30 December 2011

Fresh 50

Fresh 50 is a new fast-casual Asian spot Downtown in the the recently vacated Spinelli's Deli location. It offers build-your-own rice and noodle dishes as well as salads and wraps with a variety of sauces and dressings.

The interior of Fresh 50 is mostly unchanged from the layout at Spinelli's. Orders take less than 10 minutes to prepare.

Vegetarian dishes are essentially veggie stir fries with the exception of the salad and sandwich. It might be nice to offer a vegetarian protein like tofu, which would pair nicely with Asian sauces.

The choice of vegetables includes traditional salad and sandwich standards, as well as cooked zucchini and squash or broccoli and mushrooms. Sauces include a sweet soy, teriyaki and salad dressings like ranch and Asian balsamic vinaigrette.

Portions are fairly priced. Everything is less than $7. Sauces can be applied individually or combined to make interesting hybrids.

The concept of fast-casual Asian for lunch is strong. Additional tweaks to service combined with a vegetarian protein source would give Fresh 50 some staying power.

Fresh 50 on Urbanspoon

20 December 2011

Hot Pita!

Hot Pita! Mediterranean Street Food is a food truck that whips up fresh Middle Eastern fare. The menu proudly announces that they use no frozen ingredients, and fans of falafel and hummus will find something to like from this vendor.

Like other mobile food operations, Hot Pita is easy to track on Facebook, Twitter and mobile apps like Hungerly. I caught Hot Pita at the Holiday Fair at Columbus Commons this past weekend.

The rolled falafel sandwich puts small falafel disks into a warm pita with chopped romaine, tomato, house made pickles and tahini. I develop a favorite Columbus falafel crush on a regular basis, and this is a great candidate to claim this prestigious mantle created in my mind.

The hummus from Hot Pita comes in three flavors: traditional, roasted red pepper and jalepeño. It is served with a choice of pita triangles or pita chips. The jalepeño hummus had just enough punch to make the spiciness linger. Portions are big enough to share.

The lentil soup with lemon is also vegetarian.

The photos of Hot Pita catering looked delicious. This is definitely an operation worth keeping on the vegetarian radar.

Hot Pita! Mediterranean Street Food on Urbanspoon

Chocolaterie Stam

Chocolaterie Stam is the new sweet stop in Uptown Westerville. It is one of three domestic locations for the Dutch chocolatier.

In addition to truffles and assorted candies, Stam also makes gelato. Flavors included chocolate, chocolate hazelnut, blackberry, raspberry, eggnog and peppermint. Flavors rotate with the season. Candies, syrups and fruit are hand stirred into the dense dessert.

The chocolate hazelnut gelato, called Donatella, was delightful. It was tan rather than the customary brown color of most chocolate ice cream. Ribbons of hazelnut add a rich layers of flavor to an Italian classic.

The milk chocolate at Stam is sweet and creamy. The dark chocolate has subtle roasted bitterness that marries nicely with nuts.

Stam also makes sugar free chocolate bars and candies, including toffee.

Although there is already a Graeter's in Uptown Westerville and Schneider's, the 24-hour donut shop, Chocolaterie Stam's candies gives greater variety for Westerville residents with a sweet tooth.

Chocolaterie Stam Westerville on Urbanspoon

13 December 2011


Zoup is a Downtown lunch spot for soups, salads and sandwiches. The chain has about 50 locations in the Midwest, the East and Colorado, and it has a variety of vegan and vegetarian soups that rotate regularly.

Customers can sample soup at the right end of the counter, and they order to the left of the sample station. The setup for the Downtown storefront is confusing for all but the regular customers.

The soups have a reconstituted character. Most have as much depth as Progresso. Vegan and vegetarian options are clearly marked.

The broccoli and cheese soup was milky nacho cheese with flaccid, lifeless broccoli florets drowning in its essence. The macaroni and cheese soup has a similar base with gummy elbow macaroni replacing the broccoli.

The vegan chili is made with kidney beans and textured soy protein. It was remarkably average chili.

The Cali Veg sandwich comes on a multigrain flatbread wrap stuffed with cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, provolone cheese, guacamole and tzatziki. It is essentially a salad in a tortilla.

The Greek salad was traditional with the exception of the balsamic dressing.

Combo orders are served with bread. The portions are adequate, but upsizing the soup is a good idea considering the portion size and price.

Although Zoup provides choices for vegetarians, the cookie cutter soups and middling fare are not worth the effort.

Zoup! Fresh Soup Company on Urbanspoon

05 December 2011


Hopleaf has been a world class beer bar in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago for years. Around 2004, Hopleaf expanded and opened a kitchen featuring Belgian bistro fare.

The gastropub specializes in Belgian classics like frites, which allows the dishes to be paired with Hopleaf's stock of Belgian brews. The dinner menu is surprisingly vegetarian friendly.

