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Sassafras Bakery | Worthington, OH

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Sassafras Bakery (Facebook / @SassafrasBakery / Instagram @SassafrasBakery)
657 High St. (map it!)
Worthington, OH 43085
(614) 781-9705
Open Wed-Fri, 8a-5p; Sat, 8a-3p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited: Many times, but most recently Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.

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I’ve gotta be up front with you: this is an easy one to write. In fact, it’s almost easy to take Sassafras Bakery for granted, because a.) Mrs. Bfast w/Nick works a block away from the bakery, and b.) we’ve been fans of everything AJ bakes for years. Sassafras is a prime example of a business that started very small – AJ baking out of her home and selling at farmers markets – and has grown into a brick-and-mortar space. The hard work of braving years of weather and crowds and crazy markets and changing seasons has translated into a trusted brand and dedicated following. And we certainly count ourselves amongst the followers.

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Sassafras is right in the heart of Old-with-an-E Worthington. It’s in good company with places like Worthington Inn, Candle Lab, House Wine, and one of my personal favorites, Igloo Letterpress (because Mrs. Bfast w/Nick works there, to be clear (but also, it’s an awesome place)). The cafe plays host to a few tables, plus a counter, display cases, and a little stand with gift items like jam, cards, and a certain breakfast book. It’s all warm and cozy.

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One of the best parts of seeing Sassafras at the Worthington Farmer’s Market was eyeing the gorgeous displays of baked goods. And now you can do the same with the cases at the cafe. You’ll be tempted by a line-up of everything from scones to cookies to muffins to brownies.

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The benefit of the brick-and-mortar space is more prepared foods like delicious quiches – or at least the chance to enjoy a slice in-house, plus hot or cold soups.

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You can usually find two or three varieties of quiche, of both meat and veggie varieties.

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On my last visit I tore through a fantastic roasted zucchini and sun-dried tomato quiche, with mozzarella and basil. The crust was delicate and flaky, and the quiche itself loaded with veggies.

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For the customer who can’t decide whether they want a donut or a muffin, there’s always the donut muffin. It’s the best of both worlds.

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Despite the warm weather at the time, fall was beginning to creep on the menu. And it took fine form with the apple cider muffin, perfectly moist and tasting like a fresh glass of cider, with a little sweet icing to cap it off. Excellent pairing with a mug of Cafe Brioso coffee.

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One bite of anything at Sassafras and you’ll be hooked.

What I’m showing you here barely scratches the surface. Just fill your Facebook or Instagram feed with Sassafras Bakery and you’ll get to enjoy a steady stream of mouth-watering kitchen sink granola bars, scones, soups, iced cookies, fudge brownies, ratatouille tarts, gooey cinnamon rolls. And the pies. Oh, the pies. AJ makes a bourbon pumpkin tart that is easily my favorite pumpkin thing ever.IMG_4379

The cafe also runs specials like the milk and cookies happy hour. Great way to end any day.

Because AJ sources high quality ingredients, expect lots of seasonal rotation. Your best bet is to keep an eye on the cafe’s online presence to see what’s featured, but let’s face it: you can walk into any time and find something to love.

Sassafras Bakery on Urbanspoon

RIDEhome | Worthington, OH

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RIDEhome (Facebook / @RideHome43085)
650 High St. (map it!)
Worthington, OH 43085
(614) 468-1409
Open Mon-Sat, 7a-9p; Sun, 12-5p
Accepts cash & credit/debit

Visited: Saturday, May 3 at 11:00 a.m.

With the closing a Scottie McBean a while back, Olde Worthington has been looking for good coffee. Fortunately, it’s well provided-for through Sassafras Bakery armed with Cafe Brioso brews and La Chatelaine‘s consistent presence. Stepping in to further fill the gap is RIDEhome, which is more bike shop than coffee shop, but still serves local beans in pour overs.

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RIDEhome is nestled in the corner of the small strip featuring House Wine, The Candle Lab, and Rivage Atlantic, amongst other things. The coffee shop counter is located near the back and further beyond it is a small sitting/reading area with couches, chairs, and shelves.

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They offer coffee and tea currently. If you pay cash with your order, you get the full experience of their old-timey cash register One cup of coffee retails at $3.50.

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They’re serving Crimson Cup blends and seem to have the pour over process down, complete with Hario kettles. If you’re looking for drive-through speed coffee, this isn’t your stop, but the pour over is generally a strong way to prep a cup of coffee. The process makes it ideal (and I’m sure this was the plan) for wandering the shop and checking out bikes or bike parts while you wait.

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There’s a small shelf with Crimson Cup beans, and they recently had a visit from Worthington-based roaster Roaming Goat Coffee, too.

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If you’re not in a rush, or you’re in the midst of wandering the Worthington Farmers Market, you can sit and relax in the far back.

