27 December 2008

Barley's Redux

I have written about Barley's in previous posts. But the white truffle mac and cheese with smoked gouda, white cheddar, tomato, basil and bread crumbs was great. The Christmas Ale was mahogany colored with a rich, caramel malt character, delicate spice flavors and a delicate mouthfeel. It was delicious even two days after the holiday.

The Web site lists a number of food and drink specials during the week. I can also attest that the pierogi and beer washed onion strings are also very good (and vegetarian-approved). There are a few other vegetarian options on the menu that I haven't tried. If you wash it down with enough beer, I'm sure it should be great.


22 December 2008

German Village Coffee Shop

I made a valiant attempt to defeat the enormous line at the Thurman Cafe. Everybody else was probably there for the enormous burger, and I was the only guy there for vegetarian food. However, the wait was just too much (thanks television), so instead I slipped next door to the German Village Coffee House.

GVCH keeps breakfast joint hours--they are not open for dinner. Half of the menu or more consists of breakfast items. I'm not a big eater of breakfast cuisine. The Coffee House does have a veggie omelette. I hate eggs, so I'll leave that to a braver soul than myself.

German Village Coffee House makes grilled cheese with a choice of sides (I ordered onion rings, although fries are also available). The double-decker grilled cheese is delightful. Three griddled bread slices are covered with melted American cheese in a towering sandwich that fills the stomach for less than $7 with onion rings and a fountain drink. Coffee and juice are also available.

There aren't a tremendous amount of vegetarian choices at German Village Coffee, but the grilled cheese is definitely a winner. Considering the price and the fact that I ate in less than 20 minutes, I'll definitely go back.

German Village Coffee
German Village Coffee Shop on Urbanspoon

19 December 2008

Columbus Brewing Company

Despite the terribly grainy appearance of my pictures which makes it look like I had dinner near the edge of a black hole, I actually ate at Columbus Brewing Company last night. I hadn't gotten a chance to sample the menu since the place was sold by Cameron Mitchell. It can now be crossed off my list of things to do.

Columbus Brewing Company's brew pub is the flagship of the regional brewer, and the Columbus Pale Ale and 90 Shilling Ale can be found throughout the area. Although newer operations like Barley's and Elevator have stolen some of the thunder from CBC, they still offer solidly made brews. I am particularly fond of the 90 Shilling Ale, a copper colored Scotch Ale, and the 1859 Porter, an opaque, choclatey brew filled with as much smoke as character. Beer is also sold in flights that allow you to sample all of the brews without falling into a coma. Beer can also be taken home in a growler (or three) if you'd like to sample CBC's wares off-premises.

There are a couple of vegetarian appetizers. The spinach and artichoke dip is served with an herbed flatbread. It is tasty and filling. I wanted to love the barbequed plantains because I have a natural affinity to the tropical fruit, but the mushy consistency and the overly sweet sauce left me slightly underwhelmed.

The seasonal vegetable plate is an entree bathed in a balsamic reduction with a side of risotto alongside a wide variety of grilled veggies. It appears to be almost the same as it was on Mitchell's menu.

The margherita pizza was very well made. Fresh tomatoes, basil and olive oil marry perfectly atop the soft crust and bubbling cheese. The poorly lit image is above.

The new menu seems slightly scaled back from the Cameron Mitchell era. Luckily for the new owners, CBC still has the same convenient location with tons of parking.

Columbus Brewing Company doesn't offer a ton of vegetarian items. However, since the menu is more focused, they made certain to feature a few different choices for the vegetarian diner.

17 December 2008

I am a slacker

Sorry for being a slacker. I've been doing thesis work and newspaper work and moving and a numerous other activities too tedious to mention, so I didn't have time to eat and take pictures of veggie food. I swear I'll be back soon to complain about the dearth of vegetarian options on the menu or to praise the multitude of meatless eats in an unnamed restaurant in the near future, I promise.

03 December 2008

Hunan Lion

Hunan Lion is always included as part of the upper echelon of restaurants around Columbus (see: Dispatch). The combination of tasteful decor with tasty Chinese and Thai dishes garners a lot of praise for this establishment. All the acclaim is deserved based upon my experience.

The restaurant is stylishly appointed. The service is courteous. Hunan Lion offers both dine-in and take-out options. The restaurant belies its strip mall exterior with detailed wood accents, dark colors, white table cloth and Asian light fixtures alongside a photogenic fish tank.

The server informed me that all menu items that did not list meat as an ingredient in the description were in fact vegetarian. There are many vegetarian appetizers in addition to the Thai and Chinese main courses on the menu.

The sesame noodles were delicious. Hunan Lion prepares the peanut dish hot with thick noodles, cucumbers and scallions. It is rich, mildly seasoned and deeply satisfying.

My main course was the Siam tofu. It was pan fried cubes of tofu in a brown Thai chili sauce with asparagus, red peppers, green beans, onions and baby corn. The tofu was crispy and not at all greasy. The sauce is a flavorful of green herbs, hot peppers and savory balance. The vegetables were a great blend. They demonstrated a focus on flavor more than a blind adherence to tradition a la the neighborhood take-out establishment.

Hunan Lion is more expensive than the typical neighborhood Chinese joint based upon the level of service, the decor and the quality of food. It is worth the price of admission.

Hunan Lion

Hunan Lion on Urbanspoon

29 November 2008

Cafe Istanbul

It has been a long time since I have been to Café Istanbul at Easton. The place is under different management than the last time I was here. The menu is different. The interior is the only thing that has remained the same. I have to admit that I like the changes (not that there really was much wrong with the restaurant in its old form--I'm just a sucker for new things).

The new menu features a wider variety of traditional dishes outside of the realm of the typical hummus, falafel and baba options. There is a huge assortment of vegetarian items, including ezme, a tomato, onion, hot pepper and olive oil spread that makes the soft, doughy bread even more addictive. The Sigara Börek is a Turkish take on the Greek tiropita, made with an abundance of feta cheese, herbs and flaky phyllo dough. The grape leaves are also vegetarian (Items on the menu are marked with an asterisk to denote vegetarian selections).

Other vegetarian starters include hummus, falafel, baba ganoush, tabouli, and a host of other dips, salads and assorted vegetable items. I really applaud the number of healthy vegetarian starters (and I am a sucker for menus that label vegetarian items because they make my job that much easier).

My entree was a vegetable stew called türlü. It is a tomato base made with big chunks of roasted eggplant, onions, carrots, red peppers, potatoes, mushrooms, celery and whole garlic cloves. It is rustic and flavorful. Other vegetarian main courses include a grilled veggie plate and okra stew.

The bread is served with a spicy flavored olive oil. The mixed drinks are creative and tasty. I really like Efes Dark, a brown Turkish beer that tastes vaguely like Newcastle. The service is attentive, friendly and prompt. Café Istanbul is a great option for vegetarians as well as people looking for flavorful food with a healthful character.

Cafe Istanbul

Café Istanbul on Urbanspoon

24 November 2008

Z Pizza

Z Pizza is a health-conscious pizza shop with West Coast roots in the Short North. There are a wide variety of veggie-friendly options on the menu including salads, a sandwich and pizza.

The pizza is available with a pile of topping options. There are also great order-by-name pies, including the above pictured Berkeley Soy Cheese Veggie Pizza. I ordered a whole wheat crust made with a pesto sauce, bubbling soy mozzarella and a mountain of veggies including green and red peppers, tomato, mushroom, onion and zucchini with crumbled veggie burger in place of sausage. The pesto is garlicky. The vegetables were crisp and colorful. The crust was thin, delicate, flavorful, and hearty enough to survive the pesto coating.

There are a number of other delicious sounding pizzas for vegetarians. The Tuscan is described as: Homemade roasted garlic sauce, mozzarella, Cremini, Shittake and Button mushrooms, caramelized onions, feta, truffle oil and fresh thyme. There is also a Margherita-esque pie called the Napoli.

There is a more complete review of Z Pizza on Columbus Alive. It was a positive write-up.

The organic tomato sauce and wheat dough are cool reminders of the healthy foundation of Z Pizza. They sell pizza by the slice, and there is limited space to dine in.

Z Pizza

22 November 2008

Blue Ginger

Blue Ginger is the latest pan-Asian hot spot to spring up in Columbus during the last year. Blue Ginger features a multinational menu that jumps all over the Asian continent. There are Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai dishes on the menu.

The restaurant decor is modern and relatively formal. Blue Ginger serves beer, wine and sake. They have a liquor license pending. The mango saketini was delicious, making me not miss the hard liquor license at all.

I tried the edamame as an appetizer. The simple soybean becomes an addictive treat when it's boiled in sea salt. They call edamame Japanese peanuts for a reason. They are really that good and really that addictive.

The vegetarian sushi plate is one of the best I've ever had. There are a wide variety of different vegetable combinations wrapped with rice and seaweed. There were avocado rolls, carrot rolls, a number of rolls made with pickled vegetables, as well as a lightly fried rice dumpling and a mountain of ginger and wasabi. The presentation made the rolls almost too beautiful to eat. Luckily I closed my eyes, and they went down just fine (picture me smiling, fat and sarcastic).

There are also a number of noodle dishes that can be made with tofu on the menu. Overall, Blue Ginger has a wide variety of vegetarian options, and the food, service and experience are excellent.

Blue Ginger
Blue Ginger Asian Fusion Bistro on Urbanspoon

21 November 2008

Taco del Mar

West coast chain Taco del Mar is taking root in the Central Ohio area. There is a location in New Albany and a location in Canal Winchester. The Seattle-based chain makes its name with its signature fish tacos, but they actually have a pretty good array of vegetarian and vegan options on the menu for non-pescatarians.

The decor is faux-tropical and the soundtrack is Jimmy Buffet and related acts. The food is made in front of you a la Chipotle or Subway.

The mondo burrito is pretty large, even by Chipotle standards. There is an option for additional charge that drowns the burrito in enchilada sauce and cheese (I said yes to this option). Del Mar offers a standard palette of vegetables, salsas, cheese and sour cream with which to build a burrito. I didn't see it, but there are supposed to be different tortillas available (spinach, tomato and the like).

Honestly, I couldn't even finish the burrito because of its inordinate size. It was comparable to Chipotle, Qdoba, Baja Fresh and related properties in both construction and proportion. The prices make Taco del Mar a good option for a quick lunch.

Most items on the menu have vegetarian options. There are tacos, burritos and quesadillas alongside chips, dips, beans and rice. Despite the seafood bias, Taco del Mar actually does have a number of decent choices for vegetarians.

Taco Del Mar

Fiesta Mariachi

Fiesta Mariachi is another of the cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all Mexican eateries that dot this great nation of ours. If you GPS Fiesta Mariachi, it might take you to the old location. Don't sweat--the newer digs are right down the street.

There are about 8 vegetarian combos on the menu. There are complimentary chips and salsa, as well as frozen and on-the-rocks margaritas in a variety of flavors. There are a few top shelf tequila brands.

My entree was a tostada, a bean enchilada and a quesadilla. It resides in about the same neighborhood of quality as El Vacquero and Las Margaritas. Fiesta Mariachi does offer vegetarian items on its menu, but it isn't necessarily a destination worth seeking out. If I was in the area, I'd definitely go to Talita's.

Fiesta Mariachi

19 November 2008

On the Fly

I tried a bunch of things at the soft opening for On the Fly, the new venture from the folks that brought you Dragonfly. The space adjacent to the gourmet vegan spot is conceptualized as a take-out featuring street food in all international forms and flavors.

There were a number of samples available. I tried different empanadas (for some reason the chalk board menu had a tilde, although it isn't spelled that way to my knowledge). There was a curried vegetable empanada, a chili empanada and an apple empanada that was a dessert.

The falafel sandwich was divine. The falafel was soft, mildly seasoned and deeply green. It came with tomatoes, onion and some type of thin green lettuce in a tahini sauce/hummus combination. I added the hot sauce, made with restaurant-grown peppers. Proprietor Magdiale Wolmark was pleased as punch with his hot sauce. It was not mislabeled. It wasn't a mild sauce. It wasn't a slightly spicy sauce. It was a fiery hot sauce that added enough bite to some of the dishes to bring a smile to my face. I'll give it a thumbs up on the sauce and a thumbs up on the falafel sandwich.

I'm going to have to go back to try the Vegan cheesesteak, made from portabella mushrooms and a vegan cheese sauce known as V whiz. There is also a veggie burger known as the rowdy burger.

They offer a limited selection of organic soda, beer and wine. They had Wolaver's IPA and something from St. Peter's. There also was an inexpensive white and red wine that were featured. I'm not sure if there are additional beverages or not--I swung in and out pretty quickly.

This is a really cool idea. Vegan comfort food made by a talented chef seems like a home run in my book. Think of it as Dragonfly food on a Panera Bread budget.

On the Fly

On the Fly on Urbanspoon

18 November 2008

Zamarelli's Pizza Palace

Zamarelli's in Grove City is a small, family-owned pizza shop in Grove City. The crust is thin. The menu is pretty basic. Zamarelli's only takes cash and they do not deliver, so plan accordingly.

The best part about Zamarelli's pizza is that they have great crust. It is flaky with a hint of butter. Although it's thin crust, it is a little thicker than the traditional crispy cracker crust. The sauce is nice. The vegetable toppings were adequate. The peppers and onions were good. The mushrooms were bad--they were definitely canned.

The menu also features a vegetarian lasagna. Zamarelli's didn't make my favorite pizza, but maybe the pastas would be worth a shot if you were in a pinch.

Zamarelli's Pizza Palace

17 November 2008

On the Fly soft opening

There is a new press release from the vegan temple Dragonfly. It's about their new venture On the Fly. Instead of offering haute cuisine, On the Fly makes vegan street food. It should be delicious. You're supposed to be an email list member to attend this event, but you might be able to sweet talk your way in by signing up for the email list on the Web site.

From the press release:

ON THE FLY Dragonfly's NEW street food SPOT next door to the restaurant OPENING WED. 11.19 @ 10am - sneak peak and samples for our dfly guests

Be one of the first to try DRAGONFLY'S new street food spot ON THE FLY.

We're still putting the finishing touches on her, but the ON THE FLY menu will be up and running on Wednesday November 19 @ 10am-3pm and 5pm - 7pm.

We will be operating limited hours in the first few weeks, but expect expanded hours and format to be in place soon.


We will be opening with some of the Dragonfly kitchen's signature STREET FOOD creations including a PORTABELLA PHILLY 'CHEESE' STEAK with V whiz, A SELECTION OF SWEET AND SAVORY EMPANADAS, OPEN FACE FALAFEL with ON THE FLY HOT SAUCE (made with chili peppers from the Dragonfly kitchen garden), STREET FOOD SALAD AND SESAME ROLLS, AND introducing THE ROWDY BURGER.

Also a unique selection of beverages, cool affordable, yet really good wine and beer, batidas, low tech caffeine, and other pick me ups will be available.



Gregory's Family Restaurant

Gregory's Family Restaurant is an old fashioned diner in Canton with a decent number of vegetarian options on the menu. They are only open for breakfast and lunch, and they are not open at all on Monday. The service is laid back, friendly and helpful.

The vegetarian chili is delicious. It is a thick blend of tomato chunks, kidney beans and soy crumbles in a river of seasonings alongside an armada of topping options (crackers, cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, et al.). It is available in a cup and a bowl.

Since this is a diner, most of the vegetarian entrees are sandwiches, pastas and salads. There are veggie hot dogs as well as a large number of classic side dishes with a vegetarian flair (fried poppers, onion rings and French fries). There are also breakfast items including pancakes, omelets and even vegetarian sausage pattiy sandwiches and side dishes. I didn't eat breakfast, but it is available as long as the restaurant is open.

My main course was a sandwich made with Gregory's homemade veggie sausage. It was a loosely packed patty that was similar to a veggie burger. The patty was covered in mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce. It was served with a choice of chips or pretzels.

I also tried my dining companion's sandwich--the dilled yogurt club. It was a triple-decker sandwich built on wheat bread with layers of cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, green pepper and pecan-dill cream cheese.

At first glance, you wouldn't guess that Gregory's would offer so many choices for vegetarians. It is well worth checking out if you're in the area.

Gregory's Family Restaurant

11 November 2008

Mellow Mushroom

I'm vaguely excited about the Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers going in east of Polaris (scheduled to open in January 2009). I tried this place in South Carolina. They make pizza with any and all kinds of toppings. They have a large number of vegetarian items on the menu, including multiple sandwiches. The place in Hilton Head featured a faux hippie vibe that was evident in the decor and the menu. The closest comparison I can make to a pizzeria in Ohio and the Mellow Mushroom is Avalanche Pizza in Athens and Lancaster. I do enjoy pizza and sandwiches, so Mellow Mushroom should give me another place to get fat.

10 November 2008


Ho-Toy is a Thai/Chinese restaurant in the heart of Downtown Columbus. The place makes its name with inexpensive take-out that it fires out with rapid precision. There is a deceptively large dining room on two floors; the swarm of worker bees in the area takes ample advantage of the to-go menu.

The menu at Ho-Toy is very vegetarian friendly. There are almost 20 different vegetarian entrees in addition to a few vegetarian appetizers. Entrees are available in small and large sizes. The decor is plain and unspectacular.

I started with the vegetable egg roll. It was deep fried crispy brown with a cabbage, carrot, and onion filling drowned in a sea of hot mustard.

My entree was a basil curry tofu. Pan fried cubes of tofu were tossed in an earthy sauce with hints of citrus, green herbs and red pepper. There are onions, water chestnuts, green peppers, mushrooms and carrots in the dish. You can specify a heat level (I always go hot!). The small portion is less than $6. My total bill was less than $9 with a drink.

The quality of Ho-Toy is decent. This isn't the kind of place you go for the high-class experience. Rather, Ho-Toy features tasty food for fair prices, and they can get diners in and out in a rapid fire manner.

Ho Toy

09 November 2008

Framboise...my dirty little secret

Okay okay, I'll admit it. I love fruity beer. I'm a sucker for lambics made with any and all kinds of fruit. I love the bright acidity tempered by the beguiling sweetness, the avalanche of jammy fruit and Moscato d'Asti-esque carbonation that turns my frown upside down.

I don't want anybody to see me drinking it though. I fear that pleasures like the New Glarus raspberry tart will make me look unrefined to the untrained eye. I lock myself away like a hermit, enjoying the bounty of Oregon raspberries, Wisconsin wheat and Hallertau hops fermented in large oak vats with wild yeast all by myself out of a champagne flute.

If a person were on the outside looking in, it is unlikely that their social mores would approve of me drinking sweet raspberry concoctions out of proper French glassware. But the outsider has no idea how satisfying this ambrosia really is. Too bad--I'd drink this brew by the carafe if I could find it (no matter my--or anybody else's--scorn).

04 November 2008

Vegan Chicago

I just saw an article on Center Stage about vegan restaurants in Chicago. A couple I know and highly endorse (Karyn's, Chicago Diner, Handlebar and Alice & Friends) and a few others I'll have to check out the next time I visit the City of Big Shoulders (Earwax Café, Lakeside Café and Soul). It isn't dissimilar from my post on the same subject, although I was writing about vegetarian (not specifically vegan) restaurants.

Whole Foods

I feel like I'm writing about common knowledge here, but Whole Foods makes ridiculously good ready-to-eat vegetarian food. I had seitan enchilada pie (spicy wheat protein with eggplant, red peppers, onions, black olives and cheese), spicy Mexican eggplant, organic Colby cheese and some delicious organic Washington apples for lunch. That's just one of one million different combinations available to be eaten immediately on location or taken home for later consumption. The food bar items list all ingredients, making it simple to address any and all types of dietary restrictions.

All grocery stores should hope to be half as great as Whole Foods. The convenient take-out at Whole Foods now means you don't even have to be able to cook to reap the benefits of your friendly neighborhood organic grocer.

29 October 2008

Talita's Mexican Kitchen

I'm always kind of on the fence about Tex-Mex cuisine. Most Americans are more used to food from the American Southwest than they are used to the food from different regions of Mexico. A taco from Taco Bell looks nothing like a taco from Veracruz. You can't order chili or tortilla chips in Guadalajara, nor can you order ceviche at Don Pablo's in Kansas City. If you want AUTHENTIC Mexican food, you are better off going to the small neighborhood greasy spoon then you are going to Las Margaritas or El Vaquero.

Talita's is one of these cool neighborhood spots that provide the best of both worlds. You could easily drive past the small storefront on Southwest Boulevard and Broadway in Grove City. Once you find the restaurant, it becomes evident that they are more Tex-Mex than Mexican-proper. They proudly advertise their Brownsville-style fare on the windows and in the menu.

The good news for vegetarians is that both the beans and the rice are made with vegetable oil. They are, therefore, vegetarian friendly.

Talita's specializes in giant burritos. Vegetarians can order them wet and cheesy (drowned in enchilada sauce and cheese) or dry (with lettuce, tomato and onion). They can be ordered with a combination of beans, rice and/or cheese. You can also order a side of rice and beans for about a $1.50. The burrito was so big that I couldn't handle side dishes, but if you have a huge appetite, you should go for broke with extra rice and beans.

I also ordered chips with salsa and avocado dip (obviously this is Texas slang for guacamole). The salsa and chips are $1.50 extra. I wasn't wild about the salsa, although it was obviously homemade. It had large chunks of tomato and was fairly mild. The guacamole, on the other hand, was delicious.

The owners and staff are very friendly. The interior of the restaurant is replete with military pictures and commemorative decorations. If I had to guess, this might be the best place for service people to get a discount in Grove City.

Talita's does serve alcohol. I didn't get a chance to check it out, but they have beer and margaritas.


Talita's Mexican Kitchen on Urbanspoon

27 October 2008

Joy Lucky

I don't know if it's a reference to the movie or if they just picked two random English words out of the dictionary, but Joy Lucky is a strange name for a restaurant. Typically the adjective precedes the noun in a phrase like this. Honestly that's the biggest complaint I have about the place. The food is good, but the name is bad. Now that I have that out of the way...

Joy Lucky is a small Chinese restaurant in Grove City. It is part of a small shopping strip. The interior is rather plain, suggesting that most of the business is take-out. I can't say that for sure, but if I had to bet, I'd put my money on more take-out business versus more dine-in business.

There are about six vegetarian items on the menu. The vegetable spring roll is the only vegetarian appetizer. You get one spring roll (the deep fried kind, not the rice-wrapped kind) with packets of soy sauce and sweet and sour sauce carrying the disgusting label "Duck sauce." The ingredients were vegan friendly, but I didn't eat it because the label said duck. The spring roll was crispy and mildly flavored. It was decent but hardly spectacular.

The Szechwan tofu, on the other hand, was very good. Pan-fried tofu triangles and vegetables were covered in the classic spicy brown Szechwan sauce that accompanies dishes of this particular cuisine type. The vegetables include broccoli, onions, carrots, mushroom, water chestnuts and pea pods, and the entree comes with the obligatory box of white rice. The portion is quite large.

The prices at Joy Lucky are cheap for entrees, appetizers and dessert. I took advantage of the 50 cent almond cookie upgrade. Since I only throw fortune cookies away, I got two fresh almond cookies for two quarters. My total bill was less than $10.

Joy Lucky

Joy Lucky on Urbanspoon

25 October 2008

Travis Barker is a quitter

If his reality show and sophomoric music weren't enough to convince you that Travis Barker is a tool, the latest gossip about Travis going back to eating meat after 25 years as a vegetarian in order to treat his severe burns will definitely allow your prejudicial labeling mechanism to place Mr. Barker squarely in the "doofus" box. I'm not a nutritionist, Travis, but 1 gram of soy protein is the same amount as 1 gram of dead animal protein. It's like the quandary of weight: which is heavier, a ton of bricks or a ton of feathers? I'm sure your dietician knew the answer to that riddle. He also knew you wouldn't be able to figure it out for yourself.

Grove City pizzas

I'm house sitting in (scenic? historic? rustic?) Grove City in southern Franklin county this week. Since I was stranded here, I decided to put the best pizza joints in the area to the test.

Most people have a hobby, or something they do to pass the time. I eat pizza. Sorry--it's what I do.

I know very little about Grove City. I went on hearsay from the few people I know in the area in order to determine who makes the best pie in town. The three places that top the rankings are Tammy's, Rotolo's and Plank's on Broadway. All of the places are small independent chains with somewhere between two and seven locations. I tried a small veggie pizza. I ate all three pizzas side by side. I ate them the day I bought them, and then I ate them cold and reheated the next day. I'll rank all three experiences on a one-through-three scale.

Hands down, Plank's on Broadway has the nicest storefront. Plank's is attached to a bar. The hard wood floor is accompanied by a number of tables. Tammy's and Rotolo's are more of the traditional pizza counter setups. I preferred the cleanliness of Rotolo's to the Spartan minimalism of Tammy's.

1). Plank's
2). Rotolo's
3). Tammy's

Again, Plank's is the clear winner. The staff was very friendly. They got the order ready the fastest of the three (15 minutes). Tammys' staff was personable, and they finished second (20 minutes). Rotolo's was staffed by the traditional college age counter guy. It took 25 minutes to get a pizza done.

1). Plank's
2). Tammy's
3). Rotolo's

Plank's vegetables were crisp. The onions were cut into enormous slices. The mushrooms were not canned. Rotolo's used good quality toppings, although the 'shrooms were canned. Tammy's also used good toppings, but the tomatoes were soggy and not of the best quality.

1). Plank's
2). Rotolo's
3). Tammy's

Veggie Pizza makeup
The topping quality is one thing, but for vegetarians, the choice of toppings is key. Typically, vegetarians show up to some random event. The host orders the obligatory pizza for them. It usually comes with at least one topping they hate. This metric gives the vegetable yuck factor some weight.

All veggie pizzas have to have mushrooms. It's an indisputable tenet of herbivorous philosophy. That being understood, Rotolo's had the least annoying topping combo. The banana peppers were the most annoying topping. Tammy's pizza had really awful tomatoes, making it slightly less picky-eater-friendly. The tomatoes and banana peppers were the most gag-inducing items on the Plank's veggie.

1). Rotolo's
2). Tammy's
3). Plank's

All three pizzas were thin crust and tavern (square) cut. Rotolo's crust was a little thicker, more savory and had a hint of butter. Plank's crust was crispy and delicious. Tammy's crust is a little softer than Plank's. It might have been the thinnest crust of the trio.

1). Rotolo's
2). Plank's
3). Tammy's

Plank's sauce is bright, mildly acidic, tart and tasty. Rotolo's sauce is light with a hint of sweetness. Tammy's sauce is the sweetest of the three, with an herbal undertone.

1). Plank's
2). Rotolo's
3). Tammy's

Cheese and other party favors
Plank's uses a great blend of herbs that elevates the pizza quality. Rotolo's cheese and accoutrements were similar to Tammy's (i.e. not as good as Plank's).

1). Plank's
2). Tammy's and Rotolo's (tie)

Rotolos' thicker crust made it keep better for the next day. It ate well both reheated and cold. Plank's got a little soggy overnight. It tasted okay cold but worked much better reheated. Tammy's got very soggy from the tomatoes overnight. It absolutely had to be reheated to remove the moisture.

1). Rotolo's
2). Plank's
3). Tammy's

Grand Champion
1). Plank's (20 points)
2). Rotolo's (18 points)
3). Tammy's (11 points)

I might have to reformulate my pizza scale, but the final results turned out about exactly how they did in my head. Plank's and Rotolo's were a class above Tammy's in my humble opinion. Try it out yourself. Maybe you'll have a different opinion.

22 October 2008

Watch where you eat

It's official--the sodium-laden, greasy crap people eat (a cuisine known to those in the nutrition field as the Western diet) is bad for your heart. According to recently published research, all that mass-produced, garbage food that America perfected makes people fat and keeps their heart unhealthy. Part of the problem is attributable to meat consumption according to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research study. The crazy part is that the negative effects of McDonald's dining are taking their toll worldwide. It sounds like it's time to put the donuts down and climb on the treadmill, tubby. Put the Big Mac down, copy this text, paste it into Babelfish and try eating something that hasn't been submersed in hydrogenated oil.

Surly Girl Saloon

Okay, okay, I forgot my good camera and took my cell camera with me when I went to Surly Girl the other night. So sue me. I have a bunch of poorly exposed pictures of delicious food and beer. If you want to see what's going on for vegetarians at the Surly Girl Saloon, you'll have to stop in yourself. I highly recommend that you do so.

My shortsightedness notwithstanding, the Surly Girl is another of Liz Lessner's many operations. Lessner, who co-owns the Surly Girl alongside her other operations Betty's, Tip Top and Dirty Frank's, specializes in comfort food and delicious intoxicating beverages in much the same way that I specialize in eating comfort food and drinking delicious intoxicating beverages. Her menus are also very kind to vegetarians.

Surly Girl features a wide variety of draft beers, running the gamut from Pabst Blue Ribbon to Bell's, Brooklyn Brewing and Stoudt's brews. There is also a great range of cocktails that are as delicious as they are non-traditional (the bourbon-spiked root beer comes immediately to mind).

Surly Girl, alongside the other Lessner operations, offers many options for vegetarians and vegans. I started with the red bean hummus, which features a Cajun-spiced bean dip alongside an array of dipping tools that include pita bread and vegetables displaying every color of the rainbow. Most of the other starters are vegetarian or are available with a vegetarian option.

My entree was a Southwestern chili mac made on a bed of homemade mac and cheese. It is a great combo, topped with onions, tomatoes and cheese, served on a bed of cheesy pasta, beans and roasted peppers. If I were Ebert and Roeper, I'd give it two thumbs up.

The one caveat for most restaurants in Liz's empire is that unless you eat at off-peak times, you will often have to wait for service. We waited about 75 minutes, which was 15 minutes longer than the wait the hostess expressed. However, the drinks and your ability to order appetizers at the bar relieve some of the pain of waiting for a table.

The Surly Girl Saloon is a great entry into the fray of gastropubs, a dining concept where great food and great drinks at late hours theoretically keep the house packed night after night. The convenience and selection coupled with the great atmosphere and vegetarian-friendly vibe makes this place well worth checking out.

Surly Girl Saloon on Urbanspoon

17 October 2008

Sophie's Choice

Oh Sophie. How the mighty have fallen! Nearly two weeks ago I had you ranked on top of my hottest vegetarian list. You were guaranteed my vote for the coveted PETA sexiest vegetarian award (I call it a coveted award because I've been begging for one for years--it will really increase my street credibility down at the farmers' markets).

But now the cat is out of the bag. The Australian eye candy was spotted in a KFC. It gets even worse when you see Sophie walking out the front door with Colonel Sanders' goodies tucked under her sexy wing. Ms. Monk claims she was buying food for a homeless person, which sounds good, but it begs the question: were there no Subways or Chipotles around so you could use your charms to improve the dining habits of the housing-distressed residents of Hollywood? Make your assistant buy the chicken for your charity effort. That's what they're for, after all.

Maybe the media got it wrong. I know how merciless the Australian tabloids can be. Sophie, if you need some help, call me. I'll be like an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor that will keep you away from the disastrous consequences of poultry. If you don't need a sponsor, I can also give you a shoulder to cry on. Despite your claim of being a dud, in bed, your above-pictured good will for animals says otherwise.

15 October 2008

Bombay Sitar

Bombay Sitar is an Indian restaurant in the Belden Village area located in the same space that used to be occupied by Aladdin's. It was a shame to see Aladdin's go, but putting an Indian restaurant in its place should keep the complaining vegetarians at bay.

The buffet is more than half vegetarian. There are also a number of vegetarian items on the menu. There is naan on the buffet. This alone makes the buffet a winner in my book as your typical Indian buffet does not include the delectable bread.

The mushroom matar was excellent. It contained tender mushrooms, peas and onions in a spicy sauce. The vegetable curry was a multi-hued delight, almost as good to look at as it was to eat. The buffet also had basmati rice, mango lassi, a salad bar and a full assortment of chutneys.

I'll have to stop back in and order from the menu. The buffet was well worth the price of admission, so I should expect the same from the dinner menu.

Bombay Sitar

News on factory farming

There are numerous situations in day-to-day life where the correct ethical decision is apparent. This is evident in the situation of animal rights related to factory farming. Deplorable conditions and cruel treatment of animals at factory farms creates environmental, health and ethical dilemmas that far outweigh the benefits of cheap milk, meat and eggs.

California is moving toward changing the cruel conditions of the mega-assembly line factory farms with the proposed Proposition 2 that is before voters on the ballot. This ballot option would require farms to allow farm animals enough space to move around freely. Current conditions in egg production and other farming operations often involve animals being kept in tiny cages in cruel conditions with little regard for the animals' health and well being.

This issue was covered by the L.A. Times and in an opinion piece in U.S. News & World Report. I don't live in California, but if I did, I'd support Proposition 2 to ease my karma and conscious if I did. Farmers will find a way to make a living. The caged animals get no vote, so the election is the only chance for their rights to be guaranteed.

09 October 2008

Vegetarian Friendly Ballparks

I meant to write about this earlier. At least I got to it just in time for my Cubs to get swept for the second year in a row. I can always try the list next year. This write-up is better late than never, so here goes.

PETA came out with their 2008 list of the most Vegetarian Friendly Ballparks. The champion for the second straight year is Citizens Bank Park in historic Philadelphia. The home of the Liberty Bell is as friendly to vegans as Philly sports fans are unfriendly to Santa Claus. The array of choices includes meatless cheesesteaks, faux crab cakes, vegan burgers, vegan dogs, and grilled eggplant sandwiches. The concessions manager expanded the menu as a way of drawing a new batch of fans. According to the Daily News, they use the quality vegetarian food options as a way to draw non-sports fanatics to games.

Other veggie-friendly parks include San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Chicago (Stupid Sox), St. Louis, Detroit, Atlanta, Colorado, Tampa Bay and Arizona. Only Tampa and Philly are left in the playoffs, so many of these are offline until next season.

