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5 Very Veggie Brunches: Savory and sweet without the meat

J.R. McMillan

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Cover photo by Brian Kaiser

For the uninitiated omnivore, vegan and vegetarian options may seem scarce, even in a city as innovative and inviting as Columbus when it comes to inclusive cuisine. Long gone are the heyday of hippie joints with lean offerings long on salads, yet still short on something you could sink your teeth into—not that the stereotype was ever entirely accurate.

Though there is certainly far more fare from which to choose than there was a generation ago, veteran vegans and vegetarians may reluctantly admit midday meals and evening eats have always been easier to accommodate than traditional morning menus. And anything a little later, maybe with a little liquor, is almost impossible to find. Even Oddfellows’ unambiguous “Classy as F*ck Brunch Buffet” couldn’t last forever. Woodhouse Vegan’s Monday/Tuesday pop-up persists, though with any luck their new digs in Italian Village will revive the tradition.

Brunch is more than breakfast’s big brother. It’s at least as much a social imperative as a search for sustenance. Be it boozy or just bougie, the leisure class case for more conscientious consumption still remains somewhat shaky. Brunch is about familiar comfort foods, and requires rousing a gaggle of friends whose idea of weekend decadence may not be implicitly plant forward.

But this is when sneaky vegans and vegetarians can show the skeptics exactly where Columbus secretly shines, with approachable spots and unassuming options that might just change the minds of many who can’t imagine brunch beyond bacon.

THE ANGRY BAKER | 891 Oak St.

This Olde Towne East eatery has inspired two o shoots in the Short North and Upper Arlington. But the atmosphere of the original is still a strong draw with scratch-made breads and pastries that are all vegan by design.

Go for the Brioche French Toast Sandwich stuffed with eggs and swiss with a side of maple syrup for dipping—or the Fork & Knife Burrito, filled with potatoes, avocado, black beans, and mozzarella then baked and topped with two eggs, salsa verde, sriracha, and green onions. Make either vegetarian choice vegan with seitan and cashew mozz instead. Be sure to grab something sweet to go.

Check out: theangrybaker.com

ALCHEMY KITCHEN | 1439 Grandview Ave.

The more robust sibling of the Parsons Avenue café, the Grandview location offers an expanded menu with holistic nutrition that makes it far more than just another juice bar. (But seriously, if you don’t order a smoothie, you’re missing out.)

Toasts are tempting, especially the Baconana, topped with almond butter, banana, coconut bacon, smoked sea salt, and maple on whole wheat. But the standout here is still the Mexican Shakshuka, a twist on the Mediterranean staple with sunny-side eggs in a spiced pepper and tomato sauce, black beans, avocado, Bulgarian feta, pickled chilies and red onions, cilantro, and a slab of farm toast.

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Check out: alchemyjuicecafe.com

BLUNCH | 2973 N High St.

Perfectly blurring the line between breakfast and lunch was always the point at this High Street haunt just south of Weber. With a generous mix of vegetarian selections, there’s plenty here to keep everyone happy— including a drink menu from bloody to bubbly with a solid slate of local craft brews.

The Veggie Benedict with sautéed vegetables on a panko-crusted portabella with poached eggs and roasted red pepper-cashew sauce is the vegetarian spin on a morning mainstay. For something less savory, you can’t go wrong with a Pancake Flight of sautéed bananas foster, blueberry lemon ricotta, and sweet potato with toasted marshmallows.

Check out: blunchcolumbus.com

LITTLE EATER | Multiple locations

“Produce inspired” is more than just a mantra for this quaint Clintonville location now with a sister shop in the North Market. Bright, white, subway tiles are as synonymous with the brand as the seasonal selection of locally sourced ingredients.

Start with the Spinach & Leek Frittata, with an unexpected balance of dill, turmeric, and feta—or the Mushroom Quiche with shallots and Gruyère. For something with some crunch, try any of their toasts, from Avocado Toasted Seed Mix with olive oil and sea salt on a slice of Lucky Cat bread to Pistachio Nut Butter with strawberry-citrus jam on a Matija Breads ciabatta.

Check out: littleeater.com

PORTIA’S CAFÉ | 4428 Indianola Ave.

Once coupled with the beloved Clintonville Community Market, this Indianola outpost is adding a second location later this year in a familiar space, the same spot as the old Whole World Natural Restaurant and Bakery off High Street, a neighborhood standard for nearly four decades.

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

The Garden Breakfast Wrap with tofu eggs, “cheeze,” “sawsage,” tomato, lettuce, and mayo on a gluten-free tortilla is a meal you can hold in one hand. But don’t skip a side of their Rosemary Herbed Home Fries. If sweet is more your speed, their waffles are unmatched with toppings ranging from banana and blueberry to chocolate chip and coconut, as well as seasonal surprises.

Check out: portiascafe.com

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Get an insanely delicious dessert + a laugh at comedy bake shop coming soon

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Soon, you’ll be able to get some sweet comedy and even sweeter desserts in Old North. High on Sugar will be open in the space formerly occupied by Buffalo Exchange at 2643 N. High St. sometime in September.

The menu will feature inventive indulgences like shakes piles high with different cakes, ice creams, and toppings—all built your way.

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Entertainment will be offered daily, along with free WiFi and comfortable seating options. More details on the comedy component to surface closer to the open date.

Want to help make sure this sugar train stays on the tracks? Check out High on Sugar’s GoFundMe campaign here.

Learn more about the comedy bake shop here.