The frites are served in an ample portion with a side of aioli. The fries are well seasoned, and would be a great accompaniment to beer if served hot. The frites came out cold because of the busy kitchen and a lack of communication with the service staff.

The roasted cauliflower was prepared with glazed baby carrots, turmeric butter, golden raisin walnut sage pesto and a currant gastric. The cauliflower had layers of smoky flavor, and the pesto was a delightful combination of herbal accents contrasted by bright dried fruit.

The staff capably addressed vegetarian dining concerns. Overall, Hopleaf is a great place to sample a wide variety of great beers, and the kitchen adds another reason to check Andersonville's most happening watering hole.

Hopleaf on Urbanspoon

16 November 2011

Food Cart wrap

Since it's getting cold outside, it's about time for me to clear the cache of the rest of the food trucks. Hopefully you can find them again when it warms up again.

After the food truck festival at Columbus Commons, I wrote about the Pickled Swine. The Pickled Swine is a deli truck. They didn't have many vegetarian items on their menu at the fest. However, after a recent visit, I discovered that the Pickled Swine has a veggie wrap and a couple of vegetarian sides on the menu.

On my first visit to the Pickled Swine, I was drawn to the house made popsicles. Flavors include sweet corn lemon and basil, cucumber lime and mint, black cherry and goat cheese, and dark chocolate mint and habanero.

The veggie sandwich is called the Oregonian. It is a cold salad wrap with lettuce and an assortment of veggies including spinach, peppers and mushrooms in a mustard dressing wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla.

The bowtie pasta salad is tossed with asiago cheese, pesto, roasted pine nuts, red and yellow peppers and pesto. It had a fresh flavor, and the color was so bright that it exploded.

My initial preconception that Pickled Swine was vegetarian unfriendly is unfounded. It's a fun truck that is worth checking out.

The Pickled Swine on Urbanspoon

Nick's Pizza is a cart that appears around Columbus and Westerville. The pizza is stone baked and is akin to New York style pie.

The meatless slice at Nick's is the four cheese. It has a soft crust with a crunchy exterior. The cheese was nicely browned, and the sauce is bright and sweet.

Overall, the pizza at Nick's is solid. I have a preference for the pizza at Mikey's Late Night Slice, but Nick's Pizza would be worth a stop if it's in your area.

09 November 2011


Grahamwich is the fast casual sandwich outpost by Graham Elliot Bowles.

Bowles is a high profile chef who ran the four star Peninsula hotel kitchen after stints at Tru and Charlie Trotter's. Many know him from his appearances on Top Chef: Masters and MasterChef, and the young chef harvested plenty of indie credibility in his role as the culinary ambassador at Lollapalooza.

Bowles brings his whimsical style to the Downtown deli. There are house made sodas and house pickled veggies, putting a handcrafted spin on items typically taken for granted.

The main attraction at Grahamwich is sandwiches, of course, but there are fun starters as well. The truffle popcorn migrates over from Bowles' namesake Graham Elliot. It is a rich explosion of black pepper, chives, butter and parmesan cheese buttressed by layers of delightful truffle oil flavor. A large order goes a long way; it could serve three people.

There is always one vegetarian sandwich on the menu. The Mediterranean veggie was made with roasted eggplant and squash, spinach, carrots, tomatoes and onions. The eggplant was spicy and perfectly textured. The focaccia bread added a nice textural contrast to the sandwich.

Grahamwich is reasonably priced for the quality, similar to a neighborhood deli. The decor is fun like its proprietor and his interactive website.

Grahamwich on Urbanspoon

06 November 2011

Dragonfly changes

The crew at Dragonfly announced at a Columbus Vegan Meetup gathering that they will close the University District vegan restaurant at the conclusion of a January 1 brunch. It will reopen as Till Dynamic Fare after it is remodeled. The new restaurant will not be exclusively vegan or vegetarian, but it will feature vegan and vegetarian items. Plans are also to open a pastry shop called Glaze in the old On the Fly space after the main restaurant is reopened.

Dragonfly has been an interesting part of Columbus' dining scene for a number of years. Both Dragonfly and its casual storefront On the Fly have been featured in this blog. It was often recognized as a top restaurant in the city by local and national publications alike. Although its vegan pedigree and commitment were sometimes questioned, the quality of the food was never in doubt.

See more information about what was revealed to Meetup members here.

03 November 2011

Explorers Club

The Explorers Club opened last weekend in the old Coyote Jane's spot on High Street in Merion Village. Explorers Club is a diner with an international flair, akin to the Starliner Diner in Hilliard.

The bar retained much the same layout as Coyote Jane's with a more subtle decor. The dining room is decorated with exotic figurines and portraits of icons like Thelonious Monk, Harvey Milk and Woody Guthrie. It makes great use of the space.

