On our recent adventure to Columbus, we met up with one of my oldest friends, Erin. Since we hadn’t eaten since 7:15 in Cleveland that morning, Hans and I were up for anything. Erin’s been one of my best friends since the second grade, so she knows us pretty well & I knew she’d pick a great spot for a midday meal. Erin recommended the Banana Bean Cafe for lunch on a Saturday afternoon.Banana Bean Cafe specializes in Floribbean Cuisine, that they describe as their “unique fusion of old favorites from the Florida Keys, Cuban, Jamaican, and Carribbean Cuisines”. Yes, in Columbus, Ohio.
From their website: It is our goal to provide a dining vacation, an invitation to a laid back, southern locale. The Keys Bar seating area offering a relaxed, come in your flip-flops experience, or our Hemmingway Dining Room lends itself to a more intimate dining atmosphere.
Banana Bean Cafe definitely embraced their concept. A soundtrack of steel drum music played in the background while NCAA basketball played on the big screen TVs. The cafe had $1 Bud Light drafts that afternoon for the NCAA tourney, so Hans took advantage of that drink choice. Erin and I stuck with waters. Our server was polite and helpful. When we asked for recommendations, she was happy to oblige.
Hans ordered the BB Ranchero: Two Fried Eggs with Grilled Tortillas, House Potatoes, Black Beans, Plantanos Mavuros, Avocado Mash, Mexican Crema, and Red Hacienda Sauce:
Hans originally was hoping for some sort of burrito for lunch, so this hit the spot. It was easily the definition of a deconstructed burrito. I’m not sure how they kept the grilled tortilla from getting soggy, but they kept their texture, even with all that goodness piled on top. It was Hans’ first experience with plantains, which I explained were a cousin of the banana. Therefore, of course he would love them. Hans ate every single bite on his plate. I actually think he was thinking about ordering a second round at the end of the meal.
Funny Story Side Note: When I went to take a bite, I managed to fling a black bean from my fork – I thought it landed in my purse! I seriously thought I was never going to find that bean in my Mary Poppins bag! Luckily, we found it on the booth in between my purse and Hans when we got up to leave. Bean crisis averted!
Erin ordered the Islamorada Fish Burrito with Grilled Orange Cilantro Shrimp or Beer Batter Cod with Avocado Mash, Mango-habañero Ketchup, Mexican Crema, Shaved Lettuce, Red Onion, Scallions, and Manchego Cheese Wrapped in a Fire Grilled Soft Tortilla with a side order of Sweet Potato Fries:
Erin shared her sweet potato fries. HOLY YUM. Those were some tasty fries as they had the perfect balance of saltiness and sweetness. And have you ever since a crinkle cut sweet potato fry?! Not me!
As for the burrito, this was not your typical burrito. The ingredients made it very fresh and very light. Overall, the star of that wrap was the mango-habanero ketchup. It was sweet, with just the right amount of heat. Erin, a very smart lady, combined the ketchup from the burrito with the fries, which was a genius move on her part.
I went with the Seared Tuna Burger: Fire Grilled Tuna Steak with Balsamic Cured Red Onion, Leaf Lettuce, Tomato, and Honey cup Mustard on an Olive Oil Brioche Roll:
Starting with those sides, the coleslaw was typical, but the pickle had a great crunch and minimal saltiness. As for the sandwich, I ate this bad boy open face style – there was no chance I was going to pick this thing up! The Olive Oil roll was tasty, but I only ate about 2/3 of it with the rest of the plate. It wasn’t the star: that generously sized steak of seafood glory was. The tuna/balsamic red onion combo was great. I loved it paired with the honey mustard on the roll. It makes me want to go to the West Side Market, get a fresh piece of tuna and get it grilling on my back porch.
I highly enjoyed our lunch that day – I knew Erin would do me proud. Lots of fresh ingredients paired with a fun atmosphere and good conversation always equals a good time. If you find yourself in our state’s capital, but want to pretend that you are much further South, hit up the Banana Bean Cafe for a mini-tropical get away – even just for the afternoon!