Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Northstar Cafe - Clintonville

Northstar Café is one of my favorite Columbus restaurants!  It's a great local restaurant that focuses on organic and local produce.  It's also a wonderful place for me to eat at with my family as there are options for our variety of dietary restrictions (there are fantastic gluten-free, vegetarian and even vegan options) and while the restaurant is very popular, the wait has never been too long for us.  If you do happen upon the café during a busy period, or are dining alone, they have a nice selection of magazines to browse while you wait for your meal!

During my Mom's most recent visit to Columbus, we picked up Northstar for dinner from the Clintonville (Beechwold) location and took it back to Kenneth and my apartment.  We called ahead and placed our order, it was ready about five minutes after we arrived and paid.  While we waited for our food, I snapped a few quick photographs of the interior of the restaurant (the dining area looks empty because nearly every table on the patio outside was full, the weather was perfect for outdoor dining that evening!).  I really appreciate the interior design of all three Northstar locations.  The look is very clean and modern, yet casual.

As I've mentioned on my blog before, I tend to order the same thing at restaurants I frequent, and Northstar is no exception.  I nearly always order the sweet basil burrito (but in a bowl) with either the chips and salsa or a side salad (no croutons!).  I get serious cravings for this dish - it has perfectly cooked brown rice, sautéed red peppers and red onion with tender chicken, lettuce and an amazing creamy basil pesto sauce.  I've tried to recreate this meal at home before and can never quite get the rice or pesto sauce right - best to leave it to the professionals!

My Mom also loves the sweet basil burrito (also in a bowl), but she's vegetarian so she orders hers with tofu.  She loves the sweet potato fries, so much so that we choose which Northstar we're going to just based on the fries (Beechwold is the only location with sweet potato fries).  Kenneth likes a few things at Northstar, he's ordered the Northstar (in-house made veggie) burger, the fish sandwich and the chicken and avocado sandwich, which is what he ordered last week.  He also enjoys the sweet potato fries, which he got extra of last week when my chips and salsa were accidentally swapped for fries!  I can't eat the fries at Northstar because they are dusted in wheat flour - but they do look delicious!

I should mention for fellow gluten-intolerant eaters out there that Northstar does not indicate on their menu what is and isn't gluten-free, I called ahead before visiting the first time with a list of what menu items I was interested in ordering.  The wait staff have always been very helpful, if they didn't have an answer for me, they always checked with the manager or cook.  Vegetarian and vegan items, however, are marked on the menu and there are options to make certain dishes meat and dairy-free.

There are three Northstar Café locations, the Short North, Clintonville (Beechwold) and at the Easton Town Center. They each have a slightly different menu and the decor is unique in each location - but the focus on local, organic and delicious food remains the same.

In addition to the sweet basil burrito I highly highly recommend the fresh ginger ale.  If you like ginger ale and eat at Northstar without trying theirs - you are doing a severe disservice to your taste buds!  Seriously - order a ginger ale! Northstar also serves delicious, organic coffee!

I also recommend checking Northstar out for breakfast and brunch!  We usually end up at Northstar for dinner, but the handful of times we've made it to brunch have also been delicious!

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