The menu at the Explorers Club has a ton of options for vegetarians. It is open seven days a week.

I'm not much of a breakfast person, but the Cuban bread French toast with fruit makes me want to become a breakfast person. Bite-sized pieces of battered bread are dusted with powdered sugar and an avalanche of fruit that included strawberries, blueberries, bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew and pineapple.

The yogurt and fruit is delicious and filling. It contains many of the same fruits as the Cuban toast.

The grilled cheese sandwich is prepared on a sandwich roll with five different cheeses. There is a sharp blue cheese in the sandwich that gives the sandwich a deeply savory character. Some people dislike blue cheese, and the menu would better serve these diners by identifying the five cheeses on the sandwich. The fries were perfect on one visit, and tasty but slightly greasy on a second visit.

The grilled tofu is marinated in lemon and pepper. The tofu is intense, picking up smoky notes from the grill as well as classic lemon black pepper. The sides of rice, black beans and veggies that include squash, corn, onions, peppers and carrots pair nicely with the main dish.

The chile relleno has a thin breading that is slightly crunchy. The creamy cheese filling and the chipotle sauce it is served in have layers of flavor.

The plantains were perfect. The yogurt dip cools the steaming fruit nicely. The dip is good enough to eat on its own, although ordering scores of plantains would easily put a big smile on anyone's face while using up the cool cilantro dip.

The pecan fruit dough dessert special was a savory dough drowned in sweet berries and pecans. The dessert could have used more pecans as it was called a pecan dough. It was nonetheless satisfying.

House margaritas in a pint glass are a great deal at $5. The cucumber margarita is the margarita of the month. It is spicy, citrusy and undeniably vegetal in the most pleasant way.

Service at Explorers Club was exceptional. The staff capably addresses vegan and vegetarian dining concerns.

Explorers Club on Urbanspoon

01 November 2011

Cafe Spiaggia

Cafe Spiaggia is the less formal of superstar chef Tony Mantuano's two Michigan Avenue restaurants. The casual cafe doesn't pack the firepower of its four-star sibling Spiaggia, yet still creates beautifully crafted Italian masterpieces that absolutely explode with authenticity.

Mantuano is decorated with James Beard awards. He is recognized for as a contestant for season 2 of Top Chef: Masters on Bravo, and he has written a shelf full of cookbooks. President Barrack Obama ate his victory dinner across the hall at Spiaggia. Democrats and Republicans agree that the man can cook.

There are always a couple of menu options at Cafe Spiaggia for vegetarians. Some items need to be altered for vegetarian diners. Since it's an Italian restaurant, many of the dishes contain cheese.

The combo starter is served with romano and black pepper potato chips, olives and a selection of roasted nuts. The chips a thin with a great crunch. The olives picked up flavors of the fennel and orange zest in which they were marinated. This appetizer is a great one to share.

I dined early enough in the season to get a Caprese salad. The tomatoes and basil were from a small regional farm while the olive oil was a Spiaggia brand house oil. It was flawless in its simplicity.

The beet salad had fried ham on the menu, but it can be prepared without it. Sweet red beets and apples were laid on a bed of crumbled quartirolo cheese and olive oil. The sweetness was perfectly contrasted by the bright acidity in the cheese.

The bucatini (a thick spaghetti with a hole in the middle) is topped with crispy kale chips, and dressed with citrus, walnuts and romano. It has a great range of flavor and texture that is delightful.

The house made gelatos are rich and intense. The gianduja was a great combination of chocolate and hazelnut.

The cavernous wine reserves of Spiaggia are also available in its Cafe. The cocktail made with house made limoncello looked interesting. The bar has a limited selection of drafts from Goose Island and select other breweries.

Service at Cafe Spiaggia was gracious. Vegetarian requests were properly addressed.

Cafe Spiaggia on Urbanspoon

28 October 2011


Bistronomic is Chef Martial Noguier's foray into bistronomy. The One Sixtyblue and Pump Room alum whips up flavorful fare at reasonable rates in a stylish setting.

French food is notoriously vegetarian unfriendly. Bistronomic's menu does not have a ton of options for vegetarians. However, the kitchen was more than accommodating when given advance notice of dietary restrictions.

The menu is tailor made for turophiles with cheese flights and warm cheese plates. The flights are split into local (less than 300 miles away from Wisconsin and Indiana dairies) and more-than-300-mile selections.

Diners order small, medium and large plates, an experience that is akin to a tapas bistro. Sharing orders allows you to try a variety of different dishes.

Bistronomic features a grilled cheese sandwich du jour. The Bohemian Blue grilled cheese was made with a Roquefort-style sheep milk blue cheese from Wisconsin, a brighly sharp yet refreshingly clean blue cheese with an intensely rich finish that lingered on the palate. It was not a traditional grilled cheese, but it was truly an elevated take on a humble classic.

