RSS Feed

Category Archives: review

Reviews of different breakfast places.

Propaganda Donuts | Grand Rapids, MI

IMG_0542
Propaganda Donuts (Facebook / @PropagandaDonut)

117A S. Division Ave. (map it!)
Grand Rapids, MI 40503
Open Mon, Wed-Sun, 8a-12p; open Fri & Sat, 8p-12a
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/Y

Visited: Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 9:30a

IMG_0540
“Danger. Intrigue. Donuts.” That’s the tagline for Propaganda Donuts, a hip new donut shop set up just south of downtown Grand Rapids on Division Avenue. It sets up an air of mystery and curiosity, which is followed through with a location more like a film noir set than a traditional donut shop. The space itself is an old storefront – one I’ve never visited before – with an in-set tiled entryway, a wooden door, and big windows.

IMG_0538
The sandwich board out front gives you another clue that these donuts will be anything but traditional.

IMG_0531
The interior is one long room, the left wall all exposed brick. There’s a small counter, while the rest of the customer space is dedicated to a few seats for waiting and a desk.

IMG_0529
Even the counter itself is stacked with stuff like detective novels, an old wooden filing cabinet, a bottle of moonshine, binoculars.

IMG_0526
A small display case shows off the offerings for the day. It takes a moment or two to triangulate which sign goes with which donut.

IMG_0535
When we visited, 5-6 people were waiting for one of their daily specials – a French cruller – to be made. But we hopped right up to the counter, ordered, and were on our way.

IMG_0533
The old desk in the waiting area keeps up the detective theme, with books, a typewriter, newspapers (some real, some fictional), and photos.

IMG_0546
Propaganda is nailing the style, and it’s not without substance. We grabbed one of each of their daily offerings. These ranged from the standards of plain, powdered, and cinnamon sugar to more unique eats like honey roasted beets, vanilla bean buttermilk with chocolate and raspberry, and a bourbon caramel with mango, pineapple, passion fruit, and sprinkled with coconut. There wasn’t a bad donut in the bunch, although our preference was for the three more creative specials. Even the combinations that might seem too funky for some (honey roasted beets, for instance) worked quite well. And clearly they’re catching on, given the waiting crowd and the fact neighborhood folks were stopping in for coffee and a donut while walking their dogs (that’s always a good sign to me).

Downtown Grand Rapids is experiencing a bit of renaissance, with new restaurants, the new market opening, brewpubs, and more. So it’s fitting that it would get an interesting donut place, too, and I deduce (see what I did there?) Propaganda is filling the niche. With some fun flavor combinations, responsible sourcing of ingredients, and supreme dedication to their branding, they could be on track to becoming a destination like places like Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland.

Propaganda Doughnuts on Urbanspoon

Brandywine (Lake Drive) | Grand Rapids, MI

IMG_0482
Brandywine
1345 Lake Dr. SE (map it!)
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
(616) 774-8641
Open Mon-Sat, 7a-8p; Sun, 8a-8p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited
: Friday, March 28, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.

In my hometown of Grand Rapids, the general rule is that whenever possible, you go to breakfast. Business meeting, catching up with friends, class discussion? Go to breakfast. In most cities you find breakfast and brunch joints busiest on the weekends, but in GR they’re busy every morning. So when we wanted to meet up with some good friends, we naturally went to breakfast, and we picked a spot we haven’t visited for years. Brandywine is a long-established restaurant in GR’s Eastown district, home to a string of old bookstores, gift shops, coffee shops, pubs, classic eateries like Yesterdog or newer additions like Terra GR (formerly Trillium Haven). I’m not sure when Brandywine opened, but I always remember it being there, and it being a favorite of many friends. The last time I visited, however, was back in college.

IMG_0485
Brandywine’s exterior is easily identifiable by the bright orange and purple coloring. Parking can be a challenge if you don’t know right where to look. There’s a little on-street parking nearby and a few small lots next to the building, but you have to watch the signs to make sure you’re not parking in another business’ spots.

