27 January 2011

This Meatless Week: January 27, 2011

On Tuesday February 1, Chef Del Sroufe of Wellness Forum Foods is teaming up with Mercy for Animals to host a cooking demonstration which features quick and easy vegan meal preparations. The transition from an omnivorous kitchen to a vegan lifestyle might seem like a big change. Sroufe does a great job illustrating how simple and delicious vegan dining can be.

The event is free of charge at the Whetstone Public Library from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Participants may also sample the food and are able to get a free vegetarian starter kit.

26 January 2011

The Jury Room

The Jury Room is the newest addition to the ever-expanding Liz Lessner Empire. It's was Columbus' longest tenured bar, and the revamped menu features Italian favorites, sandwiches and smattering of microbrews, fun revisions of classic cocktails and other modern libations.

The menu has plenty of vegetarian and vegan options.

The menu had eight vegetarian appetizers, three of which can be prepared vegan, as well as vegan minestrone.

Pasta dishes are made with locally sourced spaghetti and a choice of sauces that include marinara, Alfredo, garlic olive oil, and a couple of vegetable preparations and are available in half and full orders. There are also sandwiches and a gnocchi entree on the menu that were not available when I ate lunch at the Jury Room.

The fried gnocchi appetizer was great. The tiny golden potato pillows were served in a marinara pool accented with parsley and basil.

The half marinara/half Alfredo is a good option to try different sauces. Although it's advertised as two sauces, the gerrymandering of the sauce creates as a chunky marinara, a rich, cheesy Alfredo and a tomato cream sauce that occupies the border region between marinara land and Alfredo country on the plate. I ordered an appetizer and a half order of pasta, but a full order of pasta should also be a filling meal.

Service was brisk. The Jury Room should remain a solid option for the lunch break crowd from the court house.

Jury Room

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24 January 2011

Cumin Indian Restaurant

Nobody was sadder than I when Bayleaf India Bistro closed. I used to eat at Bayleaf often when I lived in the vicinity of the restaurant, but even after moving away from Westerville, I stopped there often when I was in the area.

Cumin Indian Restaurant opened in its place. It is owned by the same people who own Cuisine of India.

Although Indian restaurants offer vegetarian options, Cumin goes out of its way to feature a variety of meatless appetizers and entrees. The buffet was 60-75% vegetarian.

Prices at Cumin are more expensive than your average Indian eatery, but the atmosphere and preparation are also a cut above the competition. The interior of Cumin is very similar to Bayleaf, although Cumin has a liquor license. The left side of the restaurant is a small bar.

The dal soup had great flavor. The yellow lentils were cooked to a tender consistency, and the broth had sweet undertone that allowed the delicate pepper and onion notes to shine through.

The chana masala was saucy and somewhat light on chickpeas. It was decent but not spectacular.

The vegetable Manchurian was excellent. Cauliflower was fried and coated in a sticky, spicy brown Indochinese sauce. It was the spiciest vegetarian item on the buffet.

The potato and eggplant dish had strong garlic and anise flavor. The potatoes were soft and soaked up the seasoning. The eggplant was a little chewy, most likely from spending too long on the buffet warmers.

The palak paneer was solidly prepared. Along with the chana masala, it was unspectacular.

There are a great deal more exciting options on the dinner menu. Cumin could be appreciated by a person who never eats the same thing twice as well as somebody who needs to order the same thing every time. The menu at Cumin is also different enough from Cuisine of India to give Polaris Indian food fans plenty of variety visiting both restaurants.

The buffet comes with naan. The mint and tamarind chutneys struck me as industrial preparations rather than handcrafted condiments.


Cumin Indian Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon

20 January 2011

This Meatless Week: January 20, 2011

Based upon today's weather, this week should be as good as any to spend indoors. If you feel like braving the elements, there are a couple of places in Columbus for veggie people to come in out of the cold.

There are still three more days of Restaurant Week Columbus. Check out last week's post for more information.

Wednesday January 25, Wellness Forum offers a cooking class on preparing winter casseroles. Chef Del Sroufe is a great resource for vegetarians and vegans in the kitchen.

The Columbus Vegan Group is meeting January 22 at Hal & Al's in Merion Village. Participants can enjoy vegan comfort food, great small brewer beers and meatless camaraderie.

13 January 2011

This Meatless Week: January 13, 2011

This is a light week for vegetarians in Central Ohio. The most obvious event is the 614 Magazine Restaurant Week Columbus. Although it isn't specified on the menu, everybody is excited to sample the vegan menu at Columbus Brewing Company. Other meatless menus are available at Aab India, Cabo Cocina, La Fogata, Basil, Georgio Italian, Bel Lago, Haiku, Matt the Miller Tavern, Mezzo, Oscars and G. Michael's. Prices run from $15-30.

Mercy for Animals is also distributing informational brochures at the Columbus College of Art and Design on Tuesday. The effort is designed to promote a plant-based diet.

12 January 2011

Clever Crow

Clever Crow has been a magnet for publicity and praise since it first fired up its oven in the Circus kitchen. It gets critical acclaim from local publications like Alive and message boards like Columbus Underground. It won best veggie pizza at Pizza Grand Prix V. It was even featured on the Heartland episode of the Travel Channel's No Reservations.

This weekend, Clever Crow started daytime service by opening a station in the North Market. While I enjoyed Clever Crow from the original kitchen, I'll probably eat here with great regularity since I almost live at the North Market.

Clever Crow always features a couple of vegetarian pies as well as a vegan option. Owner Gary Robinette crafts pizza with high quality ingredients that elevate pizza making into a modern accented fine art.

