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Category Archives: photos

Photos of events, breakfast dishes, revisits to breakfast spots, and so on.

Market: Brunch Bites at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market

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It’s been fun to watch my hometown of Grand Rapids grow throughout the years. Every visit home to see family, we find there are more interesting shops, districts, restaurants, breweries, and attractions cropping up. Grand Rapids has been particularly successful in revitalizing its downtown. The already strong Art Museum, Public Museum, Van Andel Arena, DeVos Hall, and surrounding streets have been bolstered by Art Prize, the Silver Line bus route, and over the past year the Downtown Market. We visited the outdoor farmer’s market last year, but at the time the indoor market hadn’t yet opened. It’s been open for some time now, and Mrs. Bfast w/Nick and I visited on a Sunday after learning about their Brunch Bites event.

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The Downtown Market has a large amount of planning going for it. I remember reading that they visited other urban markets, including Columbus’ North Market, to interview vendors, examine layouts, and get a sense of the challenges facing them. The strength of any of these markets – from North Market to Cleveland’s West Side Market to Cincinnati’s Findlay Market – is the ability to collaborate. So I think it’s vital they do events like this, that keep customers exploring the whole market and uniting vendors under a common theme.

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The Brunch Bites – which seems to run nearly every Sunday – is a perfect example of this unifying event. A temporary bar stands in one corner, where customers can order a customized Bloody Mary. Then they’re welcome to stroll the market to purchase the regular offerings or the specialized menu items created for the day.

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One of the more eye-catching stops is Field & Fire Bakery, with their beautiful trays of croissants, brioche, and breads.

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We sampled a croissant while we strolled, and it was lovely. The owner of Field & Fire came to the market after baking for years at the famous Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor. (Yes, Buckeye fans, good things can come out of Ann Arbor.)

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We also swung by the Sweetie-licious bakery, where they were making crepes.

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At Sweetie-licious we nabbed a baklava crepe. Why have we never thought of this before?! It’s a crepe loaded with walnuts, pistachios, and honey. It was sweet, steaming hot, and delicious. The only downside: the warmth lets the honey sink to the bottom of the crepe. Bonus: the final bite is soaked in warm honey.

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The other market vendors include the usual favorites, like the Fish Lads (with their beautiful logo). There’s also a florist, olive oil shop, grocer, spice shop, juice bar, cheesemonger, coffee corner, and many prepared foods. You can see the current list here.

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The market still has lots of space to grow, but it’s getting there. And you can’t beat the modern construction with lots of natural light, and a solid integration into the neighborhood landscape. There building has an upstairs, too, that’s open to the lower floor. On the upper level are community and classroom spaces.

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There’s also an active greenhouse (with beautiful views of the city) that’s used for classes and events.

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BONUS! If you’re stopping by the market, you can also scout out Madcap Coffee downtown.

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Madcap is a solid “third wave” coffee roaster and shop. The Mrs and I enjoyed a cappuccino and a cafe miel (pictured above and below).

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Similar to a honey latte, the cafe miel features espresso and foamed milk with cinnamon and honey. It’s very rich and tasty. (“Miel” is French for honey.)

Revisit: The Flying Melon Cafe

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During our recent Outer Banks trip (you can read part 1 and part 2 of the culinary highlights), we spent a day on Ocracoke Island. Mrs. Bfast w/Nick and I refer to it as one of our happy places. It’s a small village on the southern end of a long island that’s mostly National Seashore, which means a casual vibe, small town feel, and unspoiled beaches. Last year, we discovered the newly-relocated Flying Melon Cafe on the day of its re-opening, and on our return trip this year, we were eager to bring the rest of the family along to experience their brunch.

On arriving, I noticed the above framed note on the wall. Very cool!

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Overall, we had another superb brunch. They were able to accommodate our large group, and food came out quickly. The brunch menu highlights southern flavors and seafood. Here, for instance, we see a shrimp po-boy with hand-cut fries.

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Or my grillade and grits. Grillade is a New Orleans preparation of seasoned and seared (usually) beef, often ladled with a rich gravy on a bed of cheesy grits.

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New Orleans-style French toast, aka battered and fried French toast. More like a donut, and therefore awesome.

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Even Flying Melon’s take on a NYC specialty is well done, with house-smoked salmon and bagels.

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Or what about these dense sweet potato pancakes?

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Flying Melon gets high marks for their plating, too. Take a look at the shrimp mash, with potatoes, shrimp, sausage, poached eggs, and hollandaise.

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Even their basic breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, and toast was well done!

photo 3And finally, the fried green tomato BLT. Just beautiful.

I guess this ranks as a “Sorry, just had to share!” post, but no apologies here. We’ve enjoyed our visits to Flying Melon (as well as nearby Dajio Restaurant). It’s a colorful and welcoming breakfast that utilizes the best ingredients they have around. If you’re traveling the Banks and visit Ocracoke (which you should!), make Flying Melon a brunch stop!

