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Author Archives: Breakfast with Nick

Green Bean Delivery!

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Who’s up for a cooking challenge? Last week the folks at Green Bean Delivery kindly sent us a sample delivery so we could see how their process works. Green Bean delivers fresh goods to homes across Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Missouri. The orders are customizable, but they also offer set bin sizes. We received the standard Small Produce Bin, which comes pre-loaded with a mixture of fruits and veggies. You can modify your order to include other vegetables, fruits, beans, meats, even finished products like coffee, falafel, roasted nuts, Sriracha, and more. They conveniently label goods that are organically or sustainably grown, and they identify the origins by region or country.

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You can set up a one-time or a recurring order through their website, picking and choosing from over 40 different items of fresh produce. This is the breakdown of our Small Produce Bin.

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Deliveries are dropped off at your home. You’re given a set day of the week and a window of a few hours during which it will arrive. The bright green bin is lined with styrofoam and includes a coldpack, so your food arrives fresh and cool.

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Here’s the bounty from our delivery. Now, I look at this and I’m intimidated, but Mrs. Breakfast With Nick looks at it and sees a challenge. Over the next series of posts, she’ll be sharing some of the things we’ve made from the delivery. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: Here are some of Mrs. Breakfast With Nick’s creations using our Green Bean Delivery!

Tomato and Asparagus Quiche

Kale Salad

Eggs, Potatoes, and Toast

BLTs and Brussels Sprouts

Philco Bar + Diner | Columbus, OH

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Philco Bar + Diner (Facebook / Instagram @philcobd)
747 N. High St. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 299-9933
Open Mon-Thurs, 8a-11p; Fri, 8a-12a; Sat, 9a-12a; Sun, 9a-11p (bfast served all day)
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited: Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.

At the risk of sounding like one of the old folks, it amazes me how much Short North has changed in the twelve years we’ve lived in Columbus. We lived in the heart of Short North our first two years in town, and we’re just now approaching the status of “Back when I lived in Short North…” So, without further ado… back when I lived in Short North, we had Philip’s Coney Island. It was small, cheap, and basic. To be honest, though, we rarely visited. Sure, there were cheap hot dogs and fries, but it didn’t have the same draw as other neighborhood eateries like Press Grill, Mac’s, Betty’s.

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On pace with Short North’s development in recent years, the Philip’s Coney Island space was reborn of late as Philco Bar + Diner, led by the same team as The Rossi, Club 185, Little Palace, etc. The name itself is a nod to the previous life (Philip’s Coney -> Philco), and they’ve retained a sense of the old place, with booths, counter seats, and yes, coneys on the menu. But the revamp has made the space hipper and (in my opinion) a little more comfortable. Plus they’ve added a fine selection of beer and wine.

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The new space certainly feels much classier than the old, with green leather stools and booths, wine racks over the bar, and wood or stainless steel accents.

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There’s still some feeling of the old restaurant, though, where you can sit at the counter and eat hot dogs, with bottled ketchup and mustard on hand. The menu also includes revamped versions of French fries, coneys, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

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There are also your expected booths, which are big enough to fit probably eight people on busy Gallery Hop nights.

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The breakfast menu follows suit with rich, colorful, and sometimes deconstructed versions of diner classics. We split three dishes amongst the family, starting with the biscuits and red eye gravy. Ohio is more sausage gravy territory than red eye gravy, so you don’t see it too often here. Red eye gravy is more of a Southern dish, typically made with the day’s leftover coffee and the pan drippings from frying ham, bacon, or sausage. Our server made sure we understood which type of gravy we were getting, as previous customers have been surprised to receive a lighter and much sweeter gravy than a chunky, cream-based one.

Philco’s biscuits and gravy are dense and rich. The gravy, which leans more toward the sweet side, soaks into the biscuits, and it’s offset by smokey and salty andouille sausage, then topped with two eggs cooked to order (and sprinkled with paprika).

