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Tag Archives: Clintonville

The Bean | Columbus, OH

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

The Crest Gastropub | Columbus, OH

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The Crest Gastropub (Facebook / @TheCbusCrest)
2855 Indianola Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43202
(614) 261-7128
Open daily 11a-1a (brunch served Sat & Sun)
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/Y/Y
Kid-friendly? Y (for brunch, at least)

Visited: Sunday, July 28, 2013 at 12:30 p.m.

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Ah, finally here we are: having brunch at The Crest. I’ve been sitting on this post for a while because the Crest is one of the more talked-about new restaurants in recent months. This is my first time here for any meal, although Mrs. Bfast w/Nick has visited for drinks and snacks, and many trusted friends have been here multiple times at different times of the day.

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So why did I wait so long to write this up? A few reasons:

1. There’s been a lot of discussion about the Crest, more so than any other restaurant that’s opened recently. Some of the debate revolves around the old versus the new Crest, which in my mind are completely different things. The old Crest was a neighborhood dive bar that lived for decades. I personally never went there; I just had no desire to. If I wanted the dive experience in Clintonville, I would go to O’Reilly’s instead (and still can). The new Crest is totally revamped: cleaned out, built up, replanted.

2. The Crest is in my neighborhood, and it’s been central to a small south Clintonville renaissance that’s included Savor Growl and the just-announced Coop Cafe. Maybe some of these newer places are slicker and lack the layers of nostalgia, but they’re bright and approachable. Personally, I love seeing these dingy spots renovated. It’s good for our neighborhood.

3. The Crest labels itself as a “gastropub,” and that word stirs up mixed reactions. Again, I’m fine with it (I’m easy-going). Yes, maybe the trend is just making its way to Columbus, having been first applied to gourmet pubs in London in the early 90′s. But if it helps communicate what your restaurant is about (beer + slightly upscale pub food), then go for it.

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This is a lot of qualification for a blog review. I guess that’s because I’m generally not a negative person, but a majority of our experience at The Crest’s brunch was subpar. Not completely awful, just leaving me with no desire to return for brunch.

First, what’s good about it: The Crest’s space is gorgeously re-done. Lots of wood accents, spherical lighting, copper plating. A rooftop garden is growing much of their produce. Even the smaller landscaping around the patio and along Indianola are being utilized to grow vegetables and herbs. The space is bright and beautiful, and as a bar they seem to succeed: interesting (if a little pricy) cocktail list, expansive selection of beer on draft and bottled.

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The Crest has what you would expect of a gastropub menu: dishes that start as basic pub food like burgers, fries, grilled cheese, then modify them with seasonal ingredients and creative preparations. See above: wild boar sausage, grilled cheese with aged cheddar, pomegranate molasses on lamb lollipops.

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While the food seems to be taking center stage, I’ve seen The Crest receive the most compliments – and this was true at brunch – for their drinks. A number of people have said it’s a better bar than restaurant, and from my experience, I’d say that’s true. Case in point here: a pint of Seventh Son’s strong ale at happy hour prices. Yes, please. Also available was the Crestilada, a modification of the Bloody Mary that included beer instead of vodka. The substitution worked around Clintonville’s archaic laws forbidding liquor sales before a certain time on Sunday.

So very good drinks, but they highlight some of the problems with service: no one seems to be talking to each other. The host who sat us told us about the Crestilada, but our server had never heard of it. Our server initially told us all draft beer was half off on Sundays until 8pm. Oh, wait, no it isn’t. Oh, wait, yes it is. Oh, sorry, no it isn’t but we’ll give you the happy price anyway. Our server took our order but others brought our food; which I know other restaurants do, but then our server was no where to be found to answer questions. It was like the service was so decentralized that no one knew 100% what was going on.

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Frustration with the service doesn’t put you in a good mood when your food arrives. We ordered a mix of things, starting with the parfait, a well-done and deconstructed version of the on-the-go breakfast. It’s made with a layer of yogurt covered in fruit fresh and granola with honey. It feels odd at first eating a horizontal parfait, but it does let you mix-and-match your bites.

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I continued with the sweet trend and ordered the orange blossom French toast, made with orange blossom water (I’m not sure how), ricotta, maple syrup, and a berry compote. The ricotta was barely to be found, and quite honestly the berry compote was so overwhelming you couldn’t taste anything else. Not the bread, not the syrup (which if it was there, I couldn’t see it), barely the toast. The compote was simply too tart and strong that the rest of the dish didn’t matter.

