31 December 2007

Massey's Pizza

I've been working hard on my goal of sampling pizza from every joint in the Columbus area. I'm a big fan of the 'za, and there are many reasons why I would undertake such a foolish venture as eating piles of pizza pies.

For one, as a former resident of the City of Big Shoulders, I have eaten some pretty good pizza. But I'm much better at picking out "must eat" pizza shops in the 312 than I am at picking pies in the 614.

Also, I have an unhealthy preoccupation with having more esoteric knowledge than anyone else in the room about a given topic...even pizza. In my imaginary world where women find knowledge about obscure Rhone grape varietals, characters from HBO series and pizza quality indescribably sexy, this is how I imagine one scene going:

Enter a dark and smoky room, late at night, during a large, rather boisterous party.

Random Jerkoff: Man, I'm hungry. We should order some pizza from Pizzeria X, yo. They have like the best pizza in Franklin county.

Me: What in the f#$* are you talking about, douchebag. Pizzeria X is nowhere near the best pizza in the area.

Random Jerkoff: Dude, it totally is like the best, you know. If it isn't the best, it's mos def in the top three.

Me: Top three? Do you subsist off a diet of saw dust and car grease? Pizzeria X is ranked 43rd on the USA Today Coaches Poll Columbus pizza rankings. It was demolished by Pizzeria A, it clearly was dominated by Pizzeria B in the trenches, and that victory over Pizzeria Y was questionable at best based upon the pushout rule that cretin ref issued. Pizzeria X is lucky to be in the Papa John's Bowl...of pizza.

Eveyone cheers, picks up their cell phones and dials Pizzeria A delivery. Me exits stage right, talking in low voice about the third season of Oz and the Bourboulenc grape's light acidity with Rihanna, Mischa Barton and a cadre of Suicide Girls while everybody cheers his discerning pizza palate.

OK, so it's never going to happen like that. But a man can dream, can't he?

Anyway...along my never ending quest, I tried Massey's Pizza in Westerville. Massey's is a small chain that has pizza, stromboli and subs for vegetarians on the menu. I modified the veggie pizza, dropping black olives and adding green olives.

The pizza crust is thin. The sauce is great. The toppings are voluminous, including what surely was an entire large white onion along with green olives, green peppers and fresh mushrooms. I can see how Massey's won both the prestigious This Week Best Pizza online poll and the coveted Otterbein College's Favorite Pizza Award...this is seriously damned good pizza, all tongue-in-cheek jokes aside.

I was especially fond of the reheating instructions, which recommended reheating the pizza in a skillet. I don't know if it works, and I was too afraid to give it a try. Maybe next time.

Massey's toppings were very good. The pictures will show you how many onions they put on a pizza. If you don't like onions, don't order pizza with onions, or you will be crushed by an avalanche of onion. I will definitely have to sample the white pizza and the four cheese pizza, because if they are as good as the pizza pictured above was, they will be tasty.

I can't say if Westerville is the only Massey's that is great, or if all of them are equally good. I'll have to travel the circuit on my pizza quest. Enjoy the pictures below.

Massey's Pizza

Black Creek Bistro

I tried the power lunch today during a friend's lunch break after I had finished my shift. We tried Black Creek Bistro near Broad Street and Parsons in downtown Columbus.

Black Creek Bistro is an extension of the Black Creek Heritage Farm, which is operated by the restaurant proprietors. The farm raises heirloom vegetables, herbs and even (yuck) the animals that are served at the bistro. They support local produce and sound environmental practices including recycling and use of green energy to power the farm.

The restaurant occupies the space that used to be Elemental Wine Bar. They offer both a lunch and a dinner menu. Since I only ate lunch, I am less familiar with the dinner menu. The lunch items were fairly priced--nothing was more than $10.

The typical pattern (although the menu does change seasonally) is for the menu to have one vegetarian entree and appetizer along with salads. The lunch menu is slightly more sandwich-heavy than the dinner menu.

The limited choice of veggie items may be appealing to some who want the chef to craft the best possible dish with the freshest items, or a curse if a vegetarian doesn't care for the only vegetarian choice on the menu. Luckily I was not one of the second group of people.

I tried the parmesan ravioli in a tomato cream sauce with grilled portabello mushrooms and freshly grated cheese. It was a reasonable portion rather than the typical massive restaurant pasta tub that is served by less discerning establishments. The presentation was marvelous, and the rich tomato sauce tempered the smoky, grilled notes of the sliced mushrooms.

It is possible that the chef would be kind enough to make something else for a vegetarian who didn't want to get locked into the one vegetarian item on the menu. Obviously you'd have to check with the staff first.

The interior is understated, and the tables leave a comfortable amount of room for diners. The artwork was varied and vaguely depressing (think drab statements in black and white photography).

