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

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