IMG_0479
The interior is a long, carpeted room with a low ceiling and walls filled with photos and paintings. Both sides are lined with booths, a row of four-tops cuts through the center, and there’s even a small counter with stools and the cashier in the back corner. In many ways, Brandywine is set up like a diner, complete with the sassy servers who consistently top off your coffee; but in other ways it’s very un-diner-ish, like the general color palette or the carpet. Even the name implies something a little fancier.

IMG_0457
Brandywine also steps up their game with an expansive and often creative breakfast menu. It ranges from benedicts to pancakes (including sweet potato pancakes) to French toast to sandwiches to scrambles to omelets. Our group eyed the specialties, like the country benedict with buttermilk biscuits, sausage patties, poached eggs, and sausage gravy. Served with a slab – that’s the only way I can describe it – of browned potatoes. It’s the best of both worlds: biscuits & gravy + eggs benedict.

IMG_0461
I quickly spied out the Eggs Timothy, a benedict adaptation with two over easy eggs on corned beef hash, hollandaise, toast, and potatoes. Almost all of it lined up the way I’d like: the eggs, a pretty lemony hollandaise, crispy hash browns. The one downside was the canned corned beef hash. I’m not a fan of it; it’s ground too thin and tastes too much of the can. Even if a restaurant doesn’t want to go so far as brining their own beef, they could still get it from any deli and chop it themselves.

IMG_0473
Amongst the toast choices was the rare English muffin toast. This ended up meaning toast made in a similar style, with big pockets from the bubbles created by the yeast. Like a light, white toast.

IMG_0469
The real winner of our breakfast was the Smoked Chicken and Black Bean Hash. Seriously, I need to eat more breakfasts like this. The base has was made from black beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, roasted red peppers, and diced chunks of a (sightly dry) smoked chicken. It was topped with two poached eggs and served with a side of rye toast and fruit. The hash was generously seasoned – lots of cumin – and blended together nicely.

IMG_0477
Clearly we liked it.

Brandywine is a funny hybrid, like a colorful, creative, carpeted diner. Our server was very fun and friendly, the food several notches above diner standards (aside from the canned corned beef hash), and the overall atmosphere cozy enough to explain why the place is packed with regulars on a weekday.

Brandywine Restaurant on Urbanspoon

HoneyDip Donuts & Diner | Columbus, OH

IMG_0295
Honey Dip Donuts & Diner (Facebook)
4480 Kenny Rd. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43220
(614) 459-0812
Open Mon-Sat, 6:30a-2p; Sun, 7a-2p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited: Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 12:30pm

IMG_0296
Who’s up for a big breakfast of donuts and donut sandwiches? Apparently, me! It’s been a while since I’ve been to Honey Dip. The first visit was when they only served donuts, and the second was a quick peek at the new renovations that added the “and Diner” to the name.

IMG_0279
Well, now it’s time to get a good look at how the donut shop has remade itself as a diner. Judging by the decently busy Saturday afternoon, they’re doing quite well.

IMG_0292
Fans of the original version of Honey Dip will still recognize the space and the feel. The long, low counter, the red tile floor, the pink donut shelves. More seats have been added, and the old donut prep area is now a small dining area with eight tables.

IMG_0276
Donuts are still the feature; upon entering you’re greeted with a sight of the classic shelves.

IMG_0289
And a glass case full of the extra special goods like longjohns, cinnamon rolls, and apple fritters.

IMG_0287
The purpose of this exploratory visit: to sample a donut sandwich. Honey Dip offers three: the breakfast sandwich, the BLT, and the burger.

IMG_0262
We found a small table and looked through the one-page breakfast menu. It has all the basics covered: eggs, omelets, pancakes, sandwiches. Even some specialties like eggs benedict and a breakfast burrito.

IMG_0263
My son wanted something simple: the two eggs, home fries, and toast. As with any basic breakfast, you can customize it: eggs, choice of toast, sausage patties or links (or bacon), home fries or hash browns. All of it was nicely done. The eggs were scrambled without being dry, the sausage patty was basic but seasoned well. The hash browns could have been a little crispier, but they came in a generous portion. All in all: a very filling and likable diner breakfast.