Black Creek Bistro has a small, fairly priced wine list, and a cool list of beers and cocktails. There is a small bar area with a decent amount of space for walking and talking.

The service was fairly good. The only misstep was that it took 15 minutes for the server to get to the table, which put a big kink in my lunchbreak-ing friend's plans. The server was attentive and helpful after the fact. He may also have had problems because two servers were all that was covering a brisk lunch business. I won't give the service a thumbs down, nor will I give it needless adulation. If it were a basketball player, it would be Bostjan Nachbar. That's the best way I can describe it.

I didn't take my camera with me. Luckily Restaurant Widow took all sorts of pictures there, so you can leave vicariously through her pictures and report about the dead animal dishes they serve at Black Creek plus the one vegetarian item. The other benefit is that the review is not of a power lunch, so it probably gives a greater array of details. I should get some pictures the next time I go back. If you want to see for yourself, they're open six days a week pretty late.

29 December 2007

First Watch

My efforts to get some pictures of the vegetarian offerings at El Arepazo continue to be thwarted. I could be wrong, but they appear to have gone into hibernation until the New Year. Oh well. It's on my list of things to do in '08.

Short of vegetarian patacons and fried plantains from the Pan-Latin alley eatery that is El Arepazo, I instead met a friend at First Watch in German Village and sampled the vegetarian offering there. I say vegetarian offering as a singular noun because outside of the breakfast menu, there wasn't anything other than the flatbread hummus and veggie sandwich (called Not Guilty Your Honor) that was vegetarian.

I'm sure the waffles, pancakes, oatmeal, fruit crepes and other assorted breakfast items are vegetarian (they are most certainly not vegan, so stay away Kevin Nealon and Woody Harrelson). I'm not vegan but I am diabetic, so I usual take the route of a low sucrose start to the day, though...plus I don't usually eat eggs, so I was left with the above pictured item.

The sandwich was on a plain flatbread with hummus holding together cucumber, spinach, mushroom, red pepper, tomatoes and feta cheese. It was served with First Watch potatoes, which were adamantly not fried in trans-fat oil according to the menu. They were griddled potatoes lightly browned, and they seemed a touch more delicate than a typical cookie cutter hash brown. The sandwich was also served with a tomato and green salad served with a citrusy vinaigrette.

The food was decent. They are similar to other businesses in and around downtown in that they close very early (close to 2:30 if my memory serves right). Be forewarned of the dearth of not-sugary-breakfast vegetarian items. There are multiple locations as it is a chain, so check the Web site out and see if it works for you or if any of the other locations have different hours. Check out the pictures below.

First Watch

28 December 2007

Pasquale's Italian Restaurant

If you went to college, you probably subsisted off a diet of pizza, beer and meaningless sex. I got my baccalaureate degree from Otterbein College, and while I didn't experience nearly enough random coitus in the kitchens of the tan and cardinal sorority parties during the days of my studies, I definitely ate a ton of pizza.

As with most colleges, the majority of the pizza establishments specialize in bulk pizza deals or ridiculously cheap pizza specials. They have all of the usual chain culprits (Donato's, Papa John's and Dominos) that offer specials with cheap toppings or buy-one-get-one, or whatever tricks they have to resort to doing in order to get you to eat the tomato sauce and plastic cheese that they placed on cardboard crust for your dining pleasure.

(On a side note, I also put Classic Pizza into this category. Although their prices are basso profundo low, and despite the fact that in the past I have had trouble deciding which of the bartenders at the sports bar that I wanted to marry, I consider the pizza to be a step above Papa John's and Dominos, and on par with Donato's. If they still have the Otterbein special, though, it is hella cheap.)

Pasquale's Pizza, near State and College in Uptown Westerville, rises above the muck and mire of the cutthroat pizza competition in the area. Most likely because the other establishments target the college kids with their lowest common denominator approach to nutrition and area parents who'd prefer not to cook, Pasquale's pizza is hardly expensive. I got a 16-inch pizza with green peppers and mushrooms for less than $15. A large pizza should feed three (or two ravished people who can't say no to seconds). Unlike the places that aim for lowest cost, Pasquale's is also damned good pizza.

The crust is thin, with a great balance between crispy and chewy. It has a sprinkling of corn meal that gives it a rustic character. The sauce is traditional in style, with a hint of Italian spices poking out from the vibrant tomato base.

The toppings were decent, with the peppers cut finely rather than into strips. The mushrooms may have been canned and thus will get a slight downgrade from me.

The amount of cheese is perfect, and the pizza is actually light eating considering that it's pizza. I didn't get a chance to try the appetizers or pasta, but the menu suggests that they offer a variety of traditional Italian dishes alongside a small selection of sandwiches. Unfortunately, Pasquale's has no menu on the Web.