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The Mrs. went for the Crest burger and fries, one of the signature items on the menu. As far as burgers go, it’s nicely done although not mind-blowing. We were still negotiating the French toast and the odd service to really appreciate the burger. It’s served on a cutting board like many of their meals (I’m told), which generally I’m fine with. But aren’t wooden cutting boards difficult to clean between uses?

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The burger came with a cup of potatoes, done up with sauteed veggies.

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Honestly, it’s the little details that can make or break a meal. What kind of broke it for us were those little things. Like the server not knowing what’s going on, the French toast being completely unbalanced, or even details like the cap of the hot sauce bottle (labeled with masking tape) looking crusty and unwashed.

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That was our experience at brunch. Comparing what we paid for meals and drinks to what we actually received, I have little interest in returning. Maybe just for drinks or for lunch, but not for brunch. I think the Crest has so much going for it, and I think that the doomsayers are wrong. Despite issues with service or lackluster food, the spot has been consistently busy ever since it opened. It’s now an accepted thing to find Indianola lined with cars. I truly hope that things even out at The Crest, because I like having good food in my neighborhood, and I love seeing a new business thrive.

The Crest Gastropub on Urbanspoon

Beyond Breakfast: Yerba Buena Latin Grill | Columbus, OH

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[UPDATE 9/14/13: Yerba Buena's new regular spot is 1347 N. High St.]

In case I haven’t said it before, El Arepazo downtown is one of my favorite restaurants in town. It’s one of those restaurants that I crave all. the. time. and could visit any. day. of. the. week. The challenge is that the restaurant’s hours and location best suit everyone who works downtown. For those of us who don’t live or work there, or in Gahanna by their second restaurant Arepazo Tapas & Wine, it was a blessing when they launched the Yerba Buena food truck a couple years ago in Clintonville. Unfortunately, a very vocal minority objected to the truck’s presence along High Street, so they moved operations to Indianola just south of Morse Road, and while they did well they didn’t last long. So when we first glimpsed the beautifully decorated truck taking up its spot in the dentist’s office parking lot a couple weeks ago, we were elated. Since that opening, we’ve returned a couple times; the location is dangerously poised in between our home and Mrs. Bfast w/Nick’s work, so it’s very easy to justify stopping here for dinner. As if the food alone wasn’t justification enough…

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Like the two brick-and-mortar restaurants, Yerba Buena focuses on Latin American cuisine, with dishes like the Peruvian specialty patacon or Venezuelan arepas. If you’ve somehow mistaken El Arepazo or Yerba Buena for a run-of-the-mill Mexican restaurant, then think again. These restaurants focus on colorful, fresh ingredients in immensely flavorful combinations.

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Here’s what we ordered on our most recent visit to the truck: first, a simple taco with chicken and cheese for our youngest.

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One of their signatures is the patacon: a bed of fried plantains are covered with lettuce, cheese, avocado, banana peppers, pico de gallo, and your choice of meat or veggies. My preference is for the shredded chicken.

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Another signature is the arepa, a Venezualan specialty that’s a small fried corn cake split in half and filled with lettuce, cheese, avocado, pico, and meat or veggies. It’s a perfect little hand-held meal.

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Here’s another patacon. The size of this meal makes it a solid bang-for-your-buck.

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The meals are flavorful enough as it is, but the whole experience is magnified by the cilantro sauce. You get little cups of it with your meal – and you can request more – while they sell larger bottles at the restaurants. The sauce has a rich, clean quality, made from cilantro, avocado, and a blend of spices. They have mild and spicy versions. Both are excellent, but I always go for the spicy. This sauce is so good that, after you pour it out on your food, you’ll find yourself licking out the cup to get every last drop.

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If you’re a fan of Yerba Buena’s food, rejoice! The truck is back in action. Let’s keep them busy. If you’ve never had their food, now is your time to go and become a regular!

If you want to visit:
Yerba Buena Latin Grill
1347 N. High St. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 228-4830
Follow them on Facebook or @YerbaBuena2011

Open Wed-Sat, 3:30-8:30pm

Beyond Breakfast With Nick: Mya’s Fried Chicken

The corner of Pacemont and High in Clintonville must have some sort of good energy/karma/luck/ju-ju for food. It was formerly the site of Ray Ray’s Hog Pit, which is easily Columbus’ best BBQ, if not one of its best food trucks. Ray Ray’s moved a little further south to a bigger location, and since late June it’s been the site of a new truck: Mya’s Fried Chicken.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I know the truck’s owner, Mark Tolentino. Mark has worked in catering for a long time, and recently took the plunge to open his own truck. I’ve always loved Mark’s work, so naturally I’m primed to like his food and want him to succeed.

