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Beyond Breakfast: The Coop

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It’s a shame I haven’t written about The Coop yet because a.) they’re in our neighborhood, and b.) I can easily justify their food as counting as breakfast, since nearly every dish they serve involves some sort of eggs, be it chicken, duck, goose, turkey, or even quail.

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The Coop is a converted amusement park concession stand, and as the name indicates, poultry is their game. Although we’re not super regulars, we’ve come to know The Coop as the source for dishes – especially burgers – with unusual meats. You won’t find a regular beef hamburger here. Instead, you’ll find a yak burger. Or bison burger. Or turducken (turkey + duck + chicken) tacos. Or a benedict with turkey eggs. You get the picture.

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Owner Angela Theado recently finished a run of cooking weekends at the Hey Hey Bar & Grill in German Village (the kitchen has since been taken over by the Swoop! Food Truck crew). She’s now back at the original location at the corner of Indianola and Cliffside in southern Clintonville. It was recently announced that the building there will be renovated into the Coop Cafe, with Angela taking over the kitchen. I have to say that we’re immensely excited about it. The space has sat empty for as long as we can remember, and having a small cafe run by a proven restaurateur makes us very, very happy.

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The menu rotates a bit, so it’s a good idea to follow them on Facebook. This is what we tried on a couple of our most recent visits.

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Burgers are one of The Coop’s signatures. This is the bison burger, with a bison patty, bacon, havarti, a house-made mayo, and a sunny side up chicken egg. As far as burgers go, it’s pretty solid. I’ve had bison a few times, and its taste and texture is reminiscent of beef, just a little leaner. With the egg, bacon, and cheese, you can bet that this is a messy burger to eat, so be prepared.

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If your group includes a non-meat-eater amongst you, there is usually an option. Admittedly, this vegan coconut curry with plaintain was not our favorite thing on the menu. It’s hard to eat rice out of a container lined with foil. The foil eventually starts peeling up, and we thought the dish needed more spice overall.

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Amongst their burgers, The Coop’s yak burger is perhaps their most well-known, and rightfully so. It’s a tasty and drippy, delicious mess. I like the bison burger, but the yak is better, in my opinion. it’s lean and a little gamier, which is maybe why I prefer it. I like to taste the definite difference from a standard beef burger. At times the yak is over-powered by the bacon and cheese, but it’s hard to argue against any of the ingredients, and especially when sinking your teeth through them all together.

If you want to visit:
The Coop
2701 Indianola Ave. (map it!)
(614) 581-9353
Follow The Coop and Coop Cafe on Facebook
coopontherun.com

The Coop on Urbanspoon

Beyond Breakfast: Yerba Buena Latin Grill | Columbus, OH

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[UPDATE August 2014: the truck doesn't seem to be active at the moment.]

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

Tree Spirit Coffee | Columbus, OH

IMG_4485[Update September 2013: the cart is temporarily closed while they search for a permanent home.]

Tree Spirit Coffee (Facebook)
Currently at Woodruff Ave. & Tuller St. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43201
(801) 949-7664
Follow on Facebook for specials, times, and current location

Visited: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.

While I’m always on the lookout for good food and coffee near Ohio State’s campus, I started seeing Facebook posts in the spring about a new trailer that had up shop along High Street just south of Lane. I never made it during the spring semester, but while driving some back streets on the way to *ahem* Buckeye Donuts, I spotted Tree Spirit at Woodruff and Tuller. It’s a little difficult to find – and not as clearly seen as the High Street location, but it’s worth a stop.

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On a warm spring day, I wanted some iced coffee. Kelsey (sp?), who was running the trailer, suggested the vanilla cinnamon iced coffee. She was spot-on. It was rich and sweet, with a little bite from the cinnamon. She added cream at my request; they stock Snowville Creamery goods.

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Tree Spirit has a nice selection of iced coffees, teas, bagels, yogurt, plus some hot sandwiches.

