Family-owned restaurant reinvents a simplistic palette

Virginia Suardi

Open Crumb, a family-owned African restaurant located in Ward 8, was the perfect choice for a satisfying meal. I wanted to pick an affordable place that catered to different diets with a streamlined, old-school approach to cooking. When I learned that nothing on the menu was over 10 dollars and all of their bread and desserts were baked in-house, I knew it was the one.

I found a refreshing simplicity in the menu. Southern classics like shrimp & grits and chicken sandwiches dominated the menu, but sprinkled in were items that were clearly reminiscent of the owner’s West African heritage, like the jollof rice or spinach stew. Owner Abigail Opare and her three children are the proprietors of the restaurant and the visionaries behind the menu. Her son, and co-owner, Peter Opare is also a lead chef in the kitchen.

Even more exciting to discover were the several vegan options on the menu! I was immediately drawn to the vegan peanut soup; which had spinach, onions, egusi (a West African melon seed), and purple sweet potato. For the sides, I ordered some coconut rice and sauteed kale, with a homemade ginger beer to drink.

The peanut soup was simply delicious. Fragrant and hearty with every bite, the freshness of the ingredients was clear as day. The peanut flavor was salty and satisfying, but not overpowering, and the purple potato added a wonderful richness to the dish. As for the coconut rice and kale: they perfectly balanced out the robust stew, adding a welcome delicacy and acidity. Finally, the ginger beer was heavenly— sparkling, spicy, and sweet. 

While customers aren’t able to dine in the store— restrictions for COVID-19 prevent them from having in-store service— I was informed that most customers prefer takeout anyway. The restaurant does have a more “hole-in-the-wall” vibe that some might find unappealing, but overall, I thought the store looked homey, authentic, and clearly family-owned.

I would highly recommend the vegan and vegetarian friendly, Black-owned Open Crumb to anyone looking for a cheap restaurant, with mouthwatering southern and Ghanian staples located in SE. Though I was completely stuffed after my first meal, I almost regretted not ordering more! Next time, I’ll definitely be ordering the Red Red, a traditional Ghanian meal made with fried plantains and a curry tomato bean stew, one of their homemade rolls, and another ginger beer, which was almost too good to be true. Until next time, Open Crumb.