hearty & healthy

Photo by Anne Jansen

The Northstar Cafe is one of my favorites, but I rarely make it there for breakfast. On this particular day, I not only had breakfast there, but also lunch. For breakfast, I started the day with their fantastic strawberry smoothie and a day-old oatmeal cookie. Both were fantastic, and together they were light yet filling. I’m addicted to this strawberry smoothie, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Photo by Anne Jansen

I also stuck around long enough to have lunch (Northstar is the kind of place where you can eat, study, and eat some more — they don’t mind lingerers). I chose one of my favorites from the menu: the Square Meal. It’s spicy and flavorful, and loaded with veggies of all kinds. It’s also incredibly filling (I was only able to eat about half). I love Northstar, despite the sticker shock; if you go with a partner, a single meal is the perfect price and proportion. The large crowds during busy hours are an indication of how worth-it the food is, even for lone eaters.

Northstar Cafe (Clintonville) on Urbanspoon

a crock o’ mac

Photo by Anne Jansen

This mini-croc of macaroni and cheese, served up in all its cheesiness at La Chatelaine. La Chatelaine is a French patisserie and restaurant with a few locations throughout the Columbus area, and their food is delicious. The ambiance in the restaurants is comfortable and warm (perfect for a snowy day, actually), and the waitstaff are friendly and jovial. It’s a gem of an establishment, and one I take out-of-town visitors to almost without fail. And this little serving of mac and cheese was among the best I’ve had!
La Chatelaine French Bakery on Urbanspoon

coffee…with heart

Photo by Anne Jansen

I’ve been hearing about Cafe Brioso for a couple of years now, and I finally made it to this downtown coffee shop for an early morning treat. The staff was friendly and upbeat, and upon the recommendation of one of the guys behind the counter, I tried the blueberry muffin (pictured below). It was amazing — the blueberries were fresh and juicy, the crust was thick and near-crispy (just how I like it) while the inside was fluffy and light. Couple that with the yummy hot cocoa (pictured above) — complete with its heart and leaf — and this was a delicious and light breakfast. The prices were fantastic, and the atmosphere was low-key and great for types like me who visit coffee shops and stick around to work for a few hours. The high ceilings give Brioso a roomy feel, and the cycling art adorning the walls betrays the interests of many of the staff.

Photo by Anne Jansen

Cafe Brioso on Urbanspoon

 

chilled soup, summer treat

Photo by Anne Jansen

I’ve been to the Cambridge Tea House for afternoon tea, but the last time I went there I went for a regular ol’ lunch. I ordered the crêpes, which I’ve had before, but I also got to sample their delicious cucumber melon soup. The soup was served chilled, and was the most refreshing blend of sweet and not-sweet. The bits of onion celery chopped up and sprinkled into the soup were a nice touch, and I have to admit that this is the best soup I’ve had in a long time. As a cold soup, it was especially scrumptious.

Cambridge Tea House on Urbanspoon

appetizers galore

Photo by Anne Jansen

Betty’s Fine Food & Spirits is owned by the owners of the Surly Girl SaloonTip Top Kitchen & Cocktails, and Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace. Just like the other places, the menu at Betty’s is creative and interesting. A friend and I went there for lunch and ordered 3 appetizers to split between the two of us. My personal favorite of the appetizers was the order of Hearty Potato Pancakes (pictured above). The potatoes were crispy and soft, and of course the cheese smothering them was melted to perfection.

Photo by Anne Jansen

We also ordered the plantains, which came with a spicy yogurt sauce that was a nice complement to their subtle sweet flavor. It’s rare to find plantains in a restaurant, especially way up in Ohio…but these plantains were fresh and yummy.

Photo by Anne Jansen

Finally, we finished off our order with an old favorite: the Classic Quesadillas. They were, like the potato pancakes, melty in all the right ways. The tortillas were crispy with a hint of butter on the outside, and the herbs and spices were tasty. The service was just as good as the food; our waitress was friendly and the food was quick. It was a great mid-day treat!