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Take some time, too, to check all the bikes.

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RIDEhome is helping fill the coffee needs of Worthington, especially the Olde Worthington crowd and the early risers. It’s nice to see them serving local brews and using proper methods, so if you’re in need of caffeination and you’re in the hood, you have another stop available to you.

RIDEhome on Urbanspoon

Photos: Sassafras Bakery soft opening

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This morning we peaked in to Sassafras Bakery’s soft opening in the new brick-and-mortar space in Olde Worthington. We’ve enjoyed following the updates online, as the cafe has been remodeled, equipment was installed, decorations placed.

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It’s been especially fun to follow the progress of Sassafras’ owner, AJ Perry. We’ve been big fans of hers at the Worthington Farmers Market over the years, so to see this space materialize is very exciting. It can be found at 657 High Street in the middle of Olde Worthington, next to the Worthington Inn, around the corner from Igloo Letterpress, and across the street from spots like House Wine and The Candle Lab. In other words, they’re in good company.

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Just look for the signs out front!

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Already there are some sweet decorations up, including a full wall of pie tins.

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We stopped in to look around and, of course, to pick up some Sassafras treats like donut muffins.

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There’s also warm cinnamon rolls.

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A tower of scones.

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Cookies that your kids will spot instantly.

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Granola bars.

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Lots of goodies. Sassafras is also serving Cafe Brioso coffee.

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Early reviews suggest it’s a big hit (as if there was any doubt).

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There’s a retail shelf that’s being stocked with Columbus goods like jams, cards, and a certain breakfast book.

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Lots of street parking is available, plus a few spots down the side of the building. Just look for the signs!

The soft opening was today, so keep an eye on AJ’s Facebook page, Twitter feed, or her website (sassafrasbakery.com) for ongoing updates to the cafe’s progress, regular hours, and full opening.

La Chatelaine | Worthington, OH

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La Chatelaine (Facebook / @LaChatColumbus)
627 High St. (map it!)
Worthington, OH 43085
(614) 848-6711
Open Mon-Sat, 7a-9p; Sun, 8a-7p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.

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La Chatelaine is one of those restaurants that is easy to look over. It’s been around for some time so maybe it doesn’t seem flashy and new like other restaurants, and it tends to blend into the landscape of Columbus eateries. But their three locations – and in this case, specifically, their Worthington store – offer some unique dishes, a warm sense of hospitality, and they hold the corner of the market on popular French cuisine in Columbus.

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Expect to be greeted in person or over the phone with a hearty “Bonjour!” Much of what they do seems focused recreating the experience of visiting a rustic French cottage. The decorations include lots of wood, stonework on the walls, wooden beams across the ceiling, tall-backed chairs, copper accents. There’s even a fireplace in one room, as if you’re crowding around the kitchen table with the family. And if you’ve ever had the chance to meet owners Stan and Gigi Wielezynski or any of their four children, you know that’s generally the intention.

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La Chatelaine is set up cafeteria style: you find your way to the beginning of the line, load up with a tray and silverware…

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…and then you move past rows of pastries…

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…and baked breakfasts like quiches, croque monsieur, cocottes…

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…and yogurt, and fruit, and drinks…

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…and desserts. It’s a smart model, when you really think of it. Just when you’re hungry and lining up for a meal, you pass by shelves of eye candy.

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Once you get to the end of the line, you pay, take a number, and find a seat. Made-to-order dishes are brought out to your table, while you simply load up side items on your tray. While we visited on a busy Saturday morning, the line moved pretty quickly and the food came out fast.

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We ordered the simple breakfast special: eggs, potatoes, bacon, bread, and a drink. All of it was good. Nothing mind-blowing, but good: eggs and bacon were well done, the potatoes well seasoned.

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We also picked up a side of beignets, which were fluffy and sweet, maybe a little dry, but not at all greasy.

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We also tried the special of the Oktoberfest French toast. This was probably one of the richest, sweetest French toasts I’ve ever had. The bread slices were thin and custardy, plus it was served with a scoop of a fruit custard, dusted with powdered sugar and dolloped (is that a verb?) with whipped cream. One of the gimmicks of the meal was a marshmallow beer stein: a big marshmallow covered with white chocolate and with a Cheerio as a handle.

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We also ordered an omelet to go. This is the Parisienne. Again, very good although not amazingly spectacular.

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Every time I’ve been to La Chatelaine – and I’ve just been to their Worthington and Lane Avenue locations – I’ve had good experiences. They serve a solid breakfast, and not many places offer the beautiful dishes like the cocotte (baked in little dishes and with carved vegetables on top) or the layered quiches. And you can’t argue with the shelves of fresh pastries, a cup of hot coffee, or any of their range of teas. In addition to the cozy interiors, each location has some outdoor seating, and Worthington’s is arguably the best. Their big patio is is a prime spot, especially on Saturdays when the Worthington Farmers Market is in full swing.

