Columbus, Ohio USA
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Bodega Cafe and Carryout
A new experience in urban dining
by Jennifer Hambrick
© Photos Gus Brunsman III
Co-owner Collin Castore
New York City’s famous for them. They’re all over San Francisco. And Barcelona is home to dozens.
Now one’s sprung up in Columbus.
In Spain, bodegas are groceries and wine merchants. But according to Collin Castore, co-owner of Bodega, at 1044 N. High St., the Short North’s bodega is an eatery, a bar, a carry-out, and a coffee shop all rolled into one.
“It’s your corner store with a little bit of everything,” Castore said, “a casual, neighborhood shop that is reflective of the Short North and its atmosphere.”
And it does have a little bit of that casually upscale, middle America-meets-Greenwich Village feel that the Short North has cultivated since at least the mid-1980s. Wood-topped rectangular tables fitted with geometric black chairs deck out the dining room. Unpainted particle board booths with slate-blue naugahyde padding adorn the restaurant’s exposed brick north wall. The black-and-chrome lunch counter/bar stools with foreshortened backs can only be described as mod.
The array of tantalizing salads, “small plate” appetizers and paninis (sandwiches) on the food menu also combines basic fare with an urban attitude.
“We try to do a semi-traditional neighborhood restaurant menu with more interesting ingredients,” Castore said.
Imagine the culinary equivalent of a cocktail party ensemble of jeans book-ended with a pair of designer shoes and a couture jacket. In the $4 - $8 category, you can get a traditional Greek salad or a salad showcasing the classic Italian combination of prosciutto and figs. The assortment of panini, in particular, is an interesting dress-down/dress-up mix. Classic comfort food items – for example, the grilled cheese sandwich, the pastrami and swiss – rub shoulders with more esoteric combinations (smoked sal-mon with capers and goat cheese, warm caramelized pears and onions with melted fontina cheese).
But if you don’t want a nosh, you can just have a drink. Java runs from $1.45 for an espresso or café americano to $3.55 for a white chocolate mocha. Bodega’s selection of wines from around the world, including a specialized selection from Spain and South America, can be purchased by the glass or by the bottle for carry-out (Castore’s favorite: the Terra Blanca Onyx). Beer, too, comes from around the globe with both head and legs.
Castore, a two-year resident of the Short North and former retail store owner, developed the concept for Bodega after getting a feel for what his neighborhood might want most.
“I live down in the neighborhood and part of it was kind of living down here and getting my own opinion of what I felt like the neighborhood would need and what I could add to it,” Castore said. “I really like the way the Short North is pushing north, so I wanted to be a part of that.”
Castore says that since he and co-owner and head chef Sangeeta Stewart opened Bodega in mid-November, the restaurant has already developed a clientele of Short North residents and has participated in its first neighborhood event: the 2005 Holiday Hop.
“We’ve been getting a lot of neighborhood business,” Castore said. “People are finding out about it. We haven’t been really pushing advertising very much, but there’s been great response just by word of mouth.”
Castore and Stewart are eagerly anticipating spring – and good weather – when they will roll out the outdoor seating, adding Bodega to the still relatively short list of Short North eateries that offer dining al fresco. In the meantime, there are all sorts of things to warm you up at Bodega.
Bodega, 1044 N. High Street • Columbus, Ohio • 614-299-9399 • 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Mon-Sat, 11 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. Sun [Updated 2011]
©2006 Short North Gazette, Columbus, Ohio. All rights reserved.