IMG_0283
We were hungry, so we also split the biscuits and gravy, a small but rich bowl of thick sausage gravy along with two soft biscuits. The gravy was thick to the point of being a little gummy, but it was chunky and peppery.

IMG_0267
And now on to the main show: the donut breakfast sandwich. When I posted a picture of this on instagram, I couldn’t help but exclaim, “What am I doing with my life?!” And that’s the honest question you have to ask yourself after you’ve ordered one of these. What has led you to this point?

IMG_0272
The construction is simple and really, it seems so obvious. You take a breakfast sandwich (a fried egg, a sausage patty, a slice of cheese) and you grill two donuts instead of bread. It’s the perfect marriage of sweet + salty. The warm donuts collapse under the pressure into two solid layers of sugar. But I have to be honest about two things:

1.) This sandwich was delicious. I mean, seriously: it’s a breakfast sandwich made with donuts. The only failing point is that you mostly just taste the donuts. Sure, there’s a hint of sausage, a soupcon of cheese, a waft of eggs, but for the most part you’re tasting two warm, soft honey dip donuts.

2.) This sandwich also sat with me for a long time. A long time. I honestly wasn’t hungry until the next day.

IMG_0301

You also can’t walk out of a donut shop without some donuts (and I’m wondering why I was still full the next day?), so we snagged a half dozen of a couple custard-filled donuts, two longjohns, and a pair of their signature glazed yeast donuts. Honey Dip has long been a favorite donut shop of many, and they’re still riding on that strength.

Well, now you know about breakfast at Honey Dip in all its glory. If a full-blown donut sandwich isn’t your thing, you can always settle for a donut and a cup of coffee, or a small plate of eggs and toast. Overall, Honey Dip seems to have successfully transitioned over the years from a favorite donut shop to a favorite donut shop and diner.

Honey Dip Donuts & Coffee on Urbanspoon

Jerry’s Galaxy Cafe | Hilliard, OH

IMG_9866
Jerry’s Galaxy Cafe (Facebook)
4920 Scioto Darby Rd. (map it!)
Hilliard, OH 43026
(614) 319-4035
Open Tues-Thurs, 9a-9:30p; Fri & Sat, 9a-10p; Sun, 9a-4p
Accepts cash & debit/credit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited: Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 12:30p

Just like the Explorer’s Club, Jerry’s Galaxy Cafe is bit of Columbus restaurant history come to life. While that piece of history that pre-dates my time in Columbus, I can still be excited to see the addition of more good eats, especially on the west side of town. Jerry’s covers much of the same territory as Starliner Diner (Jerry started the diner years ago), and some of his same collaborators of old opened Explorer’s Club. So now Jerry’s going his own way by doing what he does best.

IMG_9863
The cafe opened in a fairly nondescript, beige-sided building. The only signage is the restaurant name scrawled in white chalk paint across one of the doors. We nearly drove by it on our first trip.

IMG_9857
But then the interior is surprisingly bright. Black and white checkered ceiling. Bright yellow walls. Colorful posters.

IMG_9858
One wall – all brick with a fireplace in the center – is lined with shelves full of knick-knacks like trains, porcelain cartoon characters, trucks, old cans. Our two boys were of course fascinated with these.

IMG_9827
The Bangin’ Breakfast menu isn’t huge, but it covers all the bases. The mainstays are Cuban/Mexican/southwestern-themed, while a list of omelets and buttermilk pancakes complete the line-up.

IMG_9837
We started with coffee, a basic diner brew served in smaller mugs. I usually like small mugs; they help the coffee cool more quickly.

IMG_9833
We mixed a little breakfast and lunch (someone should come up with a name for that). The appetizer was fried plantains – soft, starchy, and sweet – served with a creamy house salsa that was a little too heavy on the onion.

IMG_9840
Next was the always-loveable Cuban French toast, which means Cuban bread diced, battered, and fried. They’re like mini donuts dusted in powdered sugar.