The portion sizes aren’t huge at Philco, but they make up for it by packing a punch.

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Our server recommended the fried egg tacos. Ironically, they don’t automatically come with fried eggs; you can have them cooked to order, so we asked for them scrambled. Again, the tacos aren’t huge, but they’re rich and filling. They’re topped with various salsas (red + black bean & corn), sour cream, and cheddar. And we added the chorizo. (Because when you have the option to add chorizo, you always do.)

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Finally, we chose the huevos rancheros, built on a base of open-face tortillas and eggs. It’s flavored with a verde salsa and a sprinkling of cotija (a white Mexican cheese). Big bonus for the crispy and flavorful grilled peppers and onions. And we added chorizo because, well, you know.

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Our breakfast dishes went three for three at Philco. Again, the portion size isn’t huge (which some might expect from the “diner” moniker), but they make up for it with big flavors in really colorful presentations. In my mind, this makes Philco an easy choice for breakfast in Short North.

(Also, I know weekends are busy and feature an expanded brunch menu, but don’t forget the value of quiet weekday breakfast, too. Philco opens at 8!)

Philco Bar + Diner on Urbanspoon

Giveaway: tickets to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams Desserts release party!

COVER_JENI'S SPLENDID ICE CREAM DESSERTS

UPDATE: The drawing is now closed!

Columbus is the epicenter of many great things, ice cream included, and Columbus’ – no, America’s – ice cream queen Jeni Britton Bauer just released her second cookbook, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts. This is her second book; the first is Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home (for which she won the James Beard Award). The new book teaches recipes using ice cream in cakes, cookies, sauces, and more. The Columbus book release party is this Friday, May 30th from 7-10pm at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

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Want to win a pair of tickets to the release party? Just comment on this post by 5pm today with your favorite Jeni’s flavor. I’ll start: my go-to’s are the Pistachio & Honey and the Buckeye State.

The Blue Door Cafe & Bakery | Cuyahoga Falls, OH

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The Blue Door Cafe & Bakery
(Facebook)
1970 State Rd. (map it!)
Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44223
(330) 926-9774
Open Wed-Sun, 7a-3p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N

Visited: Friday, May 16, 2014 at 11:00 a.m.

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Thanks to my friend Tom over at Exploring Food My Way, I’ve been hearing a lot about Blue Door Cafe & Bakery over the years. Because of Tom, my Facebook feed is regularly filled with photos of French toast, croissants, and benedicts. It’s a beautiful thing. And finally we got to experience it firsthand. On the road for a weekend trip, my family and I stopped in Cuyahoga Falls to track down the Blue Door. And find it we did: a one-story gray, nondescript little building with a jam-packed parking lot and, yes, a bright blue door.

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As the full parking lot hinted, the inside was busy with customers in line for the bakery or waiting for tables in the cafe. We were seated pretty quickly at a table near the door (which got breezy on a surprisingly chilly May day).

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The menu features the blue door again, with the cafe’s mission statement straight up front.

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I’ve learned from watching Tom’s photo feed that Blue Door is true to the “ever-changing” tenet. The kitchen likes to experiment with specials and ingredients. This is usually a good and bad for regular diners: the downside is that you’re conflicted between choosing your old favorites and the daily specials; the upside is that you can always find something new to try at your old haunt.

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We worked our way through some specials and some regular items. From the specials menu we started with a refreshing Blueberry & Basil Lemonade, balanced nicely between sweet, tart, and slightly herbal. It contains all the title ingredients, plus a hint of vanilla.

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Since the bakery element is clearly a stand-out, we made a couple passes at the beautifully stocked shelves and sampled a two items.

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It’s hard for me to ever pass up a donut, especially when it also has the word “brioche” in the title.

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So we gladly welcomed a custard-filled brioche donut to the table, and proceeded to decimate it. It was perfectly soft, full of custard, and generously dusted with powdered sugar – all without being two sweet. That’s the mark of a good donut: it’s not just a sugar bomb, but it balances the sweetness with other flavors.

