Restaurant Review: Tasi Cafe
Even though it sits one block off of the main drag in the Short North, Tasi Cafe packs the house. It’s bustling, clamoring and busy, even when the High Street scene is sort of quiet… even before the noontime lunch hour officially starts.
There are some reasons for that.
First, Tasi Cafe has royal lineage. It’s a cousin to Rigby’s, a fancy, perennial top-ten Columbus dining destination.
Second, it’s affordable. Even with its fancy connections, most of the prices on the cafe menu hover under ten bucks.
One more thing: it serves breakfast all day long. So if you can’t resist the urge to order Warm Biscuits ($2.95), they’re there for you at lunch. An order yields two puffed golden rounds with layers of tender, flaky goodness inside. The biscuits are good all by themselves, but even good things can be improved with butter; it’s thoughtfully provided in a ramekin, as is jelly. For a bigger breakfast commitment, there are all sorts of eggy dishes and sweet syrupy things on the menu too.
On the lunch front, sandwiches takes center stage. The Marinated Chicken ($9) is about as good as a chicken sandwich gets. Perfectly flat, and teamed with both mint pesto and avocado which provide a mountain of fresh richness to each bite.
Alternately, there is a Grilled Cheese ($7) sandwich that is transcendent. While blending lots of cheeses together is trendy in the local grilled cheese scene, Tasi gets bonus points for sticking to the singular perfection of aged cheddar. It’s teamed with tomato and sourdough, but the magic is really all in the deep flavor of the cheese.
Plenty of other sandwich options are laid out on a chalkboard above the order counter: a Cuban, pastrami, turkey, roast beef, meatloaf. All in, there are about thirteen ways to order a sandwich. They come with crunchy house potato chips.
For the fork and knife crew, there are a couple of more formal dining options, one is Roast Chicken ($10). The half-bird has a natural roasted flavor and crowds a big round plate along with a mesclun green salad and cubes of fried potatoes. While it’s nothing too adventurous, it’s high quality food, and in high quantities too.
The Macaroni and Cheese ($9), conversely, is not traditional at all. At Tasi Cafe, the dish is spiked with peas and toasted bits of ham. The additions aren’t just for decor; they’re plentiful in every single bite. Even so, the very best part is the generous supply of cheese: a million trailing tendrils of the stuff follow from fork to plate.
Orders are placed at the counter and delivered to the table. Up at that counter, there’s a cookie jar with a mix of representatives neatly stacked inside. For one tiny dollar, you can walk away with a perfect chocolate cookie. It’s round and dark with an intense chocolate charge. If you buy several at the get-go, you can avoid a second stint in the order line when you realize you need more.
Tasi Cafe is open Mondays through Saturdays from 7am until 5pm. On Sundays, it’s open from 8am until 5pm. You can find it at 680 N. Pearl Street.
For more information, visit www.tasicafe.com.
Photos by Walker Evans.