The kitchen was also able to prepare a vegetarian version of the parmesan tarragon gnocchi. The pillowy pasta picked up the fresh flavor of the green herbs and the delicate umami of the cheese.

The truffle soup was a revelation of nuanced flavor. It builds mushroom aromas from a creamy base. The flavor never stops. This would be delightful in cold weather (hint hint).

Desserts are also fantastic at Bistronomic. The chocolate and hazelnut mousse candy bars were crispy yet melted in your mouth. It is like a Nutella candy bar with a crispy praline layer served in a subtle orange sauce.

The wine list is heavy on selections from the classic French appellations with some cool options by-the-glass. Service is capable and attentive without being intrusive.

Even though the menu is light on vegetarian options, the talent on display at the restaurant is an excellent experience for vegetarian diners. Noguier is a talent producing great food at a fair price, a hallmark of bistronomy that shines through at his aptly named Bistronomic.

Bistronomic on Urbanspoon

26 October 2011

3 Sisters Cafe

The 3 Sisters Cafe is an Indianapolis staple. Located in a converted home in the Broad Ripple neighborhood, 3 Sisters is an internationally themed diner with tons of choices for vegetarian diners.

The restaurant decor feels like what you would expect to see at your cool hippie aunt's house. It has a comortable vibe, and service is exceptionally friendly and capable.

The place isn't just popular in Indianapolis. It carries the Guy Fieri seal of approval as it was featured as on the Food Network program Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

The menu features breakfast fare, diner items and Mediterranean dishes. All vegetarian and vegan items are marked.

There are a variety of vegetarian starters at 3 Sisters. The Fab Five Pu Pu platter allows diners to sample different items without committing to only one choice (warning: this dish is best shared by a few diners as it is generously portioned).

The platter comes with hummus, creamy gorgonzola spread, tomato concasse, pesto and cranberry-grain pilaf. It is served with pita and toasted bread as well as feta, kalamata olives and lemon wedges.Although each dish is delicious on its own, many of the items also combine into tasty hybrid dips that pick up the best flavors from each individual part.

There are many meatless sandwiches on the menu at 3 Sisters, including house-made veggie burgers, grilled cheese and pita wraps. Sandwiches are served with soup, potato salad, fruit salad or a house salad.

The King of Siam is a different take on the classic Mediterranean veggie pita. Soft, thick pita bread is stuffed with hummus, spinach, lentil pilaf, pickles, lettuce, tomato, onion and kalamata olives. It is brightly colored and very filling.

The dessert case at 3 Sisters is stocked full of fresh baked pastries, pies and cakes. It can sometimes be tough to save room for dessert since the portions here are so huge.

3 Sisters Cafe on Urbanspoon

18 October 2011

Broad Ripple Brewpub

The Broad Ripple Brewpub is located in Indianapolis' artsy Broad Ripple neighborhood. In addition to brew pub-original beers crafted by Yorkshire transplant John Hill, Broad Ripple Brewpub has a variety of vegetarian and vegan dining options.

On the way to Chicago, I ate in Indianapolis a couple of times. The Broad Ripple neighborhood was instantly attractive to me. It is most comparable to Columbus' Short North and Clintonville. Like these two neighborhoods, Broad Ripple is very vegetarian friendly. The artistic bent of the Short North is seen in Broad Ripple's galleries, upscale retailers and craft shops. Its design is similar to Clintonville, a city neighborhood with a vaguely suburban feel.

Broad Ripple Brewpub fits right into its neighborhood. The dining rooms are wood-accented with dark lighting. There is a large patio in front of the restaurant.

The menu at BRB is heavily adorned with V's, which denote vegetarian dining options. Orders can be prepared vegan upon request.

There is a pub grub penchant from a kitchen that has a heavily British flair. The menu offers sandwiches, pizzas and deep fried everything.

The fried veggie basket is a collection of potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets and carrots. While the veggies are flavorful, the batter is fried to a dark color that masks the identity of the vegetables until their identity is revealed by biting them. The ranch dip gives the beets a bright, fresh taste.

The onion and potato pasty is a flaky delight. A cheese sauce is incorporated with sauteed onions and soft potato cubes. It was served with a side of steamed veggies and circle cut roasted potatoes.

The mushroom veggie burger was soft and loaded with 'shroom flavor. It is served with a choice of side dishes. Interestingly, this is one of two veggie burgers on the menu.

Seasonal desserts included popsicles in flavors like mixed fruit, ginger and black cherry. Specials at the Broad Ripple Brewpub that change regularly.

Broad Ripple Brew Pub on Urbanspoon

17 October 2011


Fans of fresh cut fries should flock to Tatoheads, my new favorite Columbus food cart.