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We’ve also heard tell of the croissants, and our server recommended a ham and cheese croissant.

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The croissant was stellar: golden and flaky, with just the right amount of ham and cheese inside.

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By then breakfast began arriving. We began with the corned beef hash with two eggs and a choice of breads from the bakery. The potatoes were thoroughly cooked and mixed with a generous helping of a very smoky brisket. The brisket was very tender, although its smokiness tended to overwhelm the entire dish.

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The eggs are cooked to order, and for that day they were willing to poach them; they were served separately in a little cup, and unfortunately were a little vinegary. They were poached properly, but I think the bottom one sat in the cup a little longer and cooked through more.

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We chose the English muffin (homemade, of course) as our bread. It was large and dense – very different than store bought Thomas’ muffins – and topped with a tart blueberry jam (made in house).

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We also picked the Monte Cristo, in order to taste their fabled French toast in action.

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As far Monte Cristos go, it hit the mark. It was filled with the usual suspects, sandwiched between two (maybe a little too) giant but soft and custardy pieces of French toast. It used some of the same ingredients as the ham and cheese croissant, and came with a side of house-made potato chips.

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The real stand-out was the blueberry pancakes, which were up there with some of the best I’ve had. They’re made with yogurt, which results in flapjacks that are big, fluffy, and browned nicely. Topped with Creme Chantilly (a fancy term for lightly sweetened, real whipped cream), fresh blueberries, and Ohio maple syrup, it’s really hard to beat.

During our meal, owner Michael Bruno stopped over to say hi. He answered our questions and chatted about some of their baked goods. On our way out, we picked up some bakery items to go. Michael recommended their brownies (which were dense and fudgy); we also bought another brioche donut and the last ham and cheese croissant. On the recommendation of the server at the counter, we purchased a pair of moist almond cupcakes. All of them were winners; we had to hide them from the kids so they weren’t devoured immediately.

Consensus? Blue Door is clearly a gem in the Akron-area dining scene. As if I didn’t know that from Tom’s posts and pictures already, just the reaction on social media as I posted photos on Facebook or Instagram (/subliminal message) confirmed it. Pretty much anyone who is from the area or travels there regularly is familiar with the cafe and bakery. Blue Door is a popular hangout and a destination. The sincerely and lovingly made food is reason enough to visit, on top of an adventurous rotating menu, a mission of supporting local and responsibly made products, and the genuine enthusiasm of the owner and employees.

The Blue Door Cafe & Bakery on Urbanspoon

Coffee: what is Kyoto-style cold brew?

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At last, winter has loosened its icy grip and summer weather seems to be here! I say “seems to be,” because honestly you never know in Ohio. It could still snow next week.

Regardless, the warmer turn in the weather forces a shift in my morning (read: all day) caffeination routine, away from piping hot mugs of French-pressed coffee to clinking cups of cold brew.

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I’m a coffee snob, but also I’m not. While my preference is for good coffee, well prepared, and served by knowledgeable roasters and baristas, I’ve found myself equally happy with the “angry water” served in diners. It’s all a matter of context, I suppose.

But in the summertime, we get picky about our cold coffee, so I thought I’d share our favorite process. The past Christmas I gave Mrs. Bfast w/Nick a Kyoto-style tower, and we’ve enjoyed fiddling with it since then. Cold brewing is a general method of making coffee slowly and, well, at low temperatures. It’s different than normally brewing coffee, which applies heat to steep the coffee grounds. Brewing coffee then cooling and icing it is okay, but it results in a more bitter cup. Slow-steeping coffee at cold temperatures gives you a smoother, richer drink.

Why “Kyoto-style?” The large glass contraptions were popularized at shops in Kyoto, Japan. According to Wikipedia, cold brew coffee originated in Japan, having been introduced by Dutch traders in the 1600’s, so it’s often known as “Dutch coffee” (score one for my heritage!).

