Starting today, earth-friendly corner store Park+Vine will begin offering a variety of lunch time fare during the week as an expansion to their grocery selection and coffee bar. Melissa Cox-Howard, a former chef at Melt, helms the new menu and makes every dish from scratch.
Cox-Howard, or Missy, has a fascinating culinary history that has paved the way to her newest adventure. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Missy became a vegetarian in 1978. A year later, she started cooking.
Vegetarian-friendly fare was something of an anomaly in the restaurant world at the time, so Missy did most of her cooking at home. She made her way down the Mississippi and worked aboard the Mississippi Queen, cooking and serving in restaurants in the South for 5 years.
By 2001 she was cooking and feeding rock bands that came into town to play Southgate House “yummy, energizing food. The kind that gives you energy and hutzpah to get you through the day.” Her band mate Chris Schadler, now of MOTR Pub, loved what she created and encouraged her to share her skills with others.
After working at Melt and meeting Dan Korman, proprietor of Park+Vine, expanding into Over-the-Rhine seemed a natural choice. “I’ll be doing a number of things in one little lunch hour,” explains Missy. “It’s about flavor, supporting local, practicing what you preach, and a good time. The food should do all of those things for you when you eat. Of course it will be vegan (it IS Park+Vine), but it will be so delicious you’ll want to order it again.”
The initial lunch offerings will be available Monday through Friday, 11am to 2pm. The menu for today focuses on the season and weather – light, cold, raw. Barbeque tofu sliders, smoky potato salad, sesame noodles, and cold cucumber salad will be some of the offerings on the new lunch menu. Sampler platters will be available for eight dollars.
“I want to make food like my Grandma Mertie did,” says Missy. “She made it the old-fashioned way, and it tasted delicious. I do that too, but with a vegan, healthier, not so full of fat twist. Good for you does not have to mean tasting terrible!”
Photo by Jenny Kessler for UrbanCincy