The concept is simple: order potato or sweet potato fries, add seasoning to them and choose a house-made condiment. There is also a limited smattering of lunch items and fully-dressed fries (e.g. veggie chili cheese fries) that rotate on a regular basis.

Seasoning options include Chicago deep dish pizza, onion dill ranch, za'atar, cajun, herbs de Provence and parmesan peppercorn. Sauces include the original sauce, truffle aioli, curry aioli and red pepper cilantro ketchup.

The curry spice and curry aioli create a spicy explosion of rich flavors. The cilantro ketchup is bright and fresh. The original sauce is a mildly spicy ranch dip. All fries are made with Himalayan sea salt.

The veggie chili cheese fries are a meal in themselves. The chili has pinto and kidney beans, corn, tomatoes and cilantro. It must be eaten with a fork.

As a vegetarian, I find it easiest to treat Tatoheads as a side dish combined with a main component from another truck or restaurant.

Tatoheads is a fixture at the Pearl Alley market. Regular Facebook and Twitter updates plus food cart apps and Foursquare make Tatoheads as easy to find in the physical world as it is in the social network.

Tatohead's Food Truck on Urbanspoon

17 September 2011


My computer has given up the ghost. I'll be posting again when I get the new computer next week. All apologies for the delay.

01 September 2011

Columbus Food Adventures/Solay Bistro dinner

Columbus Food Adventures and Solay Bistro are hosting a benefit for Horn of Africa famine relief. Tickets can be purchased for the dinner, which is held Sept. 7 and 14. The meal will have vegetarian options. This is a deliciously charitable opportunity to acquaint yourself with the Somali community.

31 August 2011

Columbus Food Truck and Cart Fest

Few culinary trends have exploded upon the dining scene over the last few years like food trucks. Despite the fact that mobile food vendors have been around for centuries longer than restaurants, only in the last few years has the trend evolved from cheap comfort food meant to nourish the working class to haute cuisine.

Columbus has been part of the food truck movement along with the rest of the country. On Aug. 26, a cadre of carts joined forces in the newly minted Columbus Commons to launch the Columbus Food Truck and Cart Fest.

Fans of some of Columbus' more popular mobile vendors found many of their favorites. Mikey's Late Night Slice, Rad Dog, Junior's Tacos, the Cheesy Truck and Mojo Tago were some of the bigger names in Columbus' food cart scene that appeared at the festival.

Many of Columbus' new carts and out-of-town operations also came, introducing some diners to the wide variety of fare that comes from kitchens on wheels.

One of the biggest names from out of town was Cleveland's Hodge Podge, a participant on the second season of the Food Network program The Great Food Truck Race. Hodge Podge proprietor Chris Hodgson's menu is meat-centric. Although there is a kimchi mac and cheese on the normal menu, the Columbus Food Truck and Cart menu lacked options for vegetarians.

I had never seen some of Columbus' new food trucks, and the fest brought them out in spades.

Earth's Crust Pizza/Krazy Monkey Juice Bar, a mainstay of the Global Gallery coffee house in Clintonville, debuted their new food truck. Earth's Crust has operated a cart at festivals around Central Ohio previously, but now they have a converted postal truck adorned with Rastafarian art and graffiti.

The pizza from Earth's Crust is excellent. The crust is prepared with Amish grain that the owner grinds into flour herself. The Dariya vegan cheese melts perfectly. The Spicy Jack pizza was made with pepperjack, roasted hot wax peppers, sweet corn and spicy marinara.

The Pickled Swine is a new Columbus food truck. Although their main dishes were a vegetarian wasteland, the most interesting-looking item on the menu, the gourmet popsicles in flavors like cucumber lime mint, Ohio sweet corn and basil, and black cherry goat cheese were tailor-made for a warm night like the evening of the fest.

The popsicles lacked intensity and sweetness, particularly the sweet corn and basil, which was a borderline savory exercise in confusion. It's a great idea for dessert, and hopefully further experimentation will allow for the flavor to be improved.

Kolache Republic operates at farmers' markets in Clintonville and Canal Winchester. They make kolache, a soft doughy Czech pastry with a variety of fillings. Kolache at Kolache Republic are the size of a doughnut, and come in flavors like sweet cheese (which was delightful) and raspberry.

Overall, the fest was fun. Many of the carts ran out of product, and lines also got long as the night progressed. Despite its shortcomings, the fest illustrated the popularity of mobile food in Columbus in addition to the fun food from kitchens on four wheels.

24 August 2011

Capitol Cafe by Milo's

Capitol Cafe is the restaurant inside the Ohio Statehouse. It is run by the folks from Franklinton's Milo's Deli.

Much like Milo's, Capitol Cafe specializes in sandwiches, salads and deli sides. Orders can be enjoyed inside the Statehouse as well as in the form of a take-out order.

