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Forging Through Franklinton: Strongwater Food and Spirits

Strongwater invites you in from the "storm" with adult beverages and
a menu that caters to vegans and carnivores alike
The thriving 400 West Rich facility, seen as an anchor to the revitalization of the Franklinton neighborhood of Columbus, has continued its growth with the recently opened business incubation/co-working space in January and the planned conversion of a neighboring building into additional artist studios.

The facility has also provided a base for Columbus' culinary community. In addition to its bi-weekly Farmers Market and the food truck pod Dinin' Hall, the north end of the building holds Strongwater Food and Spirits, which has provided a dual drinking and dining destination for folks in the area since November of 2013.

Strongwater's menu and nattily designed interior space
Strongwater's dimly-lit interior, which has kept the historic birch wood and flooring of the space mostly in tact, provides some intimacy in this fairly vast space. Chatter from diners sitting in dimly lit dining spaces off to the side, as well as a large mural of the restaurant's more-or-less official symbol (a determined rower guiding their vessel through rough, stormy seas) that dominates one wall gave me the feeling that I was in a speakeasy of sorts. Another unique feature of Strongwater is its location right next to active railroad tracks; a rumbling train, seen easily through the large windows facing Town Street, provided a nice surprise during the middle of our dinner here.

Featuring the skills of head chef Anne Johnson (who will be featured in locally-based Crave Magazine), Strongwater's menu features a selection of unique vegan twists on bar food standards along with other more traditional meat-based dishes. On this visit, we intended to stay mainly on this side of the menu and started with The Dips Trio ($10). This appetizer, which provided a trio of dippable items (naan bread, crostini and vegetables) along with a trio of dips (jackfruit and spinach, hummus, and bacon and shallot dip), provided tasty finger food as we waited for our mains.

Speaking of jackfruit, I was quite intrigued by the idea of their Jackfruit Taco ($3,50 a la carte.) Growing up, I was used to jackfruit as an ingredient in some sweet desserts, and was not quite sure how that would work in a soft taco format. I was quite pleased to find it worked quite well, and I liked it a slight touch better than the shredded pork taco that I ordered in tandem. My spouse's Falafel Burger ($9) was also quite tasty, opting for the substitution of a side salad ($3) in place of the standard chips (a cup of soup can also be substituted for the same price.)

Clockwise from left: Falafel Burger and Side Salad, Jackfruit and
Shredded Pork Tacos, a flight of mostly Ohio-based beer, and
a slice of Cherry Pie provided by Honeykiss Bakery
As befitting its name, Strongwater offers a variety of cocktails and offers a regular happy hour Tuesday thru Friday from 4 PM to 7 PM. We used their rotating beer taps to our advantage with a swig bag token we had scored from the 400 West Rich Festivus Celebration in December, and scored a nice collection of beer from Ohio-based breweries such as North High, Fathead, Jackie O's and Catawba. Also, we couldn't help ourselves when we saw Honeykiss Bakery's pies were available on the dessert menu, so we treated ourselves to a slice of cherry pie ($6) to end the night.

Strongwater has a separate space that provides a venue for a variety of music, comedy and private events, and has recently announced the arrival of lunchtime hours as well as new menu items, including steam buns (yes, there is a jackfruit version,) a bacon cheeseburger, as well as OH! Chips.

We rather enjoyed our first visit to this uniquely charming eatery, and it definitely will not be our last.

Strongwater Food and Spirits
401 W Town St. (Franklinton)
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 928-3170
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