The staff is great. Everybody is always very friendly. We used to interview the owner and his family as the man on the street for stories like the repeal of prohibition in Westerville, and he was always happy to speak with me; by helping us strengthen our stories with better sources, he helped me out of a few jams in school, and his good will shouldn't go unrewarded. Plus they got a license to sell alcohol, so everybody involved wins!

That being said, the only other complaint I have with dining at Pasquale's is that there is a lot of families that eat there, meaning that the dinner hours are littered with little rugrats colored in varying degrees of annoying. This is a small concern for those ordering to go.

I have read a few internet reviews that criticize Pasquale's for being hard to find. The sign is clearly visible in the window from State Street, and the main enterance is located in an alley next to the sign. It can be seen from Graeter's, Uptown Strings, Sour Records and a number of other businesses by Pasquale's. Parking is easier to find at day than it is at night, but it is almost always free. Here's a big detailed map if it will help.

Check out my pictures and check out the pizza.


Pasquale's Pizza & Pasta House on Urbanspoon

22 December 2007


Unfortunately, I was lazy and didn't take my camera to dinner at Manhattans last night. You are just going to have to deal with my descriptions and memories, plus the picture I took of my to-go box.

Manhattans is owned by the same person who was in charge of the last establishment. The old place, Tirado's, was named for owner Rudy Tirado, and it featured soups, sandwiches, salads and ice cream in a fairly disorganized interior.

Manhattan's is a huge upgrade stylistically over its predecessor. The interior is stylish, clean and classy. It definitely shows a keener eye to detail than the slapdash Tirado's did.

The menu is classic American bistro fare, with soups, salads, pasta and a cornucopia of appetizers. There are a few vegetarian items that are clearly marked, including the vegetarian pasta, which consists of a linguini base topped by mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, squash, onions, broccoli and red pepper in a reduced sauce with notes of red wine and garlic. I didn't inquire, but this seemed to be a vegan dish...check with the staff to be sure.

The entree also came with a choice of soup or salad. The house dressing was a smoked ranch that was interesting if slightly less than traditional. I probably would have preferred something else as a dressing, but the salad was at least well made.

I started with a pepper jack queso dip which was served with a mountain of tortilla chips. This dish came highly recommended by the jovial man at the bar who extolled the dish's beguiling character.

Manhattans shows far more promise than the last venture did. It isn't a place with tons of vegetarian options, but there are options for vegetarian diners that are well made and presented. The wine list is also small but features a few nice choices.

The staff was attentive if not exceptional. The place filled up quickly after 6 pm Friday night (as you'd expect it to do), and there was also a fairly sizeable bar crowd. My original intention was not to dine here, but it was a pleasant surprise.

There is also another location in historic Delaware, Ohio if you prefer your dining a little bit country rather than a little bit rock and roll like it is in uptown Westerville (the virtual
Bacchanalia capital of Franklin county).

20 December 2007

Tis the Seasonal

This is the season where beer gives to its drinkers a greater bounty than almost any other time of the year. I'll drink through a few of them so you don't have to waste your time drinking junk.

Ale Smith is a San Diego brewery that specializes in carefully crafted beers of mamoth flavor proportions. The Yulesmith Holiday ale is an Imperial red ale made with generous quantities of malt and hops. This brew is less spicy than many of the other holiday beers that are flavored with herbs and spices, but it has as much if not more character. Ale Smith is almost always a quality product, and the latest holiday brew is no exception.

Abita is a Louisiana brewery that also produces a Christmas beer. This year's batch stays true to the old form--a dark ale with a faint hops character. The beer is light in character, and doesn't posess the character of many of the other seasonal offerings. This is a Christmas beer for people who detest craft beer because it has too much flavor...and I'm not one of those people.

Lakewood, Ohio is home to Buckeye Brewing. Their holiday beer is also not a spiced holiday ale. Instead, it is a Belgian-styled dubbel ale with all of the sweet fruit notes and the yeasty complexity that can only come from bottle conditioning. This is a well made beer that has enough alcohol to keep you warm through the winter months.

Sammy Smith always makes one of the most widely available winter ales, and it's widely available for a reason--it's good as hell! The beer (called "Winter Welcome ale") continues to illustrate my misstep in identifying holiday beers as spice oriented (even though they typically are). This beer is medium bodied, with a rich malt character alongside a classic European hops aroma. The other cool colectible thing is that each year has a different label (the picture in the middle changes while everything else stays the same), making the beer easy to stockpile if difficult not to drink.

Every beer this time of year is not neccessarily seasonal. Victory has a few limited time offerings that were pretty tasty. Hop Wallop is the Pennsylvania brewery's uber-hopped beer, and it possesses a complex floral aroma with a hint of cotton candy and a trace of leather. My ghetto palate estimates that the beer has about 90+ ibus, and it will knock your palate out for the night. Enjoy this beer beside a giant bowl of chili and don't plan on drinking more than two because the bitterness will overwhelm you.