Betty's Fine Food & Spirits on Urbanspoon

as fresh as it gets

I recently ended up at Dragonfly for brunch. Dragonfly is Columbus’ favorite all-vegan restaurant, and with good reason, too. Our waiter, who was friendly and attentive, told us about the garden in back of the restaurant where most of the fresh fruits and vegetables found in the dishes are grown. On our way out, we swung by the garden only to find Chef and co-owner Magdiale Wolmark tending to the plants. He warmly invited us in to look around, and talked to us about his biodynamic farming methods (for more on this, see Wolfgang Steiner’s book Agriculture Course, which Magdiale recommended to us). We chatted about his lifelong love of plants, how inspired he is by the produce they grow behind the restaurant, and his philosophies on food and agriculture. He was generous with his time, and when the conversation was over I was so inspired I wanted to eat another meal and go play in my own garden.

Photo by Anne Jansen

I ordered the Pancakes of the Day, which turned out to be blackberry & chocolate chip lying in a pool of wonderfully thin syrup. The pancakes were light and fluffy, with a perfect crispiness to them. The berries sprinkled on top of the pancakes were both sweet and tart, and complemented the blackberries very nicely. Even though I was full after finishing the pancakes, I couldn’t help but order dessert.

Photo by Anne Jansen

I got the Fruit Bisque, which is essentially fresh sliced nectarines, black currant sorbet, vanilla sorbet, and a sprig of pineapple mint in a chilled vanilla soup. It’s a colorful blast of flavor that I ate in less than 15 minutes. Everything about this meal was fresh and adventurous. If you are in Columbus, you have to visit Dragonfly. It’s culinary magic, and the ethos behind the food is refreshing.

Dragonfly Neo V on Urbanspoon

fresh soup

Photo by Anne Jansen

I’ve been to the Cambridge Tea House for their afternoon tea, but until recently I hadn’t explored some of the other menu options. This cucumber melon soup, served chilled, was a sumptuous and tasty delight. It was a daily special, and special is definitely the word to describe it. Refreshing and light, this soup is a testament to the chef’s culinary talents. In addition to their creative and ever-changing scone menu, the Cambridge Tea House’s daily specials are something to look forward to!
Cambridge Tea House on Urbanspoon

waffle-icious

Photo by Anne Jansen

The waffles at Mozart’s are amazing. They are fluffy and crispy, without being crunchy. The berry sauce you see is house-made and fresh, and adds a fruity splash to the already-delicious dish. Even with a whole case full of incredible pastries and sweet treats, these waffles satisfy any sweet tooth. Pair that with the friendly staff and eclectic decor at Mozart’s and your meal is guaranteed to be a pleasant experience.
Mozart's Bakery & Piano Cafe on Urbanspoon

pear surprise

Photo by Anne Jansen

The specials at Bodega are always creative, and this is my absolute favorite so far. I love croissant sandwiches, but this one takes the cake: it’s a croissant sandwich stuffed with warm cooked pears, melty gorgonzola cheese, and carmelized onions. It was one of the most delicious sandwich experiences I’ve ever had. If you’re ever lucky enough to catch this special at Bodega, order it immediately! But even if it’s not on the menu when you stop in, give their specials a good once-over to make sure you don’t miss out on any limited-time dishes.
Bodega on Urbanspoon

diasporic fusion

Photo by Anne Jansen

There’s a little restaurant near the Ohio State University campus called Diaspora. This small place is unexpectedly contemporary inside, and the food is delightfully fresh. There are plenty of options for vegetarians, including the Vegetarian Roll which is made according to your personal choice of fillers. I ordered this roll with avocado and tofu, and it was a perfect blend of sweet and savory. The best surprise? All this fresh, made-to-order food costs so little — in this case, about $5!
Diaspora on Urbanspoon

fushion tea house

photo by Anne Jansen

Now that I’ve been to the Zen Cha Tea Salon, I can’t believe it took me almost three years to try this place out! Not only do they have a fabulous tea assortment with over 50 different kinds and flavors — ranging from Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.) to European (English, French) — but they have amazing food as well. I tried their veggie Chinese Dumplings (pictured below) and their Samosas (above), and both were scrumptious. If I had to recommend only one, I’d have to push for the Samosas because their flaky crusts were baked to perfection, and that mint yogurt dipping sauce was the most refreshing complement to these tasty little treats. After one visit, I’ve become a repeat customer. The ambiance of this little tea salon is warm and romantic, and in the winter the windows steam up from the constantly-brewing tea, making it a great place for couples on a cold winter’s night. Rumor has it they’ve got an amazing brunch…I hope to blog about it soon!

photo by Anne Jansen

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