Posts tagged ‘dining out’

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!

November 4, 2010

Jeni’s Launch at Middle West Spirits

I was almost giggly when I found out about the Jeni’s Splendid launch party for the new flavor Oakvale Young Gouda with Vodka-Plumped Cranberries.   Hosted by Middle West Spirits in the Short North, the belle of the ball was served out of Jeni’s pretty new mobile ice cream truck. 

 

Now add to this that Middle West held tastings of their boutique vodka OYO, and Foodie Cart was serving Japanese Crepes outside and Clever Crow was running in fresh cornbread crust pizzas from across the street and the Salty Caramels were crooning and playing the saw (awesome!).   I thought for a minute it was my birthday.  Well, the birthday of my dreams.  My dream birthday would have mariachis doing a set when the Salty Caramels took a break and there would be fireworks.  But I digress.

The ice cream, first off, is amazing.  It’s a locally-sourced and locally-made treasure.  Jeni’s great base made with Snowville cream is layered with OYO soaked cranberries and bits of Oakvale’s young gouda.  It’s a sweet and savory flavor combination that makes your tongue want to turn cartwheels.  Oh happy, happy day.  “Sweet and unique it’s Jeni’s ice cream.”

Hades and I stopped to visit with Kenny and Misako at Foodie Cart.  Did I say stop to visit?  I meant to say

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October 26, 2010

Happy Re-Birthday, Goodie Shop!

I see why Upper Arlington folks are so loyal to the Tremont Goodie Shop. We stopped in this afternoon for a slice of birthday cake (free today!) for cherub and took home a box of Goodies.  The shop has a tremendous variety of cookies and cakes (never frozen), as well as Crimson Cup coffee and fresh-baked breads.  Tasty, tasty, tasty.

It was, admittedly, my first visit to the shop.  (I had spoken with someone on the phone three years ago and had a rather unpleasant experience.)   From my friend Maia, I learned that the original owners took over the shop once again, restoring it to its former pastry glory.   If you’ve got time today, stop in on the way home to say Happy Re-Birthday and for a slice of cake, it eases just about every commute.

October 22, 2010

A European Lunch: Tuula’s

Shhh, come here. 

I almost don’t want to tell you about this.  The food was delicious and the shop was so lovely and quiet, almost like a secret.  If you find out and tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and they tell two friends, well, you get the point.  But I think Tuula would like to see you. 

We have been meaning to stop into Tuula’s European Cafe for quite a while now and I’m so glad we finally did.  It’s a little spot in Dublin in the same shopping center (gasp!) as a Kroger’s, Pei Wei and Hoggy’s.  But Tuula’s seemed worlds away, which was very nice. 

A group of eastern Europeans were sitting, drinking coffee, discussing what I can only assume was international politics outside at one of the wrought iron cafe tables in the sunshine.  I took this as a very good omen.  Inside, the cheerful and helpful Tuula herself was manning the counter.   She is a busy woman, making all of the pretty quiches, stratas and pastries herself daily.

I chose a pick two lunch special for $9 and had the vegetable strata and the

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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

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