The other Victory beer that just came out was their barley wine Old Horizontal. The brew features toffee, apple, citrus and tar notes backed by a sneaky high alcohol content of 10.5 percent. The date on the bottle says drink before the end of 2012, and I bet this would be deliciously integrated by the next Presidential election.

If Jever isn't the finest pilsner on the planet, I challenge somebody to find a better European continental brew. The one shortcoming the beer has is that faint skunk character that is overpowered by an aggressive hops aroma and flavor as well as a surprisingly clean finish for a beer with this level of bitterness. The green bottle funk is more than superceded by the quality of the ingredients. This brew is a German classic that doesn't get as much recognition as it should for its stark individuality.

Akron brew pub the Hopping Frog offers a double IPA known as Mean Manalishi. I've never been wild about these beers, but this brew is restrained (for a double IPA), with pine flavors and aromas that create a dynamic brew that seperates itself from the other offerings from Hopping Frog.

Mikkeller offers a number of interesting brews, including the Black Hole coffee stout. This beer was so good, I'll let their PR practitioners describe the flavor for you. "An imperial stout brewed with: water, malt, roasted barley, flaked oats, dark cassanade, honey, hops, coffee, vanilla and ale yeast. Finally……! Black Hole is what Mikkeller is all about. Daring, vulgar and extreme. From the very beginning Mikkellers goal has been to push the limit and with this warming, intense imperial stout, a new chapter in the Danish beer history has been written. The high bitterness from the hops and the sweetness from the malt and alcohol, creates a good balance which makes Black Hole an explosion of nuances, but also leaves a feeling of a perfect and complex beer – in the heavyweight category." If you like coffee, you'll love this.

If the label says "Dogfish Head," you know it's f-ing good. (They can have that slogan for free if they need it for future marketing campaigns.) Pangaea is a beer brewed almost every year with ingredients from all seven continents. There is water from Antarctica, ginger from Australia, basmati rice from Asia, and malt, hops, yeast and something else from the other continents. This beer has a long finish that starts up front with ginger and floral hops before the malt lingers on the tongue. Buy this and drink in excess.

I'm not going to lie--I bought the Arcadia beer Big Dick's Old Ale because it had the word dick in the name. But the beer was surprisingly good, with flavors that show off tons of malt and a hint of smoke and brown sugar. This beer tasted like it needed about six to eight months more of bottle age before it was ready to be consumed. It should last for some time.

Thomas Hardy is a top-notch vintage ale with tons of fruit notes that lighten up as time goes on. This beer will age forever and a day, and the 2005 vintage is no different. With notes of nougat, figs and honey, this beer will be around long after these flavors fade and new ones emerge. Buy some, and save half of them for a rainy day.

I also tried Schneider Weisse, an organic German wheat beer with a citrus flavor along with a light, undistinguished finish. The beer is good, but not good enough to make me pass up the other more mainstream German weizen beers.

The Fort Collins brewery offers the Retro Red, which is an off-dry beer with a ruby tint and a clean finish. The beer is tasty if unspectacular. It is a good beer for a session of lawn mowing, but it lacks the complexity to make it a savoring brew. I like it but I don't love it, and you should do the same.

Enjoy the beer advice--I hope your evening with beer is better because of it!

Tis the Seasonal

17 December 2007


It just looks delicious, doesn't it? You can feel your blood sugar skyrocketing and your arteries hardening just thinking about pizza. Adriatico's New York Style (misnomer) pizza, an Ohio State institution, can do all these things with ease, and it tastes pretty damn good doing so.

Adriatico's is always on the top of Columbus' pizza rankings. I'm not sure if there actually are officially sanctioned pizza rankings like the college football AP poll or whether it is a more informal consensus system, but the rankings always see Adriatico's near the top.

(Actually, according to the menu, Adriatico's was voted People's Choice Best Pizza in the Columbus Pizza Challenge six times in an event that is no doubt the BCS championship game of Franklin County's pizza championship series.)

I tried the pan pizza (called Sicilian crust) with green peppers and mushrooms. The crust is thick, buttery and loaded with garlic. There is also a thin crust that I did not try. The sauce is tart and slightly sweet. The mushrooms are real mushrooms rather than canned factory fungus.

The large pizza is enormous and could feed four hungry people. The Buckeye size is even bigger than that and could feed every Bears quarterback during the Brett Favre era for what I would guestimate is about a week.

There is a relatively standard list of toppings available. There is a specialty vegetarian pizza with onions, green peppers, mushrooms, green olives and extra cheese, as well as a sliced tomato pizza with black olives, onions, green peppers and mushrooms. There is also a veggie zoni (calzone) and a veggie sub as well as salads and breadsticks. But the main attraction remains the pizza.

Check out the pictures and stop in Adriatico's to get your fill of fat and carbs...I might need somebody to help me finish the pie!

