Between the open mic nights, art shows, and caffeine-fueled student study sessions, you might say there's a bit of a buzz at Blend Coffee. But that's nothing compared to what goes on in the cafe's kitchen. There, chefs spend hours perfecting dishes that are made entirely from scratch and with local ingredients. Morning see the staff whipping up breakfast popovers, maple wraps, and muffins while lunch brings their focus to the crafting of paninis, barbecue pork tacos, and bacon-encrusted fried zucchini sandwiches. A few specialty items even take all day, such as the raspberry chipotle wings, which staff brine, smoke, and sauce in-house. Of course, between all this, the baristas never stop brewing up premium cups of coffee, which helps ensure that the shop's chefs, patrons, and espresso machines stay productive.
"Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you make the whole trip that way." This quote, from author E.L. Doctorow, is one of the many phrases, excerpts, and anecdotes Roebling Point Bookstore scrawls across its chalkboard, embedded snugly in the building's brick exterior. After absorbing the daily dose of chalk wisdom outside, the shop's visitors venture inside, where they find themselves surrounded by shelf upon shelf of equally perceptive words. Snacks, coffee, and tea keep fingers busy between page turns, and a community meeting space hosts groups that gather to discuss parts of their favorite books or tactics for turning their least-favorite books into fibrous breakfast shakes. Back outside, amid the historical ambiance of the Licking Riverside district, bike racks are available to those who prefer two-wheeled transport, which the bookstore awards with discounts.
Teri Scheff, a skilled ceramics sculptor and the founder of Artrageous Desserts, augments celebrations with customizable cupcakes and cakes, in traditional stacks or eye-catching original designs. Armed with a spatula and steady hand, the playful artist crafts cakes for weddings or other special occasions in the likeness of family pets, a new car, or a conventional birthday cake's long-lost twin. The bakery's mature-cake division boasts racy designs in anatomically inspired shapes and adult-themed inscriptions.
Taz’s menu of authentic Mediterranean cuisine serves up classic Middle Eastern eats in the heart of the Midwest. Start off with an order of creamy hummus, served with a warm pita ($4.95), or take a pita swimming in a sea of flavorful baba ghanoush, a smoky dip made from roasted eggplant ($4.95). After training taste buds with an appetizer, unleash them on a tender chicken kebab sandwich, served with a veggie-stuffed pita ($5.25), or the herbivore-friendly falafel sandwich ($4.25). Classic Mediterranean gyros lure diners with a siren's song of cucumber sauce, diced tomato, and herbs (7” $4.95, 8” $5.50). A wide variety of teas, such as yansoon, green, and sage ($1.50), as well as fresh juices made with guavas and mangoes ($2.50), wash down the sunny Levantine flavors and cleanse palates of freeloading genies.
A savory selection of hot paninis ($6.95) begins with your choice of bread base. Try a turkey reuben on focaccia, ciabatta, wheat, marble rye, or baguette. Vegetarians can opt for the mother burger, a veggie-based patty stacked with tomato and lettuce on wheat toast (6.95). Earlier eats at Enzo’s include the hand-held convenience of grilled breakfast burritos ($4), including the roma (scrambled eggs, salami, provolone, hash browns, and spicy tapenade) and the salchicha (sausage, cheddar, and a side of salsa). Snatch up homemade cookies, muffins, brownies, and marshmallow treats to take home and hoard in your sugary-smelling bomb shelter for post-apocalyptic snacking.
Setting up shop in a formerly run-down launderette, Lavomatic Cafe provides an opportunity to dine on hearty fare without attracting uncomfortable leers from surrounding shirt-folders. Charming exposed pipes and soft tones accentuate Lavomatic’s décor, which creates a perfect setting for sampling the establishment’s well-stocked wine bar. The menu offers a modest yet satisfying selection of comforting classics with a twist, like when grandma gets tipsy and mixes acids with bases. Start with small bites such as chicken lollipops with honey mustard, bourbon barbecue sauce, and spicy garlic sauce ($8.95) or tater tots with truffle, chive, bacon, and cheddar ($7.49). Warm up with tomato bisque and grilled cheese ($7.49) or a fish sandwich with fennel apple straw on rye ($11.49). Refresh the palate with a fusion of flavors thanks to the meatloaf cupcake with country green beans and mashed potatoes ($12.95) or a pork chop with mushroom hash and red-wine caramel ($18.95). Sharable sides such as cornbread ($3.25) and mac 'n' cheese ($6.95) are also available.