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Beyond Breakfast: Veritas Tavern

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Veritas Tavern (Facebook / @veritastavern / instagram @veritastavern)
15. E. Winter St. (map it!)
Delaware, OH 43015
(740) 417-4074
Open Tues-Sat, 5-10p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/Y
Kid-friendly? N

Visited: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 6:00pm

If you’ve kept up with central Ohio restaurant news over the past year, you’ve certainly heard of Veritas Tavern. Its culinary team, its bartenders, and its menu have garnered a lot of attention for many reasons, not the least of which is their forays into molecular gastronomy. It isn’t often that I run into this type of food a.) in writing about breakfast, and b.) really anywhere in our area, so there was that simultaneous apprehension and excitement about finally making it up to Veritas.

Maybe for you, the phrase “molecular gastronomy” is intimidating or confusing. It might connote expensive and unidentifiable dishes, small portions, and snobby service. But don’t be fooled: Veritas and its staff are incredibly warm and welcoming, and the meal was one of the best we’ve ever had, an incredible dose of creative comfort food. Like all good things, it was about process over product.

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Mrs. Bfast w/Nick and I made our trek to Delaware for an early anniversary dinner. Veritas is located in the heart of Delaware on Winter Street. The space is intimate: five tables and maybe a dozen seats around the bar.

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Veritas has not just made a name for itself with creative food, but with the cocktail menu, too. We sampled a couple things both on and off the menu. Pictured above are two menu items: the Bourbon Snap (bourbon + bitters + simply syrup + Snap, a gingerbread liqueur) and the Blackberry Rye Shrub (shrub, a vinegar syrup + a rye syrup). I’m no expert on cocktails – you won’t be seeing Cocktails With Nick anytime soon – but both of these were simply delicious. Rich, not overly sweet, balanced, perfect for sipping with your food.

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The menu is divided into Before, Small Plates, and After. “Before” refers essentially to appetizers, and we tried two. First, the feta dip with cucumbers and flat bread. The generous portion of dip was dense and creamy, with ample seasoning and olive oil.

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Next up: Brussels sprouts. I’ve always loved Brussels sprouts – I never understand why they’re treated like a default dislike for children. But these completely redefined the vegetable for me. They were sous-vide (a cooking technique in which the food is sealed in a plastic bag and immersed in warm water) in a rich array of spices. The sprouts were tender, and I couldn’t even tell you half the spices in it, but it was so rich we ordered bread to mop it all up.

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We then moved onto the small plates. This menu features salads, fish, beef, pork, risotto. Small plates, yes, but they’re excellent for sharing, which focuses you on the communal experience of dining. We started with the pork belly: three steamed buns with crispy chunks of pork belly, cucumber, a sprig of cilantro, and a sweet hoisin sauce. They were as good as we’ve ever had.

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Don’t forget the cocktails! After our first round, we let our bartender lead the way with some suggestions. Mrs. Bfast w/Nick loves a good mojito, and the bartender Nicole Hollerman crafted an amazing one. Before muddling the mint, she shook it in a glass with liquid nitrogen. The nitrogen froze the mint leaves, so we she muddled them, they essentially shattered into a fine powder.

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Here’s the end result. Redefining the mojito.

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Next up: roasted oysters. Served on the half shell with a spicy chili butter. The lemon juice is frozen into tiny cubes, so we sprinkled them like a course salt over the oysters. Simply delicious.

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And then the piece de resistance: the bacon risotto. The name is fitting, but it makes it sound more simple than it really is. I know what you’re thinking: bacon risotto means just a salty risotto. But this is so, so much more than that. The base is a perfectly cooked risotto mixed with a white cheddar. There’s a small crumbling of bacon – just the right amount to impart flavor without overwhelming – and a tiny, tiny biscuit.