Adriatico's New York Style Pizza

Adriatico's on Urbanspoon

15 December 2007

Two Birds with One Stone

I'm going to save myself some trouble and write up these two vegetarian friendly lunch spots in Victorian Village by combining them into one review. This will save you from having to read two separate posts worth of my meandering prose.

The two places are located right next to each other by the Giant Eagle on Neil. Spinelli's Deli offers all the staples of a typical deli, including the requisite vegetarian sammie--the Village Veggie (pictured above). It was prepared on focaccia bread with chipotle mayo (I held the mayo), roasted red peppers, green peppers, red onions, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and veggie cream cheese.

The menu also features a number of salads and even a vegan soup, but the sandwich is the main attraction for the vegetarian crowd. The bagels and cream cheese also look great.

Right next door to Spinelli's is Oodles Noodle and Dumpling Bar . Although Oodles offered far more selections for the vegetarian diner, I was less than impressed with the quality of the food. The interior was stylish, but the restaurant lags far behind places like Noodles and Company in terms of the quality level of the fare.

The presentation of the vegetarian ma po tofu was sloppy. The tofu and veggies were slapped on a bed of rice without care as to symmetry. The veggie egg roll was overloaded with the taste of old oil.

Perhaps I will have to go back and give the place a second try. There are a number of other vegetarian items on the menu, and perhaps I tried the only two bad items on the menu. Something tells me that this is not the case.

After my lunch rendezvous in Victorian Village, I'm going to have to say that Spinelli's is indeed the vegetarian dining champion of that shopping plaza. Oodles Noodles was vegetarian friendly, and the decor was sharp, but I left wanting something more. You can look at my pictures as evidence of Spinelli's victory and Oodles' defeat.

Ooodles of Noodles-Spinellis Deli


I had heard nothing but good things about Barcelona before I checked it out, and I was not disappointed in any way with the German Village tapas joint. They offer a wide variety of vegetarian dishes alongside carefully crafted cocktails and exciting wines by the glass and bottle.

I think tapas are so much fun. You get to sit around a table and pass little plates around, sharing and discussing the merits of each dish.

Stories abound that tapas were developed in Spain as a snack for the ill King Alfonso the 10th to nosh on for sustenance, or that the good king wanted wine to be accompanied by food to prevent drunken revelry by the citizens. There is also a more practical tale that says that tapas were developed as a lid to keep flies out of wine glasses at the local Spanish taverns.

Although rooted in Spanish culture, tapas have been adopted by many different cultures. In Columbus, for example, places like the Burgundy Room serve tapas that have Asian and American culinary influences. Most of Barcelona's tapas are classically Spanish, but a few items have a more international flair.

My first dish fit this bill. Pictured above, the Catalan flatbread was like the Iberian take on bruschetta. It was a big piece of soft, crumbly bread grilled with olive oil and topped with caramelized onions, roasted peppers, capers and flecks of Manchego cheese. The flatbread was a sublime combination of savory notes with tangy pickled notes and the sweetness of the onions. This came after an amuse bouche pea and mushroom salad.

The spiced olives were pitted and seasoned with fennel, cumin, rosemary and chile flakes. They were tasty, with a few different varietals of green and black olives mingling together in the seasoning and the oil. The bread was served with an oil infused with tomato and herbs. It was also very tasty.

The patatas bravas are a very traditional Spanish dish. At Barcelona, the small fried potatoes are topped with a garlic aioli and a fiery tomato sauce, and the presentation was fantastic, with each of the sauces swirled on one side of the potatoes.

Again, though, there were many other tapas at Barcelona that are more internationally flavored. The soba noodle salad is a Japanese buckwheat dish with cucumbers and other greens in a lemon vinaigrette. It combines European and Asian flavors on the same plate with great success.

My final dish tasted unlike anything else I have ever eaten...and that's a very, very good thing. The chilled spiced peach soup was redolent with peaches. It has the consistency of apple sauce, and undercurrents of ginger and cinnamon. It was also an ingredient in one of the mixed drinks, which I'm upset I didn't get a chance to sample.

The service was excellent. The staff was very helpful. I was told that the chef could make a few special vegetarian additions to the menu, including a veggie paella. They made sure my delicate vegetarian sensibilities were well accounted for in the dining experience.

My favorite cocktail was the carrot cake martini, made from cream, amaretto, Goldschlager and something else I can't name. The liqueurs combined into something that tasted like creamy alcoholic vegetable dessert. I loved it. I was not as big of a fan of the white grape martini, made with white grape juice and Ciroc vodka. The featured by-the-glass tempranillo wine was excellent, showing notes of tobacco, leather and plum, all for about $8.

I didn't try dessert, but it looked good. The bar was also very lively. Barcelona has definitely earned its stripes, which include being recognized by Wine Spectator with their Award of Excellence and being ranked slightly low by Jon Cristensen in the Top 20 restaurants in Columbus. Check out my poorly lit pictures, and then definitely see for yourself.

