25 November 2009

Schneider's Bakery

Schneider's Bakery has been satisfying the sweet tooth of Uptown Westerville since the good old days when the suburb was a virtual palisade of prohibition. No matter your opinion of alcohol in Ohio's capital of temperance, everybody agrees that a run to Schneider's is always a sweet proposition.

Schneider's offers a wide range of baked goods including cakes, cookies, pies and danishes, but Schneider's earned its reputation with the doughnuts. The 1 am weekend doughnut runs have created miles of smiles for bleary-eyed Otterbein College students for generations.

Although Schneider's is notable for sweet baked goods, they also make tasty loaves of bread, rolls and buns that are every bit as good as the sweets.

But as I said before, if you have only one option, make it a doughnut. And the extra added bonus is that you can feel good supporting them because they are a locally-owned family operation.

The glazed doughnut has a light, flaky dough that melts in your mouth. The balance of sweetness is tempered by a rich savory mouthfeel.

Schneider's prices are very reasonable when you consider the quality of food it offers. Some of the specials they offer include a doughnut and a drink for $1, and a danish and a drink for $1.75.

Schneider's Bakery

Schneider's Bakery on Urbanspoon

21 November 2009

Bono Pizza

I'm not going to be the first one to say that Bono Pizza is delicious. You can see the glowing reviews from Slow Food Columbus or Hungry Woolf or the Columbus Foodcast or Columbus Foodie or CMH Gourmand or Columbus Underground or Columbus Alive or This Week or Restaurant Widow to confirm the existence of a consensus built upon a foundation of effusive praise of Bill Yerkes' nomadic pizza outpost.

It appears that I am a little late to the party.

Nonetheless, since Bono creates such amazing artisanal pizza pies, I have to extol the virtues of their vegetarian pizza options.

I sampled the Hulk, which is a pesto and mozzarella pie made with green veggies. The green bounty included spinach, green onions and avocado as well as shaved parmesan. The garlicky pesto brings out the earthy notes of the spinach and the bright flavors of the cheese to create a pyrotechnic explosion of flavor.

There are many vegetarian pizza options on the menu at Bono. There is a cheeseless pizza made with tomato sauce, roasted red peppers, basil and eggplant. Bono also has a Margherita pizza, a five cheese pizza, a Greek pizza, a pizza made with what is described as "f**king hot peppers", a mixed mushroom pizza, and the obligatory build-your-own five topping pie.

The place is tucked into the back of a carry-out liquor store. The menu explains the paradox thusly: "Of course it's in the back of a liquor store, it's bonopizza." Bono seats about 12 people.

The address on the Urban Spoon site linked above is incorrect. The address is 1717 Northwest Blvd., and the phone number is (614) 906-8646. Bono is open Monday through Saturday from 5-11 pm.

Bono Pizza

Bono Pizza on Urbanspoon

Gross Vegan Thanksgiving Options

I applaud vegetarian and vegan options for all kinds of products. Sometimes it's necessary to provide faux-meat items so newbie vegetarians can make an easy transition to an herbivorous lifestyle.

That being said, the idea of
Tofurky and Gravy soda by Jones makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little bit.

In response to the popular-but-even-more-disgusting Turkey and Gravy soda that Jones releases most Thanksgivings, Jones now has a Tofurky and Gravy drink for those who can't stomach actual bird-flavored beverages.

Honestly, I may be going out on a limb here, but I've never been a big fan of
Tofurky. Their vegan hot dogs are good, but the gummy faux-turkey always has tasted funky and unpleasant to me.

My recommendation would be to buy the soda and use it for a decorative conversation piece. Or buy it and drink it on a dare. Either way, don't say I didn’t warn you.

If nothing else, you can feel good about yourself since Jones donates a $1 of each purchase to PAWS. Even if the flavor is frightening, you can still feel warm and fuzzy inside because of your generously charitable nature.

16 November 2009

Drelyse African Restaurant

I'm a sucker for any cuisine I've never tried before, so the first time I drove past Drelyse a few weeks ago, I knew I was going to have to check it out. Drelyse offers food from many different countries in Africa, and if you're in the area, the place is well worth checking out.