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But the really remarkable thing is the 62.5 degree egg. The egg is sous-vide at 62.5 degrees Celsius for about 45 minutes. Why such a specific temperature? It’s the temperature at which the egg white and yolk are the same texture. And that texture is wonderfully, wonderfully creamy. When we broke it over the risotto, it spread through the dish and created this amazingly creamy texture. I just can’t quite describe it, but it’s perfectly balanced and flavorful. This is easily up there with one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. It’s one of those dishes that makes you slow down to scoop every bite and savor it.

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We finished the meal with a choice from the After menu: the Campfire, a deconstructed take on s’mores. Graham cracker ice cream, chocolate, marshmallow, and a flaming bacon powder (yes, bacon powder). The charred powder recreates the flavor of a marshmallow charred over a campfire.

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Our visit to Veritas coincided with the last week of Chef Silas Caeton. He was since moved on from Veritas for other pursuits, but the kitchen team at Veritas is as strong as ever, with owner Josh Dalton in the lead.

Well, what an incredible experience. Welcoming, creative, comfortable, exciting. Easily, easily worth the drive to Delaware up from central Columbus. Veritas certainly seems worthy of being called one of the best restaurants in the area.

Veritas Tavern on Urbanspoon

Ethyl & Tank | Columbus, OH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ethyl & Tank on Urbanspoon

Propaganda Donuts | Grand Rapids, MI

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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

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“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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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

Photos: Brunch at The Torpedo Room

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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

South of Lane | Upper Arlington, OH

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South of Lane (Facebook / @SouthofLane)
1987 Guilford Rd. (map it!)
Upper Arlington, OH 43221
(614) 586-2233
Open Mon-Sat, 6:30a-2:30p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/Y
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited: Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 9:15 am

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This year we’ve seen some notable new breakfast places open up, ranging from over-the-top to fancy to simple and casual. One of the newer additions opening in May is this little spot in Upper Arlington: South of Lane. There are many things about this place that scream “Upper Arlington:” the location (obviously), the clientele, the cozy cafe atmosphere. But there are some delightful little surprises, too, a sneaky little irreverent charm evidenced by the full embracing of the initials “SoL.” (Ask around if you don’t know what that stands for.)

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South of Lane also fills a void in the Columbus breakfast map. The greater Upper Arlington area lacks some solid local breakfasts, aside from Chef-O-Nette, La Chatelaine, and nearby spots like Cambridge Tea House (which is technically Marble Cliff), or a First Watch or Bob Evans.

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SoL is not just a breakfast and lunch cafe. It’s a full-blown vintage store, too. You can expect shelves full of jams, plates, hats, jewelry, pillows, you name it.

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Amongst the crowded kitsch, you’ll find some fun little elements, too.

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I liked the branded mugs. That shows commitment, when a breakfast spot will get its own mugs made.

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In fact, it takes a little discernment to figure out where the vintage items for sale end and where the counter or the self-serve coffee ends.

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Continuing back into the space, the wooden top tables and loaded shelves transition seamlessly into the ordering counter and the open kitchen.

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The breakfast menu is simple and all good. Major categories include omelets, waffles, eggs, “grains and goodness” (which means yogurt, oatmeal, and granola), and sides. Coffee comes from Thunderkiss. We chatted with the owner Catherine as she strolled around greeting customers, and in conversation I got the sense that Jason’s no-nonsense attitude matched hers.

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We picked one of the features, the SOL omelet with a side of rye, with peppers, onions, and pepper jack cheese. I have a love/hate relationship with omelets, but this one turned out to be one of the better examples I’ve had in recent memory. The ingredients are layered properly, the omelet is folded tightly, the eggs aren’t overdone, and there’s a little spice to it.

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The PB3 waffle is a good example of the smirky attitude underlying the curio shelves and quiet atmosphere. You might not expect to see waffles loaded with bacon, peanut butter, Nutella, and bananas in a little cafe like this, but here it is. The PB3 tastes exactly as you would expect: crispy waffle, lots of soft and warm PB and Nutella, and a definite crunch from the well-cooked bacon. I mean, eying a list of ingredients like that, it’s hard not to be pleased by it. (You’ll also note the artful presentation throughout.)