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They run daily specials as well. Keep an eye on their Facebook page to see what they’re serving there and where they are. Kelsey (again, sp?) told me that the owner is currently looking for a brick-and-mortar space along High Street, and that they plan to be moved in by the end of the summer. Judging by my iced coffee, Tree Spirit will be a welcome addition in the area!

Destination Donuts | Columbus, OH

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There’s a new donut game in town: Destination Donuts. Heather Morris has begun setting up regularly at North Market. Heather is serving homemade donuts in flavors and combinations that no one else is doing around town. When you really think of it, there isn’t a donut place at North Market, is there? This could be a good permanent addition!

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I visited one of her first days setting up shop, and she had five different donut varieties: pumpkin pecan, PB&J (yes, you read right), thai peanut, chocolate insanity, and dueling vanilla. Her selection since then continues to rotate.

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She gives you the opportunity to sample the goods before you buy them. Hint: sample them all, then buy one of each.

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These are the chocolate insanity, made with chocolate ganache and crumbled Oreos.

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And then there’s the Thai peanut, with a little bit of spice. Most of the donuts were served essentially like large donut holes.

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The only full size donuts (and my favorite) she had that day were the dueling vanilla. They’re called dueling because she uses both Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla. It’s like a thick yeast donut. Very nice.

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Heather – aka the “donut queen” – is typically there on weekends. Give her a follow on Facebook or on Twitter (@heatherdonut) to see when she’ll be at the market next!

Wafels & Dinges | New York, NY

Wafels & Dinges (Facebook / @waffletruck)
Various locations around NYC
Follow their website or Twitter feed

Waffles at midnight? Yes, please! On our previous trip to New York, we were left with some great culinary suggestions for our next visit. One of these came from Jean-Francois Flechet, owner of Taste of Belgium in Columbus and Cincinnati. He told us about a little food truck serving authentic Belgian waffles around Manhattan. So on our recent trip, as the Mrs. and I were sans kids for the weekend, we sought out Wafels & Dinges after catching a Broadway show. Off the hook, right? We used #nokidznorulznyc as our hashtag.

Once we got off the subway, it look a little searching to find the Astor Place wafel truck, but the bright yellow paint job and eager lines of NYU students helped us spot it. Wafels & Dinges has clearly been busy over the years. They have two five or six trucks in operation; we visited the Kostar, the smaller one, while the original truck Momma was operating elsewhere. Since our visit, they also opened a small permanent stand at Bryant Park.

The concept is simple: the truck serves two styles of wafels – Liege style and Brussels style. Liege style uses a batter infused with some type of sugar, so you get a compact, circular waffle that’s marbled with caramelized sugar. The Brussels style is more rectangular and more reminiscent of what most Americans think of when you say “waffles.”

You choose your base, your wafel, and then you choose the dinges, or toppings. You can customize your waffle with individual dinges, or you can choose from their menu of sweet or savory arrangements. Savory versions include ones topped with BBQ pulled pork, corn chili, or even bacon. As it was late night and we had already had dinner, we were both in a dessert mood. Mrs. Bfast w/Nick chose de Throwdown wafel, with their spekuloos spread and whipped cream.

Spekuloos is like Biscoff; it’s a glorious cookie spread similar in consistency to peanut butter or Nutella, and it’s so delicious you should put it on everything. Everything, do you hear me? Everything in the world.

I was eying the evening’s specialty: de Big Apple pi. It was everything I wanted to finish off the night.

Unfortunately, they had run out of the apples from Sarabeth’s, but they were fine with substituting  bananas instead. We both chose the Liege waffles as our base; we prefer the chewier, sweeter, denser waffle than the lighter Brussels one. So my snack consisted of: Liege waffle + bananas + dulce de leche + whipped cream + cinnamon sugar. Need I say any more? It was delicious, sweet, filling, perfect as a late night snack. No wonder Wafels & Dinges was named Best Food Truck in the country by the Travel Channel.