Drelyse is located off the beaten path, south of Dublin Granville Road between Cleveland Avenue and Karl Road. The owners are extremely friendly, and they took the time to explain to me what dishes on the menu were vegetarian-safe.

The kitchen crew is multinational, representing three countries in West Africa. Each nationality brings native dishes to the menu, although the cuisine of Ghana is the most prevalent choice. There are also dishes from elsewhere on the African continent, including Senegal, Kenya and Ethiopia.

The majority of the menu is dishes made with beef, chicken, goat or fish. However, they are planning on adding a vegetarian sandwich to the menu in the near future.

I started with an order of vitumbua, a Kenyan/Tanzanian bread that makes your mouth water with its soft, savory mix of flavor. Vitumbua is a rice bread made with coconut and cardamom. Imagine a less flaky biscuit that melts in your mouth and you can just about picture the satisfying flavor of the steaming baked good.

Ghana's signature vegetarian dish is called red red. Red red is black eyed peas pan fried in palm oil with onions, tomatoes and a liberal dose of spices. Some places will prepare red red with seafood or a food additive called maggi, which is an African version of bouillon. However, Drelyse prepares its red red vegetarian.

Traditionally, red red is made with a side of plantains. The plantains were perfectly fried. They were not greasy at all. The sweet and starchy fruit was a perfect complement to the Indian-esque main course. Both were delightful.

Drelyse also offers a limited selection of traditional African beverages like non-alcoholic palm wine and malt beverages. Much of the clientele spoke languages I am unable to identify (and as we all know, patronage by residents of the homeland is a great indicator of restaurant quality).

The combination of great food, friendly service and vegetarian options makes Drelyse a great option if you're in the area. Yesterday was my first experience with some of these dishes, but it definitely won't be my last.


Drelyse African & Amer on Urbanspoon

10 November 2009

Easy Street Cafe

Easy Street Cafe is a diner/bar located in German Village on Thurman Avenue. Easy Street prepares breakfast lunch and dinner that is rooted in American and Greek traditions.

Easy Street is decorated with standard neighborhood restaurant imagery that invokes memories of a bygone era. The crowd can go from sparse to busy depending on the hour in which you arrive.

The combination of Greek food with American diner fare is less strange than it seems at first because the pairing is rooted in American history. Many Greek immigrants achieved the American dream by working in and owning American diners, all the while maintaining the cultural practices of their Hellenic homeland. This link is evident at Easy Street.

The Greek classics like saganaki, gyros and spanakopita are available from Easy Street, as are standard diner items like omelettes, sandwiches and pizza. Pizzas are half-priced on Monday nights.

I started with the Greek quesadilla. This dish wrapped classic Greek ingredients like feta and kasseri cheese, kalamata olives, spinach, tomatoes and red onions in an equally famous Mexican package. It comes with tzatziki dip, and the flavors are savory, fresh and delicious.

My main dish was the veggie gyro. Kalamata olives, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and tzatziki sauce are stuffed into a thick, warm pita bread. It is served with a side of potato chips. I added the optional hummus filling to the sandwich for an extra dollar, and it gives the gyro a great peppery note.

Other vegetarian items on the menu include a Mediterranean pizza, grilled cheese, and a mixed Mediterranean platter.

The bar has a nice selection of beer and liquor with a limited complement of wines. I am particularly fond of the seasonal Great Lakes tap, which at this time is the beguiling Nosferatu.

Easy Street Cafe

Easy Street Cafe on Urbanspoon

07 November 2009

Rad Dog-South review

I made it to Hal and Al's for the grand opening of Rad Dog's storefront. If you like the vegan hot dog cart, you'll probably find something you love at Rad Dog's latest incarnation.

I covered a few of the things I tried during the soft opening here. I sampled a few of the other wares last night, and I was more than happy with the results.

The vegan macaroni and cheese is augmented with slices of veggie sausage. The flavor is rich enough to make you forget that the dish is meat- and dairy-free.

Additional side dishes at Rad Dog include hand cut fries, fried pickles, fried mushrooms and chili. A hot dog with a side dish makes for a filling meal. Two hot dogs and a side dish would be a ton of food.