IMG_9842
I knew before walking in that I’d be ordering the chiliquiles. They’re one of my favorite breakfast dishes – a savory and spicy mix of beans, vegetables, eggs, cheese, and tortillas – and they’re my benchmark for restaurants offering southwestern fare. Jerry’s version measured up pretty well, although I wanted more seasoning.

IMG_9846
Same with the chorizo burrito, a flour tortilla generously filled with eggs, cheese, beans, and chorizo. It’s a tasty burrito, as far as they go, but I wanted more spice!

IMG_9853
From the lunch menu we sampled the Galaxy steak sandwich at the suggestion of our server (who was a little forgetful but very sweet and friendly). Nicely done steak on a toasted bun, good seasoning, a sprinkling of herbs, still a little heavy on the onions.

Jerry and his crew may be working out some kinks still, but he’s sporting a creative menu, many types of dishes I love, and a cozy location that could easily become a hidden gem for Columbus breakfasters. I suggest making the trek to Hilliard to support his latest endeavor!

OTHER LINKS:
-> read more about my visit to Jerry’s on the Daily Crave blog

Jerry's Galaxy Cafe on Urbanspoon

Photos: Brunch at The Torpedo Room

IMG_9943
One of the latest Columbus Food League arrivals, The Torpedo Room, launched a limited brunch menu this past Sunday in conjunction with a monthly event of brunch + a classic movie at the Gateway Film Center. I took my five-year-old to go check out the brunch (although I don’t think he’s quite ready for Goldfinger). The Torpedo Room is located on the main floor of the GFC; you’ll see the signs just to the left of the concession stand.

IMG_9940
As you might expect, the single-room restaurant uses a heavy nautical theme, with round portholes, heavy draped curtains, and a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea feel.

IMG_9963

There’s a good amount of seating, and the restaurant includes a full bar. It’s a cozy and quiet spot.

IMG_9950
The current brunch menu (it may change) features seven items, lots of sides, plus drinks (including the bar). There’s a heavy southwestern theme, with burritos, enchiladas, and huevos rancheros taking the lead. Like every CFL restaurant, you can rely on solid vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options.

IMG_9947

I took the opportunity to finally try a Rambling House ginger beer. Rambling House produces their own natural sodas out of a small space in southern Clintonville (where they host a LOT of live music), and their sodas are showing up on tap around town. The ginger beer is bright, fizzy, and a delightful balance between sweet and a nice gingery pucker. The last few gulps were especially strong with the ginger. You could make some great cocktails out of this.

IMG_9951

I chose the egg and cheese enchiladas, because you don’t see many breakfast enchiladas out there. The two enchiladas are filled with eggs and cheese, and topped heavily with a spicy verde salsa; I added the optional chorizo, because… well, chorizo. They’re served with a small plate of hash browns.

IMG_9954

Will asked for the breakfast burrito, a good-sized one filled with eggs, cheese, beans, sausage, and salsa, plus a side of potatoes.

IMG_9958
It was as filling and tasty as you would expect from a breakfast burrito.

Overall, it’s a solid brunch that’s just getting started. Expect the menu to change and hopefully regular hours to be established.

If you want to visit:
The Torpedo Room
1550 N. High St. (inside the Gateway Film Center)
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 247-4433

Currently brunch is just served with this event. Upcoming movie brunches (cost is $15 for both your meal and the movie ticket) include:
April 6th: Breathless
May 4th: Annie Hall

UPDATED: Regular brunch hours are Sat & Sun, 11a-2p; Cinema Classic brunches start at 12p, movie is at 2.

The Torpedo Room on Urbanspoon

Sunflower Chinese Restaurant & Lounge | Dublin, OH

IMG_9453
Sunflower Chinese Restaurant & Lounge (Facebook)
7370 Sawmill Rd. (map it!)
Dublin, OH 43235
(614) 764-7888
Open Mon-Thurs, 11:30a-11p; Fri, 11:30a-12a; Sat, 11a-12a; Sun, 11a-11p
(smaller dim sum menu served daily; full dim sum served Sat & Sun, 11a-3p)
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N

Visited: Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 11:00 a.m.

