Walking away from Cravings Café, my belly blissfully full with their breakfast burrito (with bacon, of course), I recalled the immortal words of Petula Clark:
The story behind Cravings is a classic tale of opportunity, adversity, and resilience. All new restaurants face challenges in their infancy, but when a 400-square-foot cookie and crepe shop in a still-developing neighborhood has its lease discontinued just a few years into operation, one might feel the need to strike up a dirge. (Rather than a ’60s pop song.)
But a successful $15,000 Kickstarter campaign helped pull owners Matt and Lindsey Tewanger off the plank and eventually punch their ticket to a newly renovated downtown space three times the size of their original location.
I did not pass any cutesy boutiques on my way to Cravings.
It isn’t across the street from a row of quaint duplexes.
114 North Front Street is right smack dab in the heart of municipal Columbus, just a stone’s throw from police headquarters. (Note: do not throw stones in the direction of police headquarters.)
Before you write off Cravings as being too far from the beaten path, consider this: it’s a less than 10-minute walk to the Arena District, under a third of a mile. For all the bustle and bother of trying to grab food at the North Market on a Saturday morning, you could go just go another few blocks south, take a deep breath, and inhale a delicious burrito. Or any other of their wonderful offerings.
The aforementioned burrito was a treat, well-composed and dynamic in texture (the crispy potatoes and time on a griddle to thank for that). I was also lucky enough to sample a lovely chopped salad with bulgogi steak, a loaded potato soup, and a marvelous breakfast roll, the latter set off by a rosemary dressing and toasted, house-made brioche roll.
It’s that brioche recipe that got people buzzing in the first place: you turn brioche into doughnuts (aye—bronuts), and you’re bound to get people mewling at your door like a bunch of neighborhood strays.
Speaking of whining, I confess I did my own share of it when I arrived to discover that their Saturday brunch special of real, honest-to-goodness sausage gravy and eggs over scratch buttermilk biscuits was sold out. The butcher paper sign, in fact, had the words TOO LATE scrawled across it in a wicked hand. I suppose next time I ought to arrive before noon.
Oh, and if you’re tweaked that you have yet another place vying for your Sunday dollars, don’t fret. They’re closed on Sundays. Because it’s the right thing to do.
Ultimately, it’s the small-batch, home-cooked feel of the place that wins you over. Its new space attracts both the high-cuffed jean and Carhartt jacket-wearing Italian Village type and the no-cuffed jean and Carhartt jacket-wearing construction worker type. The new space is clean and modern, but with natural wood surfaces and homey accents that maintain a familial atmosphere.
In the end, it’s an easy place to root for. Local kids made good.
Finally, a useful tidbit from a friend that accompanied me on my outing:
“High-quality, thoughtful ingredients prepared with a healthy blend of skill and creativity. Enough flair (see: bulgogi beef) to elevate the experience and avoid a dark cloud of pretensions.”
I’m still working with him on his own cloud of pretensions. But that’s another article.
Cravings Café (114 N Front St.) is open Monday through Saturday until 3 p.m.