Rasa, Toledo’s newest restaurant takes a veggie focus

. November 22, 2017.
Photos by Ashley Boardman
Photos by Ashley Boardman

Rasa is a concept restaurant that looks to give the Glass City a taste of something greener.

The Rasa (which is Sanskrit for “nourish”) concept is simple: offer Toledoans a taste of “fresh, simple, pure and healthy,” per General Manager/Owner Brent Martin. “We have a pretty aggressive menu— all small plates, bowls and salads. The core concept is health conscious, but we’re not branding it as health conscious because people think healthy food doesn’t taste good, but that’s not the case.”

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Food backgrounds

Martin, a local, cultivated his palate by traveling and dining out. “I grew up down the street in Ottawa Hills. I lived here until I was 18 and then I moved to Savannah, Georgia… came back here, lived in New York for a little while and then opened a yoga studio here. Now, this is an extension of that, explains Martin. That yoga studio is the popular Yogaja Yoga in Cricket West, but Martin has also worked in every facet of the restaurant business and has dreamed of opening his own eatery for, as he says, “as long as I can remember.”

Executive Chef Abraham Holmes, a Brooklyn transplant who has been in Toledo for a matter of months, met Martin down in Savannah. He kept in contact with the entrepreneur and, now, moved to the Midwest to help clarify the vision of their “eco chic” restaurant.

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Bridging the gap

“There’s a lot of fast casuals here, so we’re looking to bridge that gap from fine dining, because there’s a lot of ‘special occasion’ places and then there’s fast casual, but this will be a place that you can hang out, get a meal at a good price that’s handmade, crafted, seasonal and farm-to-table,” Martin said.

“When [Martin] brought me in, he said, ‘There’s steakhouses here and fried food places here, but we don’t have to be that to still taste great. We can be an attraction, a go-to place. The love that we’re trying to put into it is what I want people to taste,’” said Holmes.

Also key: a full bar with craft brews and a wine list (sourced by Martin’s sister, a sommelier) and a full array of fun, interesting cocktails that you likely haven’t experienced locally.

A shared experience

“Really the concept of the restaurant is collaborative, so we’re using artists and artisans and farms. All of our plates are being locally made and handcrafted. A lot of our stuff [furniture and decor] is being made by local artisans,” said Martin. “So we really want to not just solve a problem for ourselves, like ‘Where do we go to eat?’ but we wanted to solve a problem for the city, for the artists and put a name to these small businesses so we can be more collaborative.”

“The food has to be good, but it’s more about the experience. We wanted people to feel like they’re transported somewhere else,” said Martin. “Every time I go out to eat, that’s what I’m looking for, something chic, something new, where the ambiance is fun and great.”

Lunch: 11am-3pm, Tuesday-Friday.
Dinner: 5pm-midnight, Tuesday-Saturday.
Brunch (beginning December 2):
9am-3pm, Saturday-Sunday.
2633 W. Bancroft St. | 419-725-0525
rasarestaurantandbar.com