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We first encountered Kyoto-style cold brew at One Line Coffee, and it remains a favorite. In fact, we bottle our homemade cold brew in used One Line bottles. (Other shops now cold brew this style, too, including Crimson Cup and Luck Bros). The tower looks like a miniature chemistry set. The upper chamber is filled with ice, which melts and falls drop by drop in the grounds (held in the middle container), then slowly filters down into the bottom container. Pretty simple, actually.

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Whenever we’re sampling coffee from local vendors, we ask for beans that cold brew well. Recent successes for us have included Roaming Goat‘s Tanzanian Peaberry and Thunderkiss‘ Yirgacheffe Konga. Usually brighter, berry-like roasts translate into nice brews.

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You place a filter at the bottom of the center container, the one holding the grounds. You can find cheap packages of pre-made filters, or you can just cut out pieces of regular coffee filters.

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To help the steeping process, wet the filter and position it at the bottom of the container.

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Then dump in the ground coffee. We’ve worked out to brewing 50 grams of coffee, coarsely ground, into about 500 ml of coffee.

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We’ve learned to gently soak the grounds first.

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We drizzle some water on them and poke around with a chop stick, ensuring all of the grounds are wet. This helps prevent the dripping water from channeling straight through. Instead, we take advantage of the capillary action (yay, science terms!) to let the water wick through all the grounds.

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The top chamber gets loaded with ice. We’ve made the cold brew with home-made ice from city water and from store-bought iced made from filtered water, and we honestly can’t tell the difference in the end product. We prime this chamber with a couple ounces of water, just to help speed up the process.

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The real clincher in this process is controlling the water flow. This is what establishes the slow pace. Too fast and the water soaks and drains without proper contact with the grounds. Too slow, and well, nothing happens. The ideal rate we’ve learned is one drip every second-and-a-half. This nozzle came with the set, but there are more expensive ones made of different materials. From Mrs. Bfast w/Nick’s research, she’s found that people endlessly fiddle with these contraptions, trying to get the perfect flow rate.

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There it is, in all it’s poorly back-lit glory. The process takes anywhere from 8-12 hours. We’ll often let it go overnight. You just need to be sure the top chamber is loaded with enough ice (but not too much, or you’ll thin out the coffee). And don’t be surprised if the drip still needs adjusting. I’ve come downstairs in the morning to find the dripping stopped altogether. Otherwise, it’s fun to check in on throughout the day.

The cold brew coffee is stronger than normal coffee, so it’s typically served over ice. The process is admittedly high maintenance, but the end product is better, and like so many things, it’s about process over product.

We found our Kyoto-style tower on Amazon for only $100, although there are more expensive and complex models available. Interested in trying Kyoto-style cold brew in Columbus (without having to buy the kit)? Visit one of these coffee shops:

One Line Coffee – 745 N. High St, Short North
Crimson Cup Coffee – 4541 N. High St, Clintonville/Beechwold
Luck Bros Coffee House – 1101 W. First Ave, Grandview

RIDEhome | Worthington, OH

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RIDEhome (Facebook / @RideHome43085)
650 High St. (map it!)
Worthington, OH 43085
(614) 468-1409
Open Mon-Sat, 7a-9p; Sun, 12-5p
Accepts cash & credit/debit

Visited: Saturday, May 3 at 11:00 a.m.

With the closing a Scottie McBean a while back, Olde Worthington has been looking for good coffee. Fortunately, it’s well provided-for through Sassafras Bakery armed with Cafe Brioso brews and La Chatelaine‘s consistent presence. Stepping in to further fill the gap is RIDEhome, which is more bike shop than coffee shop, but still serves local beans in pour overs.

