25 August 2009

Rigsby's Kitchen

Rigsby's Kitchen has been a fixture on the Columbus dining scene since about five years after Columbus discovered the new world. While that sentence might seem like a complete fabrication (they actually opened in 1986), Rigsby's has been a fixture on the Central Ohio dining scene, packing the house for decades.

Rigsby's is definitely a family-helmed operation. Kent Rigsby is the chef/co-proprietor of Rigsby's along with his wife Tasi, whom he met when she was a ballet dancer. Forbes Rigsby, their son, is also the restaurant's sous-chef.

Rigsby's specializes is Italian food, although there are a few items sprinkled on the menu that have a more international flair. The staff was very receptive to my questions about vegetarian dining, and they offer a number of choices for the meatless diner.

The lunch prices are fairly reasonable for an upper-crust eatery. The one downside is that the blue plate lunch special consists of dishes not acceptable for vegetarian diners. However, it's pretty easy for a vegetarian to eat lunch at Rigsby's for about $30 per person, tip included.

I started with the apple, watercress, endive, walnut, and gorgonzola salad. The presentation was great, with the apples, nuts and blue cheese combining to make the whole a whole lot better than the sum of its parts. Unfortunately, the sweetness and acidity of the dressing sometimes overpowered the more delicate elements of the salad. All in all, though, it was a solid dish.

The single biggest winner of the lunch was the bread basket. The Rigsbys' empire includes the Eleni Christina Bakery, where they produce this delicious bread. There was a white bread, a sourdough bread and a darker bread (rye, possibly?) with walnuts flecked into the dough. It was accompanied by a tub of delicious butter, and every slice of bread was better than the next (other fans of Rigsby's cuisine can also sample their wares at the sandwich salad and soup stop Tasi, another part of their empire).

My main course was a whole wheat spaghetti in a tomato eggplant sauce. The pasta provided a rich, grainy backdrop to the vibrantly bright sauce, which was topped with shaved cheese and herbs. It was tasty, looked great, and it followed the number one rule of pleasing me: it was labeled as a vegetarian item on the menu.

There were a couple of other vegetarian items on the menu. There was another salad, as well as a chevre sandwich and the spaghetti d'Angelo. They also offered to make the risotto dish to-order without chicken.

The service at Rigsby's was excellent. The wine list is solid and heavily weighted towards Italian choices.

Lunch at Rigsby's is noticeably cheaper than dinner. Although you would never expect high quality food to come cheap, plan on spending twice as much for dinner, especially if wine is included.


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