18 February 2008


After hearing all the buzz about Powell's Maca (Top 10 New Restaurants in "Columbus Monthly," plus that undeniable buzz that comes from blog posts and blog posts about your establishment), I just had to swing in and check out all the hoopla.

And there is a reason why Maca is getting noticed. Carefully crafted small plates accompany fairly priced drinks in an intimate atmosphere that seems to have put Powell on the map (well, I can find it now, at any rate).

Maca is very small. I would be surprised if they can seat 30 in the dining room and bar areas. Based upon the size of the restaurant, either show up early or come on the weekends because Maca does not take reservations. You order food and drinks at the bar station, and you can eat as much or as little as you would like.

There were four vegetarian tapas on the menu. It was simple to figure out what the vegetarian items were since the chef was cooking on the line within whispering distance of the bar area.

I started with the cheese platter, which had bread made by Omega Artisan Baking in the North Market, as well as what I believe was manchego, mahon and a soft, creamy, mild blue cheese served alongside small apple slices.

The goat cheese stuffed red peppers were so good, I ordered them twice. The mild acidity of the cheese accents the seared pequillo peppers, and it is a delicious but simple delight.

The eggplant cigarettes were battered and fried. Something in the batter gave the sticks a sweet finish. If you imagine hush puppies surrounding finely cut eggplant, you'd be living in the neighborhood of taste from which these items reside.

Patatas bravas are a Spanish specialty that is a must-have at most tapas establishments, and Maca's potatoes were no exception to that rule. They were served with a chili sauce and a garlic aioli. If I'm ranking Columbus area patatas bravas, I'm still leaving Barcelona's patatas in the driver's seat, but the potatoes from Maca finished a close second (much like Tony Stewart).

The dessert, a dark chocolate mousse with olive oil and salt, was understated, savory and delicious. I was impressed that there wasn't a wine on the menu priced greater than $7 per glass. The bottle prices were also excellent, and they were also available to take home after the meal. The beer selection was small and also well priced, with Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter and a Barcelona Lager called Estrella Damm (named after an Alsatian brewer who made lager in Barcelona) available for $3.

Maca was definitely as good as advertised, and it had some great vegetarian options. Check out the pictures, and if you get there yourself, make sure to show up early.


Maca Cafe on Urbanspoon