Fortunately, the steady lines, plentiful media coverage, and regular reports of “We’ve sold out!” indicate that Mark is very much succeeding.

We’ve visited Mya’s multiple times since they started serving. Our first occurred at their grand opening on Saturday, June 30th, which came less than twenty-four hours after the windstorm that toppled trees and knocked out power all across central Ohio, all the while coinciding with a 90+ degree heat wave. On his opening day, Mark demonstrated his commitment to the Clintonville community by giving out meals to area residents without power.

I’ve heard many people say, since Mya’s opened, that they’ve had a hard time finding good fried chicken around town. When I really think of it, I don’t know where to go. Immediately I think of either heading to “Chicken Corner,” the intersection of 5th and Cleveland Avenues where Popeye’s, Church’s, and KFC camp out, or seeing what Kitchen Little is up to, or I think of trekking all the way out to Der Dutchman in Plain City.

I’m sure there are other good local places around Columbus, but Mya’s has become the center of my fried chicken universe. Mark uses a twice-fried technique. The first is a slower shallow fry that cooks the chicken through and darkens the bottom, while the second is a quick fry at a higher temp to crisp up the edges and give it a darker color.

You can order meals of white or dark meat, as half or whole birds, or as boneless sliders. I’ve had and enjoyed all of them. My preference is for the dark meat, and for the sliders.

The chicken can be flavored with one of two sauces: an herbed honey or a pepper and vinegar glaze.

Of course, when it comes to comfort food like BBQ or fried chicken, half the fun is the sides. Mya’s offers creamy coleslaw…

…green beans…

…and mac and cheese made with crumbs from their biscuits. Not pictured here: the smashed potatoes with pan drippings from the chicken. My personal favorite.

Mya’s has now become one of our go-to eats on the weekends. “What do you want for dinner?” “Let’s go to Mya’s.” You’ll be hearing that again and again in our house.

If you want to visit:
Mya’s Fried Chicken
3166 N. High St. (corner of Pacemont & High St., next to the Super Mart) (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43202
(614) 209-9004
Open Fri-Sun, 12-8p (keep an eye on Facebook for exact hours)

Mya's Fried Chicken on Urbanspoon

Hemisphere Coffee Roasters | Columbus, OH

Hemisphere Coffee Roasters (Facebook / @HCRtrailer)
3825 Indianola, at Northridge  (map it!)
(614) 427-3457 – you call or text orders ahead of time

Just this week we’ve been hearing from Clintonville friends that Hemisphere Coffee Roasters set up their truck along Indianola. Regular pictures of espresso and pour-overs started showing up in my Facebook feed, so Mrs. Breakfast With Nick and I stopped by while on the way to work.

Today is a bright and cool morning, perfect for coffee outside.

We spent some time chatting with Hans Hochstedler, the barista running the trailer. Hans’ in-laws started Hemisphere in Mechanicsburg, Ohio about ten years ago. They source their beans directly from the farmers. “We shake the hand of the coffee farmer,” their sign says.

As you can see from their menu, they offer a wide range of coffee drinks from the truck. Everything hot or iced, from mochas, cappuccinos, lattes, pour-overs, shots of espresso, and more.

Mrs. Bfast w/Nick ordered an iced chai with a double-shot of espresso. This is a favorite summer drink of ours, and Hemisphere’s was one of the best we’ve had in a long time. Beautifully pulled double-shot, very rich chai that isn’t cloying. Hans used Hartzler Dairy milk (from Wooster, OH).

I tried a pour-over of the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. It’s a light roast with soft earthy notes punctuated by tart fruit.

For the uninitiated, the pour-over method involves making single cups by pouring hot water from a kettle into a filtered cone. The cone shape and the thin spout optimize the contact time between the water and the fresh grounds, which then drips into the receptacle below.

This allows you to make single cups of any beans, and to fully feature the coffee’s flavor profile.

More coffee is always welcome in Clintonville! I’m already planning when we can re-visit to get more iced chai. Has anyone else been this week?

