Archive for ‘Dine Originals’

November 13, 2010

Dine Originals Week | Pistacia Vera

Why don’t I live in German Village again?  Seriously.  I think I’ll just move there to be closer to Pistacia Vera.  I will, of course, gain 35 pounds over the course of a week or two because I would be there every. day. Three times a day.

I knew the pastries were good.  I’ve had them before.  The coffee is hot and strong and delicious from Cafe Brioso.  And the shop is so lovely and light and minimalist.  I know all these things.  But today, there was something magical about the perfectly arranged platter of six (!!) lovingly crafted sweets, my tasty Americano and a November day when it’s almost 70 and you can sit in the pretty little side courtyard and close your eyes and imagine you’re in Paris.  I close my eyes and imagine that Cherub is behaving herself, too.  But, alas, I’m a dreamer at heart.

The $10 menu, specially designed for Dine Originals Week included left row, bottom to top: fruit pates (black currant champagne and orange ginger), a mocha praline jaconde, and a mouth-watering cashew caramel.  On the right, two of their famous Parisian macarons (a pumpkin and a maple walnut), their Florentine and the pear ginger frangipan.  I swooned over the cashew caramel.  This has risen to the tip-top of my holiday gift list.  People would kiss you if you sent them a box of these babies.  Which you can

The true beauty of Pistacia Vera is that you can get these creative and inspiring bites, along with tremendous coffee for the same price as your typical afternoon chain coffee stop.  So get thee to German Village for an unpretentious little break.  And when you do, make sure to invite me along.  You know I’m game.

November 12, 2010

Dine Originals Week | Basil

BasilPersephone’s Kitchen was closed tonight.  Basil presented a really extensive Dine Originals Week menu, with four courses no less, for $20.  Having not had the chance to dine there before, but hearing good things, this week seemed the time to give it a go.  I’m glad we did.

A snug little restaurant right between Surly Girl Saloon and The Attic on High Street, Basil was already filling up early.  Seating groups from two to ten while I was there, the waitstaff was quick to take orders and even quicker with delivery of our dishes. 

I tried both the Tom Yum Ground Chicken and the Tom Ka Ground Chicken soups.  Both were very different and both were served very hot.  The Tom Yum was spicy and flavorful with lime and lemongrass.  The Tom Ka was a light coconut soup with a lovely fresh, almost piney balance from the galangal root. 

Our appetizers were the cucumber salad and the vegetable tempura.  The cucumber salad had a very light mirin dressing with grated carrots, red onion and cilantro. It was a cool interlude between hot soup and our main courses.  The vegetable tempura batter itself was a bit heavy but very, very delicious.  The vegetables were tender but not mushy, the tempura crispy and the clear Thai vinaigrette a perfect dipping partner for the vegetables.

Hades chose the Thai curry with salmon and I had the basil over rice.  His salmon was flaky and the coconut curry was a flavor I would bathe in if I could: creamy, sweet and savory all at once.  The basil over rice was ground chicken with lots of Thai basil, green bell peppers, sautéed in a spicy brown sauce.  I have a thing with spicy: if it’s going to be done, it needs to not be over done.  You want to be able to taste the other flavors in your dinner.  You don’t just want straight hot, you want a balance.  You want to be able to pick out the basil or the bell pepper, not just be sweating bullets, sniffing a lot and saying, “Whew, this is hot.”  And you know what?  This was balanced.  I had them make it with a medium amount of spice and it was just right.  Spicy without being overpowering. 

For our fourth course we were each given sweet little pink coupons to be taken next door to The Attic vintage shop to be redeemed for a Bakery Gingham cupcake.  The perfect sweet ending.  And kind of a cool little store with a mix of vintage and new, a few gifts; one I’ll need to stop in again to truly get a feel for what they’ve got.

Basil has some finesse.  I enjoyed dinner and wouldn’t mind stopping in again soon.  You got another day to get your dine on.  Get going!

November 4, 2010

Dine Originals Week | November 2010 Menu Previews

Dine Originals Week starts this Monday, November 8th and runs through Sunday, November 14th.  Truly, this is one of the best times of year to visit one of the 53 independently owned and arguably best restaurants in Columbus.  At all 53 you will find specially designed three course meals for $10, $20 or $30.  Perusing this year’s preview menus, I’ve staked out a few (just a few, really…) that I’m wanting to try.  Give a click to any of the restaurant names below to link to the proposed menus.

For $10 you can sample of the tremendous fare at Tasi for lunch, lose yourself in a dreamy, sugary collection of six pastries from the elegant folks at Pistacia Vera or enjoy real New York-style deli fare at Katzinger’s.  Or head to Bodega, one of my favorite bars (Persephone has favorite bars, I just realized this.) for an inexpensive dinner.  These are all for ten bucks, people.  Get out there!

