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Restaurant Review: Tasi Cafe

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Restaurant Review: Tasi CafePhotos by Walker Evans.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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10 Responses to Restaurant Review: Tasi Cafe

  1. honestlyinsincere July 15, 2014 9:07 pm at 9:07 pm

    I love Tasi too. I’m wondering if CU has ever posted a negative review of a Columbus restaurant? It would be much-appreciated if someone could point me to one, if so!

  2. Miriam Bowers Abbott
    Miriam Bowers Abbott July 16, 2014 4:22 am at 4:22 am

    I try to pick places that are good -though I know that scathing reviews probably make terrific reading. There was a conversation on WOSU recently about lawsuits and bad reviews -it’s a different world out there than it was 15 years ago.

    I wasn’t a good match for Melt, that one was less lovey.

  3. Chaseism
    Chaseism July 16, 2014 7:55 am at 7:55 am

    When I first visited Tasi, I was a bit annoyed with how they managed seating. But I definitely understand why they do it. Ultimately, the food was so awesome that I forgot how annoyed I was at the seating. Great place with a great atmosphere.

  4. EvilAnton
    EvilAnton July 16, 2014 9:01 am at 9:01 am

    My experiences there have varied wildly. From ethereal, to abysmal. Mostly in between though.

    The Rigsbys are regular contributors here on the CU. In the form of paid advertisers. And I’ve heard too much about Kent and Tasi over the years. If the “review” was less than glowing, I wouldn’t be shocked to find out that that revenue stream had dried up.

    614, Crave, The Alive, Columbus Monthly… They’re all guilty. Aspiring writers, special interests and other forms of light narcissism ladling on the superlatives, catering to the lowest common denominator.

    To me, there is a clear difference between defamation and criticism.

    • Walker Evans
      Walker Evans July 16, 2014 9:31 am at 9:31 am

      I can’t speak to any other media outlets, but we keep our advertising and editorial completely separate at CU. Miriam is generally a more positive person when it comes to food writing, but she has no contact with our sales staff, so there’s absolutely no interference between her writing and any advertising contracts.

      Any accusations you have otherwise, are pure speculation and assumption on your part. And they’re false.

  5. honestlyinsincere July 16, 2014 3:44 pm at 3:44 pm

    Thanks for pointing me to the Melt review. A commenter on that review pointed out that you write using “velvet hammer,” which I totally agree with. I love the subtle disgust in this excerpt:

    “Diners can start modestly enough with something called the Kindergarten ($6.50). It’s a basic grilled cheese. The bread is good. It’s thick cut and is porous like French bread, but it’s also dense like Wonderbread. It’s weirdly heavy and grilled in some sort of butter-like substance.”

    I will try to find that episode (Ann Fisher?) about the world of restaurant reviews. I didn’t think of that component of publishing your experiences at restaurants.

    As a diner, I definitely see your point about choosing places you know will be decent. As a review/journalist, I do think there is an obligation to review a variety of eateries and speak openly about negative experiences without denigrating the establishments. You have to walk a fine line and I totally understand that.

    • Walker Evans
      Walker Evans July 16, 2014 4:20 pm at 4:20 pm

      I emailed Miriam a restaurant review suggestion this morning that may not end up being too kind. I’m just hoping that she does’t get a food bourne illness during the process.

      Care to take any guesses. It’s been discussed a bit in the past few weeks on the forums. ;)

      • RLBRANSON July 17, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am

        Betty’s already closed a week or so ago.

  6. honestlyinsincere July 16, 2014 9:02 pm at 9:02 pm

    I don’t have a guess, I’m out of the loop! I look forward to it though. That reminds me, the NY pizza by the slice place on campus used to be good…and I went there a few weeks ago and the pizza tasted like my 3rd grade cafeteria pizza. Did something change?!

    • Walker Evans
      Walker Evans July 16, 2014 9:59 pm at 9:59 pm

      Flying Pizza? I remember enjoying it along time ago. I want to say I recall hearing it went through an ownership change or something a couple of years ago, but I’m not 100% sure. It’s probably been a decade since I’ve had it.

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