Mmelo Boutique Confections is a candy shop where handmade treats are made with organic ingredients, locally culled when possible and without the use of high-fructose corn syrup.

Mmelo Boutique Confections is a candy shop where handmade treats are made with organic ingredients, locally culled when possible and without the use of high-fructose corn syrup.

"Flavor and quality ingredients -- always," is the shop's mantra, said Michelle Allen, who founded it with her husband, Paul Freeth.

The couple tried the concept last holiday season as a pop-up venture in Easton Town Center. The reaction was positive so they looked for a brick-and-mortar location.

Mmelo, 445 N. High St., is in the same building that houses Martini Modern Italian near the North Market.

The candy shop gets its name from the marshmallow, which Allen said are transformed into "marshmmelos" -- complex treats with unique flavor profiles. For example, the shop has varieties of espresso caramel; salted chocolate caramel; and pear, lemon and fresh thyme. They are packaged six per order and most orders cost $8.

Another specialty is chocolate tea cookies, which also feature fanciful tastes and colors. One type combines milk chocolate, caramelized banana and caramel with a toasted-pecan cookie.

Another uses dark chocolate, fig, honey, aged vanilla balsamic vinegar and caramel with a rosemary shortbread cookie. They are packaged four per order and most orders cost $13.

Chocolate fruit bars, brittle, toffee and other confections also are available. Everything is sold by the piece.

Allen, a Columbus native, owned a film-production company in New York City when she met Freeth, who was a director. They moved to Barcelona, Spain, where Allen continued to make confections on the side.

"I really think the turning point for me creatively is when I started studying the science behind it," she said. "I could do a lot manipulating sugars and colors and that kind of thing."

They folded the film company and moved to Columbus two years ago.

Allen does all the cooking at the Food Fort in the Economic Community Development Institute on the east side of Columbus. She said she planned to introduce baked goods in January.

Freeth, who designed Mmelo's unfussy, modest interior, said his wife has a passion for creating "junk-free" confections.

"She has a clear idea of where she wants to take the food and what she wants to try," he said.

Mmelo Boutique Confections also has specialty coffee, Freeth said. It is a single-origin, medium-full roast from Java Central Coffee House & Gifts in Westerville. Espresso, cortado, cappuccino, latte and mocha are among the choices for coffee drinks.

Mmelo is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

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Poke Bros. Fresh Fish Hawaiian Style has opened at 1065 Gemini Parkway next to Rave Cinemas Polaris.

The restaurant's fish is delivered daily and filleted on premises, said T.J. Wellman, who owns the restaurant with Xuegong Chin and Scott McCarthy.

The appeal of poke -- essentially a raw-fish salad -- is growing among health-conscious diners, Wellman said.

"It's the perfect meal," he said. "You're full, but you don't feel the crash."

The restaurant offers a build-your-own bowl (or burrito, starting this week) experience starting with rice, nachos or mixed greens and then a choice of protein: raw ahi tuna, spicy tuna, salmon, shrimp (grilled or boiled), snow crab, octopus or tofu.

Vegetables -- such as avocado, diced jalapeno, cucumbers and seaweed salad -- are followed by crunchy toppings and a homemade sauce: sriracha aioli, wasabi aioli, gochujang, ponzu and coconut ginger. "OG" sauce, composed of soy, sesame and honey, is available upon request.

Bowls cost $6.50 to $10.50.

Poke Bros. is open for lunch and dinner daily.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary