Toast Bar

Toast Bar
1028 Ridge Street
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 928-9035
http://dan-the-baker.com/

Is there anything better in life than breads and spreads? Dan the Baker doesn’t think so, and I’m inclined to agree. Tucked onto a side street near Grandview that you probably never knew existed, Toast Bar is a mecca of carb-loaded deliciousness. I almost hesitate to write about this place, because I love that it’s such a hidden gem. You may have caught Dan’s creations previously at Weiland’s, Hills Market, or the Worthington and Clintonville Farmers Markets; however, trying the mix-and-match toasts is something you need to head to the shop to experience. The seating area is teeny, so many patrons seem to grab their goods and go, but I managed to snag a stool at the window.

The signature item at Toast Bar is naturally the toast flight. From the ever-changing menu, you select three breads and three toppings to slather and smear on, to make your own custom board. Dan’s crew is churning out all varieties of bread imaginable for you choose from: garlic asiago, country sour, sesame, olive polenta, sun flax, and sprouted grain, to name a few. Spreads are often made in-house or sourced locally, and include house-made butter, lemon curd, strawberry jam, or maple almond butter. You can’t go wrong with any combination, I promise.

The highlight is the toast bar portion of the bakery, but don’t miss out on the pastries either. The “cruffins” are a croissant dough sprinkled with granulated sugar, rolled in a muffin shape, and stuffed with fillings like raspberry cheesecake or peaches and cream. Toast Bar serves up cookies, matcha or regular croissants, and of course, loaves of bread for sale as well. I scarfed down a tasty egg danish (buttery dough enveloping local bacon, pepper marmalade, and an egg) during my last visit too. The coffee menu is a little pricey, but I have to say, I really enjoyed my iced latte sweetened with maple syrup, and the Ohio honey vanilla latte caught my eye for next time.

Culinary Clue: Toast Bar just announced that they are expanding their hours to 8am-2pm Wednesday-Sunday. There will also be additional lunch options in the form of salads and sammies, so I can’t wait to return to try these offerings!

Have you been to Toast Bar? Send me a message on Instagram and tell me your favorite bread and spread pairing!

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Cocktails at The Candle Lab

Cocktails at the Candle Lab

Earlier this month, the Columbus Food Bloggers group and I had a girl’s night out at The Candle Lab! There’s definitely a culinary connection here, even if this is a candle shop. See some shots from the event below and learn more about this fun way to spend an evening.

First, if you haven’t been to The Candle Lab before, you begin by smelling the 120 different scents available for mixing to create your own custom candle. There are plenty of food scents to sniff like bacon, spiced rum, whipped cream, grapefruit, strawberry jam, and lemongrass, but also unusual ones like hops, leather, sea kelp, and morning dew. On a clipboard, you select 15 or so that you love; I struggled with this they all smelled so delicious. You also choose your candle’s vessel from all kinds of glass jars in varying colors and sizes.

Then, after narrowing down your list of favorites to three final varieties (the helpful staff can help you decide which ones pair best), you mix the scent oils in your chosen ratio in a shot jigger. Lastly, stir the oils into the melted wax, and wait for the candle to harden. During this process, imbibe in a cocktail made from Watershed Spirits or a glass of wine!

For my candle, I settled on old books, bourbon, and campfire as my selected scents; it smells warm and cozy like an old library. It’s so me! You can also decorate a label with the chosen name for your custom candle.

While you’re waiting on your candle to set, head to a local restaurant to dine. It takes about an hour, so the timing is perfect. Our group went to the Grandview Cafe, to enjoy their excellent mac ‘n’ cheese and the white BBQ wings. Check out my neighborhood guide for other eating inspiration too. Swing back in before the shop closes to pick up your candle, beautifully wrapped for transportation home, and enjoy burning your signature smell.

Have you had a sippers and scents event at The Candle Lab yet? Let me know your ideal candle scent trio below!

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Disclosure: Our group received a free cocktail and candle, with no obligation but to give honest feedback about our experience.

Watershed Kitchen & Bar

Watershed Kitchen & Bar

Watershed Kitchen & Bar
1145 Chesapeake Ave, Columbus, OH 43221
(614) 357-1936
http://watersheddistillery.com/kitchen—bar.html

I was ecstatic to hear that Ohio changed its laws in 2016, allowing distilleries to open restaurants and make cocktails on-site at their production facilities. With some wonderful local spirit-makers calling Columbus home, the race was on to for distillers to open attached eateries. Last week, Grandview-area Watershed Distillery achieved that goal. Since I already loved their bourbon, nocino, and visiting their tasting room with Columbus Brew Adventures, when Watershed’s Kitchen & Bar opened last week I was itching to check it out.