Mozart’s Bakery & Piano Cafe | Columbus, OH

[UPDATE: Mozart's moved north to 4784 N. High St. and combined it with the Vienna Ice Cafe concept. This location is closed.]

Mozart’s Bakery & Piano Cafe (Facebook / @MozartsCafe)
2885 N. High St. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43202
(614) 268-3687
Open Tues-Thurs, 7:30a-9p; Fri & Sat, 7:30a-11p; Sun, 8a-5:30p (bfast served daily till 5p)
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Sunday, December 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm

IMPRESSIONS: As residents of Columbus’ Clintonville neighborhood, we’ve long known about Mozart’s Cafe and their dedication to the area. You will regularly find them donating cookies to community events, helping with fundraisers, and plugging other Clintonville businesses. Clintonville is sometimes seen as a culinary wasteland (especially when we chase off great food trucks!), with only a few bright points making the journey worth it. But if you’ve spent any time searching the neighborhood, you know that there’s lots worth finding. Mozart’s has served as a mainstay for years now, demonstrating that there are reasons to visit and eat in Clintonville.

ATMOSPHERE: It’s been a couple years since we last visited the Cafe. Our previous experience there was at the afternoon tea (which is lovely, and one of the few good ones in town). And perhaps that visit left the lasting impression of Mozart’s as a very prim and proper place, the go-to for dainty meals of sandwiches, tea, and light pastries. Not at all the place for a big, hearty breakfast with the family. With its shelf of pastries, classical name, tight quarters, and live piano music, Mozart’s could certainly seem like just that place. It is that, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that there’s also more to it.

Entering the restaurant puts you in a waiting area with all of the pastries, the coffee service, and the tea. It’s a bit of eye candy to get you hungry. We were greeted by one of the employees standing behind the counter, which is a little far away from the door, so we didn’t hear her at first. But it didn’t take long for us to be ushered to a table in the dining room. As you can see from the pictures above, they have a sizeable selection of coffee and teas.

The atmosphere is partially what left us with the specific impression of the afternoon tea. It’s a small cafe packed with tables and a live piano player tucked in the corner. At our arrival, almost all of the tables were full; when you have two small kids with you, it’s easy to think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a comfortable spot. Not so. They found us a table right away, and ours certainly weren’t the only kids there. Mozart’s also has a back room with more seating, and in the warmer months they have two patios to accommodate even more customers.

FOOD: Our three-year-old spied another kid enjoying an Italian soda one table over, and he quickly requested that. He happily sipped on that through the entire meal.

Again, our expectations (based on the atmosphere and our past experience with afternoon tea) led us to believe that the breakfast would be higher priced and lightly-filling. The price is certainly more than a cheap diner breakfast, but the portions were anything but skimpy. First, we ordered the Mozart’s Breakfast Sandwich for our son. This is a hearty sandwich with two eggs, bacon, Black Forest ham (a repeated ingredient on the menu), and cheddar on wheat toast. He certainly loved it, and we gladly helped him finish it.

My wife tried their quiche of the day, which came in a wide slice packed with mushrooms and served with fruit and toast. Very good mix of ingredients, held together well. Overall well seasoned and flavorful.

Our server brought butter and jelly for her toast. The jelly turned out to be more like a dense pastry filling. A little different than a chunky jam, but it certainly tasted delicious spread over the toast.

I’ve had my eye on the Tyrolean Breakfast for some time. Tryol is (I had to look this up) a region in western Austria – appropriate given the cafe’s namesake, although I’m not sure what is specifically Tyrolean about this breakfast. Still, this dish exemplified our pleasantly surprised reaction to the overall experience. When I say “I ordered the Tyrolean breakfast,” you might think of a small plate of food with a couple pieces of toast, scraps of bacon, a handful of potatoes, and some tiny eggs. On the contrary, this was a gigantic plate of food. Very appropriate for the price, and easily shared. It comes with thick slices of toast, bacon, two eggs, a pile of well-seasoned potatoes, and layers of the Black Forest ham. Everything is cooked very well, and again, it’s all incredibly filling.

Mozart’s gets bonus points that their breakfast menu features strong vegetarian dishes, and not just of the “we’ll-leave-the-meat-out” variety, but ones built specifically with the vegetarian in mind. Look for the Vienna Waltz omelet, for instance, with roasted red peppers, seasonal veggies, artichokes, and Gouda. Or the Spinach Croissant, with spinach, feta, and Emmental cheese.

