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

Cravings Cafe

Cravings Cafe
114 N Front Street
Columbus, OH 43215
614-670-4439
http://www.cravingscafe614.com

It took a long time for Cravings Cafe to relocate from their original home in Italian Village to their current downtown digs. But having finally made it to the new site of the breakfast and lunch hot spot, it was entirely worth my not-so-patient waiting. Cravings is still on the smaller side, but don’t be shy about ordering your meal ahead or getting it to go. And although the shop isn’t huge, there are fun prints on the lovely exposed brick walls and it’s a cozy place to sip your morning joe.

There are so many menu items to discuss, but I’ll begin with brioche. The buttery dough is the base of cinnamon rolls, burger buns, and French toast at Cravings, and the stuff is sheer heaven. It’s even used in some unexpected ways. For example, the bronuts from the previous locale are still on the menu. Don’t be afraid, this isn’t a fraternity term; a “bronut” is a mashup of “brioche” and “donut.” Truly the best of both worlds, the bronuts are thick, chewy, and not too sweet. The flavors of this treat change often, ranging from blueberry to funfetti sprinkled to cinnamon sugar. They’re not available every day and sell out quickly, so call ahead to ensure you snag one of these beauties for yourself.

For main dishes, I’m not even the biggest fan of chorizo, but when I tried my husband’s breakfast burrito, I begged him to go halfsies with me and split entrees. This monster wrap is bursting with green chile chorizo, scrambled eggs, crispy taters, cheese, and salsa with just a hint of heat. The falafel burger is also tempting, or go traditional and try the Breakfast Roll, a morning sammie that hits all the right notes: thick bacon, a fried egg, cheddar, and rosemary aioli on the signature brioche bun. Add the Greek potato hash on the side for the ideal savory side.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how wonderful the daily specials are as well. These limited offerings are an ever-changing swirl of brunch entrees, such as loaded potato soup or a pork torta filled with braised pork, Swiss, pickled red cabbage, jalapenos, and tomatillo avocado salsa on sourdough bread. My last visit featured a brunch burger: locally butchered beef, cambozola cheese, a drippy egg, caramelized onions, and rosemary aioli, all on a house brioche bun with shoestring fries on the side. Just go ahead and order two if you see this on the menu.

Cap off your visit with a just-baked cookie or muffin, they’re just as craveable as everything else. Or pair your meal with a Thunderkiss coffee; I must recommend the coconut cream cold brew variety.

Have you tried Cravings Cafe yet? Tell me your favorite thing to order by sending me a tweet!

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Check out a few of my other favorite brunch joints:

1. Skillet
2. Forno Kitchen + Bar
3. The Market Italian Village

Brunchin’ it Up: Vaso Dublin

Vaso
6540 Riverside Drive
Dublin, OH 43017
(614) 698-2525
https://www.vasodublin.com

I can’t seem to stop gravitating towards the new Bridge Park area in Dublin lately. All of your local Cbus favorites appear to be popping up in this new complex: Local Cantina, Cap City Diner, Pins Mechanical, Fukuryu Ramen, and more. Go ahead and add Vaso to this mega-list, as my new go-to brunch locale. Perched on the top floor of the AC Dublin Hotel, Vaso’s lounge is churning out a Spanish-inspired brunch menu that will make you melt. Every dish is familiar, but new ingredients and preparations will keep me coming back for more. I should also note that if you’re like me and obsessively photograph your meals, the glass-encased dining room makes it easy to capture Instagram-worthy snaps. I also can’t wait to visit Vaso in the summer so I can enjoy my brunch on the enormous rooftop patio, filled with fire pits and an outdoor bar!

Let’s get to the cuisine though. The chef here excels at sauce-making; every course I tried boasted a flavorful aioli, vinaigrette, hollandaise, or other liquid delight. The Tortilla Española, a Spanish potato omelette, had dollops of craveable garlic aioli and a lightly dressed side salad. The almond and red pepper-based romesco accompanying the fiery lamb meatballs was divine. I loved the Brussels Sprouts salad as well, featuring two preparations of sprouts: one raw and thinly sliced as a “Caesar salad” and one deliciously crispy and fried. Be gone, boring avocado toast – Vaso’s version has the addition of crispy peas and a drippy egg for texture and flavor. The shrimp flatbread has succulent shrimp, but also a surprising slather of white bean puree and tomato jam. My favorite dish was the Benedictino del Sur, an Eggs Benedict redux consisting of an English muffin layered with ham, braised greens, and poached eggs, then topped with a generous ladle of pimento hollandaise. There’s even more to the menu, such as hangar steak, grilled octopus, and chorizo hash that I’ll have to sample soon.

