Columbus Coffee Chronicles (Vol. 5): Fox In The Snow

One aspect of a recent Men's Journal article touting Columbus' Fox in the Snow Cafe as one of the nation's "Best Coffee Shops to Unplug" struck a funny geographical chord for me.  According to the article, one regularly can "Picture metal smiths and glass blowers from the nearby Columbus Ideas Foundry mingling with fashion designers from Victoria's Secret (who has its headquarters just miles away)" in this Italian Village gathering place.

While the just over two-and-a-half miles from the Foundry to the cafe may be somewhat nearby, the 20 miles from this cafe to Victoria's Secret Headquarters (located in Reynoldsburg) make it just as likely you'll find this trifecta of groups at any of Columbus' more stylish coffee establishments (Cafe Brioso, One Line Coffee and so forth) as much as Fox in the Snow.

However, the main point of the article cannot be denied: there's no reason to be plugged in when hanging out at Fox in the Snow.

The Carnage Plate, Refined: Little Eater

This, my friends, is my version of a carnage plate, Little Eater-styled.

Carnage is a word that generally carries negative connotations. And yes, carnage is not a word generally associated with the well-regarded and beloved Columbus' North Market. In fact, most people would probably dream of the heat of hot chicken, the airy chew of macarons, and the waft of ripe produce, simmering stews. and all manner of bakery goods, rather than anything destructive.

It most definitely isn't pretty, but I dare say carnage has never tasted better.

Columbus Coffee Chronicles (Vol. 4): Grandview Grind

It may not have been perceived as such at the time, but the closure of Caribou Coffee outlet in April of 2012 near Grandview Heights may have been a precursor to the (botched) conversion of all of the Buckeye State's Caribou Coffee locations into Peet's Coffee & Tea stores. While some people may say a chain restaurant is a chain restaurant is a chain restaurant, I knew there were enough differences in both the atmosphere and coffee drinks between Caribou and Peet's to distinguish the two in most people's minds. Also, you cannot discount brand loyalty, so it was no surprise to me that Peet's (a chain I had much experience with back in the Bay Area) didn't last too long after its somewhat forced entry into this market.

Caribou Coffee's Grandview-area fans, like other Ohio-located fans of the chain, may rue these events even now. But some solace exists in the coffee cafe which followed in the Grandview location's footsteps, the brainchild of none other than that store's displaced barista, Samantha DeMint.

Life Is a Bowl of Peanuts: The Peanut Shoppe

I'm sure parents of a certain age could appreciate the time when all you needed to keep your kids out of your hair for a couple of hours was giving them a couple of bucks for "snacks" and a couple of wheels in the form of bicycles. My siblings and I happily took that deal whenever it was offered, making sure that we ended up sometime along the way at a nearby laundromat. After all, biking what seemed like hundreds of miles required sustenance, and the gobs of candy bars, chewing gums and kiddie ice pops available there provided a plethora of pleasing choices to go-getters like us.

Well, I've long passed that stage of my life, and those type of candy treats are much more of a rare indulgence now. However, there is a place that has become my adult-aged laundromat now,and it took a move farther away from my workplace to get me to go.

Sneak Peek: Brewcadia

This might will date me, but my first angels-singing-from-the-heavens experience I had with an arcade game was with Midway's "Sea Wolf". Peering my eyes through a fairly realistic (to a pre-teen kid, anyway) periscope sighting, my pulse hastened with each whoosh of the launched torpedo, the rhythmic tolling of sea bells (well, electronic pulses anyway) and the "thoom" that meant another sunken surface ship. I took pride in knocking off the speedy and tiny PT boat at its farthest distance, whipping my scope around to the other side with a loud thunk to get ahead of it and shooting blindly. More often than not, that marauding pest would hurtle smack dab into my LCD-enhanced streak of death.

That game was one of many in this era of modern-day arcade games. Starting with the groundbreaking "Pong" in 1972, these machines have become more sophisticated over the years, and are now in their fourth decade of providing entertainment to several generations of fun-seekers. Brewcadia, the bar/arcade hybrid that started by venerable Columbus brewpub Barley's Brewing Company, is the latest Columbus-area venue to offer this option to the public at large.

Columbus Coffee Chronicles (Vol. 3): Highline Coffee

The buildings which make up downtown Worthington, otherwise known as Old or Olde Worthington to the locals, are a reflection of the town's founding; Thomas Kilbourne, the man who purchased the land that would become Worthington, platted the land to be a New England-styled village (indeed, one of the main east-west thoroughfares here is New England Avenue.)