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RIDEhome is nestled in the corner of the small strip featuring House Wine, The Candle Lab, and Rivage Atlantic, amongst other things. The coffee shop counter is located near the back and further beyond it is a small sitting/reading area with couches, chairs, and shelves.

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They offer coffee and tea currently. If you pay cash with your order, you get the full experience of their old-timey cash register One cup of coffee retails at $3.50.

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They’re serving Crimson Cup blends and seem to have the pour over process down, complete with Hario kettles. If you’re looking for drive-through speed coffee, this isn’t your stop, but the pour over is generally a strong way to prep a cup of coffee. The process makes it ideal (and I’m sure this was the plan) for wandering the shop and checking out bikes or bike parts while you wait.

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There’s a small shelf with Crimson Cup beans, and they recently had a visit from Worthington-based roaster Roaming Goat Coffee, too.

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If you’re not in a rush, or you’re in the midst of wandering the Worthington Farmers Market, you can sit and relax in the far back.

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Take some time, too, to check all the bikes.

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RIDEhome is helping fill the coffee needs of Worthington, especially the Olde Worthington crowd and the early risers. It’s nice to see them serving local brews and using proper methods, so if you’re in need of caffeination and you’re in the hood, you have another stop available to you.

RIDEhome on Urbanspoon

The Hungry Soul Cafe | Columbus, OH

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The Hungry Soul Cafe
(Facebook)

30 S. Young St. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 224-1944
Open Mon-Fri, 11a-2p, 5-8p; brunch on Sun, 9a-2p (alcohol served after 11)
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited: Sunday, May 4, 2014, at 12:30p

You hear a lot of shops, restaurants, parks, bike paths, neighborhoods referred to as “hidden gems.” These places are special. They’re hidden and known only to you and few others. And it’s important to have hidden gems peppered around a big city like Columbus. It gives us our special places to visit or hide out. It makes it worth our time exploring the city and discovering corners we’ve never visited. If you’re a regular at a hidden gem, you sometimes don’t want them to be discovered by others. A once quiet spot might now be overrun by latecomers who are only now discovering what you’ve known all along.

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If you’re one of those latecomers, however, you get to enjoy the thrill of discovering a new place. That’s what brings me to The Hungry Soul Cafe. To be clear: I’m not the first to discover the restaurant. It’s been open for a couple years (as Hungry Soul – it’s been a restaurant for much, much longer) and many folks have written about it. But this was our first discovery, and the restaurant’s side street (but still very exposed) location and the low-ceilinged, wood-appointed interior feel exactly like a hidden gem should.

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Hungry Soul is situated on South Young Street downtown, just a couple blocks south of East Broad, on the street level of a parking garage – yes, a parking garage. There’s a green awning over the doorway and big, red lettering across the fully windowed wall to mark the restaurant. Nearby surface lots offer parking, but the streets are full of parking meters (which are free on Sundays!).

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The space runs the length of the building, with a main floor that’s carpeted and includes the bar and long rows of tables. An upper level is built entirely of wood – floors, tables, benches – and really speaks to the age of the space. We sat up in this area, and I couldn’t stop staring at the woodwork. Not that it was particularly ornate; it was just so unexpected in a cafe at the bottom of a parking garage.

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This little booth, for instance, just cracked me up.

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Lucky for you we brunched with a big group, so you get a sampling of the full menu. Our boys, for instance, split the Hungry Soul, a plate of eggs, meat, toast, hash browns, and a Belgian waffle. Extra points for nicely browned potatoes, homemade sausage, and a big, thick waffle.

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Special bonus if you like to spike your brunch with a drink: $5.00 Bloody Marys and mimosas. The Bloody Mary was a real winner: a generous amount of vodka, seasoned salt on the rim, appropriately spicy, garnished with olives.

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Hungry Soul’s brunch menu mixes American breakfast classics with a little Hungarian vibe and a touch of soul food. (Oh, I think I just got the restaurant’s name: Hungry Soul = Hungary + Soul.) One such combination is the Palacsinta or Hungarian crepes: thin, sweet crepes filled with different combinations. We ordered the Mama’s Apples featuring southern flavors like apples, apple butter, and sausage.