Whiskey Lullaby | Watershed Kitchen & Bar

First recommendation: get reservations. We strolled in right when the space opened at 4, to learn all reservations were booked already. We happily ate at the bar, but it’s clear that the buzz around Watershed’s restaurant is huge. The space itself is well-appointed and simple. A glass wall connecting the dining room to the distillery allows you to peer at the gleaming tanks while you nosh, a fun touch, and the plenthora of candles and dim lighting makes this an intimate date night locale.

The cocktail menu is printed in a playful booklet with photos of each drink and trivia tidbits, which lets you see what your drink will look like before you select a choice. No more asking your seat neighbor, “what are you drinking?” For a winter warmer, the Bon Apple Tea (Watershed vodka, apple, lemon, dry curacao, honey, ancho chai spice, winter potpourri) is poured into a floral mug. Harken back to your childhood with the Nostalgia & Moxie: bourbon, ovaltine, cream, chocolate bitters, and more, all topped with torched marshmallows. Fans of libations on the rocks will adore the Improved Whiskey Cocktail, an effective blend of bourbon, luxardo, angostura & peychaud’s bitters, and of course, absinthe. There wasn’t a disappointing drink on the menu, from my perspective. Local draft beers are also on tap, as are a generous selection of wines.

Lions Tail | Watershed Kitchen & Bar

The food offerings are a mix of comfort dishes and eclectic bites. Options include buttermilk fried chicken accompanied by whipped pig butter, house hot sauce, and pickles, or we loved the fried Brussels sprouts, crispy brown and swimming in a peppery-sweet sauce with mint and citrus. The main selections are twists on classics as well, such as the Watershed Burger, a beautifully messy concoction of bourbon-glazed onions, tomato jam, and Brie. Dip the fries on the side in the addictive aioli. It seems like every restaurant has short ribs on the menu lately, but the dish stands out here with punchy pickled cabbage, cauliflower, and miso polenta. My pick for the next visit? The Duck Confit, plated with celery root, potato gnocchi, walnuts, and prune demi-glace.

FRIED BRUSSELS SPROUTS | Watershed Kitchen + Bar

Culinary Clue: Don’t forget to catch a distillery tour or pick up some merchandise in the gift shop. Their pre-mixed Old-Fashioned blend is great for lazy people (me) when you want a fabulous cocktail with minimal effort. The other bottled spirits like the bourbon-barrel gin and nocino are also available for sampling and bottle sales!

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Watershed Distillery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sweet Carrot

Sweet Carrot

1417 W 5th Ave.
Columbus, OH 43212
614-488-7151
http://sweetcarrot.com/

Top Tastes
1. Pulled Pork on Corn Cakes, Loaded
2. Roasted Carrot & Coconut Cookie
3. Fried Artichokes on Mac’n Cheese
4. Carrot Tomato Soup
5. Carrot Cake

Fast-casual is currently reigning supreme in Columbus, as consumers crave meals that are fresh, quick, and tasty. Sweet Carrot’s unique spin on this concept fits the bill, with a from-scratch focus and reasonable prices. Don’t be intimidated by all the carrot menu items – I’m not the biggest fan of the orange veggie and loved each item. In fact, I was so eager to try the grub served up at this Grandview locale, that it made this year’s restaurant bucket list.

Sweet Carroy

 

Let’s start with some background information. Sweet Carrot’s name comes from an anagram of “Two Caterers,” the company which evolved into a food truck and then the current eatery. They still have an extensive catering menu available, which would be a great way to feed a large group. Everything from the meats, which are smoked daily, to the baked goods and the barbecue sauce are made in-house. The dining space is light and modern, with wooden stools and tables carved with renderings of rabbits and carrots. There is also a selection of local beer and craft soda, ready for your consumption.

The patio at Sweet Carrot

To make a Sweet Carrot meal, first choose your protein from pulled pork, brisket, Ohio chicken meatballs, smoked turkey, and fried artichokes. This main selection can be plated as a sandwich in a yeasty, homemade roll, on a salad, with mac ‘n cheese, or a griddled corn cake as the base.  I opt for the pulled pork or fried artichokes atop the macaroni or corn cake for maximum deliciousness. The dish is then finished with a scoop of slaw for crunch, tangy house sauce, barbecue sauce, and corn salsa. Finally, make sure you if you didn’t order macaroni as the main component of your entree to ask for your meal “loaded.” This leads to the perfect addition of a scoop of macaroni and cheese to your order – mixing in such cheesy goodness can’t be wrong. Add some flavorful carrot tomato soup or chips with corn salsa on the side, but warning: you may not have room for anything else.