Barcelona on Urbanspoon

13 December 2007

Cafe Corner

I got scooped for lunch by my own newspaper today. I've been planning on grabbing lunch at Cafe Corner all week, and I didn't get there until the article appeared in this morning's Weekender section.

To be fair, the same author wrote a piece about Cafe Corner 18 months ago, so he beat me by quite some time to the spot (as did Columbus Alive). Luckily for me he failed to address vegetarian dining options in his reviews, so it left the territory unclaimed...until now.

The tiny storefront serves up a number of vegetarian sandwiches and salads. I tried the pesto avocado sandwich (pictured above), which was made on a crusty white bread with goat cheese, avocado, cucumber, sprouts and walnut pesto. The tangy goat cheese and the rich texture of the avocado were greatly complemented by the pesto, which had a hint of sweetness that I'm guessing came from the nuts.

The side dishes were interesting as well. The sandwiches can be served with Cape Cod chips, which are good quality chips with a strong crunch, or an apple for those looking for a healthier alternative to fried potato snacks.

There are many other vegetarian options on the menu. There is a fancy PB and J sandwich that is made with natural peanut butter, strawberry preserves and parmesan chips. The beet sandwich is made with Boursin cheese ( a soft French cheese with herbs), walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette.

The tomato mozzarella sandwich has the extra added kick of pesto. There is an avocado wrap that differs from the sandwich described and pictured before. There is also a feta sandwich with cucumbers, lettuce, tomato and onions in a lemon cucumber sauce that comes in spinach wrap, as well as an eggplant parmesan sandwich. You can also build your own sandwich to make your meal fit your particular taste discretion.

There are salads and a hummus plate for starters, and for those who eat eggs (not me), there are supposed to be great breakfast items at Cafe Corner. I'll stick with lunch and dinner because I hate scrambled embryos. Cafe Corner is also big on fair trade coffee.

Check out the pictures and check out the food...apparently they deliver, so you might be able to sit on your butt while they whip up a delicious lunch between two pieces of bread.

Cafe Corner
Cafe Corner on Urbanspoon

I-man loves everybody

Man, Don Imus can't stay out of the headlines for 10 minutes. What better way to show everybody that you've changed your ways than by asking radio host Jay Severin, "Why don't you like Huckabee? Because you're gay, or what?"

Way to go, I-man! They ought to give you a spot on Sesame Street since you've proven your repentance.

Check it out on Media Matters.

10 December 2007

San Francisco Oven

I decided to try lunch at San Francisco Oven today based upon the idea that I had previously read about it in the newspaper and because it was a driver and a three iron away from work. I think of S.F.O. as a more pizza-heavy version of Panera Bread or Camille's that is custom made for a better-than-fast-food lunch just like those two other chains.

The main attraction in the place is the pizzas, which are made in the special oven that sits behind the counter. Pizzas come in 8- and 14-inch sizes. The vegetarian options on specialty pizzas include a four cheese bianco pizza made from provolone, romano, smoked Gouda and mozzarella cheeses on a thin Neaolitan crust with a garlic white sauce and a classic Margherita pizza with basil and all the trimmings.

I went with option B: make my own pizza. I ordered the pizza combo, which is an two topping 8-inch pie with half a soup or salad. I tried a pizza with tri-colored peppers, mushrooms and basil pesto sauce with a garden salad, all pictured above, for a grand total of $6.99 plus tax.

The pizza was better than I expected. The pesto sauce was tasty. The pesto gave the pizza a green, herbal character that complimented the vegetal notes of the peppers and the earthy smoke of the mushrooms.

The salad was solidly made if unspectacular. The lunch crowd also kept the place pretty busy. The service was steady if not quite rapid. However, the cheap prices do make it a useful lunch option.

There are a few other vegetarian items on the menu. Most items contain cheese and are less than vegan friendly, including the mozzarella tomato focaccia sandwich, the California calzone, baked ziti and numerous salads. Some of the salads may be vegan depending on the dressings. But this place is more amenable to lacto vegetarians than it is to their militant and highly disciplined vegan bretheren.

Check out the pictures below, and check them out for a cheap lunch if you're in the neighborhood.

San Francisco Oven

07 December 2007


Marcella's part deux opened in Polaris a few days ago. I stopped by to check it out because this is the new darling project of the Cameron Mitchell restaurant empire.

This newest outpost of rustic Italian communal dining is located in Polaris at the spot of the recently closed Mitchell restaurant Maritini Italian Bistro. The interior remains relatively unchanged. They painted over the tacky wine bottles on the wall, keeping the color scheme and floor layout similar to Martini. There is also substantial seating in the cafe area in front of the bar.

