Thursday, 26 December 2013
Restaurant Review: Northstar Café
I'm not entirely sure why it took me so long to venture into Northstar Café, but I finally did just a few weeks ago, prior to travelling to Michigan for the holiday season. I met one of my closest Denison friends, Amanda, at the Easton Town Center location, where she introduced me to Northstar's wonderfully fresh and deliciously healthy menu (there are actually two, depending on the meal), complete with a cozy, warm vibe throughout the restaurant space. Though it's easy to spend a fair amount rather quickly, I can assure you the quality and experience are certainly worth the cost.
Enjoyed alongside her glass of white, Amanda ordered one of her favourite dishes off the Northstar menu: the whole grilled artichoke. Quite simple in its presentation as seen above, the artichoke is cut in half and topped with fresh herbs. The best part of this vegetable is the artichoke "heart," where the largest concentration of "meat" resides. Undoubtedly fresh and satisfying, the leaves pull away easily and leave you wanting another taste. (For the uninitiated among you, click here to watch a short video on how to eat an artichoke.) An aioli dipping sauce accompanies the dish, though I found out it isn't all that necessary, as the artichoke preparation and natural flavours are perfect all on their own.
As for me, I ordered our bartender-waitress's favourite thing off the menu: the chicken and avocado sandwich. And oh.my.yum this lived up to and surpassed all expectations. Resting on top of one of their in-house breads was a layer of creamy avocado, of which I'm usually not a fan of outside of guacamole. On top of that sat chunks of slow-roasted Bell & Evans chicken and a beautiful slice of smoke Gouda (one of my top three cheeses, the other two being Comté and Reblochon). Completing this lot was then a lightly dressed bunch of peppery arugula, sweet roasted red pepper, and a hint of heat from some cayenne aioli. As a complete unit, the harmony of flavours and varied textures was simply exquisite. I could taste each component and the balance was so present that nothing seemed to take away from something else. Served on the side was a bright, deliciously toothy wild rice salad, which certainly contributed to my being full but not being overstuffed. This is something I'd definitely get again, though there are so many other great-looking options on the menu!
Alongside the rustic, cabin kind of environment are fireplaces and a spiral staircase which I can only imagine leads to a great overhead view of the entire layout. The most apparent and appreciated feature of the entire space for this blogger is the open kitchen area connected to the in-house bakery. There's no shying away from the freshness and energies placed into every dish that's prepared at this Northstar location. Perhaps future visits to the other locations (in Beechwold and the Short North) are in order... for research purposes, of course.
To check out Northstar's website, click here. And especially check this out to get a glimpse at their firm commitment to quality ingredients and similar locally, globally, and environmentally-conscious decision making. If you've ever been to a Northstar location, let me know what you think about it in the comments below or on the Learning through Food Facebook page.