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Downtown Mashup: MEATBar and Mashita Noodles

The MEATbar has hung in there at its South High Downtown Columbus
location since its soft-opening in October 2014.
Certain locations seem to evolve into erstwhile "Bermuda Triangles" in terms of restaurants. No matter what eatery goes into the building, they go missing after a few short months. On my commute to work in San Francisco, I drove by such a restaurant location that saw numerous iterations that never seemed to last more than a few months at a time, sandwiched between long periods of vacancy.

I've noticed a couple of spots in Downtown Columbus that have gained at least a hint of that notoriety. The space at 12 E. Broad Street had been home to Cafe Lola since 2008 before they branched out and later contracted to their current location (at the 1 Columbus Center building at the northwest corner of Broad & High.) Since Cafe Lola's departure, the fast casual sushi-oriented Maki Go and the very short-lived Yuan Ye Kitchen gave it a go and were unsuccessful (the property currently remains without a tenant.)

122 South High has a similar history. with Wendy's/Tim Horton's abandoning shop from that location (Tim Horton's later came back to the area at the northeast corner of Broad & High in 2011, replacing a Dunkin' Donuts.) Since then, Chez du Bon and Fin tried and failed to get a foothold there. That has not stopped others from giving it the good old college try, including the space's two current residents.

The currently longest-standing member of this twosome is MEATBar. Starting off as a test concept of Yavonne Sarber's FAB Dining Group (whose currently operating restaurants include Oliver's, Manifesto and De-Novo; they also were behind the previously mentioned Chez du Bon and Fin) with a soft opening in October 2014, MEATBar has more or less settled in as the space's main tenant.

MEATBar has an expansive space and a sleek, unifying motif
Similar to other locally-based bowl-style-meal purveyors like Bibibop and Acre Farm-to-Table, MEATBar offers the diner a variety of food items (Mac and Cheese, Spaetzle Noodle, Quinoa, etc.) and, befitting the restaurant name, gives the diner a fancier-than-normal protein add-in, including pork belly, ahi tuna, and duck) to add into their bowl.

This eatery also offers daily specials, including shrimp and grits (I am not generally a seafood person, but I found the latter to be one of the best things I've had there) as well as tacos, plus some not-so-typical embellishments such as beer, wine and what look to be better than average desserts (including a bacon cheesecake.)

I found that MEATBar's serving containers (which resemble large-diameter cake pans) really dampens the ooh-look-how-appetizing-this-food-is-in-this-photo factor, and thus no food pictures here. With that said, I will say that I've found their bowl combos to be generally tasty and a fairly interesting counter-point of sorts to nearby Market 65's fresh produce-oriented bowls.

The return of Mashita Noodles was the result of too much success
Interestingly, MEATBar's new dance partner inside the space arrived there because of TOO much success. Mashita Noodles was reawakened because, as owner John Franke explained in this interview for the WOSU All Sides radio program, his Jobu Ramen venture in Grandview Heights (my previous post on which can be found here) turned out to be more popular than he ever imagined. Franke revealed in the interview they were caught off guard by the overwhelming response on their opening day late May of 2014, ending up in what turned up to be an non-winnable game of catch up all the way until their announced closing the first week of 2015.

It hasn't taken too long for Franke to get back on his feet, however, as he has revived the concept he started in his Mashita Noodles food cart as a brick-and-mortar pop-up within MEATBar's space.

Clockwise from top left: Fried Chicken Steam Bun, Spicy Kimchi Ramen,
Karaage Venison Steam Bun, and Kimchijeon (Kimchi Pancakes)
One will find one big change in relation to the pricing: with lesser overhead costs, Mashita can now charge one or two bucks less for each item than they could at Jobu's Grandview location. Otherwise, the food quality and menu options have more or less remained the same with a couple slight tweaks. Unlike Jobu (which had four set ramen items,) Mashita offers a standard Spicy Kimchi Ramen ($9; a very nice pleasant experience, especially during these colder days) as well as a build your own bowl option ($8 or $9, depending on your add-ons.) Special spicy noodles can be also used for your ramen order for $1.

Steamed buns ($4 or two for $7) come with a rotating selection of proteins (I had an very tasty venison steam bun; a fried chicken version was just slightly salty but otherwise fine) and wings now come with three variations instead of Jobu's regular five-spice dry rub option. Kimchi Pancakes (Kimchijeon; $5) had a less fermented tang than what you might get elsewhere (perhaps a concession to the predominantly downtown worker clientele?) but were otherwise pretty flavorful.

This MEATBar mashup is apparently just the starting point for the resurrected Mashita; per this Columbus Alive article, dinner-time offerings can be found at the Brewery District's Double Happiness, and the food cart is slated to reappear during the warmer months later this year.

Mashita Noodles
122 South High St (Downtown)
(dinner service also at
Double Happiness
482 S Front St (Brewery District))
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 450-2259
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Mashita on Urbanspoon

122 South High St (Downtown)
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 357-7874

08/17/2015 Update: The MEATBar has closed. However, Mashita continues its mobile operations and can be found numerous regular locations like Tri-Village's Tree Bar and 1064 North High Street in the Short North. The latest location updates for Mashita can be found on their Facebook page.

Meatbar on Urbanspoon

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