The vegetarian sandwiches are a veggie panini and a cold tomato mozzarella pesto sandwich. Those who don't eat eggs should note that Capitol Cafe's salads are prepared with hard boiled eggs, which can be held on request.

The veggie panini is made with multicolored peppers, onions, mushrooms and cheese. The soft white bread showed nice press marks. This is a solid sandwich.

The salads are huge. The Greek salad was piled with Feta cheese and black olives. The giant bowls, while aesthetically pleasing, sat clumsily on the table.

There are televisions tuned to television news at the Capitol Cafe, befitting its political setting. There is a surprisingly large amount of seating in a space that looks small on initial examination.

Capitol Cafe by Milo's on Urbanspoon

17 August 2011

Short North Bagel Deli

Short North Bagel Deli is a food cart that whips up steamed bagel sandwiches in the Short North and other Columbus confines. Fans of Columbus' defunct Beekman's Bagels and the Athens mainstay Bagel Street Deli will find plenty to like at the similarly styled Short North Bagel Deli.

I wrote briefly about Short North Bagel Deli in my post about Hills Market's Foodie Fest. However, Jeremy Fox turns out enough vegetarian sandwiches at his food cart to make it worth an individual mention.

SNBD has a local ingredient connection as it features Block's Bagels. Sandwiches come with a choice of plain, wheat, sesame seed, poppy seed and everything bagels.

There are six vegetarian bagel sandwiches at SNBD in addition to the build-your-own option. Sandwiches can also be prepared on a sub roll. Buttered bagels and cream cheese bagels cost less than $2.

The Ronald Vegan (which isn't vegan) has provolone and colby cheese, cucumber, tomato, onion, mushroom, pepper and sprouts. It tastes great with a more flavorful bagel like the wheat or everything bagels.

The PETA Griffin is prepared with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and sprouts along with veggie cream cheese. The cream cheese adds a nice savory flavor to the warm veggies.

The names of the sandwiches are typically Columbus-themed or hilarious for some other reason. In addition to the Golden Bear, a veggie bagel sandwich named after Jack Nicklaus, other sandwiches are named after Doors, Jimi Hendrix and Grateful Dead songs, the Arnold Classic, Gallery Hop, Red, White & Boom, the Buckeyes and the Blue Jackets.

The Short North Bagel Truck updates their location on active Twitter and Facebook accounts. SNBD collaborates frequently with other food trucks like Mojo Tago and Leslie's Creperie.

Short North Bagel Deli on Urbanspoon

10 August 2011

Element Pizza

Element Pizza is the latest pizzeria to open in Columbus. Housed in the old Plugged Nickel location, Element Pizza and Bar specializes in gourmet pizza and sandwiches.

The menu at Element also features salads and starters. Element will prepare off-the-menu vegan and vegetarian pizzas upon request. There is limited seating in addition to a room configuration that makes carry-out a simple proposition.

The eggplant fries are served with a garlic aioli. The chips at my last visit seemed to have been fried in not-quite-hot-enough oil that left the eggplant greasy. The flavor was pleasant, and probably would shine if the thinly sliced vegetable was fried to a better consistency.

The goat cheese and arugula salad had a bright flavor that shined. It was a fair portion for the price.

The apple and onion pizza contrasted the sweet flavor of Granny Smith apples and sauteed onions with the savory element of mozzarella and parmesan cheese. The crust is soft with subtle roasted noted that make the pizza surprisingly filling.

The cremini mushroom pizza was tasty, although the garlic was applied with too free of a hand. The tomato sauce had a tangy flavor that rescued the pie from oblivion.

The roasted red pepper sandwich was fantastic. It combined mushrooms and red peppers in a crustless Italian bread panini with a coarsely ground hot mustard. It's a great sandwich for $6.

Service is quick at Element Pizza. It will be interesting to see how a pizza shop of this caliber fares in the middle ground between the the center of Downtown and the Arena District.

Element Pizza Bar on Urbanspoon

T Murray's Bar and Kitchen

T. Murray's is a stylized gastropub in the Brewery District. While the atmosphere and service are pleasant, the lack of vegetarian dining options on the menus makes T Murray's a tough sell for meatless diners.

The restaurant is located north of the High Beck Tavern, and former Lindey's bartender Tony Murray is one of the people running the restaurant that bares his moniker. Behind the bar, Murray offers classic cocktails and a standard selection of draught beer.

There is typically one vegetarian sandwich on the lunch menu. The roasted eggplant and mozzarella sandwich was topped with arugula and a mayo, served with a side of peppery shoestring fries and cost $7. This is a great lunchtime value for courthouse employees.

There is a very limited selection of meatless items on the dinner menu. The kitchen will prepare vegetarian and vegan entrees upon request.

