Restaurant review: Veranico Kitchen + Provisions

G.A. Benton

Finding a quick meal in the Arena District that's healthful and made with local ingredients has become simpler since Veranico Kitchen + Provisions opened a couple months ago.

On its well-organized menu of mostly salads, Veranico reports that its name refers to “a period of unseasonably warm weather.” This is certainly true in, say, Brazil. Anyway, considering the business is a pricier, more stylish spinoff of Market 65 — a Downtown salad-specialist — it could've been called “Upmarket 65.”

Occupying a casual, attractive space just a few errant slap shots from Nationwide Arena, Veranico is the kind of place where succulent plants nestled in pebbles decorate rustic wooden tables. Other pleasant touches include a soundtrack that ranges from John Coltrane to Foxygen, and handsome tilework, some of which forms a colorful mural of summery vegetables.

Veggies are also mentioned on the inevitable chalkboards. These informative and decorative boards list Ohio sources alongside meal components such as greens, seasonal beans, peppers, herbs and the humanely Amish-raised chickens that Veranico cooks and chills — salad meats aren't served warm here.

Following the popular Chipotle model, most items are assembled — and potentially customized — in a cafeteria-style setup. So if you'd like your Mexican-riffing salad beefed up with generally tender, zestily seasoned, nicely seared meat, but you don't fancy tiny diced chilies walloping your tongue, request the potent jalapenos on the side of the Sirloin Bowl ($11.75).

Ordered that way, this large ensemble that incorporates sirloin with romaine lettuce, crisp tortilla strips, Manchego cheese, grilled corn, under-seasoned beans, cilantro and tomatoes won't cause you to spontaneously combust. Another suggestion: Heed the menu's dressing recommendations, and pair this salad with the tangy and coarse-yet-creamy “spicy avocado ranch,” my favorite of Veranico's vibrant house dressings.

For a variation on this theme with much less lettuce, try the likeable Black Rice Bowl ($8.95). Its similar ingredients — except sirloin is replaced by the namesake nutritional grain — elevated by the same winning dressing.

Labelling the poultry in the Samjoko Bowl ($9.50) “Korean BBQ Glazed Chicken” might be a stretch, but the sweet chopped meat does offer faint fermented bean paste notes. And it works well with its accompaniments of tender baby spinach, big and crunchy red pepper and pretty watermelon-radish pieces, blue cheese crumbles and a perky champagne vinaigrette.

The Delhi Bowl ($9.50) hints at Indian influences. In that fine combo, crispy curried chickpeas, pickled onions and mildly spicy chopped chicken receive a botanical heat boost from fiery banana peppers. Cooling elements include a lean-and-tangy yogurt dressing, huge chunks of cucumber, romaine lettuce and feta cheese.

Roasted, chopped salmon meets sweet, tangy and compatible salad partners in the enjoyable Omega Bowl ($12.75) with goat cheese, artichoke hearts, avocado, Bibb lettuce, pickled onions and a fruity raspberry-mint vinaigrette.

If a medley of earthy vegetables doesn't sound appetizing, you might commit mutiny on The Bounty Bowl ($8.95). Or you might reward yourself for eating this healthful meal at lunch by indulging in a dinnertime cheeseburger. Either way, you'll get nearly potato-like roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted squashes, somewhat bitter kale, sweet beets, sunflower seeds and a garlic-tahini dressing.

In addition to bowls and salads, Veranico offers daily soups ($5.50 for 12 ounces) such as the kicky, partially pureed Caribbean Black Bean Stew. A few sandwiches are available, too, such as the Club ($10.50) — a panini with tender house-roasted turkey, bacon, melted cheddar and hummus. That sounds like an odd combination, but it works.

Among beverages offered are rather dilute house-brewed tea, satisfying sweet-tart house lemonade, the American strong ale from Seventh Son ($5.50 a glass) and sauvignon blanc from Kim Crawford ($11 per glass).

Veranico Kitchen & Provisions

401 N. Front St., Arena District