Veranico Kitchen + Provisions
401 N. Front Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Fast-casual and chef-driven aren’t concepts that you expect to find in descriptions of the same restaurant, but Veranico Kitchen + Provisions is breaking the mold. Healthy, delicious, locally sourced, and fast – what’s not to love about this Arena District joint? Veranico comes to the capital city by way of the same owners as Market 65, the Chipotle-esque salad spot downtown. This association explains a great deal about the tasty vegetables that Veranico is dishing up, but there is a lot more to love than just salads on the menu here.
I’m no interior design guru, but Veranico’s decor is far from cold and corporate. The atmosphere consists of bright pops of turquoise, an artist-created tile wall, weathered wood, succulents, and sunshine. This setting makes it a cheery place for lunch or a happy hour beer. However, the main focus here should be the salads, in suggested combinations, or you can build your own custom veggie tower. Each salad bowl is enormous and piled high with goodies. I am the type of person that likes the toppings more than the lettuce, so this is right up my alley. Furthermore, the ingredients are local whenever feasible, and as many components as possible are created or prepared in-house, such as caramel apple vinaigrette, charred corn cut right off the cob in front of you, Shagbark Seed and Mills bean salad, and just-roasted Brussels sprouts. The signature salads encompass flavors from all over the world, like the Samjoko, filled with Korean BBQ and peppers, the Delhi (tandoori chicken and feta), or the Mexican-inspired Adobo Cobb. If you choose to concoct your own salad, you get to select every element from lettuce to cheeses to protein. There are so many options that are unique for a salad spot too, such as edamame, pear, curry chickpeas, watermelon radish, buffalo cauliflower, and avocado ranch dressing.
Make sure you don’t fill up on those massive salads though – you’ll want stomach space for the rotating cookie special and the other savory treats. I found an unexpected delight in the Caribbean black bean soup, even though the summer heat topped 90 degrees when I sampled it. Creamy, slightly spicy, and with just a hint of brown sugar, all these tastes meld together for an incredible flavor experience. I will be attempting to recreate this dish (probably unsuccessfully) at home soon. Also available for hungry diners: grain or black bean bowls, as well as fresh panini sandwiches. The day of my visit, the cookie feature was a hibiscus sage shortbread. It was puffy and perfect, and left me wondering why sage isn’t used in desserts more frequently. Other previously offered versions of cookies include coconut cream cheese or brown butter cinnamon. The granola bars are sweet enough to count as dessert, made from scratch with luscious honey caramel. Take a swig of the fresh mint tea or lemonade to go with your meal too, or mix them together for the best Arnold Palmer imaginable. There is a small bar inside as well, with a few beers on tap, wines, and happy hour specials.
In case you couldn’t tell, I’ll be headed back to Veranico soon. If you’ve been, tell me you favorite salad combo in the comments below!
Disclosure: The Arena District team invited me to come and try Veranico. All opinions of my experience reflect my own honest views.