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Oatmeal lovers will find both plain and fancy versions on Hungry Soul’s brunch menu. The plain – called The Intern – is topped with butter and cinnamon and a side of syrup. The three fancy options like apples and raisins or bacon. We choose Fancy #2, with peaches cooked in bourbon butter sauce.

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It wasn’t all sweet for us. I can rarely turn down a good biscuits and gravy, and Hungry Soul’s did not disappoint. The house-made sage sausage gravy is incredibly chunky, the biscuits soft and chewy.

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The menu includes six omelets ranging from meat-heavy to veggie-friendly.

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They’re all served with sides of toast, hash browns, and colorful fruit.

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Lastly, the Comfort on a Plate exemplifies the cafe’s soul-feeding mantra. It’s just like the Hungry Soul dish minus the waffle, but it’s still a plateful of down-home cooking.

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Hungry Soul has all the right elements to be a regular brunch spot: a solidly earns the “hidden gem” distinction, but for the sake of owners Anita and Georger Keller and all discerning Columbus brunchers, I hope it doesn’t stay hidden for long.

The Hungry Soul Cafe on Urbanspoon

Mother’s Day brunch suggestions

Confession: a couple years ago I completely dropped the ball when I didn’t make any plans for Mother’s Day brunch… while my parents were visiting us IN COLUMBUS. That’s right: Breakfast With Nick forgot to make brunch reservations for his own mother. And his wife. For Mother’s Day. In his own city. Thankfully, a trip to Starliner Diner saved the day.

Don’t be like me. If brunch is part of your plans to celebrate Mom (and Grandma!), think ahead. At this point, being the week of Mother’s Day, many of the fancier places will be full up already, but lucky for you there are some creative (and less expensive) alternatives. Understand, though, that most places will be busy on Mother’s Day. Make reservations if they take them; if not, just be prepared to wait or to show up a little earlier.

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Ethyl & Tank
– E&T is a recent discovery close to campus that really impressed us. Parking is a little awkward, but the restaurant space is huge, as are the portions. We enjoyed the over-the-top Tank Pancakes with pulled pork and cheddar, and the juicy Breakfast Burger. And you can’t beat the $5 build-your-own Bloody Mary bar! Special bonus: they’re a full service coffee shop and have a small arcade upstairs.

Cravings Carryout Cafe – this Italian Village carryout has become a favorite of our family. The space is more ideally suited to carryout, but they have a couple picnic tables next to the campfire outside. We haven’t had a bad item on the menu, but our favorites are the breakfast roll, the BLT, and the cinnamon rolls made with their brioche bread. (Check out Karina and I visiting the cafe for 10TV!)

The Angry Baker – this corner cafe in Olde Towne East serves up beautiful baked goods alongside knife-and-fork burritos, sandwiches, and quiche. If Mom prefers vegan or gluten free, Angry Baker has you covered, too, with their oatmeal pancakes and biscuits & mushroom gravy.

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Mughal Darbar – our favorite Indian restaurant is set up in an old house just north of campus. They offer a Sunday buffet that’s a regular stop. Perfect if you’ve got a big group and the family is up for more adventurous eating.

The Hungry Soul Cafe – we just hit up Hungry Soul’s brunch for the first time this past weekend and walked away full and happy (full post coming next week!). The long, wood-accented space serves as a quiet and comfortable atmosphere for a Sunday brunch of classics like waffles, omelets, and biscuits & gravy, or more creative dishes like Hungarian crepes with apples, apple butter, and sausage, or oatmeal with peaches in bourbon butter sauce. Tack on a delicious $5 Bloody Mary, and you’re set!

de-NOVO bistro & bar – de-NOVO is probably the most traditional brunch spot of this list, but I think their breakfast and brunch deserves more attention. We enjoyed rich biscuits and gravy, Bloody Marys, and omelets on our visit, and you can’t beat their funky decorations.