Dessert from Sweet Carrot

The desserts are just as worth a visit. You would expect carrot cake to be a staple here, and it is! As I mentioned, even the non-carrot cake obsessed will love the soft texture and the piped carrot atop the icing. But the cookies are where I think Sweet Carrot really shines. The large Roasted Carrot & Coconut cookie, covered in a tasty glaze is one of the best cookies I’ve ever had; the chocolate sandwich cookie and the lemon sugar cutout treats were divine as well. Cake pops and more solid cookie varieties round out the baked offerings.

Culinary Clue: I got a tip from one of the employees on my most recent visit that a new Sweet Carrot location is in the works. Here’s to more Coconut Carrot cookies for everyone as the business expands!

Keep Connected,

Caroline

PS. I’ve done an entire series of posts about places to visit in Grandview Heights.  You can check those out here.

Sweet Carrot Casual Cuisine Food Truck Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Balboa: Grandview

Balboa in Grandview

1312 Grandview Ave
Columbus, OH 43212
614-745-1201
http://www.balboagrandview.com/

Top Tastes
1. Dip Sampler
2. Buffalo Shrimp Tacos
3. Blueberry Basil Margarita
4. Short Rib Bowl
5. Baked Dorito Mac and Cheese

I didn’t need another reason to come to Grandview Heights, honestly. I’ve written about my love for this hip ‘burb already! But then Balboa happened, and its queso, and now I’ve got a new happy hour obsession. This SoCal-inspired spot has a huge patio and a cool interior that is ideal for any season. Furthermore, since it’s brought to us by the owners of Bodega, the food was bound to be impressive.

Dip Sampler from Balboa

You MUST get the sampler trio of dips to start. This platter of dunkable goodness comes to your table in adorable mini bowls and crocks, with three mouth-watering options for your dining pleasure: salsa, queso, and guacamole. The housemade chips served up on the side are salty and addictive, and by the time our entrees arrived, I begged the waiter to remove the chips from my reach so I would quit gorging on the queso, no lie. The queso is that ridiculously good. Is it the chorizo? The addition of queso fresco cheese? I’ll never know, but I will eat it again to find out. The Buffalo Shrimp tacos were equally as sensational, consisting of three tacos piled up with spicy buffalo-sauced shrimp and cooling bacon blue cheese slaw, and the Short Rib Bowl (beer-braised meat, rice, avocado, pepperjack, cilantro sauce and more) also delighted my taste buds. The Doritos Mac and Cheese has the most fun topping you could imagine – the cheesy crust on mac n’ cheese is the best part, right? Other great options: the smoky, grilled Street Corn and the chocolate-dipped frozen bananas for dessert.

Cocktails from Balboa

Balboa’s drinks don’t miss the mark either. You won’t leave thirsty with an extended happy hour that lasts from 4-7, Californian and local brews, and alcohol-laced adult smoothies.  My favorite drink was the Blueberry Basil Margarita, a pink confection of blueberry basil-infused tequila shaken with lime, orange, and agave and poured on the rocks. Little Adventures Await also clued me in to the fact that they have enormous pitchers of sangria in red, white, and rosé (!!!) varieties for just $25.

Short Rib Bowl from Balboa

The bottom line: for fun cocktails and delicious Cali cuisine, head to Balboa soon. And maybe don’t bring friends if you don’t want to share your queso.

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Culinary Clue: Looking for more to do while you’re visiting Balboa? Download my Grandview Guide here!

Balboa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Krema Nut Company

Krema Nut Company

1000 West Goodale Boulevard
Columbus, Ohio 43212
(614) 299-4131
http://www.krema.com/

Top Tastes
1. PB Apple Cheesecake
2. Buckeye Milkshake
3. The Kicker
4. Cashew Delight
5. Buckeye Cashew Crunch

Now that I finally made it to the Grandview-area Krema Nut Company, I am seriously upset I waited this long to check it out. I am always fiending for peanut butter anything, so it was high time that I give Krema a visit, if for no other reason than to check a box on the 2016 Hot List. I underestimated what I’d find inside, and I will definitely return, with friends, for some nutty treats.