If you’re searching for a Wafels & Dinges truck, it’s best to keep an eye on their website. The two trucks switch locations between morning and night. In the mornings, you can typically find one in Central Park and one near Grand Central Station; in the evenings, you’ll find one near Astor Place and another on Christopher Street.

The next time you’re in New York, go find one of their trucks. For me, it’ll easily become a favorite stop in the city during every visit. And did I mention the spekuloos spread…?

Wafels & Dinges (MOBILE CART) on Urbanspoon

Pirate Coffee | Columbus, OH

Columbus loves its coffee, and it loves its coffee to go. That’s why over the past few months, we’ve had three separate mobile coffee operations start bringing fresh roasted caffeine goodness to the masses. There’s the Solar Cafe and their trikes. There’s Hemisphere Coffee set up in Clintonville. And there’s Pirate Coffee.

Pirate Coffee is the brainchild of Heather Wirth, who’s known to many as the creator of the Columbus Artmobile. The idea for the cart was born out of the decided lack of available coffee at the Columbus Arts Festival this past June. I know some of the backstory because Mrs. Bfast With Nick was there when the idea came about. In fact, she supplied the name for it!

The goal of Pirate Coffee is simple: providing good brews of local coffee at the various events and festivals around Columbus. I finally got a chance to try it at the annual Igloo Letterpress Bazaar.

They make a solid cup of coffee. It’s all ground and French-pressed on the spot.

Heather ended up choosing Backroom Coffee Roasters as her supplier. Score one for good local roasts!

Their setup will vary depending on the event, but if you run into Heather and the Pirate crew, get some coffee from her! If you want to find out where Pirate Coffee will be set up next, follow along on their Facebook page!

Photos: A Very Dinin’ Hall Breakfast!

This past weekend we got to try breakfast at Dinin’ Hall! A couple of food trucks whipped up special menus just for a book-signing, and a crowd of about 60 or 70 people joined us! Ajumama set up with a very special and delicious menu.

And the cart from Spinelli’s Deli was there serving up breakfast sandwiches!

The folks from the new Solar Cafe made their first appearance in Columbus, giving away samples of their coffee. Solar Cafe is apparently a national “chain” of coffee shops. The coffee is roasted by Solar Roast Coffee, at a facility in Pueblo, Colorado, actually using solar power. And not just electricity converted from solar cells, but focused sunbeams used to superheat air which is circulated around coffee beans.

Solar Cafe has a trike, from which they’ll be serving coffee around town, and they’re opening a cafe in Old Hilliard in July.

It’s been in the 90’s and muggy here in Ohio (plus a freak windstorm on Friday night), so a tall class of omija tea from Ajumama was the perfect start. The tea is made from the “five flavor berry” (pictured here), so called because they’re salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and savory all at once. Makes for a very refreshing summer drink.

For breakfast, Laura and her crew from Ajumama served some unique versions of hodduk. A regular hodduk is a small cake filled with brown sugar, cinnamon, and walnuts. It’s a rich, sweet little snack. In addition to the standard version, Laura made a budae or Army hodduk, which used American cheese, spam, and kimchi. And then she did a bacon brown sugar version. All three = delicious.

They also served a veggie pajeon, which is a thin pancake filled with sprouts, shallots, zucchini, mushrooms, and garlic. My wife and I were big fans of this one.

We also grabbed something more traditional from the Spinelli’s cart, which was a nice complement to the Korean street food breakfast. Here’s a veggie crostini on a croissant, with a hash brown patty. The crostini is set apart from their regular breakfast sandwiches by the addition of roasted red peppers. I can never get enough of those.

Overall, a great event! It seemed like a bunch of people got to try Dinin’ Hall, who aren’t normally available to come by during the weekday hours. Thanks to everyone who came. Perhaps we can make it a regular thing?

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