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A Lox to Love: Where to celebrate National Bagel Fest Day

Regina Fox

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Did you know there’s a place in the Short North where you can find an Instagram-worthy cheese pull and parking? Sturgill Simpson and salmon? Bread dough but not dollar dough?

This enigma is not really an enigma at all, but rather The Lox Bagel Shop.

Cash-free and as delectable as can be, Lox Bagel is drawing crowds and pulling “likes” for its hand-rolled, boiled, and baked bagels with such gaily-colored innards as beet and thyme cream cheese, pastrami, cucumber, capers, avocado, and, of course, lox.

Photo by Brian Kaiser

The schtick and schmear is all courtesy of Cincinnati transplant-turned Ohio State Buckeye, then Italian Village resident, Kevin Crowley and his partner in crime Silas Caeton. The burgeoning bageler got his start at Northstar, a quick half-mile walk down High Street. From his more than five years at the environmentally-conscious cafe, Crowley gleaned the importance of exceptional food and service and treating people with respect.

Silas Caeton (left) and Kevin Crowley
Photo by Brian Kaiser

“We chose to put our employees as our top priority, even above our guests,” Crowley wrote in an email. “We do this because if we can have an engaged, happy, healthy, and balanced team, then the obvious next step is guests that are well taken care of, as well.”

And well taken care of we are.

What writing lacks in monetary benefits, it more than makes up for in freebies and invitations. I, along with another (614) staffer, was lucky enough to get a sneak peak of “Lox” a few days before it opened.
As soon as we got there, I took note of Crowley’s composure during the chaos that ensued on the eve of opening day. Crowley strode throughout the dining area and kitchen—signing papers and crushing inspections—with the one thing business owners who believe in their product are afforded: confidence.

Photo by Brian Kaiser

He took us back into the small and toasty kitchen to show us where the magic happens. The kitchen is small in a way that not even a petite, agile person would be able to navigate without the constant “Behind!” or “Ope, I’m just gonna slide right past you” warnings. Tall baking racks with peeled-back plastic reveal trays of post-boiled bagels in their proofing phase. The boiler itself which resembles an art classroom kiln, an assembly line complete with all the best bagel accessories, and tables covered with bread in various phases cluttering the kitchen.

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But, perhaps the biggest obstacle of all for the busy bakers is the massive Wood Stone oven. The glow of the XL-refrigerator-sized oven warms the faces of those keeping a watchful eye over the bagels, making sure each and every one receives a perfect tan and crackling crust.

Also in the kitchen are shiny metal tubs filled with the finished product. Crowley caught me eye-flirting with the bagels and encouraged me to try one.

“Don’t feel like you have to finish it, though,” he assured.

Crowley demonstrated by picking one up, tearing it open with his hands, biting off a mouthful, and discarding the rest in the trash.

My eyes bulged. That was a perfectly good bagel, I thought. Great,
in fact
.

I followed suit by carefully selecting what I thought was the most blue-ribbon grade bagel in the bunch. But, instead of tossing most of it in the trash after one bite, I enjoyed it down to the last sprig of rosemary.

Great indeed.

As we left the kitchen, I gave one final glance to the fallen bagel that wasn’t worthy of Crowley’s time or appetite. Splayed open atop a mess of plastic wrap, latex gloves, and a slew of other kitchen-related garbage, I realized that despite my non-discriminatory palate, not all bagels are created equal.

“[The perfect bagel for us] is a product that has been cold fermented for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days, has a nice, golden exterior crust with a nice textural difference between the exterior and the soft, chewy interior,” wrote Crowley. “[It’s] well seasoned and well seeded in order to provide both a great sandwich making bagel but also a great bagel on its own.”

Starting out, Lox will offer four bagels: everything, plain, seasalt and herb, and sesame. These pieces of bread can be dolled up with several different spreads and jellies. The breakfast bagel is egg and cheese, but can be made your way with bacon, sausage, pastrami, or avocado for an upcharge. The Lox bagel is ready to go at breakfast and/or lunch.There are rotating sides and salads for sale and breakfast sandwiches like pork and veggie. For the featured sandwich, just ask.

Photo by Brian Kaiser

I was wiping cream cheese from my cheek with the corner of my fried chicken skin bagel sandwich (cute, Regina, real cute) when Crowley came over to hand me the “perfect bagel.” Browned to perfection, bubbly, full of body. To me it looked like every single one of the bagels coming out of the Lox kitchen. But who am I to argue?