 

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

Photos: North Market Coffee Roast 2014

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Yesterday North Market hosted the third Coffee Roast on a perfectly beautiful spring day. This year the event moved outdoors to the farmers market plaza (and the date was pushed back from March), with the roasters lined up in front of the market. Together as a family we beat most of the crowds by hitting up the event just as it started.

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We strolled up and down the lines, saying hello to some favorites and trying a couple new roasters. Like every good event – and every day, let’s be honest – we started with a stop at One Line Coffee. Mrs. Bfast w/Nick is there often enough that she knows the baristas by name; they were pulling delicious, delicious shots of espresso.

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Down on one end stood Das Kaffee Haus‘ table, complete with their modified ambulance (labeled the Emergency Kaffee Unit) parked nearby. DKH is located in Lithopolis, but their coffee can be found around Columbus at places like Milestone 229 and the Columbus Brewing Company Restaurant. Amy and Joe (aka Frau Burkhardt and Herr Joseph) told me their place is modeled on the European coffee shops they’ve encountered while traveling and serving abroad in the military.

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And of course we were on the lookout for Jason and Emily from Thunderkiss Coffee. They’re the coolest. Also, their coffee is great. Some of my favorite in town. Jason has a small but mighty roasting operation; you can find his beans at restaurants and on store shelves all around town.

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Strolling down the line we took in brews from Crimson Cup, Backroom Coffee Roasters

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…plus Silver Bridge and the newer Roaming Goat Coffee. The fun thing about this event is that everyone is excited to talk about coffee – and not just their coffee, but coffee in general. And you could witness nearly every type of coffee prep available.

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Dayton-based Boston Stoker has established their presence in Columbus with a shop near OSU’s campus. Like a couple other places, they displayed coffee beans for smelling or to reference the colors of the roasting process.

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Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, one of the mainstays of the Columbus coffee scene, was on hand with a tiny electric roaster. The portable setup roasts in small sample batches, allowing them to treat the same beans in different roasting lengths quickly.

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Rich the roaster showed me samples of his roast in progress. The machine roasts in 80 gram batches.

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The most unique offering of the day came – not surprisingly – from Cafe Brioso. They served two excellent hot brews – some of the standouts from the morning – but they also featured coffee sno-cones.

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Yes, coffee sno-cones. J. J. explained they used a rare Ethiopian Nekisse bean, cold-brewed, mixed with a dash of Ohio honey, and served over shaved ice. It was as delicious as you’d expect. I think we have a new definition of summer in Columbus.

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Further down the line – right next to Snowville Creamery with their samples of milk and yogurt – we found Actual Brewing‘s roastery crew in full swing.

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They make superb beer, really strong coffee roasts, and they’ve got some of the best beards in the biz.

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The event space indoors was dedicated to coffee education, with Brioso’s crew kicking off a demonstration of espresso preparation. On the other end of the room, baristas from a mix of shops made espresso drinks for customers.

We couldn’t have had a better day for the event. The move outdoors and to a Sunday (see photos from 2012 and 2013) offered more space and prevented longer lines. The one thing that confused me was the branding of it as a “brunch.” When I hear “brunch” I assume there will be food involved, but what that really meant was “you can go into the market to find food.” Many vendors had special $5 brunch bites, but the market opens at noon on Sundays (the Coffee Roast started at 10), so a majority of the stalls were closed during the first half of the event (although the newly moved and re-branded Taste of Belgium was hopping). I was also a little disappointed that attendees were given generic North Market mugs, and not the fun branded ones with colorful Clinton Reno artwork like years past. I know it’s gimmicky, but I like having a memento that references the specific event.

Aside from those details – it was a wonderful event that really featured Columbus’ great coffee roasters and brewers. We have much to be proud of, and our coffee keeps getting better and better.

Photos: Brewing Beer at North High Brewing

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Where does a craft beer enthusiast go for his birthday? He brews some beer with friends! A couple weeks ago I gathered with a group of friends at North High Brewing to make our own batch. North High is Columbus’ first brew-on-premises shop, which means you can brew, ferment, and bottle beer under the guidance of experienced brewers.

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I’ve been to North High a number of times already – their bar has some great history behind it, which you can learn about on Columbus Brew Adventures downtown tour – but this was the first I’ve brewed there. The brewhouse is a separate room from the bar, with eight brew kettles centered around a chandelier with 21 bulbs symbolizing the 21st Amendment (the repeal of Prohibition).

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The process took about three hours total. We began by copying down the recipe, then heading into the brewhouse to be begin boiling water. North High lets you brew in 15 gallon batches; their system uses steam to heat the kettles, which speeds up the process.