Krema Nut Company Sandwich

Upon entering, you walk into the gift shop. The store sports every snack and sweet you can imagine, many of them house-made. Pick up addictive Buckeye Cashew Crunch popcorn, cinnamon almonds, or Krema’s nut butter sampler pack so you can taste every variety! Glass offers a peek into the production area from the retail section; Krema also conducts tours by appointment, giving a glimpse of the peanut butter-making process.

Treats from Krema Nut Company

But it’s the sandwich shop area to the left where you should head for your dining pleasure. The Cashew Delight, with tart cherry preserves and cashew spread, is simple and utterly satisfying, or gobble up the PB Apple Cheesecake sandwich, combining peanut butter on one side with honey nut cream cheese and chunky apple fruit spread on the other. Heat seekers should snap up The Kicker, made with house hot and spicy peanut butter and slathered with raspberry preserves. You can also mix-and-match your choice of breads, nut butters, and toppings like bananas, marshmallow fluff, or orange-apricot spread for a custom sammy. Wash it all down with a Buckeye milkshake, a thick and creamy take on the beloved PB and chocolate combo in a shake.

Gourmet PB and J Sandwich | Krema Nut Company

Culinary Clue: Don’t miss out on Brothers Drake’s collaborative PB & J mead, made using 300 pounds of Krema’s Spanish peanuts for the PB component. And yes, it actually does taste like your favorite childhood sandwich.

Keep Connected,
Caroline

Krema Nut Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brunchin’ it Up at Third & Hollywood

Third & Hollywood

Third & Hollywood
1433 West Third Ave.
Grandview Heights, OH 43212
614-488-0303
http://www.thirdandhollywood.com

Top Tastes:

1. Iron Skillet of Cheddar Herb Biscuits with Pimiento Cheese 
2.  Croque Madame
3. Chorizo and Eggs
4. Corn and Black Bean Burger
5. Brown Derby Cocktail

One area I haven’t covered yet in my Grandview Spotlight series is brunch. Problem solved with a visit to Third and Hollywood! This little spot is off the main drag of Grandview Ave., but it is one hidden gem that you won’t want to miss. If you love North Star, you will adore Third & Hollywood, owned by the same folks and featuring local and health-conscious options.

The Grandview Hop

The Grandview Hop

One thing that really sets Grandview apart from other neighborhoods is its sense of community. A fabulous example of that is the Grandview Hop, a street merchant extravaganza which promotes local business. The Hop runs from May-September, always from 5-9 on the last Saturday of the month.  Part of Grandview Avenue is shut down for vendors, with wares ranging from jewelry to coasters, or peddling treats like popsicles and cupcakes. Many of the brick-and-mortar shops and restaurants are open too, with sales and happy hour specials. Often you can catch live music and activities as well.

(This is the fourth in a series of posts highlighting the food and drink scene in Grandview Heights. To learn more, click here)

Click Here to View My Grandview Pocket Guide

The Oilerie: Grandview

The Oilerie Grandview

1409 Grandview Avenue
Columbus, OH 43212
Phone: (614) 824-2668
http://www.oilerie.com/columbus.php

Let’s get something straight – samples are amazing. At The Oilerie in Grandview, you can taste until your heart’s content, and you will want to do exactly that. Tucked away in a strip mall off of Grandview Avenue, you would never know that this tiny spot could inspire so many recipe ideas in one visit!

(This is the third in a series of posts highlighting the food and drink scene in Grandview Heights. To learn more, click here)

The Oilerie

Click Here to View My Grandview Pocket Guide

All of the olive oils from the store come from olives harvested by the same producer, whose picture is hanging on the wall. The store is a maze of tables topped with large metal dispensers called fusti. Each of these containers is filled with a perfect olive oil or vinegar; there are little cups beside the fusti for endless sampling. It is so hard to choose which ones to select – each variety seems better than the last. For olive oils, there are choices such as chili, dill, lemon, and oregano, as well as speciality oils like avocado and hazelnut. The garlic oil is the best seller, and would be perfect for all kinds of cooking: topping grilled veggies, dipping bread, or a simple drizzle on pasta. In vinegars, The Oilerie stocks flavors like blueberry balsamic, pear balsamic, raspberry balsamic and a delicious aged signature balsamic. I can’t wait to make a spinach salad with the pomegranate balsamic vinegar – yum! Once you do decide (after 30 minutes of debate and tasting, in my case) the selection will be bottled and poured in front of you. It is then sealed and labeled with the date for maximum freshness.