La Chatelaine French Bakery on Urbanspoon

Worthington Inn | Worthington, OH

Worthington Inn (Facebook / @WorthingtonInn)
649 High St. (map it!)
Worthington, OH 43085
(614) 885-2600
Brunch served Sundays, 11am – 2pm
Accepts cash and credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? N/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Sunday, October 31, 2010 at 11:30 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: Ah, the Worthington Inn. It is truly a Columbus institution. It’s practically tied with the newly-reborn Jury Room downtown as the oldest operating restaurant in the city, since 1831. The Inn’s building is as much an institution as their food. Since the 1800’s, it has served variably as a house, a stagecoach stop, and a hotel, all the while operating as a restaurant in some form. Its current version maintains the food service, but the former hotel portion is now condos, and the upper floors are rent-able for private functions. On top of this rich and varied history, the Worthington Inn’s Sunday brunch is consistently voted one of the best in the city. So it’s time to check it out.

ATMOSPHERE: The Worthington Inn’s brunch lies a little more on the formal side of things, but they manage to still keep it fairly casual. But the house itself supports the formal atmosphere. Enter the front door, and you’ll find room after room of Victorian decorations, low ceilings, fireplaces, creaky floors, and plenty of old wood accents.

It’s worth the trip just to wander from room to room for a bit. Seriously, some of these rooms make me want to grab a pipe, a beer, and a book, and find a big armchair.

There are three dining rooms on the main floor, plus the pub room where the buffet is laid out for you to attack.

The pub sports a nice, long bar with marble counter-tops, big mirrors, and glassware.

The Sunday brunch at Worthington Inn is popular, so you’d best make a reservation (especially with a group). It’s priced at $21.95/person, and that includes the full buffet and drinks like coffee, tea, juice, soda, etc. Bloody Marys, mimosas, and Bellinis are also available. And they make every effort to use pretty high quality ingredients: Amish eggs, great cuts of meat, hollandaise made in-house, and so on.

FOOD: Let’s take a stroll down the buffet line, shall we? I’ve had a few brunch buffets, and they can be hit or miss, but Worthington Inn seems able to avoid the major pitfalls like over-cooked food that sits for too long over the warmers. At the top of the line you’ll find cold salads. Next come the veggies, such as green beans or a mixed vegetable medley.

There are also trays (not pictured here) of your breakfast standards: bacon, sausage, potatoes, and a whole tray of eggs benedict.

Every week, Chef Tom Smith and his crew create three specialties, too. The Sunday I visited they had beef ragu (pictured above)…

…potato-crusted cod…

…and bistro chicken.

At the end of the line you’ll find the gigantic tray of smoked salmon and peel-and-eat shrimp. Knock yourself out.



Aside from the main buffet line, you’ll find two other tables. The first features an omelet station. Custom omelets, made to order.

See? Omelets!

There’s also a waffle bar…

…plus prime rib sliced to order.

The other table is for desserts, all made in-house. Cookies, pies, cakes, what have you.

This is my first plate all loaded up: the three specialties, shrimp, bacon, sausage, and potatoes, plus an eggs benny. Like I said earlier, there can be a certain blah uniformity to buffet food, but I think Worthington Inn manages to keep things fresh enough – and the crowds are busy enough – that the food tastes great and doesn’t get a chance to go stale. My only complaint was the uniform eggs benedict. I’m a huge fan of a good eggs benedict, and these were (necessarily) made in large batches.

SERVICE: I honestly didn’t interact with the servers that much, mostly because of the buffet style, but everyone I did encounter was nice and helpful. Just what you’d expect from from a more upscale brunch. As a side note, you may see some of the upper floors in use if you go for any of the big “brunch holidays” like Easter, Mother’s Day, etc. They open up the second floor and create another buffet line to serve everyone. Then the third floor (pictured above) is available for rentals, too. Like the first floor, the upper levels are decorated in that exquisite Victorian detail.

OVERALL: Yeah, it’s a very good brunch. Consistently voted one of Columbus’ favorites, and while you won’t get anything too funky or off-the-wall here, I wouldn’t call it stodgy either. Worthington Inn has a got the full package: classy location in downtown Old Worthington, well preserved old building with lots of character, and a very popular brunch. All very worthy of a visit.

