Date of Visit: Friday, April 8, 2011 at 9:00 a.m.
IMPRESSIONS: The three Northstar Cafes have become institutions in Columbus. Any online search of “breakfast in Columbus” brings up at least one Northstar location, and the steady crowds can attest to their continued popularity. I’ve been to the other two locations multiple times (and reviewed first Beechwold, then Short North). While my reviews have gotten less gushy as time goes on (I can’t believe myself when I re-read the Beechwold one), I still think Northstar serves up a solid breakfast that I’ll always like.
The Easton location is their newest one, and can be found in the southeast section of the shopping center. There’s a good-sized parking lot right next to it, as well as lots of metered parking around the Easton streets. Each Northstar Cafe is designed and laid out differently, and each one fits very well with its locale. This one is a great fit for Easton overall.
ATMOSPHERE: This was my first time in the Easton location, and I have to say… it’s one of the most photogenic breakfast spots I’ve seen. Very well focused lighting, lots of natural wood accents, big counter space, bright light from abundant windows.
This location is also the biggest. The whole main floor probably has more seating than the Short North location, and then there’s a balcony circling half the restaurant.
We visited right when they opened at 9 am (which is comparatively late for a breakfast spot), and while the balcony remained empty, the main floor filled up quickly.
FOOD: The menu at Easton is pretty much the same as the other two locations (plus one tasty addition). First off, we had drinks. There are a few choices of coffee, including decaf and light-medium-or-dark roasts. I opt for their Johnny Mellow. We also nabbed a fresh-squeezed orange juice. Always a hit.
I don’t eat at Northstar Cafe as often as I used to, but whenever I have breakfast there, I have to get the Big Burrito, plus bacon (goes without saying). I’m just a big fan of the combination of bacon, sweet potatoes, black beans, veggies, and cheese.
This item I haven’t seen at any of the other locations: Prosciutto and Poached Eggs. The base is a rosemary focaccia bread, topped with prosciutto (a very popular meat these days) and nicely poached eggs. Comes with a side of greens. Overall, a very nice dish: seasoned just right, between a dash of parmesan, the salty prosciutto, and herbed bread. Well worth a try.
SERVICE: Like all of their cafes, the Easton location employs the order-at-the-counter system. Order there, you’re given a number, and your food’s brought out to you. Gratuity is included in the food price. Generally, the employees there are very nice. Some are more smiley than others, but no surliness.
OVERALL: Again, I don’t get to the Northstar Cafes as often as I used to. Part of it is the cost: you’ll be paying a few bucks more than your average diner breakfast. But it’s also because I have so many more places to explore. Still, the Easton cafe is beautiful, and they serve all the breakfast favorites. Like the other cafes, they have a nice patio as well, plus this one has a wood fireplace! So there’s some consistency between the cafes, but enough interesting variations between them, too. But however you feel about the other Northstar locations, you’ll probably feel the same about this one.