Northstar in the Short North
Posted by cmh gourmand on September 28, 2006
Rising Star in the Columbus Culinary Galaxy – Northstar Café (featured in Columbus Underground)
951 N. High Street
If I did not know better, I would think Northstar was trying to court me because it has done everything a new restaurant (or love interest) should. Obviously the owners Katy and Kevin Malhame have done things right. They survived the critical first year in the restaurant biz and have had plenty of accolades in the local media.
First, food, it is the way to a man’s heart. The menu is limited but has enough variety to appeal to meat eaters or vegetarians, young or old, conservative or hippy. The breakfast menu includes: Granola (served with organic yogurt and fresh berries); Sweet Potato Hash (served with smoked turkey, red peppers, sweet onions, and an egg) – did I mention I love sweet potatoes; a vegetarian breakfast burrito; Mushroom Frittata (Shitake, Portobello, and Button mushrooms, onions, and Gruyere cheese) served with roasted potatoes, and a big biscuit; and Cloud 9 Pancakes (the batter has ricotta cheese mixed in).
The lunch and dinner menu features items such as a Veggie Burger and Organic Meatloaf. I am a big fan of the Budda Bowl – rice, chicken and/or tofu, a spicy Thai peanut sauce and lots of fresh veggies. There are good salads that are a meal to their own. The Special Salad:
is Chicken, goat cheese, dates, almonds, mixed greens with some odds and ends. As an insider secret – if your meal has chips as a side – you can get a small green salad or rice salad as a side instead.
The Sweet Basil Burrito:
– available with Chicken or Tofu – Northstar does tofu right – it is easy to do wrong – so give this one a shot. I usually ask for a mix of both.
Focused effort went into creating cuisine that is reasonably priced, healthy, and environmentally responsible. The sausage comes from an organic farm just outside of Columbus, the maple syrup is made in Ohio, the eggs are fresh from the hen, and the hot sauce and salsa are made in house. Organic foods are used whenever possible. The café also serves fresh juices, smoothies, baked goods, wines, and beer.
The décor is modern and comfortable with giant windows up front, high ceilings, plenty of open space, cool background music as well as some comfy chairs and a couch bordering the magazine rack – which offers a large selection of magazines you can purchase.
The cooking crew is decked out in professional white chefs outfits, they look busy and proficient in the open kitchen. The efficient and perky servers are more casual, sporting Northstar T-shirts – they are very knowledgeable about the menu and ingredients. Service is always good and tipping is a no-no. And I have my favorite employee who updates me on good shoes to buy. She is a sweetheart.
All of this hip/hippy cuisine and atmosphere is backed up with some principled substance. Northstar donates 1% of the café’s profits to non profit organizations. This restaurant has become the preferred breakfast hang out for this writer based on the scones alone. It is also a nice break from some of the other cramped, crowded, and noisy restaurants that are nearby. Northstar is my star of the Short North.
Word is we can expect a Clintonville Northstar in late winter or early spring of 2007. That restaurant will be within easy walking distance of my house – that is customer service!
(POST POST – Northstar 2 or Northstar North or Northstar Clintonville – opened in February 2007)