IMG_9511
Oh, it’s been too long since we’ve been to dim sum at Sunflower Chinese Restaurant & Lounge. Sadly, there aren’t many places for dim sum around Columbus now (the nearby Lee Garden closed a couple years ago). While there are a plethora of Chinese restaurants around town (some the Americanized, some very authentic), there aren’t many that serve authentic dim sum.

IMG_9508
Quick background, in case you’re not familiar with dim sum. Dim sum is essentially Chinese brunch. It’s a late morning/early afternoon meal that’s typically eaten as a group. The meal consists of tea and mostly small plates meant to be shared.

IMG_9500
In the true dim sum experience, the small plates are served tableside from carts. Different servers wheel their carts from table to table, allowing you to select plates that interest you. A typical dish is already divided into pieces for easy sharing.

IMG_9473
The carts come quickly at first, so your table will fill up in no time. I remember the first time we had true dim sum, at a place called Jing Fong in New York City. The carts came at us so fast that we barely had time to react. The experience is a little more subdued at Sunflower, and the servers are all very polite, so don’t feel bad if you decline a plate. And don’t hesitate to ask what’s what.

IMG_9461
We started with a lot of dumplings, some steamed and some fried.

IMG_9460
The dumplings are loaded with things like shrimp, pork, and veggies.

IMG_9459
They’re steamed in metal or wood containers that stack on the carts, and the servers deposit them with tongs.

IMG_9480
There are also plates with stir fries of rice noodles and veggies. Our boys loved these.

IMG_9497
This dumpling (I don’t know what it was called) had a delicate and flaky exterior.

IMG_9469
I also love these rice noodles, filled with shrimp and doused with a sweet soy sauce.

IMG_9466
These dumplings were similar, filled with shrimp.

IMG_9483
These fluffy steamed pork buns were a hit, too, with a big, pillowy breading surrounding sweet and rich pork.

IMG_9470
One dish includes chicken, rice, veggies, and a quail egg steamed in a lotus leaf.

IMG_9490
Here’s the interior of the lotus leaf, complete with quail egg.

IMG_9503
There’s a cart with drinks and desserts, too, so you can supplement your tea with cold bubble tea and finish off the meal by indulging your sweet tooth.

IMG_9478
At the beginning of your meal, you’re given a card listing the general categories of the dishes. As you select plates from the cart, the server will mark the appropriate line with a stamp or initials. Then at the end of your meal, you take the card up to the cashier and they add everything up.

The dim sum experience at Sunflower is delightful, especially if you go with a large group and enjoy the company while sampling dishes. We were pretty conservative with our choices (because this was a first experience for our boys), but there are more adventurous plates, too, like fried chicken feet.

Is Sunflower the best Chinese restaurant in the city? Probably not. Is it one of the only restaurants serving dim sum? Yes. And a very fine meal it is.

Sunflower Chinese Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Grandview Grind | Columbus, OH

IMG_8988
Grandview Grind (Facebook / @GrandviewGrind)
1423-A Grandview Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 485-9005
Open Mon-Wed, 6a-8p; Thurs-Sat, 6a-10p
Accepts cash & credit/debit

Visited: Sunday, January 12, 2014 at 12:30pm

IMG_8983
Columbus has no shortage of coffee roasters and coffee shops, and the closer you get to Ohio State, the more you’ll find coffee shops that are perfect for studying or just hanging out. Shops like these are valuable community hubs, especially in the winter. They’re a warm place to gather for studiers, freelancers, book clubs, or the casual newspaper reader. Grandview has no shortage of these shops, including the relatively new Grandview Grind.

IMG_8977
Grandview Grind is located in the Grandview Center, a little plaza with shops and restaurants surrounding a small parking lot. GG is tucked in the northwest corner of the plaza, next to Local Cantina. It was just announced that the Panera which sits on front corner of the plaza will move to the Grandview Yard and be replaced by a new Cameron Mitchell steakhouse. Panera’s exit will certainly benefit Grandview Grind.

IMG_8978
The coffee shop is a sizable space – bigger than it looks from the outside – with a curved counter in one corner and the requisite number of tables, chairs, stools, and comfy seats. It’s bright and tall and open, while still feeling pretty cozy. In one corner are shelves stocked with local gifts.

