Restaurant review: Baba's
"Grandmothers are the best!" Caroline Kraus said as she explained that Baba's - the from-scratch restaurant whose killer breakfast sandwiches I've been enthusiastically chomping lately - got its name from an Eastern European term for grannies.
The grandma influences don't end there for this charmingly eccentric eatery, which co-owner Kraus and her husband, co-owner/chef Dan Kraus, and co-owner/sous chef Tim Jones recently launched in (choose your preferred moniker) the Washington Beach/SoHud/University District neighborhood.
Baba's grandma legacies extend to hand-me-down recipes, pots and pans and its lone table - a big, wooden communal number that once belonged to Jones' grandmother. Other features inside the long, narrow and spare space include gleaming stainless steel kitchen fixtures, soothing gray paint, plants, a high ceiling with wooden rafters, windows overlooking the relocated Used Kids Records and a still-evolving, tiny menu.
If you know about previous culinary projects spearheaded by Dan Kraus - such as Baba's Porch, the food-on-wheels business often parked at Seventh Son Brewery, and defunct That Food Truck, one of the best of its kind back when it was still cruising Columbus streets - you'll correctly expect that Baba's few menu items will be lusty and delicious, labor-intensive dishes.
Local sourcing plus in-house butchering, baking and charcuterie-making have always played a large part in Kraus's cuisine, and that continues at this brick-and-mortar newbie. Because Baba's out-of-the-chute hours only cover morning through early afternoon, breakfast is the current point of emphasis.
This brings us back to those inspired breakfast sandwiches ($8). At first glance, you might think of them as the artisanal answer to the Egg McMuffin. But after a bite or five, you'll realize that they're far more substantial and are packed with far more flavor.
The base is a warm, soft and comforting "griddle muffin." This distinct, faintly sweet and nutty house roll is tinted light brown - save for its cornmeal-flecked, griddle-toasted, golden-brown top - because it's made with healthy spelt grains sourced from Stutzman Farms in Amish country.
The hearty muffin gets loaded with melted havarti cheese, a fried egg and a choice of meat or veggies. I'm a fan of the seared, house-made sausage slab boldly flavored with sage and a bit of chili flake. But IloveBaba's garlicky, fiery-yet-nuanced Mexican-style chorizo. When washed down with an excellent cup of locally roasted Thunderkiss coffee ($2.50), it's a breakfast of champions - and grannies.
2515 Summit St., North Campus