Short Order: Sweet Carrot
Sweet Carrot corners the market on fast-casual comfort food in Grandview.
"Is it vegan?" my sister asked when I mentioned dinner at Sweet Carrot.
The name does suggest you better work up an appetite for quinoa salads and beet smoothies. But this Grandview fast-casual cafe is not vegan. Quite the opposite.
Prepare to man up for corn cakes smothered in smoked brisket ($8.25) or pulled pork ($7.50). A sloppy split roll stuffed with smoked turkey, slaw and corn salsa ($8.25). Or my go-to: tender Ohio chicken meatballs glazed in an Asian sauce nestled in a tin boat of mac and cheese ($7.50).
The restaurant name is actually an anagram of owner Angela Petro's other, more established business, Two Caterers. Petro, one of Columbus Monthly's 2016 Tastemakers, debuted her Sweet Carrot food truck at the Columbus Arts Festival four years ago selling delicate fried artichoke hearts. The Grandview location opened in November 2015. Plans to open a second restaurant in downtown Worthington this summer fell apart because of construction and budget problems. Unfazed, Petro still expects to open multiple locations in the coming years.
The concept is like Northstar Cafe: you order, pay at the counter and someone brings the food to your table when it's ready. But the menu is much simpler, and asks you to mix and match the way you do at, say, Chipotle.
The mac and cheese is a specialty: fat shells cooked a few minutes beyond al dente, a creamy sauce with the faint tang of American cheese, and never dry. Those unique fried artichoke hearts ($7.50) from the food truck are also on the menu, drizzled with a tangy sauce. I only wish there were more in the order.
Ingredients are fresh and high-quality, but dishes tend to strike the same taste profile-like an album where all the songs kind of sound the same.
The place rocks an independent vibe by serving only local craft beers like Seventh Son and North High Brewing. They also feature cocktail specials such as a summer-ready Watermelon Smash ($8) with rum and fresh mint.
Sweet Carrot occupies the corner where Rife's Market used to be. Petro pays homage with a fun replica of the market's vintage sign. Grab a spot on the patio while it's warm enough to have the big garage doors up.
1417 W. Fifth Ave., Grandview