Finally, there’s an inviting aroma coming from the Wonder Bread factory again.
Cray Eatery & Drinkery opened in the former factory (now Wonderland lofts) in August, specializing in sliders and liquor infusions.
Cray has a modern aesthetic, with a cool Columbus-centric mural spanning one wall and complementary pops of bright red throughout the 2,500-square-foot bar and restaurant. It also has an asset most downtown venues can only dream of: parking, with a private lot located at Lincoln Avenue and Fourth Street.
Get your drink on with one of Cray’s 20 specialty infused liquors. Want to feel like a kid? Gummy Bears, Skittles, Werther’s Original, or Lemonhead vodkas should do the trick. Feeling fruity? Order a pineapple tequila (deceptively drinkable) or pineapple strawberry vodka. Something spicy? Pepperoncini vodka or Red Hots whiskey will satisfy. Some of the infusions emphasize flavors in the spirit rather than replacing them, like a vanilla bean bourbon and a sage-infused gin. Many of the liquors are featured in Cray’s drinks, giving unique twists to the mostly classic cocktails. Cray also offers eight beers on draft, with an emphasis on local beer from breweries like Columbus Brewing, Seventh Son, and North High, plus 10 wines available by the glass or bottle.
There are more than a dozen sliders listed on the menu and a create-your-own option with 16 topping selections. There’s a Chicken and Waffle slider with thick, crispy chicken wedged between two waffles served with a side of maple syrup. (Pro tip: Dip the slider in the syrup; don’t pour the syrup on the waffles or they’ll get soggy.) The Duck Slider has a spicy kick with its garlic-infused duck and sweet and spicy pineapple salsa topping. The Jägermeister BBQ slider somehow manages to combine two things I dislike – Jäger and BBQ sauce – into something pretty damn good, topped off with caramelized onions. The aforementioned options are good, but some of the other sliders seemed more like something I would drunkenly make myself at 2 a.m. after realizing the only food I had in the house were hamburger buns and two to three random ingredients.
Fries are offered as sides, but there are more interesting choices, too, like deep-fried goat cheese-stuffed olives (SO GOOD), fried green tomatoes, and sweet potato tater tots. Cray’s weekend brunch menu encompasses the same slider and small-plate selections – you could order one of everything for under $30, which sounds like a challenge I’ll accept soon. Breakfast sliders, mini pancakes, and small scrambles are offered Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Be sure to pose for your mug shot on the way out. The prisoner number on the name placard you’ll hold up is “69696969.” Very Cray.