The Fusti at the Oilerie

Overwhelmed by all the options? The staff is happy to help you select an olive oil that is right for your needs. During my recent visit, I chatted with Harley, who gave me plenty of tips on how to use the more unusual oils in the best way (cinnamon olive oil on a baked sweet potato? Yes please!). He also told me that The Oilerie does parties, which for around $10 a person, is a great deal. They shut down the store for your group, make a few dishes using their oils and vinegars for you to devour, and then let you go taste crazy!

Tasting Cups at The Oilerie

Click Here to View My Grandview Pocket Guide

In the store, you will also find other tasty products like pastas, sauces, spices, and even olive oil-based skincare items. Any of their offerings would be a fabulous gift for an out-of-town friend too. I also picked up some cherry balsamic preserves that will be amazing on pork tenderloin, but I’ll be back soon for that white balsamic that I’m having insane regret that I didn’t buy.

Cherry Balsamic Sauce

Culinary Clue: Still need ideas about how to utilize that bottled goodness? Check out the Oilerie’s recipe suggestion guide here: http://www.oilerie.com/recipes/index.html

This is the third review post for my Grandview culinary scene series. Sign up here to automatically be informed when new Grandview posts are released! To see my breakdown of the best Grandview spots for dining and shopping, check out the initial roundup post here.

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Matt the Miller’s Tavern: Grandview Review

Matt the Miller's Tavern Review

1400 Grandview Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43212
(614) 754-1026
http://mtmtavern.com/Locations/Grandview-Ohio

Top Tastes:

1. Pear and Gorgonzola Flatbread
2. Bavarian Pretzel Bites and Beer Cheese Soup
3. Warm Banana Bread Pudding
4. Shrimp and Grits
5. Brunch Buffet

If you are strolling through Grandview Heights and are looking for a restaurant that is casual but still delicious, Matt the Miller’s Tavern should be your destination. This pub is a great place for a beer with friends, and still special enough for a date night.

(This is the second in a series of posts highlighting the food and drink scene in Grandview Heights. To learn more, click here)

Click Here to View My Grandview Pocket Guide

One of my favorite features of Matt the Miller’s is the great bar area. There is plenty of seating, and a gorgeously designed tap handle feature. Sample beers on special from Columbus’ best breweries such as Land-Grant Brewing, Columbus Brewing, and Elevator Brewery. It is a great place to relax and unwind after work or with a group.

The Bar | Matt the Miller's Tavern Review

The thing I love most of all at this Grandview spot, however, is the Bavarian pretzel bites. They must be mentioned early in the post because they are so tasty! These nuggets fall under the appetizer category, but the size of each is so huge, they are more like rolls. They are served with a creamy garlic sauce and a sweet mustard, but I also like to dip them in the beer cheese soup!

Pretzel Bites and Beer Cheese Soup | Matt the Miller's Tavern Review

The flatbreads are satisfying too. Adventurous folks will adore the Ahi Tuna: creamy miso mousse topped with avocado, Asian slaw, tuna, and wasabi mayo. Combine the salad and entree courses with the Pear and Gorgonzola flatbread, consisting of creamy gorgonzola mousse, pears, smoked provolone, mixed baby greens, raspberry vinaigrette and crispy fried tarragon. If there’s greens on your pizza, you can pretend it’s healthy, right?

Pear and Gorgonzola Flatbread

Main dishes are solid as well. I am a sucker for shrimp and grits, and this version is stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. Picture plump shrimp on grit cakes with traditional Tasso ham and spicy sauce – you’ll want to spoon it all up.  Burgers are a good choice, like the peppercorn burger, topped with brie, bacon, red onion marmalade, baby arugula, and tomato and ale mustard sauce. Caution: save room for dessert!  The Banana Bread Pudding is heavenly: cinnamon rolls, croissants and brioche bread with banana custard, served a la mode with whiskey caramel sauce.

Click Here to View My Grandview Pocket Guide

Stop in for their brunch buffet too! They have a huge assortment of options so you can pile your plate high. Items range from perfectly poached Eggs Benedict, flatbreads, salads, bacon, omelettes, and waffles. Don’t miss the Ultimate Bloody Mary Bar, where you can pick your mix, then vodka (try pepper or  original), and finally plop in favorites like pickles, celery, and even Slim Jims.

Culinary Clue: Stop in on Tuesdays, for the “2 for Tuesdays” special. Choose from the tavern burger or fish and chips paired with a craft beer or glass of wine for $12 and under.

This is the second review post for my Grandview culinary scene series. Sign up here to automatically be informed when new Grandview posts are released! To see my breakdown of the best Grandview spots for dining and shopping, check out the initial roundup post here.

Keep Connected,

Caroline

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