Table Talk

Diners will find comfort in Whole Foods' concept eatery

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CHRIS PARKER/THISWEEKNEWS
Chef Alan Morgan holds one of the Social's signature dishes, Buckeye French toast, served with peanut butter, chocolate and bananas. The restaurant is located inside the revamped Whole Foods store in Upper Arlington.
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It's called the Buckeye French toast, a gloriously golden-brown goodie with freshly ground peanut butter and chocolate, garnished with banana chips and served with grape jelly and syrup.

It's $6, served from sunrise to sundown, and there's only one place to get it: the Social restaurant inside the revamped Whole Foods Market, 1555 W. Lane Ave. in Upper Arlington.

The casual restaurant concept, offering a range of comfort classics, is in the northeast corner of the store. It opens at 7 a.m., an hour earlier than Whole Foods, so there is separate access. The 2,500-square-foot restaurant seats 48. Reservations are not accepted.

Burgers are made from Ohio Signature Beef, a co-op of farmers across Ohio, or Pennsylvania turkey, ground fresh in the store daily. Jumbo dogs also are made with all beef.

The Social also offers a dozen signature toppings for burgers, dogs, salads or fries. The Paris includes brie, mushrooms and Dijon mustard, while the "belly buster" offers up applewood smoked bacon, mac and cheese and crispy onions.

The other major component to the menu is breakfast fare: eggs, hash browns, corned beef hash, fresh-baked pastries and the like. Each item is served all day. Because of the restaurant's proximity to Ohio State University, the plan is to open for 24 hours a day during exam week, said Jared Pinkos, team leader at the Upper Arlington Whole Foods.

Chef Alan Morgan said the menu was designed with comfort, affordability and app-roachability in mind.

"People just love the classics," he said.

Beverages were given as much consideration as the food, Pinkos said. Organic coffee is culled from 120 farms in 20 countries.

The Social offers 10 beers on tap, including several from Columbus brewers. All are available for take-out in growlers. Any wine purchased from Whole Foods can be consumed at the Social with no corkage fee.

The Social, a concept that got its start in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., is the only sit-down dining area in the updated Whole Foods, 1555 W. Lane Ave. The store, similar to the one in the Dublin area, has many prepared-food offerings, including a build-your-own taco station. Customers place and pay for orders by using a touch screen.

Two weeks ago, Whole Foods relocated from an adjacent storefront in the Shoppes at Lane Avenue, where it was temporarily housed while the new structure was being built. The Austin, Texas, -based grocery chain bulldozed the old location and rebuilt it in the same site, adding 13,000 square feet for 35,000 square feet total.

The Social is open breakfast, lunch and dinner hours daily.

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Tequila Mike's is trying to bring a little bit of California cool to the Hilliard area.

The restaurant, owned by Southern California native Mike Morales, recently opened at 5414 Roberts Road, taking over the former Outside Corner bar. Tequila Mike's, which seats 260, is in a small strip mall at the northeast corner of Roberts and Hilliard-Rome Road.

The place offers fresh fare and a casual vibe, with live music on the weekends.

The menu, which has a bit of Fresh-Mex influence, features an array of customized tacos, including lobster, pork belly and chorizo and eggs.

Appetizers run from the familiar -- wings, for example -- to the less-traditional, such as ceviche, pork-belly slid- ers and deep-fried alligator tail.

Also prominently featured are signature burgers, including the "it's all good" option, topped with an egg sunny side up, avocado mash, pepper jack cheese and chipotle adobo mayo on white brioche.

Among the entrees, which run $9.50 to $10.50, is shrimp and grits. For dessert, there's a scratch-made bananas Foster.

Tequila Mike's is open lunch through late-night hours daily. For more information, call 614-529-9800.

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