The Lox Bagel Shop is located at 772 N High St Suite 106 in the
Short North. It’s open 7:30am to 2 pm Monday-Friday and 8 am to 2 pm on the weekends or until it sells out.

When I'm not weaving a beautiful tapestry of words, I'm likely digging through jewels and vinyls at an antique shop near you.

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Food & Drink

Brewery District bakery to close after 10 years

614now Staff

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The Brewery District will be sans a bakery in just a few short days.

After 10 years, Kolache Republic will be serving its last pastry on Saturday, February 8.

"We are truly grateful to our community of customers, friends, family and staff who have supported us in our pursuit to bring a unique food experience to this vibrant city as Columbus’ first and only kolache bakery," wrote Kolache Republic on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/Kolacherepublic/posts/3438844786142628

Other than deciding it was "time to hang up our oven mitts and start a new chapter," the Czech pastry shop did not provide a reason for the closure.

If you're planning on showing a lot of love for Kolache Republic before it closes, Kolache recommends calling ahead for any orders of a dozen or more.

Kolache Republic is located at 730 S High St.

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Food & Drink

Hilliard looking to tap into its first brewery soon

614now Staff

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Orlando-based Crooked Can Brewing is targeting a February launch for their new taproom and brewery space in Hilliard, according to Drink Up Columbus.

The 4,000-square-foot taproom will be joined by a 7,000-square-foot patio, which will provide outdoor seating for the brewery as well as Hilliard's Center Street Market, which is expected to open in March.

The taproom will also feature large viewing windows where patrons can get a behind-the-scenes look at Crooked Can's new 16,000 square foot brewing operation.

Once open, Crooked Can Brewing will be located at 5354 Center Street in Hilliard. For more info, visit Drink Up Columbus.

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Food & Drink

Restaurant Week: High Bank’s $20 deluxe comfort food menu doesn’t disappoint

Regina Fox

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If you've sequestered High Bank into strictly a booze category, you're missing out on one of the most well-executed comfort food menus in Columbus, especially during Restaurant Week.

Weighing in at a mere $20 per person, High Bank's three-course menu is so tantalizing, you'll struggle to pick just one dish from each. Believe me, I certainly did.

Course 1: Choice of Garden Salad, Nacho Fries, Loaded Baked Potato, Five Ways Spaghetti

With great power (being tasked with choosing just one starter) comes great responsibility (making sure I pick the best). Luckily, there really is no wrong move.

Ever had Taco Bell's Nacho Fries? High Bank's are better. Crispy, battered fries smothered in melty queso, seasoned beef, refried beans, and a generous heap of sour cream make for an elevated, indulgent, heavyweight starter. The portion is definitely big enough to share, but I wouldn't blame you if you didn't.

Course 2: Choice of High Bank Bacon Cheeseburger, Queso-Rito, Spicy Chicken Sandwich, High Bank Bowl

Since stick-to-your-bones food is officially back in season, you have to get down to High Bank for their fried chicken menu items. The chicken is battered using an incredibly light and crunchy buttermilk, fried, then dusted with cayenne that leaves a warm glow on your palate—not too hot, not too mild.

Restaurant Week features two chicken entrees: the Spicy Chicken Sandwich and the High Bank Bowl.

The sandwich is an instant comfort food classic, but the High Bank Bowl is like the designer version of KFC's Famous Bowl. The mashed potatoes are perfectly salted and buttered, the sweet corn adds just the right amount of sweetness and pop, and the cheese and gravy culminate into a savory sauce. Colonel Sanders would be impressed.

Course 3: Choice of Mint Chocolate Sandwich, Snickerdoodle Sandwich, Oreo Sandwich

At this point, I was almost too full to function, but I had to press on. To absolutely no one's surprise, High Bank's third course did not disappoint.

The Snickerdoodle Sandwich came with two perfectly under-baked snickerdoodle cookies bookending a lump of hard-dip butter pecan ice cream. Drizzles of white chocolate over top sent this dessert into the winner's circle.

I can't remember the last time I felt so repleted, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat, and so should you. At just $20 a head, this is a deal you can't afford to miss.

Click here to check out High Bank's Restaurant Week menu. To learn more about Restaurant Week January 20-25, visit eat614.com.

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