a couple weeks ago i stopped at take the cake for lunch on my way to chicago. i was all worked up because @geekjames had posted the daily menu items and banh mi was on it. i am a banh mi freak and have been eagerly waiting for it to come back around on the specials list, and how perfect that i also was taking the day off and actually had time to go to northside for lunch.
i called ahead. "i really want the banh mi but i won't be there for at least an hour. will you guys still have it by then?" i asked. the woman on the phone assured me that they were putting more tofu in the oven and it would be fine. yay!
well i got there (probably an hour and a half later, i was packing and stuff) and they were out! i was crushed. "there's no way you can make it?" i pleaded. the chef gave me the eyebrow and told me she could do something with chicken and sriracha, but they were out of like half the ingredients and it would not really be anything like their banh mi. finally i gave up. i really think nobody there could understand why i was so depressed, but seriously i had been waiting for this banh mi for at least a month.
working hard in the kitchen, or pretending to anyway in order to avoid eye contact with the scary banh mi lunatic at the counter
i perused the menu and after talking things over with the cashier i decided on the patty melt, which was a burger with cheddar cheese, bbq sauce, tomato, onion, and roasted red pepper sauce. it sounded good (two sauces!), or would have had i not been all worked up over the banh mi. my expectations were low, honestly. i was depressed. i listlessly look some photos and stared at the baked goods which were doing absolutely nothing for me. i picked out a few to take to my friend lavine in chicago. i lamented my bad banh mi luck.
my food came pretty quickly. i looked at my plate. damn, that looked good. the burger was big. the tomato was red and juicy. the cheese was all melty. there were some very interesting looking salads on the plate. well ok, maybe this would be all right.
i bit into the burger. tomato, sauce, cheese, and juices started dripping everywhere. this burger was delicious. it was cooked medium well to well done, which is normally overcooked for me, but it was still super juicy so i liked it. time for the salads. the greens were tasty and crisp. yum, watercress! the dressing was sweet and salty and tangy and delicious. there were big yummy strips of parmesan.
then the cucumber and jalapeno salad. the first taste i got was lime, rice wine vinegar, and... star anise? oh my god. yum. i devoured it. one of my last bites was a big hot chunk of fresh jalapeno. spicy and crunchy and tasty! i cleaned my plate. then i was like "oh my god. that lunch was good!"
i was absolutely and completely satisfied, and totally forgot about the banh mi. it was one of the best lunches i have had in a long time. everything was fresh and very delicious. the flavors were complex and interesting and somehow they all went together.
the space is great too. i went kind of late (about 1:30ish) and it was mostly empty. you could sit there and hang out on the couch as long as you want. it is modern, clean, bright, and open. you can spy on the whole kitchen (which obviously i did). everyone is friendly (although i do think they thought i was kind of crazy with my banh mi obsession). don't act obsessive and keep the crazy eyes under control and i am sure they will not act like they have to keep a 10 foot distance between you and them. haha.
prices are great. for my lunch i paid $6.95. the treats were maybe around $11 for four things: a peanut butter brownie, a peaches and cream tart, a carrot cake cupcake, and a chocolate cheesecake cupcake. that seems like a really good deal to me. i tried to resist eating the treats but could not so i tasted a bit of each of them and they were amazing. rich, luscious, and not too sweet (which is key for me in desserts).
lavine devoured the treats immediately and demanded more. i told her to get her ass to cincinnati. she has not visited me in two years, but take the cake just might be the thing that gets her here.