The menu features numerous small plate selections that are the Italian equivalent of tapas. There are many hot and cold small plates, including eggplant salad, zucchini parmesan, giardinera, roasted peppers with mushrooms, Caprese salad and melted romano pecorino with bread and apples to dip fondue style.

I sampled the assorted olives and a cheese plate. The assorted olives were green cerignola (sweet, citrus flavors), picholine (a French green olive redolent of grass, nuts and a vibrant acidity), Gaeta olives (a small, black olive that is soft and faintly bitter) and Beldi (a small, wrinkled, salt-cured Moroccan varietal with six weeks worth of your R.D.A. of sodium). The olives are served warm and make a great accompaniment to a glass of wine.

The cheese plate comes in three and five cheese versions. I sampled the aged goat cheese (which was dry and crumbly as opposed to soft and creamy with a crisp acidity supporting the floral undercurrent of the formaggio), Pecorino di Pienza (a soft sheep's milk cheese with rich buttery notes) and Taleggio (a strong, stinky cow's milk cheese with an even runnier consistency than the Pecorino). The cheese was served with a truffle honey, brandied cherries (which are divine), and apricot with red peppers.

My main course was the brown butter and sage gnocchi (pictured above). The potato pillows were served in herbed brown butter with onions and walnuts. The presentation was pleasant, and the flavors were earthy and restrained.

Marcella's also offers a ton of pizzas that were very good. The vegetarian friendly options include Margherita pizza, a zucchini, mushroom, tomato and olive pizza, a mushroom pizza and four cheese pizza.

The wine list all comes from the boot. The big city concept of quartinos is starting to catch on in Columbus. I first saw quartinos at a Chicago establishment aptly named Quartino a few years ago. A quartino is a small wine serving vessel that fits a quarter of a bottle of wine. Marcella's also serves wine by the half and full liter. All of these portions allow for great pricing and pour size of wine for dinner or drink and snack before you're out doing whatever it is that you do. I hope quartinos start popping up all over.

The service was helpful, all the while trying to learn the details opening a new restaurant. The best idea for dining here would be to eat as a group and to share appetizers and entrees because the portions are small, meant to be ordered en masse and slightly expensive, so a group might offset the investment cost. Alas, I am a dolt who went solo, so I'll have to keep it in mind for next time.

Check out the pictures below.


Marcella's Ristorante on Urbanspoon

06 December 2007

Hound Dog's

What can I say about Hound Dog's that hasn't been said before? They have great pizza. It's been said before. It's located next to a cool bar. Others have said that before as well. Oh well. I'm sorry about this minor oversight.

Hound Dogs does late night delivery of garlic crust (pictured above) and not garlic crust pizza available with
regular, medium and extra spicy sauce. I ordered mushrooms and green peppers medium spicy Smoking Joe's garlic crust.

Hound Dogs

This place is pretty easy to track down.

04 December 2007

Imus and the Mourning

He's back (in black, even). Don Imus, the human race riot of the air waves, returned to the radio with two African American comedians as part of his zoo crew (charade). The question is this: if a racist windbag makes halfhearted apologies on the air and nobody tunes in to listen, does he make a sound?

The big story of the day involves U.S. officials reporting that the Iranian nuclear program is shut down for the time being and that they are not a short term threat to produce nuclear weapons. President Bush remains undeterred, saying American policy will remain unchanged despite the reports. He might justify an invasion based upon a new Iranian policy to crack down on hip hop. Bush never let contrary evidence dissuade him from his strongly held but ideologically flawed plans in the past, so this should be business as usual.

Gillian Gibbons, the teacher involved in the Sudanese blasphemous teddy bear fracas, has spoken about this ordeal after she returned home to Britain. Whatever her message, I'm sure that her testimony will not be utilized in tourist videos promoting vacations to Sudan.

Now that the G.O.P. and the Dems have both held Web 2.0 debates, critics say that the format is here to stay. By 2020, Max Headroom may in fact be the leading candidate for President of the United States.

Rolling Stone's latest feature details the elements that led to the abysmal failure that is the war on drugs. This article breaks down the failures of American drug regulation that birthed a culture that would create a drug called "butt hash."

And I'll finish up with a new media report about the stalker engine/social networking outlet Facebook and its latest battle with privacy advocates. Coming on the heels of the controversial opt-out tracking program Beacon are the reports of Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg losing his legal appeal to have a Harvard-associated publication take down less than flattering documents about his past in a move aimed at giving the young mogul a feeling of the shoe-on-the-other-foot feeling that goes along with Facebook-style privacy concerns. If Zuckerberg doesn't focus his company on benefiting the consumer using his product, he'll be losing Facebook friends faster than the people in charge of college loans.

03 December 2007


It was Dad's birthday the last weekend. I got him some cigars and booze as a present. He took me to Rosendale's as part of the celebration. I'm pretty sure I won that deal.

