried Chicken. Unfortunately, he opened amidst the aftermath of last Friday’s derecho (a word we’re all learning to use, which means a massive windstorm). The truck is located at Pacemont and High, in the old Ray Ray’s BBQ spot. Because so many people were without power last weekend, Mark gave away meals for donation-only. This weekend they’re running limited hours and a slightly limited menu (UPDATE: they are NOT open this weekend), but this is a sample of what’s to come. Look for a full blog post next week, as well as mention of the truck on my Mix107.9 radio spot (Wednesday around 8:10)!

Grand Day Cafe | Columbus, OH

Grand Day Cafe (Facebook / @GrandDayCafe)
1284 W. Fifth Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 481-3363
Open daily 6:30a-3p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Monday, May 28, 2012 at 10:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: I’ve had a number of readers and friends tell me to visit Grand Day. I hadn’t been in the location since it used to be a Rise and Dine (one of my earlier reviews, awwww…). Rise & Dine rebranded into Sunny Street Cafe, and this location was closed. I thought I heard somewhere that a manager of R&D had purchased the location and turned it into their cafe. Whatever happened, they maintained that quintessential feeling of the casual cafe. This type of restaurant – think First Watch, Sunny Street, even Scrambler Marie’s – is a steady go-to for breakfast, even if they aren’t terribly imaginative.

ATMOSPHERE: Like most casual cafes, Grand Day is decorated with soft wood accents, flowers, and lots of beige or pastel colors. I like to joke that First Watch looks a little like a Florida retirement community. And indeed, there is always that sense of the casual, comfortable, mid-morning breakfast about these places. When you enter Grand Day, there’s a small seating area for waiting customers. You usually need to sign in. There are two big seating banks to the right and left.

Straight ahead is a small counter and the entrance to the kitchen.

FOOD: Casual cafes usually do well with the kids. Case in point: our four-year-old’s pancakes with bacon. Nothing exceptional, but he seemed to like them.

My wife makes fun of me for taking pictures of my orange juice. I’ll stop.

My wife ordered the Eggs Blackstone. In case you didn’t know, a blackstone is essentially an eggs benedict but with grilled tomatoes and bacon (as opposed to a florentine, which has spinach). This version came with a slice of avocado and a side of hash browns. The overall dish was decent, but the pale little tomatoes were a little sad. Seriously, folks, let’s not serve tomatoes out of season.

Even since I first peeked at their menu online, I knew I wanted to order the Kentucky Hot Brown. I’ve had a real hot brown in Kentucky, so I wasn’t expecting this version to be perfectly authentic. I figured Grand Day’s version would be adapted to breakfast, which it was: Texas toast, sliced turkey, poached egg, bacon, coated in hollandaise. Side of hash browns, which were brown on the sides but a little underdone in the middle. Generally, I liked the dish – it’s hard not to like bacon, turkey, toast, and hollandaise – but it could have used a little more seasoning. Maybe more flavorful turkey, or a spicier hollandaise.

SERVICE: Our service was so-so. I think we visited on a particularly busy day, when they were trying to crowd in a lot of customers, and the servers were moving so fast that they missed little details here and there. We were initially seated at a table that was nearly in the middle of the waiting area. It began to feel like we were sitting in the waiting area or in the line to pay at the register. When a booth along the wall opened up, we asked to be moved there. We got our meals fairly quickly, but we experienced many of those moments went we couldn’t find our server and had to ask someone else to get little things: a drink, napkins, and a side dish.

OVERALL: As you can tell with some of the food and the service, we had an okay experience at Grand Day. I’ll grant that it was a holiday and the restaurant may have been working a little beyond capacity, but with food that’s again decent but nothing to write home about, I’ll keep it on the list of breakfast places in town, but not one that I’d go running back to.


Grand Day Cafe on Urbanspoon

Photos: A Very Dinin’ Hall Breakfast!

This past weekend we got to try breakfast at Dinin’ Hall! A couple of food trucks whipped up special menus just for a book-signing, and a crowd of about 60 or 70 people joined us! Ajumama set up with a very special and delicious menu.

And the cart from Spinelli’s Deli was there serving up breakfast sandwiches!

The folks from the new Solar Cafe made their first appearance in Columbus, giving away samples of their coffee. Solar Cafe is apparently a national “chain” of coffee shops. The coffee is roasted by Solar Roast Coffee, at a facility in Pueblo, Colorado, actually using solar power. And not just electricity converted from solar cells, but focused sunbeams used to superheat air which is circulated around coffee beans.

Solar Cafe has a trike, from which they’ll be serving coffee around town, and they’re opening a cafe in Old Hilliard in July.

It’s been in the 90’s and muggy here in Ohio (plus a freak windstorm on Friday night), so a tall class of omija tea from Ajumama was the perfect start. The tea is made from the “five flavor berry” (pictured here), so called because they’re salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and savory all at once. Makes for a very refreshing summer drink.

For breakfast, Laura and her crew from Ajumama served some unique versions of hodduk. A regular hodduk is a small cake filled with brown sugar, cinnamon, and walnuts. It’s a rich, sweet little snack. In addition to the standard version, Laura made a budae or Army hodduk, which used American cheese, spam, and kimchi. And then she did a bacon brown sugar version. All three = delicious.

They also served a veggie pajeon, which is a thin pancake filled with sprouts, shallots, zucchini, mushrooms, and garlic. My wife and I were big fans of this one.

We also grabbed something more traditional from the Spinelli’s cart, which was a nice complement to the Korean street food breakfast. Here’s a veggie crostini on a croissant, with a hash brown patty. The crostini is set apart from their regular breakfast sandwiches by the addition of roasted red peppers. I can never get enough of those.

Overall, a great event! It seemed like a bunch of people got to try Dinin’ Hall, who aren’t normally available to come by during the weekday hours. Thanks to everyone who came. Perhaps we can make it a regular thing?


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