Of course, no visit to Mozart’s is complete without a pastry or two, although we were full up after our breakfast. We sampled some cookies but that was it. But the Cafe has a bit of everything: cookies, croissants, struedel, petti fours, you name it.

SERVICE: We had a good experience overall with the service, although a couple of the employees spoke too softly. When you have multiple employees, many tables in close quarters, and a piano player, you need to make sure your customers can hear everything. Still, this only happened with a couple folks. Otherwise, everyone was very helpful: we felt comfortable asking anyone for a napkin or silverware or whatever, whether it was our server or not. One person came around offering samples of tea cookies, and the owner himself went from table to table, checking on customers. You are certainly well cared for at Mozart’s.

OVERALL: Whatever your impressions are of Mozart’s, their breakfast is certainly worth trying. There’s a good variety to the menu, with plenty of strong choices from sandwiches, croissants, omelets, muesli, waffles, and other specials (not even including the HUGE line of baked goods), and they welcome their customers well. Also, where else do you get live piano with your breakfast (at least on weekends)? On a final note: Mozart’s has recently given you one more reason to explore Clintonville. They recently closed their stall at North Market, while opening the Vienna Ice Cafe just a few doors up High Street from the cafe. (Hint: you could start your day with breakfast at Mozart’s, visit the antique shops of Clintonville, and end with some ice cream!)

Mozart's Bakery & Piano Cafe on Urbanspoon

Whole World Restaurant | Columbus, OH

Whole World Restaurant (Facebook / @WWRestaurant)
3269 N. High St. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43202
(614) 268-5751
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/Y/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 11:15 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: Whole World Restaurant has a long history – over thirty years – as one of Columbus’ premiere vegetarian stops. They’ve been serving up the non-meaty goods since 1978 in Clintonville, and in that time have garnered a very loyal following. You can find the restaurant along North High Street; the storefront is small, but just look for the small greenish awning. There’s plenty of street parking around it.

ATMOSPHERE: I met Akron food blogger extraordinaire Tom Noe of Exploring Food My Way for Sunday brunch. The cafe was just over half full when we visited in the late morning, and a steady stream of customers kept the tables filled. Whole World’s decor uses a lot of browns and creams, except for a big colorful mural above the counter.

FOOD: On a specific quest for biscuits and gravy, I order their version, the vegetarian gravy and biscuits. Instead of sausage, they make a heavy roux laden with spices and herbs like garlic, salt, and pepper. Overall, the dish was fairly well done. The biscuits were big and very dense, which I generally don’t mind. I like for my biscuits to hold together. The gravy had too much garlic in it for my taste. I’m actually surprised they didn’t try using a vegetarian sausage as a base for the gravy; it’s on the menu elsewhere. I think that might make a better substitution.

Tom ordered their Southwestern Quiche, one of the specials for the day. It came with a huge pile of crisp potatoes. The dish is colorful, to be sure, although Tom seemed to have the same reaction I had to my biscuits and gravy. Good, but not a real stand-out.

SERVICE: Whole World has you order at the counter, then find your table. The over-the-counter interactions were all very pleasant, and the person there could explain dishes or make recommendations. The food came out fairly quickly, too.

OVERALL: Although we weren’t wowed by our food, it was overall a good experience. It’s a cozy little restaurant, and its history as one of Columbus’ oldest vegetarian spots speaks to its quality and the dedication of its customers. Browsing through their Sunday brunch menu, I’m already planning a return visit: there are pancakes, French toast, and vegetable hash to try!

OTHER LINKS:

Whole World Natural Restaurant & Bakery on Urbanspoon

Yeah, Me Too | Columbus, OH

Yeah, Me Too
3005 Indianola Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43202
Open Mon-Sat 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.?
Accepts cash only

Date of Visit: Often

IMPRESSIONS: If you’ve read anything about Yeah, Me Too, people have probably said the following: there’s no phone number, no website, no Facebook page, no Twitter handle. You can order coffee hot or iced, large or small. And that’s it. By some regards, it’s incredible that someone would run a business today in this manner. Eclipsing that, however, is the relief that Yeah, Me Too is so uncomplicated that it’s hard to mess it up. The result, in my opinion, is the best coffee in Columbus.

Yeah, Me Too also represents a bit of Columbus history. Owners Jovan Karcic and Sam Brown were both members of the band Gaunt, often cited as the best band ever to come out of Columbus. The band’s run ended tragically in 2001 with the death of lead singer Jerry Wick. The shop, opened in 2005, is named after one of the band’s albums.

