Open: Happy Belly on Vine

When I heard that a small new spot dedicated to “healthy food on the go,” was open on Vine, I was intrigued. I grabbed a vegan friend and we stopped in earlier this week for lunch. Here’s the skinny: It’s a cute little café with plenty of upbeat energy. Obviously a lot of effort has gone into the creation of the bright and airy space and the staff more than lived up to the “happy.” We sat at the bar along the front window and people-watched as we nibbled at our lunch. The Tazza Mia cold brew coffee was fabulous. So much so that I ordered a second cup as I headed back to the office. Unfortunately, the food was a little drab. Since I hate to go all negative, I’m going to try to keep the criticism as constructive as possible.

Both the sweet potato burger and the black bean burger needed serious salinity. Salt is always your friend in the kitchen and real science supports this fact. Sea salt, and the health food community fave, Braggs Amino Acids (which is actually just unfermented soy sauce), will both go a long way in rectifying the issue. Fresh herbs and spices (some ground cumin in that black bean burger would be killer) are also calorie and chemical free ways to add flavor. In regards to the large shards of raw white onion that gave me indigestion for the rest of the day: either cook the onions or finely mince them. Shallots and scallions can also provide that onion punch without the overly harsh taste or lasting tummy ache.

Happy Belly, I want you to succeed. In a world where so much convenience food is heavily processed, we NEED you! But to thrive in the harsh and often fickle community of restaurants, you’ve got to step up your game. Your food needs to be more than just healthy, it needs to taste awesome too. I believe in you, and I’ll be back to try another black bean burger again soon.

Happy Belly on Vine, 1344 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 873-8619




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