OTHER LINKS:
-> the (614) Magazine write-up on brunch spots (including Worthington Inn)

Worthington Inn on Urbanspoon

Fitzy’s Old Fashioned Diner | Columbus, OH

Fitzy’s Old Fashioned Diner
1487 Schrock Rd. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43229
(614) 846-1004
Open 24 hours a day
Accepts cash and credit cards
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? N/N/N

Date of Visit: Thursday, August 5, 2010 at 9:15 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: If diners were people, Fitzy’s Old Fashioned Diner would be the bad-ass older brother you look up to: he’s a little gruff, he’s got posters of girls on his walls, he likes cars, he never goes to bed, and he eats a lot. Parked up on Schrock Road near the big Budweiser plant, Fitzy’s is a classic-looking diner with a little sass and a lot of character. It’s rough around the edges, hung posters of Marilyn Monroe and classic cars, and caters to any crowd, whether you’re stumbling in from a local bar at 2:00 a.m., or settling in for a pleasant 10:00 a.m. meetup with friends.

Owner Mike Lott just celebrated ten years of doing breakfast and more at Fitzy’s. He opened the place in July of 2000, serving his first customer Phil at 5:30 am and closing up shop at 3:00 pm. (P.S. Phil still comes in at 5:30 every morning.) After noticing the trends in crowds, he opened up during third shift to serve the bar customers, and eventually added second shift, too. Quite the unusual order – 1st, 3rd, then 2nd shift – but the result is that rarity of a good Columbus breakfast spot that’s open twenty-four hours a day.

Mike is big and brash, and a lot of fun to talk to. He proudly defends his place, and will fight for his customers. He’s also perfectly honest about his food and his clientele: “We’re selling pork and we’re selling pork fat,” he says. “That’s what America loves. It’s called a greasy spoon for a reason.” In addition to running the great American Diner, Mike occasionally hosts classic car shows with Marilyn Monroe look-alikes.

ATMOSPHERE: I visited Fitzy’s on a relatively quiet Thursday morning, with my occasional breakfast partner Jason. A few other tables were full, but otherwise the crowd was sparse. The nice thing about Fitzy’s round-the-clock availability is that you can visit whenever it best suits your mood. Up for a rowdy atmosphere? Visit at midnight on a weekend. Mike says he has to hire a cop to keep things under control (ask him about the velvet Marilyn Monroe poster that got destroyed). Or if you’re up for something quieter, stop by during second shift – still their slowest period, Mike says.

Have a look around Fitzy’s, and you’ll see all the standard American diner decor. Checkered floor. Counter with swivelly stools. Pictures of Elvis and JFK. Old-timey register. Brown coffee mugs.

FOOD: The breakfast menu is one page long and covers all the basics, but there are a couple items I haven’t seen that often, like the Steak Omelet and the Bologna & Eggs.

No matter you what order, or what time of day it is, prepare yourself to be served a crap-ton (actual unit of measurement) of food. Fitzy’s is up there with some of the largest portions I’ve seen.

Here’s our food when it arrived. Mike made special mention of their home-fried potatoes. He said his loyal customers clamor for them, and he’d probably lose half his clientele if he ever changed the recipe. All the potatoes are hand-washed, peeled, boiled, and sliced before browning on the flattop. Mike says they go through a ton of potatoes every month.

Jason ordered the Steak Omelet with pepperjack cheese. Came with a side of the home fries. The steak is cooked to order. Your choice of cheese. Jason said it was quite good, and huge by any standards.

He ordered a side of the corned beef hash, too. It had a very generous crust, and was slightly sweet.

I was too curious about the Sausage Steak & Gravy not to order it, so I did. Not just sausage gravy and biscuits, mind you. But a gigantic sausage patty with gravy.

Oh, and a massive side of eggs and potatoes.

Oh, and they’ll let you substitute your toast with a pancake or french toast.

Birds-eye view of our breakfast. Can you count the plates?

They also serve Ronz Original Hot Sauce, made here in Columbus.

Overall, I’d judge the food to be, well, good diner food. Mike has reason to be proud of it. The eggs and pancakes were done well, the sausage patty tasted great (although I doubt it was made in-house). The gravy had a good peppery kick to it, and the potatoes – not the best I’ve ever had – but they tasted fresh and were nice and crispy. Nothing really to rave about, but certainly nothing to complain about, either.

SERVICE: Our service was very fast and very friendly, although we clearly got the royal treatment after our talk with the boss-man. But our server gave us the appropriate amount of sass to make us feel at home in a diner.

OVERALL: Mike’s got a good thing going at Fitzy’s. His restaurant started small, originally only the left side of the restaurant, with a counter and four 2-tops. Over the years, he’s expanded to take up a larger space, including knocking out an efficiency apartment in the back and expanding his bathrooms into it. Mike has created an institution, complete with semi-famous regulars and servers. Fitzy’s is the rough-and-rowdy diner, which means you’ve got to be in the mood for it, but the next time you need a good breakfast, and at any time of day, skip those late-night chains and give Fitzy’s a try.

OTHER LINKS:
-> my (614) Magazine write-up on Columbus diners (article is offline)

Fitzy's Old Fashioned Diner on Urbanspoon

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