For a bit more at $20 a person you have a wealth of choices.  Dinner at Columbus Brewing Company is a good choice, especially if you opt to try some of Eric Bean’s (CBC’s skillful brewmaster) new beers while you’re there.  The Sticke Alt and the Winter Warmer are two that would pair pretty well with this week’s menu.  Or for a warm, cozy dinner head to Figlio, for a great menu with several choices for each course.

For $30, you’re really starting to get into some serious culinary fireworks.  I stalk the folks at Skillet (they know I do, it’s a friendly kind of stalking…) for menus such as the one Chef Caskey has proposed for this week’s dinner.  I also will admit to kind of a restaurant crush on Rigsby’s Kitchen and G. Michael’s Bistro, both have really luscious looking menus.

And for absolute fun, for the love of Pete, head to Surly Girl Saloon.  For $30 you get dinner for two!  And they have a choice of menus: a little bit trashy or a little bit classy.  I think I’m partial to the trashy side of things.  Anyplace that serves Frito Pie as an appetizer and ding dong cupcakes for dessert is ok in my book.

To top it all off, dine out next week at these wonderful places because a portion of the proceeds benefit the educational programs run by Local Matters.  Eat good, do good!

Have fun next week, kids.  See you out there!

October 19, 2010

Cocktails at the Rossi with Maia

Maia and I enjoyed cocktails and dinner at The Rossi tonight.  Maia is rather worldly and has been just about everywhere in this fair city of ours.  I love that about her.  She can order with the pros.

I started with a Ohio Apple Pie cocktail with some Brothers Drake mead because I just recently tasted all their fall releases.  The Rossi is one of the swanky places that carries this fine stuff.  Nicolene, the creative barkeep at Rossi, pairs Brothers Drake Apple Pie mead with another local libation, OYO vodka, and finishes it off with a garnish of cinnamon and sugar.  Really nice pairing.

Maia had the Fletcher and Bligh with Ten Cane rum, key lime juice, some maraschino liqueur.  The beautifully presented martini glass is kissed with vanilla bean sugar and looks like a frosted winter present, albeit one of delicious alcohol.

Being from Texas, I can’t pass up an opportunity to try an enchilada in any form, and

October 6, 2010

“Eat at a Locally-Minded Restaurant”: Let’s go to Skillet!

A great suggestion for one of the things you can do to participate in local foods week is eat at a “locally-minded” restaurant.  So to make sure we touched as many points on the Eat Local Challenge Pledge Card as we could this week, my family visited the cheerful Caskey family at Skillet for lunch today.  Even home-body Persephone loves a good meal out.  

Hades started with the Red Beans and Rice.  Chef Kevin Caskey really nailed the smokey, French Quarter flavor of this creole classic.  Sadly, we dug in too quickly and have no photo to prove its existence.

Mommy told Cherub the grilled cheese was a real winner.  So she ordered the grilled cheese and pumpkin and black bean soup for herself (she’s a very confident three-year-old).    

While we have worked hard to make sure she tries all types of foods with different flavors and textures, I have to say, I was shocked to see how much soup she vacuumed up.  Then I tasted it.  Well, of course.  It’s a fantastic combination: silky pumpkin with perfectly cooked and seasoned black beans.  What’s not to love?

I am no stranger to Flying J Farms beef.  It’s some of the best we’ve tasted.  I had to order the Diner Burger: made with ground beef from Flying J Farm‘s grass-fed and finished cows, on grilled brioche, topped with fontina,  a fried egg and peppery arugula.  The egg still had a delicious thick yolkiness, that  further “sauced” the burger (and my shirt, since Persephone is nothing if not a graceful eater).  It was tremendously good.  But what really set it off was the lovely tomato marmalade.  In a word: finesse. 

Hades ordered the Fried Green Tomato BLT, topped with a fried yard egg, a pretty ruffle of frisee and oo-wee sauce.  Let me tell you: oo-wee, it’s good sauce and a good sandwich.  I think fried green tomatoes can be kind of pain to do right.  And Chef Caskey does them right.  Nice, thick, meaty tomato (you can easily screw them up and make them mushy, not so here), along with thick, meaty bacon made a wonderful fare-the-well to summer sandwich.

Both Hades and I had small sides of different, but perfectly paired, potato salads.  His a homestyle and mine a cold German-style. 

All sandwiches were $9.  Not much for locally sourced, creatively conceived and downright delicious fare.

I really do love this restaurant.  It’s the kind of place that if we go out, which is rarely, we want to go here.  Make sure you visit them this week.

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