Pizzas can be ordered as a whole pie, a half pie or by the slice. Prices are on the high end of the spectrum, when something is this delicious, it's worth chipping in a few extra bucks.

The vegan winter squash pizza is made with spicy walnut squash pate, sauteed spinach, red potatoes, caramelized onions and corn. The cheese pizza is topped with fresh mozzarella, fontinella and parmesan.

I ordered the roasted vegetable pizza, which seems to have a core of ingredients with one or two that shift gradually as seasonal veggies change. The crust is medium thick with a heavy cornmeal accent that lends it a hint of sweetness. The sauce has tanginess, a bright tomato foundation and hints of garlic and basil.

Mozzarella cheese held on copious quantities of roasted poblano pepper, eggplant, thick cut mushroom, corn and soft white onion. The eggplant and mushrooms are an admirable foil to the sweetness in the crust and the corn.

The pizza reheated well. Typically, veggies tend to give off too much water when reheated, but these held up well in my oven because of the initial roasting.

Ignore the protests of Public Enemy and believe the hype about Clever Crow. It's great food that caters to vegetarian and vegan diners. The North Market could open up more exciting opportunities for an already exciting pizza maker.

Clever Crow

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11 January 2011

Royal Ginger Asian Fusion Bistro

Royal Ginger is a sushi-centric Asian fusion spot located in the old Wolfgang Puck's in Upper Arlington. It is a similar concept to its relative Blue Ginger, another place I enjoyed on separate visits.

The restaurant interior is stylish with modern accents and a lot of dark wood. Service was efficient, and the server was able to address any and all vegetarian concerns.

The menu at Royal Ginger features numerous vegetarian options. There are multiple sushi choices and stir fried dishes without seafood and meat. Vegetarian spring rolls, edamame, peanut noodles and a few salads are available as starters.

There is a lunch special with a choice of vegetarian soup or salad and an entree for about $9. The salad was made with multicolored greens, onions and daikon in a fruity vinaigrette. It had soft and crispy textural accents that made the salad delightful to eat.

The vegetarian sushi at Royal Ginger is excellent. The vegetarian sushi combo is very similar to the one at Blue Ginger. The artful nigiri are topped with carrots, squash, asparagus and various other ingredients (vegan or ovo-vegetarian warning: the platter also has tomago, a nigiri egg roll. It may be omitted on request). The combo also comes with a few maki rolls containing avocado, asparagus and Japanese squash.

I ordered the veggie roll, which also is available with special lunch pricing. The uramaki veggie rolls were the aforementioned ones with the squash, asparagus and avocado. The menu at Royal Ginger features many other vegetarian options, including interesting options like peanut avocado and fried bean curd skin.

The black bean tofu was stir fried with long beans, red onions and shiitake mushrooms in a spicy Szechuan base. The earthy, spicy dish has a great flavor, and the serving size is fair. It comes with a choice of white or brown rice.

Royal Ginger has a decent list of beer, wine, sake and designer faux-tinis. The parking lot is small and poorly designed, so parking can sometimes be an issue.

Royal Ginger

Royal Ginger Asian Fusion Bistro on Urbanspoon

06 January 2011

This Meatless Week: Jan. 6, 2011

The meatless meetup groups are in full action this weekend. Both the Columbus Vegan Meetup Group and the Columbus Vegetarian Meetup Group are hosting restaurant events this Saturday.

The Vegetarian Group is meeting at the Olive Tree in Hilliard Saturday at 12:30 for lunch. In order to participate in the meetups, simply join the group and register for the event (the same goes for the Vegan Group).

The Vegan Group has a couple of events this week. Saturday, there is a lunch provided by the Columbus Winter Farmers Market. They are also teaming up with Mercy for Animals to promote plant-based diets at area colleges.

This Friday, a local filmmaker is shooting a documentary at Hal & Al's. I've previously written about their everyday menu and their Thursday vegan sushi night. They are debuting their new vegan sauerkraut balls and using the opportunity to show the world that the South Side is both fun and deliciously vegan-friendly.

05 January 2011

Reethika Indian Restaurant

Reethika Indian Restaurant is a new eatery located along the Sawmill/161 commercial corridor. It shares a plaza with Kihachi and Lee Garden.

As Reethika is an Indian restaurant, vegetarian options are numerous. The buffet, in particular, consisted of a majority of vegetarian dishes.

Choices on the buffet included a creamy mixed vegetable curry, a potato curry, spinach pakoras, a fried cabbage dish, malai kofta and aloo palak. The buffet cost $8.99 and was served with naan as well as a full array of vegetable, chutney and yogurt accompaniments.

The cabbage dish was delicately spicy with hints of anise, cumin and hot pepper. It was crunchy and flavorful.

The veggie curry was prepared with potatoes, lentils, green beans and onions. The soft potatoes soaked up the curry and carefully release the complex base.

The texture of the malai kofta (essentially vegetarian meatballs) was soft and crumbly. The sauce was slightly sweet and provides a nice foil to the fried veggie balls.

The spinach pakoras were delightful. They were prepared with a thick yet deceptively light batter that brings out the best flavor of the green. The citrus, mint and cilantro in the fresh mint chutney adds a nice touch to this well made dish.

The plain naan was average. On a future visit, it might be worth upgrading with a garlic naan or something with a little more character.

The rice pudding was piping hot and absolutely delightful. The subtle spices were rounded out by flecks of peanuts that added a great crunch.

The staff at Reethika was great at identifying vegetarian dishes and discussing how each dish was prepared. Everything had great flavor. This place is well worth checking out.

Reethika Indian Restaurant

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