T Murray's Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

03 August 2011

Foodie Fest at the Hills Market

Foodie Fest at the Hills Market was a fun event at the North Side market featuring activities for children and a confederacy of food carts. While the bands and the spelling bee were geared towards small children, restaurants on wheels are a pitch right down the middle for a fully grown child like myself.

Food carts and restaurants in attendance included Junior's Tacos, Local Munch Box, Short North Bagel Deli, Leslie's Creperie, the Jeni's Truck, Cheesy Truck and Pattycake Bakery. Participants bought tickets which were traded for food at stations set up in the parking lot of the Hills Market.

This event was a great opportunity to sample a variety of food carts in one location. While I consider myself a connoisseur of food carts, this was a great chance for me to sample some new places that I have yet to stumble upon in a street setting.

Junior's Tacos is typically located in Victorian Village. They offer Mexican standards, which include vegetarian burritos, tacos and quesadillas. All three include griddled onions, mushrooms, peppers alongside cold lettuce and radishes with chunks of cilantro. There is a salsa verde and a red sauce that add flavor to any of the above Mexican classics.

The Local Munch Box is a new operation with delightful design. Munch Box specializes in sandwiches, flatbread pizzas and salads. This truck can often be found in the Columbus Commons during the week. The flatbread pizza had an Asiago mousse spread atop it. It held mushrooms, summer squash, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and arugula.

Short North Bagel Deli is a new cart that sets up all over the city, including the Short North and Downtown. They steam Block's Bagels and make a variety of cool sandwiches with clever names.

Leslie's Creperie is a crepe cart that actually sets up on the Hills Market's patio on select days during the warm season. Leslie's prepares sweet and savory crepes on the griddle. The spinach and Feta crepe had earthy flavor that was elevated by the acidity of the cheese.

I've previously written about Jeni's, the Cheesy Truck and Pattycake Bakery. All three are excellent operations worth tracking down. Cheesy Truck makes grilled cheese out of local ingredients. Pattycake is a vegan bakery and Jeni's is Columbus' most famous ice cream auteur. Jeni's blackberry sweet corn ice cream is a delightful taste of summer. Pattycake's peanut butter chocolate moon pie is a taste of country exuberance prepared in a completely vegan manner. Cheesy Truck makes great grilled cheese with all sorts of accompaniments, like the house made tater tots.

Foodie Fest was a great event for all ages. Although the weather was sweltering, the area's culinary artisans stepped up to the plate and delivered a memorable experience in the shadow of one of the city's best markets.

Junior's Tacos on Urbanspoon
Leslie's Creperie on Urbanspoon
The Cheesy Truck on Urbanspoon

29 July 2011

Dog of the Dead

I post incessantly about the Rad Dog cart. I don't eat here as often as I did when they were Downtown five days a week and also stationed at a bar in my neighborhood. Nonetheless, I have eaten Rad Dog more times than I can quantify.

Earlier this summer, though, I sampled the Dog of the Dead, a monstrosity so destructively delicious that I had to try and photograph it in its native habitat (which I did for lunch today). It is a worthwhile addition to the compendium.

A giant Bretzel pretzel hot dog bun is stuffed with a butterflied Tofurkey Italian sausage that is drowned in textured vegetable protein Sloppy Joe, Vegenaise and shredded Dariya cheese. It is a delightful mess that is well worth wearing.

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21 July 2011

Harvest Pizzeria

Harvest Pizzeria opened last week in German Village. The wood-burning oven turns out great pies topped with high quality ingredients accompanied by small plates and exciting cocktails.

The pizza ingredients are locally sourced when possible. Vegetables come from a Canal Winchester farm in the summer. The hickory and apple wood-fired oven cooks the crust to a perfect well done consistency.

Small plates include lavender honey and ricotta crostini and a seasoned olive plate. It is also possible to exclude meat from the meat-and-cheese plate.

The ricotta spread is flecked with orange zest and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. It has a great range of sweet and sour flavors. The bread adds a toasty element to the dish. The crostini were served with two slices of toasted bread the second time I ordered it, and the first order came with four. Four crostini work much better than two to enjoy the delicious ricotta spread.

The olives picked up the sage in which they were served. The cerignolo olives were mild and firm. The castelvetrano olives were soft and fruity. The giaraffa olives had a beautiful purple-red color and a bright salty flavor.

There are four meatless pizzas on the menu. The choices are Margherita, cheese, mushroom and mixed vegetable. You can also construct your own pizza.

The cheese pizza is made with Canal Junction Lock 21 cheese, mozzarella, provolone and parmesan. The sweet tomato sauce adds a great complexity to this gem of a pizza.

The vegetable pizza is topped with red onions, black olives, oven roasted red peppers and mushrooms. The combination of veggies goes together very well.

The mushroom pizza is made with various 'shrooms, the Lock 21 cheese and truffle salt. The earthy cheese's flavor explodes with the punch of truffle salt.