Rosendale's is pretty well recognized, both in Columbus and elsewhere. The place is the namesake establishment of star chef Richard Rosendale, he of the Team USA culinary squad.

His restaurant offers cutting edge cuisine in a similar vein as heralded chefs like Grant Achatz, Ferran Adria and Wylie Dufresne. More conveniently for me, it's also located in Columbus rather than Chicago, New York or Spain like the other darlings of the foodie circuit.

Rosendale's does a degustation, but I stuck to the standard a la carte menu, which offered multiple vegetarian options. I was also told that I could have ordered a vegetarian chef's menu (which I will have to keep in mind for later days).

The bread was served with plain and rosemary butter. Rosendale's prides itself on preparing specialty butters and ice cream on site (more on that later).

I started my meal with the spinach salad (pictured above), prepared with julienned green apples, goat cheese ravioli and Granny Smith sorbet in a thyme vinaigrette. The acidity of the apples and goat cheese was nicely contrasted by the vegetal character of the greens.

The second course was a Yukon Gold potato and chevre goat cheese terrine with marinated cherry tomato on top of a basil gelee drizzled with organic olive oil. The herbal basil compliments the rich terrine. The presentation was also excellent.

My main course was an artichoke heart stuffed tomato on a potato griddle cake with carrots, green beans and various foamed vegetables. The presentation of the tomato was an experience, as the tomato appears whole until cut into pieces, when it reveals its artichoke-laden interior.

My only minor complaint is that some of the bells and whistles science food tricks like foamed vegetables take me back to 2002, and this practice is actually a much older (and more tired) trick than that. It isn't a cutting edge deal when they feature it as part of a carefully narrated news segment. Despite my minor antipathy toward nitrogenated veggies, however, few items came close to falling flat.

My dessert was coconut ice cream with pineapple chips served in a pineapple and pomegranate relish. The ice cream was rich and delicately sweet, flavored with real coconut milk that gave it a luscious character that is unmatched by faux coconut.

The restaurant decor is sleek and modern, consisting of black and metallic tones throughout most of the restaurant offset by controlled lighting. The bar does a fairly brisk business. Judging from their great selection of cocktails like the Sugarplum martini and the Eggnog martini, as well as a carefully selected list of craft beers, a voluminous list of top shelf liquors and a wine list that spans much of the globe in many different price ranges. The bar also serves interesting food items like the white truffle popcorn which I am most definitely going to have to go back and try.

The service was outstanding. The server was very attentive and did a great job explaining what to order to suit my delicate vegetarian sensibilities. Thank you Molly--you're on my list of things to order off the menu next time I'm in Rosendale's.

I also got some great pictures of the chef's ice sculptures. The other positive aspect of photographic representations of Rosendale's is that since the place is so highly regarded, many others have also taken some stunning pictures of the food that will do a better job showing off the presentation of this great food than I did. Try this one and this one on for size.

This place is a must try. Enjoy my pictures below, and then get yourself to Rosendale's and enjoy something there even more.


Rosendales on Urbanspoon

30 November 2007

New Fun

And I'll be doing vege-matarian dinner at acclaimed restaurant Rosendale's tomorrow evening. As the great philosopher Paul Westerberg once said, "I can't hardly wait."

Uptown Market

Uptown Market is the new tenant in the spot formerly occupied by Mill Street Deli/China Way (the bizarre combo that it was). The inside is completely redone, and Uptown Market should bring a nice option for uptown dining, especially when they get a liquor license.

The main focus of the restaurant is local, seasonal produce (a la Alice Waters). Rumor has it that even the alcoholic beverages will even be local rather than global to keep up with this concept. The menu will be determined by arrangements between the restaurant and local farmers, and there will also be a focus on organic ingredients.

I started with garbanzo fritters (pictured above), lightly breaded with smoked Gouda, ginger and garlic served in a sweet chili sauce. The cheese was the cement holding the fritters together, both physically and as a flavor element by adding a delicate element of smoke that took the flavor to an unexpected but wholly rewarding place.

And how could I refuse the sauteed seasonal vegetables at a place that puts the emphasis on seasonal vegetables? The dish consisted of red and green peppers, yellow squash, zucchini and mushrooms seared in olive oil and a touch of red wine atop a bed of wild rice. The mushrooms were delicious.

The lunch business was relatively active. The staff was a little light considering the amount of people who were eating lunch. The place is newly opened, so hopefully they are just determining the correct staffing levels for certain days. The staff said they would stay open for lunch as long as business permits, and then they would reopen at 5:00 pm for dinner.

I'll definitely give the place a thumbs up, though. Although they offer a limited vegetarian selection, it is well prepared food that is worth paying a few extra dollars to eat. It is a huge improvement over the greasy MSG slop and bagel sandwiches that were churned out by the last establishment, and the interior upgrades are definitely noticeable. Check it out, and check out my pictures below.

Uptown Market