Wash all this fare down with some brunch-ready libations. I’ve never been a Bloody Mary fan, but I have to admit that I found the Red Snapper, Vaso’s slightly spicy twist, enjoyable. The use of house pepper mix, ginger, and Watershed gin instead of vodka made me a convert, in this case at least. Watch your drink being made live at the corner Bloody Mary cart, overflowing with fresh fruits and veggies. Traditional Bloodys and mimosas are also available, but my favorite cocktail was the Madrid Old Fashioned (Oloroso Sherry, simple syrup, lemon, and rum) all shaken up and poured over a giant ice cube with the Vaso logo, a nice touch.

Culinary Clues: Vaso is also a stop on the Celtic Cocktail Trail. In this passport-style program, you can collect stamps for visiting select Dublin restaurants and earn rewards like koozies and t-shirts along the way. Additionally, Vaso is part of my 2018 Dining Bucket List; read more here.

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Disclosure: Vaso invited me to try their new brunch in exchange for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.

Baba’s Columbus

Baba’s Columbus
2515 Summit St.
Columbus, OH 43202
(614) 262-2227
https://www.babascolumbus.com/

If you needed a reminder that the simple things are often the best things, high-tail it to Baba’s Columbus immediately. Armed with a menu that isn’t lengthy or filled with fancy ingredients, this is a breakfast gem that you need in your life. If you follow this blog, you know that an egg sammie with a drippy egg is my kryptonite; Baba’s serves up one of my most cherished finds, the griddle muffin.

Comparisons to a McDonald’s McMuffin are inevitable but insulting to this griddle muffin. The Baba’s secret is in the base layer of all the sandwiches, the from-scratch English-style muffin with just enough chew and a healthy sprinkle of cornmeal on the toasted exterior. Normally I care more about what’s inside the sandwich than the bread, but these are the exception. Top the griddle sandwich with an egg, a slab of Havarti cheese, and your choice of veggies and meats. I’m crazy for the bacon (freshly butchered and smoked, naturally) but sausage, chorizo, and pork loin are also up for grabs. These handheld breakfast delights are available all day.

Eggs not your jam? Get some actual jam on your griddle sammie – Baba’s makes their own in-house. Try a gooey PB and J griddle muffin with jam and Krema peanut butter. Cheese lovers will melt for the Inside Out Grilled Cheese (chorizo plus sweet peppers and harissa chili spread, all in enshrined in cheese) or opt for a burger patty inside. Lastly, if you’re feeling adventurous there’s also a mystery plate containing a Chef’s choice special!

Also on the menu are gloriously puffy cinnamon rolls, breads, cookies, as well as fries, soup, and house-smoked BBQ.  Wash all of this down with a piping cup of joe from local Thunderkiss Coffee. The seasonal drink at the time of this writing is a Cinnamon Toast Crunch latte, featuring maple syrup and a cinnamon punch. It’s the ideal way to pry open those peepers!

Culinary Clue: The tiny eatery sits in the eclectic area just off Hudson (near Rambling House Soda) if you need a location reference. The seating area is very limited, so consider ordering carryout – there are just a few tables scattered inside.
Have you devoured a griddle muffin from Baba’s? Message me your thoughts on social media (@cbusconnect: facebook|Twitter|Instagram).

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Baba's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Skillet

Skillet
410 E Whittier Street
Columbus, OH 43206
614-443-2266
http://www.skilletruf.com/

Skillet isn’t a new hot spot. It isn’t even in a trendy part of town. But this teeny cafe on the outskirts of German Village hasn’t been getting the buzz it deserves lately. In my humble opinion, Skillet is dishing up one of the best brunches in town. Plus, the menu changes daily, so even the staples like scones and gravies get a new twist every time you visit. Even better, the rotating offerings allow for Skillet to utilize local ingredients from purveyors like Honey Run Farms, Blue Jacket Dairy, and Hirsch Fruit Farm. I also love that Skillet serves brunch every day it’s open (Wednesday-Sunday). It’s always so disappointing on a Friday when you’re off work and craving brunchy goodness, only to find that most restaurants limit that joyous menu to weekends only.