The cocktails are crafted as artfully as the pizza. The Front Porch tea is a John Daly -- sun tea and lemonade are blended 50/50 and spiked with Oyo vodka. The house margarita is sweet and peppery, made with El Jimador blanco tequila, Cointreau, grapefruit juice and habanero simple syrup. Harvest Pizzeria also has a nice selection of wine as well as a few house taps and beer in cans.

Harvest Pizzeria makes nice use of its space. The open kitchen is a fun view for those who order in. Service was capable if at times a little overbearing. Take-out orders travel surprisingly well.

Harvest Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

14 July 2011

Yabo's Tacos

Yabos' Tacos is a Mexican-American taqueria. Service is brisk at this new fast-casual Mexican operation.

Yabo's is located in the Delaware County portion of Westerville in the old Giammarco's Pizza location. The menu has interesting international accents. This works more as a frame than a limitation, and the vegetarian items at Yabo's are flavorful if not exactly authentic.

Tacos come with a choice of soft corn or flour tortilla for $2. The grilled veggie taco had a great smoky flavor that was nicely complemented by the burst of fresh, cold vegetables. The feta cheese in the taco acts much like cojita cheese in traditional Mexican preparations. The tacos can easily have their flavor augmented by the great house hot sauces (I like the serrano lime, a sauce with spicy citrus accents).

Lime was also a main flavor component of the guacamole in addition to cilantro, garlic and delicious avocado. Although it tasted excellent, the dish would have benefitted from more guacamole or less chips.

The beans are vegetarian. The refried beans are served with melted cheese.

Yabo's has a full bar with a focus on cheap beers. The plan for the restaurant is to expand to multiple locations in the next few years.

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13 July 2011

Custom Chef Gourmet Cafe

Custom Chef is the latest sandwich shop operating in the former home of the Pickle and the downtown Quizno's. The menu has a vegetarian sandwich, build-your-own salad and sandwich options and classic deli sides like bagged chips and soup.

There are a decent amount of ingredients available to construct a sandwich or salad. While there are more items available in terms of veggies and dressings at Market 65, Custom Chef actually is priced comfortably lower than Market 65.

Sandwiches can be ordered as a wrap or between five types of bread, and they come cold or toasted in a panini press. Some of the more interesting toppings include roasted portobella mushroom, smoked provolone cheese and black bean hummus spread.

The nine-grain bread is thickly cut, and the panini press brings out a lot of its rustic flavor. The black bean hummus has a nice Southwestern taste that adds a hint of smoke and spice to a sandwich.

There are limited breakfast options at Custom Chef. There are bagels, muffins, coffee from Stauf's and fruit parfaits for early morning customers.

The low price point combined with a high-traffic location might help keep Custom Chef in business where Quizno's and the Pickle failed. The menu is different enough from the other downtown sandwich shops to give the place a niche in which to fit.

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12 July 2011

Radhuni Indian Cuisine

Radhuni Indian Cuisine is the sibling of Downtown Columbus' heralded Indian Oven. The younger brother lacks the formality of Indian Oven, but delivers just as much character as its pricier sibling.

As with most Indian restaurants, Radhuni features many options for vegetarians. The buffet is a good value with pakoras and naan accompanying three vegetarian entrees.

The navratan korma is explosively flavorful, with cashew adding a savory note to the bright tomato base. Potatoes, peas and onions add texture to this Indian classic.

The cabbage and potato curry was fresh and crunchy. While its flavor was clean, the dish was somewhat bland.

The palak aloo (spinach and potatoes) was creamy and mild. It had a rich flavor with turmeric and garlic combining with ginger to create gustatory harmony.

The naan was also excellent. The veggie pakoras and tandoori bread made great tools to enjoy fantastic condiments like the coriander chutney and raita.

The fruit custard is made with mango and orange cubes. In addition to being delicious, it is also an excellent fire extinguisher for spicy food.

Radhuni Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

05 July 2011

Eastern Wok

Eastern Wok is an inexpensive Chinese take-out on Columbus' far south side. It is a fast food operation with prices reflecting its quality.

There is a limited vegetarian menu at Eastern Wok. The diner is limited to entrees, which come in small and large sizes. Nothing is more than $6.25.

The five vegetarian entrees are sauteed broccoli, mixed vegetables, home style bean curd, Szechuan bean curd and broccoli with garlic sauce. The small portion is reasonable, while the large is absolutely massive.

The tofu in the Szechuan bean curd was cut into long, thick chunks. It was soft, and it soaked up the mildly spicy brown sauce. The carrots and peas added nice color and starchiness to the dish. Overall, it is competently prepared take-out at a reasonable price.

The restaurant has seating for less than 20. Orders are prepared quickly. Eastern Wok is geared toward nearby workers and locals.

Eastern Wok

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