Hitting the mark with fresh and local.
At Market 65, clockwise from front: the Pacific Rim salad, the Columbia River Catch salad and the blackened Cobb salad.
Michael A. Foley/Rycus Assoc.
Market 65, on State Street downtown, touts fresh, locally sourced produce and other ingredients. Now, freshness is one thing, locally sourced fresh is another. By and large, local food is a bit more fresh, healthful and tastier than food shipped from afar.
This is true for many reasons, not just how long it takes for the product to move from field or pasture to tongue. When it comes to produce, fruits and veggies meant for shipping often are genetically engineered for travel more than taste, and usually they’re picked a little earlier than full ripeness. You all know what I mean each spring when you bite into a luscious dark red Central Ohio strawberry and during the fall when “real” tomatoes finally come in.
Those are the most obvious examples, but the same holds true to one degree or another when it comes to greens, beets, peppers, potatoes etc. The mission of Market 65, besides making money, of course, is serving as much local produce and other foodstuffs as possible (given the limitations of climate and cost).
So far, they are doing a bang-up job in this shop that specializes in salads, soups, wrap sandwiches and breakfast items. The food was wonderfully fresh, mostly healthful and quite tasty. This is not just me talking—the downtown lunch crowd has taken notice. The lines (and wait) can be daunting around noon or so.
But wait you should for the likes of the blackened Cobb salad. This riff on the Cobb combined slices of spicy blackened chicken breast with romaine, egg, red onion, feta cheese, avocado and tomatoes. Choose the mildly smoky chipotle ranch dressing. Another excellent item was the Columbia River Catch salad—grilled salmon (served room temperature) with fingerling potatoes, salty kalamata olives, pieces of asparagus and bits of white goat cheese.
The twist here is that you create your own dishes. But Market 65 also suggests combinations. The way it works resembles an assembly line. You begin at the counter and your bowl makes its way down the line as you select your greens—whether romaine, spinach or others—and then add salmon, shrimp, grilled steak or chicken. (So far, the chicken and the red meat are locally sourced products, and fine ones at that.)
From there, you can opt for cheese—feta, cheddar, Parmesan etc.—and veggies, which are the stars of the show: peppers, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, chickpeas and beans.
The contents of the bowl are deposited on a large cutting board where, unless you direct otherwise, the materials get chopped a bit and dressed with one of the many housemade dressings. All of the ones I tried were excellent, except the vinaigrette could have been a bit less vinegary.
Anything in a salad also can be wrapped in a big tortilla and become a sandwich, and that option was available, too. During each visit, there was a soup of the day. I tried one—roasted red pepper and cauliflower with goat cheese. It was damn good.
The breakfast menu was modest, but delicious, and it included a wrap sandwich of two eggs, two produce items and, if you like, cheese and bacon or sausage. There was a hearty oatmeal made with organic Ohio oats and fresh berries. I also liked the freshly baked pastries, including really good muffins made by a local baker, Sue’s Kitchen. (She also does Market 65’s excellent brownies and cookies, which I might eat for breakfast, too.) Breakfast items were a bargain: the wrap was only $4 and the filling oatmeal $3.
The folks behind the counter were fun to watch (excellent knife skills) and friendly. On my first visit, I forgot for a moment that someone had written my first name on the ticket heading down the salad assembly line, so I was surprised to hear “How you doing, John?” at the last station. I looked at the chef to figure out how we knew one another.
There were several good bottled juices and sodas available and also a soda fountain. I liked the coffee as well—local, of course, from Stauf’s. At the end of the line were these mini cupcakes made by Cupcake Yum.Yum bakery. They were indeed yum yum.
65 E. State St.
Atmosphere: Plain and cafeterialike, but comfortable. The food line is fun to watch.
Recommended dishes: It’s all good, unless you create dumb combinations.
Price range: Breakfast $3-$5; lunch and dinner $6.75-$10.
Hours: Monday through Friday 7:30 am to 8 pm.
Service: Friendly and efficient; lines at the counter move slowly at busy times.
Reservations: Not accepted.
Rating: *** 1⁄2