The 2008 winners list also includes vegetarian options at non-winning ballparks, as well as a list of the best minor league vegetarian options. I propose that the Columbus Clippers and their Dime-a-Dead-Animal-Dog promotion may have to make way for Rad Dog Veggie Nite in order to build the fan base for future dates.

07 October 2008

Press Grill

The Press Grill in Columbus is one of the Short North's oldest dining establishments. It opens early and closes late. The menu is full of comfort food. I wouldn't call it veggie-heavy, but it definitely has a good variety of items for the vegetarian-inclined.

The interior is fairly simple. The dark-lit bar dominates the ambiance of the Press Grill. The service is personable and professional. It's fairly easy to get in and out for lunch in a rapid fashion.

I ordered the open face veggie sandwich. The base of grilled sourdough bread was topped with portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers, roasted tomatoes, red onion, melted fontina cheese and drizzled pesto. It is a delightful combination. The pesto gives the sandwich the exact kick that it needs to stand out from the crowd.

The side dish was macaroni and cheese. It was a typical elbow macaroni topped with a not-so-typical seasoned melted cheese. While I prefer the real cheese mac to its powdered dairy counterpart, I found the side to be good but not outstanding. I might suggest the fries as a side over the mac and cheese.

The menu features a few other vegetarian sandwiches (grilled cheese and fried egg--ewww!) as well as a number of meatless pizzas. The bar prides itself in mixed drinks, and they also feature a standard selection of better-than-Bud drafts.

Comfort food in a comfortable environment--that is the formula at Press Grill. They execute this plan well, whether you are eating at 11 am or 11 pm.

Press Grill

Press Grill on Urbanspoon

02 October 2008

Dragonfly Street Food

I just read the newsletter, and I'm going to go out on a limb and say that a Dragonfly street food take-out concept might be the greatest idea I've heard in my natural born life.

From the release:


This weekend we begin testing our street food bar menu, to be featured at the bar and our re-launched new venue next door to Dragonfly - ON THE FLY street food carry-out and provisions. It's another way to enjoy Dragonfly's amazing food.

Let's face it every chef secretly wants to cook street food and Dragonfly chef Magdiale Wolmark is doing it after carefully studying and dissecting the world's most famous street food fare. It's tough work, but he had to do it. From his famous hometown Philly cheesesteak to classic Latin American Empanadas to stuffed falafel pitas, Dragonfly is getting ready to unleash a storm of satisfying flavors that truly expresses where great food begins. It's delicious belly filling global plates that you can enjoy everyday at super good prices.

Tough economy news got you blue? We have the cure - delicious dishes from one of the cities most accomplished kitchens and wine specials to match.


Oh trust me--I will take liberal advantage of this new service. I might not make the preview event, but I see a falafel sandwich in my not-so-distant future.

01 October 2008


Yves Veggie Brats Zesty Italian Sausage
Mashed Potatoes
Patty Green 2006 Estate Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir
Good Company

World's Oldest Vegetarian

Anthony Kedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers was named the sexiest vegetarian piece of man meat for the year of 2008. There has to be somebody sexier than Kedis, who is one month shy of 46 (and to be honest, he doesn't look a day over 60). Leona Lewis fits the bill--she was the winner on the ladies' side of the bill. She is also half the age of Captain Blood Sugar Sex Magic.

If you really insist on voting for men for the Sexiest Vegetarian Award, I'm sure Tobey Maguire, Orlando Jones, Milo Ventimiglia and Andre 3000 are all sexier than Anthony Kedis (not that I'd f%$# any of them with your d*&% or anything like that...I'm just saying). This election is rigged somehow. Kedis' entire record label must have been voting for him or something. I demand a recount.

As an active voter in the vegetarian reality sex appeal popularity contest circuit, I can say I voted early and often in this poll, but never for the winners. I threw my endorsement behind Sophie Monk (because really, who wouldn't want to be behind Sophie Monk?), Carrie Underwood and Natalie Portman. But, as the cruel mistress Democracy has shown me before, my vote doesn't really matter. Whatever.

I'd just like to state for the record that I did not vote for Anthony Kedis. The general public may be voting for him as a sexiest lifetime achievement award or something like that. But the award doesn't say anything about lifetime achievement--it's a sexiest-right-now honor.


I got a chance to try the lunch buffet at the oddly-spelled Chutnys on Campus View near 270 and 23. The korma was absolutely amazing. I'm definitely going to have to try the full menu on for size at a future date.

The buffet had three vegetarian entrees (cauliflower korma, a veggie curry and a mild, nutty green bean dish). It came with papadums and dosas, and naan could also be ordered. There was a large chutney bar. There also were spinach pakoras (which I would consider a starter) as well as two soups (sambhar, the South Indian specialty, and lentil soup).

The interior is nicely appointed. The front sign is a banner, and the street signage refers to the space's previous tenant. The proprietor of Chutnys formerly ran Maharajas and recently returned from India. The menu I saw posted on the window seemed very vegetarian friendly. I'll definitely be back.