ATMOSPHERE: The coffee shop is one room. Big front windows let in most of the light. The back portion holds the coffee and brewing supplies. The front is a small standing area for customers, and includes the roaster itself.

The room gets fairly warm in the summer, although a screen door lets a breeze in; I don’t think they turn the heat on in the winter.

The single room could be bland, but the walls are always covered with the work of local artists.

FOOD: They just serve coffee, and it’s always excellent. Cream and sugar are present, but more often than not, you don’t need it. You can ask which roast they’re brewing each day, but I rarely do, because I always enjoy it. You can (and should) also buy whole beans by the pound. The selection rotates regularly.

SERVICE: For some people, the service is a sticking point. Yovan and Sam are nice, but not always very talkative, and some have said it’s off-putting. Again, as many have observed, this is the complete antithesis of the modern coffee shop. If you really really really like the way Starbucks does everything, then Yeah, Me Too might not be your best bet. But if you just want a great cup of coffee, dangit, and you don’t care about all the extras, you need to become a regular at Yeah, Me Too. Besides, I’ve always had good experiences in chatting with Sam and Yovan.

OVERALL: It’s just the best coffee in Columbus. That’s it. Stop in for a cup of coffee (you can bring your own mug) or pick up some beans to brew at home.

Yeah, Me Too on Urbanspoon

Photos: Nancy’s Home Cooking re-opening


Good news for breakfast in Columbus and for diner culture in general! After months of fund raising, rehab, donations, inspections, delays, and more, Nancy’s Home Cooking reopened Friday, February 19.


We pulled up at Nancy’s around 7 am that day, before the sun came up, and the neon “open” sign glowed warmly across the street.


Just seeing the welcome sign and all the “open” signs gave me a warm feeling.


Inside, a crowd of regulars picked up right where they left off. Cindy King, the former owner, was on hand, as well as members of her family, and her niece Sheila Hahn, who took over the operations and led the efforts to remodel and re-open the Clintonville landmark.


The interior looks pretty much the same. The folks from Lowe’s donated a new floor. The counters and booths look new, but they’re arranged the same way. The kitchen is in the same layout, but now sports a new range hood. Some of the original signs are still hanging, although the menu has been taken off the wall and is now on individual cards on the tables. And everything’s got a fresh coat of paint. If cleanliness every kept you away from Nancy’s before, there’s no excuse now!


At the risk of sounding over-sentimental, especially for a place I haven’t visited nearly as often as many people, I found still this to be a really special occasion. You could see it in the faces of Cindy and Sheila and the small army of employees, all wearing black T-shirts with Nancy’s famous line “Eat it and beat it” on the back. (Cindy’s shirt said “Founder.”) You could see it in the faces of all the regulars who were eating their favorite breakfasts for the first time since June 2009. Every few minutes the door would open, and someone new would enter, to be greeted like Norm on Cheers. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like, if you were someone who ate at Nancy’s regularly for years, to actually be stepping through those doors again and see the familiar faces and smell those familiar smells. How often do you hear these days about small businesses that actually return after closing? I think it’s a testament to the power of the local and of the way food brings people together. It’s amazing how the community reacted to the closing, forming Facebook groups, holding fundraisers at local restaurants, and making donations from around the world. All to save this tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant that holds such memories for each of them.



The opening has drawn a fair amount of press. Columbus Underground had an excellent interview with Sheila, and the Dispatch ran an article as well. A crew from Fox 28 did some live segments while we were there, too.


I ordered the same meal I had when I visited last May: 2 eggs, bacon, potatoes, and toast. It looked much the same as it did back in May.


And tasted just as delicious! Now I’ll actually have to get around to trying their famous garbage omelets and chicken and noodles.

Beechwold Diner | Columbus, OH

Beechwold Diner (Facebook)
4408 Indianola Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43214
(614) 447-0944
Open Mon-Sat, 6 am – 2 pm (lunch starting 10:30 am); Sun, 7 am – 2 pm (breakfast only)
Accepts cash and credit cards

Date of Visit: Saturday, January 9, 2010 at 8 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: With the New Year comes new breakfast adventures! Beechwold Diner just opened on January 2 in the spot once occupied by Rube’s Diner on Indianola. After fifteen-ish years in business, Rube’s closed it’s doors in 2005. Up until this past spring, the location almost became Ginna’s Eatery (read an article on it’s “opening” here), but the attempt stalled. I never visited Rube’s, but I hear it was about as greasy hole-in-the-wall as you could get.