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Peace, love, and more pancake balls at Katalina’s second (larger) location

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The city’s beloved (peace, love and) pancake balls now have a second place to call home. Expanding from their inaugural Harrison West domain, Katalina’s, welcomes diehard breakfast lovers to their new turquoise-coated digs in Clintonville. Much larger in space and seating capacity, patrons of Katalina’s, Too! may be reminded of another previous whimsical Columbus staple.

“We kept the integrity of [Vintage Fountain Pen Sales and Repair], so I think you’ll see both elements,” says Kathleen Day, brunch connoisseur and owner of Katalina’s. “It looks a little mid-century modern, but then I also wanted to keep the Katalina’s aesthetic. You’ll definitely see those architectural elements of the original gas station and when I first opened Katalina’s. I did not have a budget at all, hardly.”

Photos: Brian Kaiser

Instead of breaking the bank, Day relied on flea market finds and decorative, chalk-based decor inspired by the original Katalina’s location. Guests of the original Katalina’s may recall the wooden, brightly-colored umbrella-covered porch, along with the heavily trafficked six-hundred square foot interior. While Katalina’s, Too! is six times as large as its predecessor, Day insists that the brand hasn’t strayed far from its roots. Though various Columbus neighborhoods tossed their hat into the ring to house Katalina’s, Too!, it was Clintonville that eventually took the gold.

“Since I opened, people in Clintonville have been the most vociferous about wanting this second Katalina’s. I’ve been very lucky everyone wants a second Katalina’s, but people in Clintonville have probably been the loudest about wanting a second Katalina’s,” says Day. “I looked in German Village as well, but I don’t want to make other people in Columbus feel as if I don’t like other areas of Columbus. I have a soft spot for Clintonville because their values are very like Katalina’s in that they’re independent, peace-loving, local, organic and their values are spirited, quirky and anti-corporate.”

One glance at the Katalina’s, Too! menu, and guests may develop a voracious appetite for the Prego Steak Sandwich, a Portuguese-inspired sirloin tucked between a brioche roll from Majita Breads and smothered by a housemade piri-piri sauce. With the belief that outsourcing may exploit the Katalina’s brand, Day purposely intersects her recipes with local resources, remembering that the first Katalina’s began from just a “pot and a spoon.”

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“I think once they understand my brand values of ‘live, love, local’ organic and ethics, they kind of come on board. People really love working for Katalina’s because of the brand values and the team is wonderful. I couldn’t do it without them,” says Day. “I think the customers and the community here are just so passionate about food, local products and local farms, they just want more and more.”

As High Street steadily grows into a bar and nightlife sanctuary, Clintonville proved to be the leading choice for Katalina’s, Too!, even wiping out the cobblestone o -beaten path of German Village. With Harrison West being up-and- coming in 2009, Day admits that Clintonville’s familial aura is what generated personal interest. “I just happen to know from my friends living in Clintonville that it is a very family- oriented community and especially because I have a much bigger space I know there will be more kids there,” says Day, who expanded the menu to include a new kids menu. “I think my pancake balls are kid-friendly, but I definitely wanted to be a family-friendly destination.”

For vegans and those interested in transitioning into veganism, there’s an abundance of new plant-based specialties to choose from, but for dedicated brunch enthusiasts, Day’s next project is to expand the Original Pancake Balls TM into having a vegan alternative. “I’m a cook at heart and people will tell you you’re either a cook or a baker. I am not a baker and so I finally have a baker in-house and maybe she can help me on that. But it is very difficult to make a pancake that is as good without eggs,” Day admits. “I now have local Fowlers Mill Flour and they have created something that makes it easier for us. Now we just add a few items instead of making it basically from scratch even though it’s stone-ground flour which is much better for you than just regular white bleached flour.”

Joking that she’ll need a brief sabbatical away from the frenzy of opening Katalina’s, Too! and the demand for extended hours, Day is in no rush to create Katalina’s, Three, though she knows Columbus will be her eternal breakfast landmark. “This was pretty daunting and then my employees are all very excited to keep expanding, of course, but I think I need to just decide if it’s best for me and my employees,” she says. “They all love the family atmosphere of Katalina’s, and I just know from past experiences if you keep growing you can’t always keep the integrity of your original location. I would never want to become this corporate-type company because people love Katalina’s because it’s so unique and home-spun. I want to maintain that.”

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Only 4 days of Restaurant Week remain! View menus, make reservations, win big

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It’s finally here! Happy Restaurant Week July 15-20! What’s Restaurant Week you ask? You must be new. Thats OK! We’ll get you up to speed and in the know.

This week, you can enjoy 3-course meals at 120+ of Columbus’ best restaurants for a fraction of the cost. Dig into deep discounts from local favorites such as City Barbeque with special menus starting at just $15! Restaurant Week is also your to scope out some of the swankiest spots in town on the cheap like Smith & Wollensky and Mezzo !

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Or, you could get meals for FREE if you’re the lucky winner of our grand prize! In our Restaurant Week giveaway, one lucky winner will receive a $500 Marathon Gift Card AND dinner for 4 at 5 Restaurant Week restaurants! Plus, 25 additional winners will receive dinner for 2 at a participating Restaurant Week restaurant!

Your giveaway entries could help you score big, but they also do good in the community. During Restaurant Week Columbus presented by (614) Magazine & Marathon Petroleum Corporation, $0.25 donation will be made to Pelotonia for each unique giveaway entry, up to $5,000.

To view menus, make reservations, and enter the grand prize giveaway, visit eat614.com. And be sure to keep an eye on 614’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages for additional giveaways all week!

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