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Sunflower Chinese Restaurant & Lounge – Sunflower is one of the only places in town serving dim sum, and fortunately for Columbus it’s a very good one. Get the full dim sum experience on weekends, when the dining room is full of carts being pushed from table to table. Select shareable dishes with dumplings, noodles, rice wrapped in lotus leaves, and so much more.

Olive Tree – out in Hilliard, Olive Tree serves a delightful Mediterranean breakfast on Sundays. Front and center on the menu is shakshouka, a rich Middle Eastern/North African meal featuring eggs poached in tomatoes, peppers, and spices. Other dishes include Mediterranean omelets, challah French toast, and frittatas.

Village Crepe – this downtown Pickerington spot serves up a varied menu of sweet and savory crepes. Sweet crepes are loaded with salty caramel or banana hazelnut, while savory ones are filled with cheeses or spinach and ricotta.

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Visit a food truck! Stop by one of Columbus’ many food trucks for a tasty meal. Find Mya’s Fried Chicken or Ray Ray’s Hog Pit in Clintonville, or enjoy a pint of Seventh Son‘s beer while getting brunch from Challah Food Truck parked out front.

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Don’t want to go out? Impress Mom with your mad brunch-making skills. Pre-order some Sammy’s Bagels (order by 3pm on Friday!), look over my post on 11 Ways To Cook An Egg, and practice some poaching.

Event: Drink Up Columbus’ 3rd Anniversary

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Columbus is fortunate to have many excellent blogs covering a wide range of resources. One of my favorites – and a regular go-to for all things related to beer, bars, and booze – is Drink Up Columbus. At the end of this month, they’re celebrating three years of keeping Columbus informed about all things drink-related.

You can join up the celebration by registering for the party at Strongwater Food & Spirits here. As a special bonus, I have a bright blue XL Drink Up Columbus shirt to giveaway!

To enter, comment on this post by midnight tonight with your favorite place to grab a drink in Columbus. And be sure to tell us why you love it!

Ethyl & Tank | Columbus, OH

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Ethyl & Tank (Facebook / @EthylTank)
19 E. 13th Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43201
Open 7a-2a (full brunch served weekends; smaller bfast menu 7-11a weekdays)
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/Y/Y
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited: Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 10:30 am

Have you heard about this newer place called Ethyl & Tank? It’s a coffee shop close to Ohio State’s campus. Oh, it’s also a bar with a solid 40 taps of beer. And they’re a restaurant serving burgers, tacos, and brisket. Plus, they’ve got an arcade.

Yes, Ethyl & Tank is a little bit of everything, established to serve the student population surrounding them, but accessible to everyone.

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About a block east of High Street – easily walkable but reachable by car only via side streets – is Ethyl & Tank’s long brown brick building, marked by a perpendicular neon sign. Enter through the corner doors and you’ve run into the coffee shop aspect, labeled “Ethyl” in neon. Ethyl sports a full coffee shop menu – cappucinos, machiatos, pour overs – and more.

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Keep moving and you’ll run into “Tank,” or the bar/restaurant. The large open space is very nicely appointed: leather bar stools, exposed ceilings, brick walls, wood floor. Combined with big windows and a patio out front, the space is bright and welcoming.

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Over the poured concrete bar are rows of TVs, so if you’re also looking for a sports bar: check.

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The second level – with more seating, tables, and a small arcade – opens onto the main space.

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The brunch menu covers a couple pages, and it’s focused on big dishes that pack a punch. Fried Egg Chicken Fried Steak? Biscuits and Chorizo Gravy? Creme Brulee Crepes? They’re not messing around. Notice the availability of some vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free items, too.