Well, now Beechwold Diner has taken it’s place and seems to be doing quite well for itself. I visited recently with CMH Gourmand (read his post here) so we could take stock of the place. We asked one of the owners how business was going. He said when they opened on January 2, he panicked, because no one came in the first hour of business. But then, for the next four-and-a-half hours, they were standing room only. Awesome.

ATMOSPHERE: We hit Beechwold Diner up around 8 a.m. on a Saturday, and by the time we left it was full. Typical, the owner said, of a Saturday morning. So clearly word is getting out, despite very little advertising, and the citizens of Clintonville/Beechwold seem desperate for a diner.

Beechwold Diner is a strange combination of old-style diner with fresh construction. Someone put some serious work into the place. New stainless steel everything in the kitchen, new seating, new lighting, new booths and counter, the floor looks new, too. So if Rube’s dirtiness kept anyone way, there’s no excuse now. The layout is open and bright. Big counters with about 13 stools, plus 8 tables. Fairly boring colors of browns, grays, and mauves. Comfy and easy to like. In a nod to the area’s history, a series of black-and-white photos hang on the wall, showcasing past and present Clintonville/Beechwold landmarks like Weiland’s Market, Olympic Pool, an old streetcar, and the amusement park that once existed at High Street and Kelso.

FOOD: My pics are from a combined set of visits – I really don’t order this much food in one sitting. But this allowed me to sample a wider range of things.

BD’s menu features all the breakfast standards – nothing exceptional, but enough variety for anyone. The menu is organized by variations on Two Eggs, Classics (including pancakes and sausage gravy & biscuits), Omelets, Sides, and Drinks. This is my brother-in-law’s 2 eggs, toast, and corned beef hash. Over-easy eggs done right. Buttery toast. And an excellent corned beef hash.

On my first visit I order the garbage omelet. Never actually had one of these, and our server recommended the omelets. Came with potatoes and toast. The potatoes were good – sliced thin and crispy enough. Definitely needed more seasoning, at least some salt. The toast was buttery and soggy (read: delicious).

The omelet itself had some highs and lows. Some of the ingredients weren’t spread out too well, so one end had no cheese while the other end was loaded with it. One of the cheeses looked and tasted like Velveeta – maybe it was American cheese? – and it turned me off. My advice to the Beechwold Diner folks: be a little bolder in your seasoning. We can take it. And it will make your already good food more memorable. You want people to take a bite and then start looking forward to their next visit.

On the more recent visit, I picked a half order of the sausage gravy and biscuits. Similar experience to the garbage omelet – lots to like: good biscuits, very chunky gravy – but they could punch it up a notch with more seasoning.

Half stack of pancakes, too. Nice and fluffy – I never how to get them this way at home. Very good.

And why not start the day with some dessert? Jim ordered the Hershey’s Triple Chocolate Layer Cake. It doesn’t disappoint: nice fluffy filling, great frosting, chocolate chips.

SERVICE: A very friendly group here, who seem at home with their customers. The diner is actually named Suzzie’s Beechwold Diner, but we didn’t get to meet her. Still, BD has a very comfortable atmosphere already. The servers seem to know everyone’s names already, so in this department the diner seems right on track.

OVERALL: Jim and I talked a little bit about the nature of diner fare. When you really compare diners side-by-side, there’s not much variety. Anywhere you go you’ll find the old standards, in a pretty warm and inviting atmosphere, and in a place that naturally pushes everyone to be neighbors. And that’s really what defines diners. Not the food. But the neighborhood identity, the regulars who gather to see each other and the wait staff, and the pride everyone takes in a local establishment. Beechwold Diner seems to be filling a niche for the Clintonville/Beechwold area. Sure, Wildflower Cafe is down the road, but I honestly find the place unimpressive. Nancy’s is hopefully-soon-to-be-re-opening over on High Street, but when you really think of it, Beechwold Diner feels miles away up on the northern stretch of Indianola. Clearly the neighborhood desires this establishment, because the regulars filling the tables and counters here seem to have picked up right where they left off when Rube’s closed. I’m happy to see this, and look forward to being one of those regulars, too.

OTHER LINKS:
-> CMH Gourmand’s post on BD

Beechwold Diner on Urbanspoon

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