So far, I can attest that the Radneck (a battered brat topped with mashed potatoes and gravy), the Polish Roadblock (a hand-battered corndog), the Sloppy Joe dog, the Rad Dog (kraut, peppers, onions and mustard), the Cowabunga (a coney) and the Bi Bim Bop (fried dog with pickled veggies and Korean hot sauce) are delicious. The pickled veggies and hot sauce combine for an interesting if non-traditional tube steak topping on the dog named after the Korean staple.

Other great looking dogs include the Frenchie, which is topped with French fries, ketchup and veganaise.

Rad Dog also features Pattycake Vegan Bakery cookies for dessert. During the Friday grand opening, Pattycake proprietor Jennie Scheinbach was walking around passing out bite-sized vegan peanut butter chocolate cupcakes.

The other benefit of putting Rad Dog in a bar is that now you can have an adult beverage or five with your meal. Hal and Al's has about six draft beers that include Great Lakes Nosferatu. They also have some great things in bottles, including Rogue beers, Chimay, Goose Island Honkers Ale and Abita Turbodog, as well as plenty of cheap beer in cans.

Rad Dog Hal & Als

Rad Dog on Urbanspoon

06 November 2009

Rad Dog sneak peak

Last night, I went to Hal and Al's, my go-to neighborhood bar, to watch the new episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I was treated to a sneak peak of the new indoor Rad Dog menu in the meantime as an unexpected surprise.

I reviewed Rad Dog before, and I've posted about the vegan hot dog cart about 12,000 times on this blog. With the glut of new hot dog establishments popping up in and around the Capital City, Rad Dog stands out by offering fare that is comforting and completely vegan.

The old standards are still available. The Rad Dog (peppers, onions and kraut), the Cowabunga (vegan coney) and Luna Burger (an Ohio veggie burger) are still on the menu.

However, there are also new delicious creations made to satiate that which makes you salivate. The coolest one is the Rad-neck, a deep-fried, battered veggie brat topped with mashed potatoes and vegan gravy. It is a hugely satisfying combination of seasonal flavors.

I also don't remember the house-made corn dog at the Rad Dog cart, although it has been a few months since I last ate at the street cart location. The breading is thick and crispy, and it is delightful. The corn dog looks small, but the batter is coated so thickly, it is actually very filling.

The sloppy joe dog was also very good. Imagine a coney topped with vegan sloppy joe rather than chili, and you're basically there. It was a great combination of two comfort food staples.

There are also side dishes available, including vegan mac and cheese. I'll be swinging in with my better camera to test out more of the menu tonight during the grand opening.

04 November 2009

Louie's Grill

If Columbus-area foodies know one restaurant in Hilliard, that restaurant would be Starliner Diner. Some former employees of the celebrated Pan Latin eatery opened a new fusion spot (Louie's Grill) further down Cemetery Road that very well may have put another Hilliard eatery on the map.

The menu at Louie's Grill has a similar approach to the aforementioned Starliner Diner. There are American, Italian, Cuban and Mexican dishes on the menu. Although the menu has a few vegetarian items on it, Louie's is less vegetarian friendly than Starliner Diner.

Luckily enough, the vegetarian items on the menu are delicious. I absolutely adore plantains, and the fried plantains with a creamy red salsa dip were delightful. The soft, sweet fruit has its flavors augmented by the bright and mildly seasoned dip. The plantains are available both as an appetizer and a side dish.

The vegetable burrito contains a wider array of veggies than conventional burritos found at other establishments. The large flour tortilla is exploding with peppers, onions, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, corn and beans. It is topped with a traditional red sauce and cheese, and it is served with a side dish of black beans and rice. The fresh pico de gallo is fantastic, adding cilantro and spice to what is already a flavor explosion.

The atmosphere at Louie's is far more restrained and tasteful than the kitsch factory that is Starliner Diner. Service is prompt, attentive and friendly.

I didn't get a chance to try the margaritas, but I've heard that Louie's margaritas and mixed drinks are delicious. The bar also features draft and bottled beer as well as a limited selection of wine.

Although the menu contains less vegetarian options than Hilliard's original fusion restaurant, Louie's still offers quality vegetarian food for a reasonable price.

Louie's Grill

Louie's Grill on Urbanspoon