The past several years have seen an explosion of new eating establishments in Central Ohio. Both restaurants and food trucks have emerged on the Columbus dining scene—some forgettable, many decent, and a few quite good. That being said, I have to admit there have not been many that have really “wowed” me.
Acting on a recommendation from a friend, I made my way to the Hey Hey Bar & Grill (which has always held a special place for me and my wife, as it was where we celebrated our wedding) and ordered the burger affectionately called the Yak Attack. I was immediately impressed by the fact that it was NOT served on a cutting board with a steak knife jutting out of the top of the bun: despite some initial (and erroneous) assumptions, this was not just another gastropub-themed establishment.
Then I took a bite of the burger; it was amazing—juicy, full of flavor, and a bun that didn’t fall apart. This led to many subsequent Hey Hey visits; each time I was filled with fear that my original impression was a fluke, yet with every meal I discovered new levels of deliciousness. Bebe had become my new favorite place to eat; for the first time in quite a while, I was excited about my food.
Bebe is the pop-up restaurant concept of Matthew Heaggans and his Swoop Food Group. Like the Hey Hey, Bebe is short on pretense and large on character. Many restaurants attempt to take old favorites and create their own variation on a theme, yet the heart of the original dish is often lost in an attempt at trendiness. While the food at Bebe utilizes non-traditional ingredients (such as the Chinese sausage and sambal in the brussels sprout salad), Matthew maintains a fundamental respect for the food, never allowing the dish to be eclipsed by the sum of its parts.
The flavors of Bebe’s food are familiar—burgers, sliders, wings, chicken. But to assume that these are only dressed-up versions of classics would be a disservice to both Bebe and, more importantly, yourself. The Yak Attack is probably the best burger I’ve had in Columbus (trumping, but not invalidating, a former post in this blog). Bebe uses yak (sourced from the Hey Hey owners’ son’s ranch in Colorado)—meat that is so low in fat, it is easy to dry out and render tasteless—and elevates it to an indulgent, rich patty of sublime scrumptiousness. Served on the exquisite brioche of Matt Swint (formerly of Per Zoot food truck fame), this double-stacked burger can only be described as decadent. We’ve also had the pleasure of trying both the pork and chicken sliders (the chicken is addictive) and the spring pasta featuring homemade noodles dressed in a broccoli/walnut pesto; all delicious. Even something as simple as deviled eggs, or the potato wedges that accompany the Yak Attack, Bebe elevates to a new level.
The biggest challenge we have experienced at Bebe is trying to refrain from ordering what we’ve already tried. But even if we find ourselves with another Yak Attack or chicken slider, we are always rewarded with consistently first-rate food.