Skillet Cheese Blintzes

The aforementioned scones, along with morning buns, cinnamon rolls and coffee cake varieties are generally offered in some form. At the time of this writing, the current scone selections included chocolate pecan, blueberry, Amish cheddar thyme, or raspberry white chocolate. Cheese blintzes (comparable to crepes if you’ve never had them) are a typical option as well, stuffed with ricotta and creme anglaise and topped with fruits ranging from blueberries to raspberries to tumeric-cherry preserves.

Savory breakfast from Skillet

Seeking savory over sweet? Skillet has you covered there too. The biscuits and gravy will always aim to please; my husband loves the mushroom version, or try the house-made chorizo gravy when you spot it. Or let your stomach steer you towards the scallops and grits, a scrumptious play on a Southern stand-by. Even the often blasé chicken and waffles has pep here: Crispy panko chicken is tossed in a spicy red curry with a savory popcorn rice and coconut milk cornmeal waffle. Add some bacon, brined ham, or lamb and fig or fennel sausage on the side and you’re set. There’s a small lunch-focused section to the menu in addition to brunch as well. For fall, the joint is cooking up jalapeno bacon corn chowder, fancy grilled cheese, simple salads, and a pumpkin concoction with roasted apples and cider.

Skillet Bourbon Barrel Cold Brew

And I can’t forget the house bottled cold brew coffee, sweetened with a touch of bourbon barrel maple syrup. This glorious creation deserves a paragraph of its own. I normally have admittedly embarrassing coffee tastes, and will cram as many syrups and glugs of cream as possible into every cup. I drink Skillet’s cold brew black, over ice – it’s that smooth and flavorful. The little bottles are available for purchase to take home as well; I had to ask because I wanted more to enjoy later!

Culinary Clue: Sometimes the menu sells out and the restaurant is not large. So drag yourself out of bed early to make sure you get the best possible selection!

Have you been to Skillet lately? Let me know on Instagram or in the comments below what your favorite dish to order is.

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Skillet, Rustic. Urban. Food. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brunchin’ It Up: The Market Italian Village

The Market Italian Village
1022 Summit Street
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 745 2147
https://www.themarketiv.com/

The Market Italian Village is one part actual market (buy craft beers, well-priced wines, and local food products), one part bakery, one part restaurant, and a large dash of perfection. The menu at any time of day is always seasonally-focused, creative, and artfully prepared. One of The Market’s best kept secrets though, is brunch. Start your weekend morning right by snagging a stool in front of the open windows and people-watching while savoring some rib-sticking cuisine.

Let’s start with the French Toast and Chicken. Say sayonara to the Chicken and Waffles gracing every brunch menu in town. This dish is immense (hooray for leftovers!) and hits all the right notes: huge slabs of French toast, crunchy fried chicken, creme fraiche, and smoked maple syrup. I’m always partial to a good egg sammie, so the B.E.L.T. is an ideal option. Consisting of thick-cut bacon, a runny egg, greens, garlic aioli, tomato jam, sourdough, and optional smoked salmon (vote yes) this a simple but well-executed dish. Don’t forget the crunchy home fries on the side! Other mouthwatering selections include the Market Waffle (topped with bourbon bananas foster and pecans), Shakshouka (baked eggs, tomatoes, red pepper sauce, crispy chickpeas, and feta with stone-fired pita bread) and the biscuits with lamb gravy. Each dish is familiar with an elevated twist.

Feeling festive? Brunch cocktails are also available, such as the house Bloody Mary, garnished with candied bacon. Fruit fans will flip for the sangria: red wine, Grey Goose l’orange, Copper & Kings brandy, hibiscus, orange juice, and honey, or pry those eyes open with the Espresso Milk Punch (bourbon, molasses, spiced simple syrup, Snowville milk, Deeper Roots espresso, and nutmeg). Pair your meal with a luscious lavender latte, score a pastry for the road, and #brunchgoals are complete.

Tell me more about your favorite Italian Village brunch spot in the comments below!

Keep Connected,

Caroline