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It’s also served with a little glass mug of maple syrup that reeks of “awwwww” adorableness.

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The side of hash browns stands up to any I’ve had. Ohio may generally be home fries territory, but I’ll always prefer the crispy texture of properly done hash browns.

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We had our two-year-old in tow that morning (the restaurant is kid-friendly, but maybe bring your own booster seat), and he enjoyed the two eggs, which are appropriately soft scrambled (which earns points from me) and come with a side of toast.

We’ve heard good things about South of Lane, and we found them to be all true. I think SoL is a good indication of Columbus’ growing breakfast/brunch scene, which doesn’t just mean more restaurants, but more restaurants with real personality serving their neighborhoods and offering solid breakfasts in creative combinations.

South of Lane on Urbanspoon

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

BonBon Pastry & Cafe | Cleveland, OH

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BonBon Pastry & Cafe
(Facebook / @BonBonBakeShop)

2549 Lorain Ave. (map it!)
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 458-9225
Open Mon, 6:30a-3p; Tues-Fri, 6:30a-8p; Sat, 7a-8p; Sun, 7a-3p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/Y/Y
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited: Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 9:00 a.m.

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For our last official meal stops on the Positively Cleveland #HappyinCLE bloggers’ weekend, our guides polled the group for Sunday brunch, and the group wisely chose BonBon in Ohio City. We had been near BonBon the day before, when we toured the West Side Market and walked to the Ohio City Farm, but today we had a chance to be treated to brunch at the cafe.

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BonBon’s beautiful corner space is bright and welcoming. The cafe counters are made of marble, with lots of wood accents.

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From what I’ve read, the business started as a market stall with baked goods, and transitioned into a brick and mortar space two years ago. So not surprisingly, pastries, donuts, rolls still feature strongly on the menu.

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It’s almost unfair, walking into the restaurant on an empty stomach and being faced with a giant tray of cinnamon rolls. Unfair, until you realize that you can order one of those bad boys.

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We started with coffee, and then moved quickly into brunch.

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BonBon’s brunch menu is eclectic and creative, one of the more interesting ones I’ve seen in recent months. You can find your standards like omelets, breakfast sandwiches, and eggs benedict, but there are some more unusual scores, too, like breakfast nachos and morning tacos.

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On the suggestion of our guides, the table started with a plate of cinnamon sugar donuts. These little lightly-fried nuggets are served with sides of mascarpone, chocolate sauce, and preserves, and they had just the right sugary crunch.

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Maybe it was the whole pastry theme, but I was in a sweet mood, so the vanilla bean French toast stood out to me. What also caught my eye was the toppings of blueberry compote, mascarpone, and corn. Maybe putting corn on French toast might seem strange to some, but after years of eating Jeni’s sweet corn and black raspberry ice cream, it makes perfect sense. Like Jeni says, it’s just like putting jam on cornbread.

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I got to photograph and sample some of the other bloggers’ meals, too. BonBon certainly knows how to plate their brunch, and how to work up some interesting combos. For instance, the corned beef hash loaded with brussel sprouts, egg, potatoes, mushroom, onions, peppers.

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Or the silver dollar pancakes with real maple syrup and cider bacon.

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Or the breakfast sandwich with a big, homemade maple sausage patty, eggs, cheddar, tomato and a side of sweet potatoes. I tried a bite of this sandwich and really loved it – the sausage is terrific. I’d order this the next time I visit.

All in all, our brunching at BonBon was excellent. Good service – able to handle our large table with ease. And some delightfully creative and tasty brunch dishes. If that’s not reason enough to visit, consider their breakfast happy hour: Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 3-8pm, you can get their breakfast entrees for $5.

Bonbon Pastry & Cafe on Urbanspoon

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