How about a morning strolling through German Village? To see where I’ve been so far, look up part one of my invited visit to the neighborhood. I had fueled up with coffee at Stauf’s, swung through the Garten Markt and the Visitor Center, perused Golden Hobby, and spent time with long-time residents in Frank Fetch Park. Now it was off to take in the neighborhood on the way to lunch.
We talk about places being good for people-watching. German Village has that – at Schiller Park or one of the big neighborhood events, maybe – but it offers even more opportunities for “architecture-watching.” When you’re walking the (sometimes rolling) brick sidewalks or dashing down a brick street, everywhere you look you’ll see renovated homes that are downright charming.
I was particularly struck by the homes with actual gas lights out front. I can imagine these look especially beautiful at night.
Okay, so now it’s time for lunch. German Village has no shortage of patios – think Stauf’s, Barcelona, Lindey’s… and Harvest Pizzeria.
Harvest is a small but mighty pizza shop, often ranked amongst the city’s top pizzerias. Although pizza is the centerpiece, the menu leads with small plates and salads, like the seasonal Mean Green of watercress and spinach covered with living legumes, avocado, blueberries, quinoa, sunflower seeds, and a vegan dressing.
The upside of their small dining room is the easy view into the kitchen. There you can watch pizzas being assembled, tossed, and slipped into the oven.
Harvest uses a gas oven that’s supplemented by wood for some aromatic qualities. The oven cruises along around 800 degrees, and it takes between 2-3 minutes for pizzas to cook.
Harvest has a lunch special of nine-inch pizzas for only $7.50 (between 11a-4p). Excellent deal.
Of course, being the breakfast guy, my only choice was the Ohio Double Bacon pizza. It’s topped with two types of bacon plus roasted red pepper, fresh mozzarella, aleppo pepper, and an egg. They cooked the egg just right, so the yolk was nice and runny. I was joined at lunch by Taylor Barnes, the sous chef at Harvest. Like the whole crew there, Taylor emphasizes Harvest’s motto of “Local tastes better,” and they seem to be on the right track.
But guess what? Pizza was just the appetizer. After Harvest it was off to The Sycamore for lunch. The Sycamore, Harvest (plus the adjoining cocktail hotspot Curio), and the Harvest Bar & Kitchen in Clintonville are all owned by Chris Crader, a local restaurateur who recently announced a market/restaurant downtown called Salt & Pine.
The Sycamore has the feel of a neighborhood bar with elevated food and drinks. Much more than a simple dive bar or watering hole. In fact, you’ll frequently find Annie Williams behind the bar there. Annie is part of the Four Thieves Thirst Parlour, a pop-up that creates craft cocktails at area venues (I first met her at The Kitchen on East Livingston).
As such, you can count on a healthy cocktail, beer, and wine list. I enjoyed the kolsch-style 1862 Ale from Land-Grant Brewing in Franklinton. Perfect warm weather sipping beer.
The menu ranges from small plates to tacos, sandwiches, and burgers, and then to large entrees. There are even a few brunch items that may not show up on a printed menu; my server Andy Smith was pushing for the brunch tostada, but both he and the GM Michael Vehlber also recommended anything with the tuna. The Sycamore makes a lot of things with the sushi-grade tuna, from the ahi tuna poke to tacos to what’s pictured above: the ahi tuna sandwich. It’s served with pickled cucumber and onions, charred jalapenos, and a sriracha aioli. Very spicy zest that plays well with the tuna. It’s nicely complemented by the house fries – crispy and salty – with a malt vinegar aioli and a house-made pickle made with habanero. And they’re not joking with the habanero. I accidentally breathed that in when taking a bite, and it cleared the sinuses right out.
Look at that tuna up close! Both Mrs. Bfast w/Nick and I love tuna especially when it’s baaaarely been waved over the grill. The Sycamore makes very good use of it. Of course, if fish isn’t your thing, there’s still plenty to choose from. I’m personally a fan of the poutine-style beef cheeks.
There’s my morning in German Village! Good food and scenery, a bit of history, excellent company. All these stops are worth making while you’re strolling the neighborhood during Village Valuables this Saturday, 8am to 3pm.
(This visit was invited by the German Village Society. Opinions and photos are my own.)