Outside of Dragonfly, Alana's is probably Columbus' most vegetarian-friendly fine dining establishment. The regular menu lists items that can be prepared vegetarian and vegan, and many of the items on the Restaurant Week menu are available as vegetarian options.
Alana's is the namesake restaurant of chef/proprietor Alana Shock, a chef with stints at Spagio, Emeril's and Lettuce Entertain You in Chicago as a corporate chef. The decor of the restaurant features whimsical accents that highlight the fun nature of Alana and her staff.
Alana's was jammed for Restaurant Week. The staff seemed a little pressed with all of the business stacking up. I had few problems because I walked in and I figured I'd have to wait. Some guests with reservations, however, were complaining that their reservations were 45 minutes late. Hopefully the weekend sees an increase in staffing.
The Restaurant Week menu actually changes daily. Many of the items on the Web menu were no longer available Thursday night. Of course, the shifting menu guarantees the freshest ingredients will be used.
There was a vegetarian salad and a soup available for the first course. I chose the Indian lentil Dal curry soup because I have a soft spot in my heart for food from the Indian subcontinent. Dal is the Indian name for lentils, and one of the classic preparations is lentil soup. Alana's version was richly spiced with a thick, pureed lentil base and hints of tomatoes, garlic and green onion.
The main course was a risotto made with Ohio shiitake mushrooms and mild goat cheese. The texture of the risotto was perfect, the mushrooms were savory and the goat cheese brought the whole dish together beautifully. The only minor complaint I had was that risotto changes from ethereal to coagulated rather quickly, and the portion might have been slightly large to enjoy the whole dish at the perfect consistency. That being said, how often is having too much of something a bad thing?
The dessert was a chocolate tort topped with chocolate ice cream. The dish highlighted the bitter, dark notes of chocolate, and walnuts add another layer of flavor to a great meal's conclusion.
Alana's is a great restaurant. Despite her feud with restaurant critic Jon Christensen, Alana's is most definitely one of Columbus' 10 best restaurants. Her commitment to vegetarian dining quality also makes Alana's a can't-miss destination for meatless diners.