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January 17, 2019

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Restaurant review: With coffee in hand, I can face the world!

A salute to the Twisted Whisk

Icon Restaurant Review:
Twisted Whisk
101 S. Main Street, Bluffton
419-358-9622
Reviewer: Liz Gordon-Hancock

They say "Have a great day!" and hand you a hot cup of joe. And the day feels an increment better for holding that cup in your hand, independent of whether it's raining outside or the state of your hair. With coffee from the Twisted Whisk in my hand, I can face the world.

Samantha (Sam) Erter and Jessi and Luke Davis purchased the coffee shop and building in spring of 2017, and refurbished and rebranded it. When I asked Davis and Erter how business is going, they agreed it was stressful at times, but good. Employees range from 17 to 76 years old.

Davis' beverage of choice is an iced caramel and vanilla latte, which he devours (at least) one a day.  Erter's preferred beverage is an Iced Americano with a little caramel. Since they've been operating the coffee shop for over a year, Davis declares himself immune to caffeine.

Davis stressed that customers can build their own drink – if you have a favorite beverage from Starbucks, or a penchant for hazelnut or butterscotch, the Twisted Whisk staff can re-create it for you.

The fastest cup of joe at the Twisted Whisk is the filter or drip coffee, from the side bar. If you grab coffee to go, you pay a bargain price of $1.99 (for a medium) and you're in and out within a minute (as long as there isn't a line at the counter).

There are always three different blends available. The house blend is Columbian, but the Horse blend is one of the most popular, because it's a rich roast with low acidity.  In layperson's terms, that means it has a full-bodied flavor without the aftertaste. I'm officially a fan.

If you are avoiding caffeine, you still have plenty of options. First off, you can just order decaf, or try the hot apple cider, Italian sodas or smoothies. The lemon shake ups were the best beverage on Main Street to cool off with in the summer months. And don't forget the power of a good mug of hot chocolate.

But a coffee shop is not just about caffeine. It's a meeting place – for work or pleasure, to sit and watch the world go by or catch up with friends.

The shop boasts high ceilings, exposed brick walls and plenty of seating. The atmosphere is calm and welcoming. Music plays in the background and sets the mood, without being obtrusive.

Twisted Whisk is a great place to people watch, especially in the coveted window seat.

The Twisted Whisk provides a good snapshot of the local demographics. For the hour that I was in the coffee shop, here's what I observed: there were a handful of college students, some having a group lunch, and others in solitary study. (The owners informed me that they see college students from Bluffton, Ohio Northern University and Findlay.)

I noted at least one ONU professor; a couple "ladies who lunch" who were clearly there for a leisurely chat; and at least one "suited and booted" man (i.e. employee on his lunch break) who came in for lunch to go. All age groups were represented too.

According to the owners, the coffee shop is an after-school hangout for teens; apparently the Bubble Tea, which is "hard to describe; you just have to try it," says Davis, is immensely popular.

The Twisted Whisk offers breakfast and lunch options of wraps, sandwiches, soups, salads and a plethora of baked goods to go with your beverage. They also offer kids meals, such as grilled cheese and PB&J.

The reuben sandwich, quiche and wraps are amongst the most popular menu lunch items. The current favorite is to get a sandwich as a piadina wrap.  Instead of a regular tortilla as the wrap, you can opt for an Italian flat bread called a piadina.

I came around lunch time and ordered the Twisted Pastrami sandwich, which comes with turkey, pastrami, provolone, lettuce, tomato, and avocado with ranch dressing. I also had my children in tow, so we also ordered two pizza grilled cheese sandwiches and juice.

My pastrami sandwich came toasted and was a great combination of flavors, with noticeably high quality ingredients. The sandwich was made with a whole-grain bread, that had a sesame seed crust, which paired perfectly with the avocado and juicy tomato. They also didn't skimp on the meat. I will order this again soon!

Judging by the smeared pizza sauce all over my children's faces, the pizza grilled cheese (a grilled cheese sandwich with pepperoni and tomato sauce added) were very good too.  

Up until now, I had avoided the coffee shop if I needed a fast lunch (especially with kids), but actually our food was served within 10 minutes of ordering. And I doubt other establishments would have as good  a quality of  ingredients.

"Our goal is to get food out, as fast as possible, at the highest quality as possible." said Davis. They're achieving that goal, in my humble opinion.

My children and I left with satisfied bellies, and of course the iced sugar cookies helped sweeten the deal.  

Davis and Erter joke that it was the cinnamon rolls that started it all, because Erter has been making them since high school. At one time, she even sold them at the local farmer's market. I recommend trying one warmed up, with frosting.

The only thing I can be critical about is the lack of gluten-free goodies. However, all sandwiches on the menu are available as a lettuce wrap. Vegetarians also have a couple options including the Mean Green sandwich (combo of hummus, spinach, dried cranberries, kale crunch, cucumber and tomato).

They also offer catering for smaller events (up to 120 maximum).

The Twisted Whisk will be open late for the Blaze of Lights festival. Last year's parade night was their busiest night of the year. Davis said they used more than 60 gallons of milk for orders during the festivities.

This year, they are offering chicken and homemade egg noodles, a hot chocolate bar and the chance to decorate your own sugar cookie.

The Twisted Whisk is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The coffee shop is busiest in the morning and after school.

*A cronut is a croissant that has been fried into a donut.