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.
Bluegrass Java concocts a bevy of barista beverages, smoothies, and pastries inside of its compact, double-drive-thru coffee-stop quarters. Specialty drinks, such as mochaccinos ($3.75) and lattes ($3.60), please taste buds, and easily can be paired with fresh muffin selections ($1.50). With multitasking talents, the coffee specialists at Bluegrass Java accommodate drivers and walkers with signature "animal kingdom" drinks, named after their appearance, such as the chocolate-and-caramel-sauce Cheetah and the white-chocolate-and-caramel-sauce Giraffe. All drinks are made to order, and all orderly citizens are welcome to hitchhike along the highway of super information courtesy of Bluegrass Java's complimentary WiFi.
Gilpin's lets their diners do the work?when it comes to thinking up and naming each of the shop's steamed sandwiches. After that, the kitchen staff gets to work creating the menu's 70+ sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, steamed salads amid a casual atmosphere. It's so casual and rustic, in fact, that it's playful: the restaurant is outfitted with old-school Nintendo system.
In the morning, chefs playfully fold buttery breakfast croissants over piles of cooked eggs, turkey bacon, and pepper jack cheese. During the afternoon and evening hours, the staff builds sandwiches on pretzel buns, French and honey wheat hoagies, and gluten-free bread. They construct grilled cheeses from dill havarti and Doritos, pair veggies with hummus, and top piles of meats?from smoked pulled pork and bacon to roast beef?with hot sauce and garlic cream cheese. But sandwiches aren't the only food steamed by the team at Gilpins. To leave exteriors soft and the cheese perfectly melted, they also steam cheeseburgers, pizzas, and salads.
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.