It’s not very often that you find the words “Coffee House & Bar” in the front window of the neighborhood java shop, but that’s one of the things that makes Kafe Kerouac different from the rest. Located amongst the hustle and bustle that is N. High Street in the University District of town, Kafe Kerouac is discretely tucked away in a plain-front building that doesn’t go out of it’s way to bring attention to itself. They’re part coffee shop, part bar, part used book and record store – and they’re one of my new favorite spots to hang out on campus.
As you enter, for a moment KK may look much like any other campus coffee shop you might visit, with a deliberately manufactured rough-around-the-edges look and feel to the place. Except if you look further, you’ll notice that KK isn’t that. It’s actually got all of the tattered and rugged charm that those kinds of places attempt to create, but it seems as if they’ve just happened upon it, without trying too hard to do so.
KK is actually comprised of two separate storefront spaces, connected by a doorway in the middle of the room. One side is totally filled with bookcases full of used books that are available to purchase. I briefly scanned the room and noticed that they are all categorized for easy searching. This room is also used for a study space, local music performances, poetry slams, board game and miniature gaming events, and more.
They also have racks and racks of used records to browse, a few shelves stacked with many board games to play, and some great artwork by local artists for sale on the walls.
If you want to get your video game groove on, there’s also a working game station with old-school Nintendo and Sega systems.
The coffee shop side of the store is arranged in an effort to maximize all available space for seating. There are several plush recliner chairs, a couple of sofas and a few tables, while the counter is the focal point of the room.
The drink menu is separated into sections: Beer, Espresso Drinks, House Specials, drinks without frills (locally roasted coffee, tea, smoothies, etc.), a space for coffee and tea with a splash of the good stuff, and food. The beer menu lists several import beers, some local brew (Columbus Brewing Co. and Elevator Brewing) and red and white wines. Of course they have cappuccinos, lattes, espressos, and such, but the “House Specials” are what caught my eye. Named after authors like Tolkien, Hemmingway, Vonnegut, Twain and others, these drinks consist of specially selected ingredients, paired with flavored coffees and syrups, to bring a unique blend of deliciousness. Brilliant!!
On the day we visited, the Mrs. and I hung out for a while and sampled a couple of drinks. I ordered the Dr. Seuss (16 oz. / $3.50), which consisted of Hazelnut coffee flavored with almond and peanut butter. The thick, foamy froth capped a blissful drink of perfectly blended flavors.
Good to the last drop!!
The wife ordered the James Joyce (12 oz. / $3.00), a blend of Irish Cream coffee and cinnamon. It too had a nice foam on top and a smooth and delightful underneath. We both enjoyed the rich, hot drinks that were presented to us.
In addition to the warm stuff, I ordered a crisp, refreshing Raspberry Italian Soda ($2.50). The barista mixed just the right amount of soda and liquid syrup to deliver a cool, refreshing beverage.
KK also offers fresh baked goods made by nearby Pattycake Bakery in Clintonville. When we visited, they had a wide variety of treats such as chocolate chip muffins, a couple of different large cookies, fudgy brownies, walnut scones, bagels and more.
It would be easy to take a quick look and chalk this place up as just another hipster coffeehouse, playing local indie rock over the house speakers. But from my experience, I’d say they are instead a great coffeehouse/book & record store that strives to make a place for some of the best local artists & entertainers to showcase their talents, and a great atmosphere to enjoy delicious coffee or a local brew.
I’d recommend stopping in next time you’re on campus and looking for good coffee, yummy pastries, a cold beer, a rare vinyl LP, or just a quick, throwback game of Sonic the Hedgehog. Good stuff.
Kafe Keroauc is located at 2250 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43202 (Map). They’re open Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 1:00am, Saturday, 10:00am – 1:00am, and Sunday, 12:00pm – 10:00pm. You can find more info on Facebook, or their website.