ASC Eats: Sweet Carrot
The menu has a peculiar Southern flair, and the space is speckled with a mishmash of eccentric rabbit art pieces and lamps, booths and walls boasting bright, pastel colors.
Add all these industrial chic, Wes Anderson-inspired idiosyncrasies together and you get Sweet Carrot, a Grandview eatery that’s as whimsical and playful as it is nostalgic and cozy.
“It’s comforting and a little goofy and maybe a little off, but in all the right ways,” said Sweet Carrot founder and CEO Angela Petro, who earned BAs in political science and history in 1995 from Ohio State. “You’re never going to decorate your house this way and you’re probably not going to make this food, but you love it and you’re not sure why.”
The food hospitality industry comes packaged with a unique set of challenges and obstacles, and the ability to adjust and be a flexible learner is vital to succeeding in it. Petro credits her successful career to the broadness of her liberal arts education.
“For me, it was more about learning how to be in the world and setting myself up to be a lifelong learner,” she said. “There are a lot of business and law degrees and all these things where there’s a prescribed path, and liberal arts isn’t that way. There’s a freedom to not having a prescribed path and a freedom to understand that every lesson you learn is just one more step in your education.”
Folks at Sweet Carrot can indulge in various menu items such as pulled pork, coleslaw, smoked turkey or creamy macaroni and cheese with chicken meatballs.
Sweet Carrot opened in 2015, but its roots began nearly 20 years prior in 1997. After Petro graduated from Ohio State, she opened a catering business, Two Caterers (recently renamed Together & Company), with a friend. In 2012, Petro launched a food truck, which made its debut at the Columbus Arts Festival and was an instant hit. Petro rode the success of the Sweet Carrot food truck into her brick and mortar restaurant nestled on the corner of Fifth and Grandview.
Petro incorporated everything that made the food truck great into the restaurant, including the menu, which features an eclectic variety of distinctive barbecue staples such as pulled pork, beef brisket and turkey — all smoked. Also available are chicken meatballs with a sesame ginger glaze, griddled corn cakes, rich macaroni and cheese, crisp and vinegary coleslaw, and fried artichokes.
At the heart of Sweet Carrot’s fare is comfort, something Petro has strived to impart on her cuisine throughout her culinary career.
I always think of it as the place you want to bring your out-of-town college friends, and yet it’s also the same stuff you want to eat in your pajamas when somebody just broke up with you,” she said. “That’s kind of the best of both worlds.”