It's Just Brunch: Maca Cafe

  • Will Shilling photo
  • Will Shilling photo
  • Will Shilling photo
By Columbus Alive
From the It's Just Brunch: Maca Cafe edition

Through the week, Powell's Maca Cafe is a tapas-happy, mom-and-pop place worth the occasional un-short drive from Downtown Columbus.

By allowing overflow seating to spill into an adjacent room (once belonging to an interior designer), Maca has grown from minuscule to just small. With a quirky assortment of tables and chairs and a penchant for knick-knacky charm, this Spanish-leaning eatery's stylish look settles down somewhere comfortably between eclectic art gallery and convivial living room.

But when summer Sundays roll around and al fresco is the way to go, Maca rolls out a small brunch menu best enjoyed on its pretty, mini-sized patio. It's only three plastic but sturdy tables crowned by broad burgundy canvas umbrellas parked atop brick pavers. Cordoning off that cute tableau is a quaint black plastic fence - well, as quaint as black plastic gets.

Pertinently, this petite patio is proudly perched right on Powell's busy intersection (well, as busy as Powell gets) of Olentangy and Liberty streets. Along those well-traveled arteries, apparently, most everybody in Powell either drives or strolls by on a Sunday. And that's a very fine seat on which to eat and enjoy Maca's low-impact yet still fun "get out of town" Sunday brunch.

Keeping in modest-sized character, Maca's weekly-changing brunch menu is an abbreviated thing. Expect maybe five small-side but flavor-packed mains, a few side dishes and several mood-enhancing brunch-appropriate quaffs ($5).

Like a Mimosa served in a stemless flute that achieves a measure of distinction by being made with fresh-squeezed orange juice and cava (sparkling Spanish wine). For something stronger, you can juice up the fresh-squeezed orange with vodka instead - another winner.

I also knocked back (but not during the same seating!) their light, refreshing and horseradishy Bloody Mary, which used a cucumber disc like a lemon wheel.

With drinks taken care of, brunchers can move on to the fine food (which shoots out with impressive speed), like the Grilled 5-ounce Flatiron Steak ($10). Mine was darkly crusted, juicy and, if not particularly tender, full of beefy flavor. It was plated with a deep-orange-yolked organic egg and Maca's lively home fries - chopped potatoes jacked up on peppers, onions, seared chunks of zesty pork and thyme.

The same savory spuds came with a three-egg Omelet of the Day ($9) made with salty, sturdy cubes of Spanish chorizo, smoked paprika and sharp cheese. With only a few good-quality ingredients, it was simple but effective.

Ditto for a little Breakfast Quesadilla ($9). Its crispy flour tortilla was filled with creamy scrambled eggs, peppers, onions, scallions and Serrano ham.

If the English muffin in Maca's Eggs Benedict ($10) wasn't very crisply toasted, I didn't mind much because it had perfect poachers and, yes, more delicious pig meat - this time honey-baked ham. On top, a smoked-paprika-spiked hollandaise was only drizzled on in a cameo role, thereby allowing the main players to do most of the talking.

A brittle little crepe-like shell with a delicate snap lined a clear cereal bowl and was filled with thick Greek yogurt made purple by berries. Called a Pastry Tulip ($8), it was lightly sweetened by honey, and made for a healthy, desserty nosh.

Not quite so healthy but every bit as irresistable as the menu promised were the Churros ($4). They were rich and crisp, nubby doughnut-like sticks - about four of them - sprinkled with sugar and delivering a killer crunch.

As I happily finished them, Maca's personable chef walked out, clapped his hands and said with insidery wisdom, "Ahh, you got the Churros."

I smiled back at him and gazed at his nearby sign that invited customers to a "Sit 'n' Sip" with half-priced sangria after Sunday brunch from 2 to 5 p.m. I checked my watch, thought about all the quaint shops in Powell, and wondered how long it would take to walk off just a couple more drinks.