Refectory was the evening's destination so I didn't want an overly heavy lunch (City Barbeque or Katz's Deli). Northstar Cafe has been getting rave reviews for the last few years, but somehow we never managed to get there.
What a mistake.
When we walked up to the Short North location and thought we thought we were going to beat the lunch crowd at 11:45 - wrong! Every seat was taken in both the inside and outside dining areas (from a food standpoint this is a good sign).
As we made our way through the line, I was really impressed with how well thought out this place was. There was a magazine rack against the north wall that sold eco and food related magazines (with a copy to read while you were eating). There were bar style tables for those who were solo, couch areas where people could sit and drink coffee, as well as movable tables for multiples of two and four.
The kitchen is exposed to the front of the dining room behind the cash registers. Northstar has a wood fired oven for pizzas, coffee drink machines (they also serve wine and beer), and the requisite work area for sandwich and salad making.
That's all good, but what about the food?
Obviously the other stuff doesn't really matter if the food isn't any good. Let me tell you - the food does not disappoint.
Pulled Pork with Wild Rice Salad
(JB King's Ohio raised)
Given to me for free because they made an extra one.
If you live in Columbus, or are going to be in Columbus, you have got to come here for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Northstar makes Panera look like White Castle. There's really no comparison. I think it even blows away Così (which is a favorite of ours). The vibe is great. The philosophy even better. The food is top of the heap.
Two thumbs....way the hell up!
Northstar Cafe (Short North)
951 N High St
Columbus, OH 43201