IMG_8973
The coffee menu is sizable, and offers the range you would expect: hot and cold coffee, lattes, espresso, specialty drinks, smoothies.

IMG_8970
They don’t prep food on premises, but plenty of local treats from places like Patisserie Lallier are available.

IMG_8969
Beans (available for bulk purchase) come from around Columbus – Thunderkiss, Brioso, Backroom, Luck Bros, Boston Stoker – with the exception of Denver-based Novo.

IMG_8974
Mrs. Bfast w/Nick and I were in the mood for something simple, so I ordered a shot of espresso and a cubano. Both were good, although just a tad sour.

IMG_8981
If tea is more of your thing, Grandview Grind still has you covered.

IMG_8984
Lots of local love on the door. Grandview Grind was busy when we stopped in, a sure sign that it serves that all important need of a community space. They seem to be doing something right, and here’s hoping that success continues!

Dan the Baker | Columbus, OH

IMG_8942
Dan the Baker (Facebook / @thebakerdan)
1028 Ridge St. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 928-9035
Open Mon & Tues, 9a-5p; Wed, Fri, & Sat, 9a-4p
Accepts cash & credit/debit

Visited: Friday, January 10, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.

Daniel Riesenberger, aka Dan the Baker, has long been selling his breads, croissants, and pastries at farmer’s markets around town. I first encountered his goods at a workshop at Wild Goose Creative‘s Too Many Cooksa couple years ago, where he taught everyone how to roll sourdough croissants. We’ve been following Dan’s work ever since then, finding him at the Clintonville and the Worthington farmer’s markets. I also keep seeing his name pop up on restaurant menus, as his breads and pastries are turned into sandwiches and desserts.

IMG_8932
Well, finally Dan and his team have opened up a small retail space attached to their production kitchen in Grandview. The space is a little hard to find, down an odd side street off Dublin Road (just east of the Grandview Avenue intersection), but it’s a bright, clean little space with a few tables, decorated in blues with light wood accents.

IMG_8925
The space includes a small counter and a few shelves. The main shelf behind the counter shows off Dan’s picturesque breads. Serious, follow him on Instagram to get a daily dose of his breads. We ended up picking a loaf of sunflower flax seed bread (bottom center) which was simply delicious. He preferences local and organic ingredients in his bread. The price point is a little higher than grocery store bread, but the flavors, textures, and overall quality are hard to beat.

IMG_8934
He also sells smaller pastries, croissants, and scones.

IMG_8935
Plus cookies, shortbreads, and “tiles.”

IMG_8924
That day there were some fresh and crisp apple galettes.

IMG_8928
Dan also offers full coffee and tea service, with a variety of loose leaf teas.

IMG_8893
He also serves espresso, lattes, macchiatos, cappucinos, V60 pour overs, and more, using beans from Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee and Columbus’ Cafe Brioso.

IMG_8899
I had a smooth and creamy shot of espresso to go with the galette.

IMG_8927
The cafe space has a window into the pastry kitchen. It was dormant when we visited, but I can imagine it’d be some fun watching while enjoying coffee and a snack.

IMG_8902
Daniel took us through their production kitchen, too. The space used to be owned by The French Loaf, so when Daniel took it over, it was mostly ready for production. He added some equipment, including a new oven, but it was good to go as a bakery!

IMG_8911
We saw delicious savory croissants.

IMG_8908
And cheddar bacon scones.

IMG_8905
Around the kitchen you can see the remnants of Daniel’s small start, like labeled equipment from his time baking out of the Hills Market’s kitchen.

IMG_8922
As expected, they were busy. We found Colin scoring loaves of sourdough bread and loading them into the oven.

IMG_8940
Daniel and his crew are still getting started with the shop, but they’re already doing quite a bit with it. They’re open most days of the week, and look for an official grand opening soon. You can stop in to grab a snack, or hang out with a pastry and some coffee. It’s a quiet little spot, perfect for some reading, studying, or conversation with friends!