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Another streamlining step is the use of extracts in brewing. Extracts are concentrated syrups that save on boiling time. North High uses primarily extracts, but not exclusively. We added about three pounds each of caramel malts and peat smoked malts.

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These were measured out…

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…and then milled right there are the brewery.

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We loaded the grains into muslin bags.

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And then these were steeped in the hot liquor (aka the hot water), much like tea.

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Then the extracts go in. On the right are the thirty pounds of amber malt extract. On the left is the five pounds of Ohio honey. The honey helps round out the big, malty body of the wee heavy. It gives the yeast something feed on during fermentation, and it just plain tastes good.

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Honey and extract into the tank!

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Throughout the boil we added pelletized Fuggle hops in small, calculated amounts. Fuggle is a sweeter English hop – appropriate for a Scottish style like the wee heavy.

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While you’re brewing, there’s down-time to check out the bar and order some food or drink.

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North High usually has about 10 of their beers on tap, plus a good selection of other breweries. They also run special brews like this one: their wee heavy on firkin with vanilla bean, cocoa nib, and bourbon-soaked oak chips.

By that point, brewing was done. The beer just had to cool and get filtered into the fermentation container. We’ll be coming back soon to bottle it.

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But the fun didn’t stop there! As it was dinner time, we hit up Marino’s Seafood Fish & Chips in Grandview (look for a separate post on that soon). It was lots of fried goodness.

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And then we rounded out the evening by hitting up Zauber Brewing just down the road. All in all, a great birthday celebration – especially getting to hang out with friends and make something together.

North High Brewing on Urbanspoon

Photos: Cravings Carryout Cafe relaunch

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One of our favorite discoveries from last year – Cookie Cravings Bakery – celebrated a re-brand and a revamp this past weekend. Newly christened Cravings Carryout Cafe, the cafe has new signage, branding, and a new menu. They dropped the “Cookie” from their name because they do so much more. The cookies are still there, but the focus is now on sandwiches, wraps, and  other sides, all highlighting the neighborhood carry out element.

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Owners Matt, Lindsey, and Joan Tewanger have made some small changes to the space. You’ll see new equipment, shelves, and menu boards.

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This includes a new retail shelve with T-shirts, granola, plus growlers and bags of Thunderkiss Coffee.

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The boards showcase the new menu, replete with rolls, burritos, sandwiches, and sides.

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There’s iced and hot coffee, plus juice and tea. I completely forgot to photograph the third board that highlights specials.

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We stopped in about half an hour after opening on Saturday, and already they were busy. Matt was working his magic in the back.

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Cravings added some more seating in the side yard, with has great promise for spring, summer, and autumn breakfasts, especially when there’s a welcoming fire in the fire pit.

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We knew we were going to visit over the weekend, but the promise of bronuts pretty much guaranteed we’d come searching. What’s a bronut? It’s a brioche donut. Cravings makes killer brioche, and they’ve mixed the dough with lemon and rosemary, fried it, and iced it. The donuts were perfectly soft, fluffy, and warm. Ours disappeared in a matter of seconds.

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And then it was on to the sandwiches. Oh, the sandwiches. They were beautiful and delicious, stacked high on golden brioche rolls.

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We started first with the Breakfast Roll, featuring cheddar, bacon, a fried egg, and a rosemary aioli. We barely managed to sneak some bites while our boys devoured it. Our five-year-old (who is not picky, but knows his stuff) said it was one of his favorite sandwiches.

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We also snagged a plate of the sausage biscuits and gravy, made using Bluescreek Farms sausage. It was thick and chunky, served with a soft biscuit, and just what you would ask for in biscuits and gravy.

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Our favorite of meal was the BLT. Like the breakfast roll, it was served on a beautiful brioche roll.

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The sandwich was stacked high with thick-cut bacon, greens, a basil mayo, and these stunning tomatoes. We did not expect to find tomatoes like this in March. Usually  you get those sad, tasteless, translucent ones in the winter, but these were dark and red. Matt roasted them to perfection.

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With the firepit going in the side yard, they set out a cute little smores kit.

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So after brunch we enjoyed some smores roasted over the fire.

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All in all, it’s an exciting new stage for the restaurant! Congrats to Matt, Lindsey, Joan, and the crew!

If you want to visit & connect:
Cravings Carryout Cafe
227 E. Third Ave. (off Fourth St. in Italian Village)
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 725-0090
Find them on Facebook and @CravingsCafe614
New hours are Tues-Fri, 11a-7p; Sat & Sun, 9a-3p

Video: Breakfast With Nick & Karina at South of Lane

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We discovered South of Lane late last year, and last week Karina Nova and I visited for our latest Breakfast With Nick spot on 10TV! I’ve mastered the art of taking small bites on air, now I have to work on not drinking my coffee awkwardly. You can watch the clip here.

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