Cravings Carryout Café has indeed marked their territory over the past year. This tiny shop, located along a side street in the Italian Village neighborhood of the city, has hit its stride as one of the tastiest options in town for incredibly delicious sandwiches, as well as inventive and inspired daily breakfast and lunch specials. But they haven’t always had such a strait-forward framework for their business…
They started out three years ago as Cookie Cravings Bakery, where they sold cookies (obviously), and other bakery sweets and treats. Eventually, owners Matt & Lindsey Tewanger decided to expand their menu by adding several varieties of crepes and a few other unique brunch and lunch options. Word spread, and the response to their new food was so great, that Matt & Lindsey decided that instead of pigeonholing themselves as just a bakery, they would keep a few of the baked goods on hand, but focus more on expanding their horizons, with Matt’s exquisite brioche rolls as the foundation for much of their new menu. They rebranded their shop and re-opened as Cravings Carryout Cafe last Spring.
Since then, Cravings has continued to wow it’s customers with incredible morning and afternoon meals. But I think it’s safe to say that none have been so embraced, or have seen such a demand, as their wildly popular Bronut.
I was invited by the Tewanger’s last week to come and hang out before the store opened this past Saturday as they prepared for their latest Bronut offering. The Bronut was created by Matt as an experiment several months ago, after deciding to try a brioche donut on the menu. Matt’s brioche dough is so amazingly rich and buttery, that there’s no way it wouldn’t be a huge hit! He put it on the menu and advertized it as a “Bronut Takeover”. That morning, there was a line waiting out the door when they opened! Matt made about 100 donuts that day and they sold out quickly. He’s since settled on about 150 as a doable number for Bronut Saturday’s, which they recently announced would be the second Saturday of every month.
I arrived at the shop just after 7:00 AM, but Matt & Lindsey had already been there for over an hour, frying, icing and preparing the bounty. We chatted as they worked, and they were both extremely friendly and kind enough to let me capture their prep session. Matt handled much of the frying duty, and explained that they don’t actually have a fryer…instead, all of their frying happens in a pan of oil on an electric burner, which is painstakingly kept at around 300 – 350 degrees.
The donuts are fried in small batches of a half-dozen or so at a time to keep it manageable.
They’re fried for about 3 minutes per side, until the donut is golden brown.
After they were done frying, Matt passed them off to Lindsey, who was waiting to coat them in rich chocolate, a classic sugar glaze, or a sweet blackberry glaze. They feature several scrumptious flavors each time they offer the Bronut. Aside from the three aforementioned varieties, there was also a Cayenne Chocolate Walnut donut that was incredible!
WARNING: Extreme salivating straight ahead…..
I just couldn’t resist capturing the deliciousness of these donuts. Seriously, you guys, they all looked and smelled so good!
This was the first time that they offered “Bro Bites”, which were simply the fried brioche donut holes coated in powdered sugar. A batch of about a dozen went for $5.00.
The kitchen is where all the action happens, but Cravings does have a very small front of the house area, too. There’s just one high-top table and a short counter with three stools for seating, and these shelves on the opposite wall feature things like t-shirts, fancy bottled water, and more. It’s quite a tight squeeze, especially when there are folks waiting for Bronuts and other food to take out, but it’s cozy. Matt, Lindsey and the other staff chat with their customers to make them feel welcome while they wait.
Cravings Carryout Café offers locally brewed Thunderkiss coffee by the cup, and also sells bags of beans to take home and brew yourself.
As I mentioned, while the menu isn’t huge, Cravings offers a variety of sandwiches and breakfast items that are top notch. Their brioche rolls are utilized well, and fresh wraps, focaccia, and more cradle the high quality meats and local cheeses that are chosen to build these portable masterpieces. They always run a daily special or two, and often include a delicate or hearty “Soup of the day” option.
In addition to hot, Thunderkiss French Press coffee, they also offer a cold brew coffee and honey mint green tea that you can get in single servings, or a growler to take home if you’d like!!
After they opened the door for the morning and the initial rush died down a bit, I decided to order some breakfast. I had already tasted one of the Cayenne Chocolate Walnut Bronuts, which was amazing, so I wanted something a little more substantial. I selected the Breakfast Burrito w/ bacon ($8.00 + $2.00 for bacon), which was a hearty, yet tender wrap filled with two scrambled eggs, potatoes, red peppers, scallions, avocado, salsa rojo, jack cheese, and of course, bacon. I also ordered a 16 oz. glass of refreshing orange juice.
The burrito was really, really good. It wasn’t huge, but was filled well so it was satisfying. Everything tasted very fresh, including the wrap itself. The eggs were soft and not dry, the potatoes inside the wrap were a welcome and tasty surprise, and the avocado, peppers and other ingredients combined to make an extremely tasty morning meal. For whatever reason, I don’t usually gravitate toward a burrito when I dine out for breakfast, but I’d definitely come back for this one.
Cravings Carryout Cafe has been a welcome addition to that area of town for those who enjoy quality foods. Although they draw big crowds for their Bronuts, and they also continue to serve delicious cookies and other sweets, they’ve proven that they are much more than just a bakery. Their sandwich shop/cafe atmosphere is casual and comfortable, and you’re sure to get Matt & Lindsey’s best efforts in every meal you eat here. It’s a solid choice for a simple, yet complex breakfast or lunch sandwich or special.
I started this post talking about the Bronut, and will end it by saying that if you haven’t tried them yet, Bronuts are a special kind of donut, unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. Make sure you mark your calendars for the second Saturday of the month. And get there early! They go fast!!
Cravings Carryout Cafe is located at 227 E. 3rd St, Columbus, OH 43201 (Map). They’re open Tuesday – Friday, from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, and Saturday – Sunday, from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM. For more info, you can check out their website, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram at @cravingscafe614.