Dan the Baker on Urbanspoon

Madcap Coffee | Grand Rapids, MI

IMG_8623
Madcap Coffee
(Facebook / @MadCapCoffee)

85 Monroe Center NW (map it!)
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 242-9194
Open Mon-Fri, 7a-7p; Sat, 8a-7p; Sun, 10a-3p
Accepts cash & credit/debit

Visited: Saturday, December 27, 2013 at 3:00pm

IMG_8605
What does it say when other people tell ME about cool places to go in MY hometown? Well, it probably says that I haven’t lived there in over a decade, and the place keeps getting cooler and cooler with each passing year. Exhibit A: Madcap Coffee. Opened downtown almost six years ago. I didn’t hear of it until about a year ago. And now we’re finally making it.

IMG_8607
Madcap is a great example of “third wave” coffee (1st = Folger’s, 2nd = Starbucks). “Third wave” shops are the small-batch roasters who treat coffee on par with craft beer, wine, etc. In other words, they’re sourcing, roasting, and brewing coffee beans with care.

IMG_8609
Madcap has a beautiful corner space in downtown Grand Rapids on Monroe Center, a pedestrian-friendly diagonal stretch full of shops and restaurants. The space is brightly-lit, with tall windows, wooden floors, some art spread around the walls, and a large back brick wall.

IMG_8613
Madcap’s branding is also pretty solid.

IMG_8615
They’ve got all the accoutrement for sale: beans, mugs, shirts, etc.

IMG_8617
The counter is arranged like a large U: point of sale is in the middle; specialty drives arrive on the left, and on the right is a row of pour-overs. The menu at places like Madcap tends to be limited, not the expansive half-caf, double-whip, extra-shot menus of most corporate coffee shops. Instead, they focus on doing a few things very well: pour-over coffee, espresso, lattes, etc. I ordered a pour-over of a Guatemalan roast; I often prefer judging a new coffee shop on the quality of a simple pour-over, and Madcap’s was excellent.

IMG_8619
Mrs. Bfast w/Nick ordered a latte, and it was rich and creamy and balanced.

IMG_8611
Madcap seems to have a good thing going. I’m glad to have finally visited, and I look forward to hitting them up again when we’re back in town.

Madcap Coffee on Urbanspoon

The Bean | Columbus, OH

IMG_8264
The Bean
219 E. Arcadia Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43202
(614) 564-9383
Open Mon-Sat, 7a-7p

Visited: Monday, December 16, 2013 at 10:00 am

As a Clintonville resident, I’m always happy to have more coffee in the neighborhood. This is even with Yeah, Me Too, Cup o’ Joe, and even Thunderkiss roasting nearby. I also drive up and down Arcadia Avenue frequently, so it’s great to see the little corner space at the Calumet terminus filled in, especially right next door to the awesome Dabble & Stitch.

IMG_8272
The Bean has been open for a few weeks now, but has been deliberately sailing under the radar with no advertising or social media presence, like an extended soft opening. The little corner space is painted colorfully and brightly lit with its big windows.

IMG_8266
I spoke with John, who co-owns the shop with his mother Susan. He said they’re keeping a low profile while they get the feel of running a coffee shop. At the moment their service is limited to brewed coffee, tea, and hot chocolate complemented by baked goods, sandwiches, and a la carte salads and slaw. They’re brewing Seven Hills coffee out of Cincinnati, but John indicated they’re talking with local roasters.

IMG_8268
The space is nicely appointed, with wooden floors and a stainless-steel-and-tile counter top. There are some small tables, a bench, and a television. They’re clearly in it for the long haul, judging by the gift cards already available.

IMG_8269
Most of the baked goods are provided by Four & Twenty Bake Shop, a good friend of mine who produces some tasty scones, muffins, cupcakes, and more.

IMG_8274
I was just stopping in for coffee and a lemon blueberry scone, but I took a peek at the sandwich menu, too.

IMG_8271
Although The Bean is just offering the basics right now, you can help the endeavor by stopping in for some coffee, a snack, or a sandwich. It’d be nice to see this little corner develop!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 237 other followers