Food truck review: New En Place offers chef-y and healthy fare

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From the June 26, 2014 edition

The new En Place food truck hit the streets the second week of June and immediately began carving out its niche as a “cheffier” and healthier mobile vendor worth seeking out. Captained by the former executive chef of Columbus Fish Market, Nic Piccin, this is the all-too-rare wheeled kitchen that offers seafood and salads.

Though it pops up often in the Clintonville Outfitters parking lot, I caught up with En Place while it was working the (Worthington) Hills Market’s weekly outdoor party called the Friday Night Wine Bar. Said soiree runs 5-9 p.m. and encourages guests to sample from a great selection of wines and beers at terrific prices. The weather that evening was spectacular, and the veranda was packed with aggressively slurping adults and summer-loving kids. It was quite the scene, and contributing to the cut-loose fun was En Place’s impressive grub.

The little menu at this big and snazzy truck — inside, Piccin wears crisp chef’s whites — routinely changes (I hoped to catch it when its poke tuna was offered, but didn’t). At the Hills, my crew started off with Chesapeake Bay oysters ($1.75 apiece). Yes, oysters from a food truck. And they were fresh, plump and delicious. Presented on a bed of ice — inside a styro box — those not-too-salty mollusks were sided with a tangy and balanced homemade cocktail sauce, plus a forceful, sorta sweet-and-sour mignonette.

We also ripped through a nice organic field greens salad ($5.50). Its leaves were partnered with sliced apple, red onion, not-there-yet tomatoes, creamy feta cheese, plus a lively and excellent, pour-it-on-yourself lemon basil vinaigrette.

Outclassing its toasted Kaiser roll, En Place’s big ol’ Spicy Chicken Sandwich ($8) featured two tender, juicy, smoky and perfectly grilled breast pieces enhanced by grilled red peppers and onions, jalapenos, greens and a thick Sriracha mayo. The spilling-over if addictive ensemble came with crispy, truck-fried chips.

So did En Place’s conscientiously seared-on-all-sides Confit Pork Belly Sliders ($12). Two super-thick blocks — one perfectly tender, the other not so much — of about 85-percent meat (pork belly is too-often about 85-percent fat) were flattered by lively cilantro micro-greens and a more-sweet-than-spicy corn and jalapeno jam.

Bottom line: This is a new food truck to keep an eye, and mouth, on.

Photo by XXX