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We started brunch with a sample of a blend mocha from the coffee shop. It was nicely whipped without being overly sweet. When I first reached to pick it up, I was surprised at its lightness; I expected the thick, heavy sludge of a corporate coffee shop frozen-uccuino.

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And here’s something else to entice you: the $5.00 Bloody Mary bar. This may be some people’s favorite phrase in the English language. You can’t do a good brunch without a good Bloody Mary, so Ethyl & Tank give you a glass of vodka then turns you lose on the accoutrement.

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Everyone likes their Bloody Mary the way they like it. Some like it spicy, some like it mild. Some love garnishes, some love it salty, some like everything pickled involved. Ethyl & Tank gets your started with base mixes ranging from mild to mega spicy.

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Down the line, jars are laden with olives, pickles, peppers, fresh horseradish, chilies, jalapenos.

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At the end are bottles of hot sauce, steak sauce, and jars of salts and powders.

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The challenge with build-your-own Bloody Mary’s is that sometimes you don’t know where to start. In this case a list of suggested additions might be helpful, but with E&T’s pre-made mixes, you’re off to a good start. Here’s the end result of our Bloody Mary.

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By the time we assembled our Bloody Mary and sipped our coffee, brunch arrived. And arrive it did. We split three dishes between our family of four and still had leftovers.

First, which I pretty much had to order, was the chicken and waffles sandwich. It’s a crispy breaded chicken breast served between two waffles (were they Eggo? If so, it didn’t matter) with bacon, a thin coating of melted cheddar, and syrup. It came with a side of thin-cut fries – just how we like them. All in all, it’s a solid dish. The chicken was cooked through and through, but the seasoning was spot on and the syrup and soft waffles made up the difference. I know some people still don’t get the whole chicken and waffles thing, but trust me: you need to try the dish. It’s a little sweet, a little salty, a little spicy. This is what “they” mean when they talk about a balanced breakfast.

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And if chicken and waffles weren’t big enough, we went even bigger with the Tank Pancakes. Just. Look. At. This. Dish.

Tank Pancakes are three big but not ridiculously fluffy pancakes stacked and covered with pulled pork, cheddar, and a Jameson maple syrup. Yes, this dish might seem too over-the-top, but seriously: we loved it. Again, the sweet and spicy balanced each other out. There’s not too much cheese (which could have done the dish in), the pork is tender, and the pancakes are already soaked just right in the syrup. This leaves them soft without being mushy. You’re given a bottle of syrup, but you don’t need it. Another benefit to this dish: it’s perfect for sharing.

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We rounded out brunch with the Breakfast Burger and another side of fries.

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I’ve been craving burgers lately – it must be the turn toward spring – and this hit the spot. It’s built simply with a ground beef patty, lettuce, onion, tomato, cheddar, mayo. The real selling point is a fried egg (to qualify it as breakfast) but also a thin layer of chorizo between the beef and the egg. This little kick of spice adds a certain something that really makes it stand out.

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Of course, before leaving we had to visit the arcade. The games are all set to free play and with plenty of classics to re-visit (Pac Man, Rampage, TMNT, Terminator 2, Street Fighter). It was clear that some customers visit just to grab coffee and play games.

I’m sure you can guess already, but we were impressed with Ethyl & Tank. It was really unexpected, from the well-appointed space, to the breadth of the offerings, to the brunch menu. We were also impressed with the prices, which clearly must be kept in an affordable range for the nearby college students.

Ethyl & Tank is owned by same the folks who own The Crest in Clintonville. Our experience there for brunch was so-so, but The Crest is still going strong, and Ethyl & Tank seems to capitalize on similar strengths. And while The Crest maybe suffered from a little over-hype when they opened a year ago (not necessarily their fault), the opposite seems to be true for Ethyl & Tank. It’s sailed under the radar (at least for us) and so offers a surprising experience. We’ve already added it to the list of places to visit again and bring some out-of-town visitors along.

Ethyl & Tank on Urbanspoon

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