World-class cuisine at World Café
By Elizabeth Fields Hogue Kenerly
Small delights of the continents are the specialty of World Café, the brainchild of Robert Krzak, a native of Poland, formerly of Therapy Café. Ingeniously conceived, nothing on the menu is too far off the palette of Midwesterners, but the tantalizing tastes are enough to intrigue even the boldest of foodies.
The café exudes upscale sandwich making at its finest and is as far from a sub shop as you can get in many ways. The décor evokes far off places with its exotic wall scheme and a row of clocks set to the times in places like Dubai. Yes, I want to know what time it is in Dubai while I eat my lunch – who doesn’t? More on point, it creates a subtle sense of uniqueness that my lunch was conceived by a world traveler whose discerning culinary prowess has gratefully settled in, of all places, Vandalia. I don’t know how Krzak got to Vandalia from Poland and points outward, but I’m glad he did.
To explore are the Continents of the Americas, Europe and Asia … with the hope that fare from Africa and the Middle East will appear soon. From the Americas selections, I heartily recommend the Brazilian Steak – very good quality, “real” steak, provolone cheese, chimichuri sauce on French bread with cilantro mayo, lettuce and tomato. This was really good. However, the bread was a little overpowering, as thick French bread often can be, and/or more of the delicious cilantro mayo was needed.
Breads at the World Café are of excellent quality as in the Europe-inspired “Sicilian” with great focaccia, fresh mozzarella, salami, pastrami, pesto mayo, lettuce and tomato. This is quite a good sandwich and it actually looks as good as it tastes. My only suggestion is more of the pesto mayo and more meat.
From the Asian menu, the mandarin wrap is a little simplistic with just a hoisin sauce surrounding chicken, almonds, cucumber and mandarin oranges in a flatbread … not as inspired as the other selections, but a good starting point for someone who is not accustomed to more complex flavors. Ideally, the Asian selections will be expanded in the near future because there are only three. My wish for World Café is that it expand its vision of the world. I want this place to succeed because I like variety, intelligent variety. There is so much out there that needs the attention of our taste buds.
Salads and sides are where World Café shines. I like what they’ve done here offering more than your usual chips and a pickle (though you can still order that). Low fat tzatziki – the Greek yogurt and cucumber dip – is offered with crunchy veggies (wouldn’t mind seeing an upscale lamb gyro on the menu if you’re going to make tzatziki daily) as is a spicy hummus and pita chips, tortillas and salsas. Again, variety is what works here. Salads range from the Italian classic caprese, to more substantial lunch or dinner sized salads such as a delicious caesar salad, the California salad featuring goat cheese and pumpkin seeds and the southwestern with chicken, corn salsa and a chipotle ranch dressing.
All of the food concepts World Café offers are excellent. Execution is just a little under the radar and needs refinement on ratios of meat to bread to sauce. What is outstanding at the café is service. I was blown away by the hospitality of the staff. Though busy and just opening when I arrived for lunch, I was offered a sample taste of a few items, offered an explanation of the menu, allowed to swipe a magazine I found interesting from the reading selections (I asked first, of course) and then after my meal, the staff – though still in the middle of a substantial lunch rush, came to my table to remove the “real” china plate. Real china at a sandwich shop! Unheard of. I would to go World Café just to be treated so well again.
Though not on the map for very long, I hope World Café can stick around our little Midwestern neck of the woods adding a little warmth and even more variety to the menu. Well worth the drive to Vandalia for lunch if you’re looking for a little something different. This quiet but hopping café is just the ticket on a fall afternoon.
World Cafe is located at 786 Northwoods Blvd., Vandalia, Ohio. (937) 264-0100 or visit www.worldcafe.usReach DCP dining critic Elizabeth Fields Hogue Kenerly at firstname.lastname@example.org