One probably would expect an area like this to have a little neighborhood, locally-oriented coffee cafe of some sort. However, that hasn't been the case pretty much since I moved to the area more than four years ago. There is a nice little triangle in this area of brick-and-mortar eateries where you can grab a cup of coffee brewed from locally-based coffee sources like Stauf's (the French bistro/bakery Le Chatelaine), downtown's Cafe Brioso (courtesy of Sassafras Bakery, one of my local favorites for baked goods), and duo of Roaming Goat and Crimson Cup (the bicycle store/coffee bar mashup Ride Home.)  The outdoor edition of the town's popular Farmers Market also offers its Saturday morning visitors the beans and brews of southern-Ohio based Silver Bridge Coffee out of Gallipolis. 

This situation has changed recently, however, with the arrival of Highline Coffee.

One and Not Done: Indochine Cafe

Typically, I like to try to get in at least two visits to an eatery before I attempt to do a writeup. There are exceptions to this rule: one lies in giving a little love to new eatery that shows a lot of promise (such as the newly opened Leone's Pizza, detailed in my last blog post.) Other exceptions to this rule lie on places that are noteworthy but aren't likely to get back to soon through distance (e.g. eateries visited during vacation travels) or a combo of special occasion and cost (a place such as San Francisco's Boulevard, where we had a special Christmas dinner a few years back.)

One last exception is sort of a gut call, and in this case it's mainly due to one dish that just simply knocked our proverbial culinary socks off. This dish has guaranteed we'll be back soon to this relative veteran of the area's culinary scene: Whitehall's Indochine Cafe.

First Look: Leone's Pizza

As we have discovered, the area within and surrounding the city of Worthington is loaded with pizza options, from the old timers (Pizza House and Villa Nova, to name two) to the newcomers (Natalie's Coal Fired Pizza and Cincinnati-based Dewey's.) Some might say there's too much pizza available around this area compared to other options, but pizza lovers may consider that to be a sacrilegious notion.

You can now add Leone's Pizza to these throngs of pie makers and, based on our first tasting, this is one to keep an eye on.

Leone's Pizza opened last Friday in the old Pizza Mart space in Salem Village, As this was my first visit to this location, it was plainly obvious that this small space is geared more to takeout. However, they actually do a good job of stuffing in more tables and chairs than you think might fit within this eatery's footprint.

Columbus Coffee Chronicles (Vol. 2): Boston Stoker

When Dayton-based Boston Stoker opened up their initial Columbus location just south of the Ohio State University campus on Neil Avenue in early 2013, it provided a wonderful opportunity for me personally. Whenever I had business on campus and I had time on my side, I fell into the very tasty habit of dropping by for a shot of espresso and snacking on the whatever Clintonville-based Pattycake Bakery sweet-tooth appealing treat they had on hand that day.

However, this location, which was something of an oasis of better coffee around the campus area, was not ideal as it was a shared space with a branch of the Credit Union of Ohio (it had been a McDonald's prior.)  The announced demolition of the building forced both tenants to relocate, with Boston Stoker finding a location down the street closer to the Thurber Village area of Victorian Village,

Mortis Hoperandi: Phoenix Brewing Company (Mansfield, OH)

One thing we've learned as we have visited more and breweries across this region and around the country is that you can set one up in just about any style of building, Some buildings are truly modern affairs (two that come to mind for us is Odell's in Fort Collins, CO, and Firestone Walker in Buellton, CA), while others lie at the opposite end of the spectrum (the small business park spaces of Columbus-area locals Sideswipe Brewing and Zaftig Brewing, though for the latter that is soon to change with a soon-to-be-completed expansion.) But no matter the building, great tasting beer is where you can find it.

A subset of the breweries we have visited are places that may give people pause to those who aware of their history, especially if they have a tendency toward the supernatural. As we learned on Columbus Brew Adventures' annual Haunted Brew Tour, the underground section of downtown's Barley's Brewing once held a graveyard. Unfortunately, the relocation of said graveyard succeeded in moving all the gravestones but not so much those buried along with them.

On another trip into Michigan, we found out that the building that houses Grand Rapids, MI, Brewery Vivant was the chapel for a former funeral home. And in a similar vein, our recent trip up to visit Mansfield, Ohio (most famously known for The Ohio State Reformatory, the filming location that continually draws fans of the film The Shawshank Redemption to this day) found us at The Phoenix Brewing Company, which resides in the former home of the Charles Schroer Mortuary. Even more creep-inducing, Schroer committed suicide on the first floor chapel level back in 1932.