The Random Restaurant Tour (IV)

Last week the Jersey Girl and I continued the random restaurant tour by leaving the friendly confines of downtown Columbus and heading north to the Italian Village area.  Our destination was a converted brick barn called Cosecha Cocina.

Italian Village is one of the areas of Columbus where the redevelopment wave is rolling along at tsunami-level strength.  Every time I visit, there is a cool new restaurant, brew pub, or breakfast joint in the neighborhood.  That’s because you can find two key components of redevelopment there:  inexpensive buildings that can be refurbished into cool spaces for your use, and a population of people in the immediate vicinity ready to frequent your establishment.  In the case of Italian Village, businesses can draw upon both the downtown crowd, who need only drive, walk or bike a few blocks up Third, and the flood of people moving into new condos and apartment buildings in Italian Village.

Cosecha Cocina is a happy addition to the Italian Village ‘hood.  It definitely satisfies the cool building requirement, with its cavernous internal space and outdoor eating area, and its menu of traditional and modern Mexican fare will keep that flood of people coming back.  During our visit the Jersey Girl and I split some brussels sprouts — served piping hot with melted cheese — and I tried the pork meatball torta with esquites, a traditional Mexican street corn dish, on the side.

The fact that brussels sprouts and meatballs are on the menu at all tells you that Cosecha Cocina isn’t your Daddy’s kind of tacos and enchiladas Mexican restaurant.  Another clue is the quality and delicate flavoring of the food itself.  The pork meatball torta, which features chipotle tomato sauce, cilantro, black beans, avocado, and cheese and is served on airy, crunchy bread, was succulent and a reminder that Mexican food doesn’t have to be overpowering on the spice scale.  The brussels sprouts were terrific, and the esquites corn salad was a perfect, light accompaniment to the meal.  The Jersey Girl, who tried the chicken tinga tacos, raved about her food, too.

The zone of lunch places for the lucky workers in downtown Columbus continues to expand, limited only by their willingness to get out and try someplace new.  With options like Cosecha Cocina only a bridge and a few blocks away, the incentive to experiment with a new lunch spot keeps growing.

On The (Uneven) Cutting Edge

When Kish and I first made the decision to sell our home in New Albany and move somewhere downtown, I joked that we were “cutting edge, baby!”  She scoffed at that notion.  According to the Wall Street Journal, we’re both right, in a way.

Last week the Journal published an article about how Columbusites are increasingly moving from the ‘burbs to German Village, the Short North, Italian Village, and downtown housing.  So, we may not be cutting edge, exactly, but we’re part of a growing trend that is establishing a significant shift in Columbus’ population — and Kish is right, as always, because as the Journal article acknowledges that our ultimate destination here in German Village has been an attractive, thriving area for decades.

IMG_4290The Journal article captures the upsides (like parks, restaurants, and interesting places that are all within walking distance), and the downsides (like the cost of renovating century-old homes), of this trend.  (I’d add that another upside/downside of German Village is the brick sidewalks, which are beautiful to admire but are requiring me to adjust my normal shuffling gait to avoid stumbles on bricks shoved up by tree roots.)  For many people, obviously, the attraction of these kinds of moves outweigh the risks, and since we’ve made the move many of our friends have indicated that they, too, are considering this course.

This is a good thing for the city of Columbus, clearly.  More residents means more tax revenues for city services, renovated historic neighborhoods are safer, more energetic, and more attractive when Columbus pitches itself to businesses that are considering relocating, and the influx of homeowners, condoites, and apartment dwellers is bound to bring more business downtown, too.  It will be interesting to watch how this big this wavelet turns out to be, and what Columbus looks like in its wake.  There are still a lot of downtown surface parking lots that I’d like to see filled with condos, apartments, pubs, and shops instead.