30 June 2011

The Wine Bistro

The Wine Bistro is, of course, a bistro with wine. There are locations in Upper Arlington and Worthington.

The menu at the Wine Bistro consists of sandwiches, soups, salads, flatbread pizzas and a variety of other items that pair well with wine. There are a substantial number of meatless entrees and appetizers at the Wine Bistro.

The dining room at the Upper Arlington location is tastefully appointed with wood. There is a decent amount of patio seating in addition to a small bar.

Vegetarian first courses include hummus and pita, seasoned olives, toasted mixed nuts, fondue, cheese plates, tomato basil soup and a few salads. It would be fairly simple to create a meal out of vegetarian tapas at the Wine Bistro.

The seasonal soup was a watermelon gazpacho. The bright fruit flavor added a sweet punch to an explosively flavorful summer classic.

Vegetarian main courses include a veggie wrap, pomodoro spaghetti and a couple of flatbread pizzas. The Juliette flatbread is topped with brie, pears, onions, garlic cream sauce and parmesan cheese. The thin, crispy crust adds a delightful crunch to the perfect pairing of double-cream cheese and tree fruit.

The veggie wrap is stuffed with green olives, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and greens with a garlic hummus. The flavor is bright and fresh.

The wine list has some nice by-the-glass selections. There are options from the new and old world, and prices are marked up fairly.

Service at the Wine Bistro is friendly and capable. The staff was easily able to address vegetarian dining concerns.

Wine Bistro

The Wine Bistro on Lane Avenue on Urbanspoon

22 June 2011

Babushka's Kitchen

Babushka's Kitchen is a small Ohio chain. Clintonville is home to the Central Ohio location of the kitschy Polish fast-casual eatery.

Polish food is notoriously vegetarian unfriendly. Pierogi and placki give meatless diners at least a couple of options at Babushka's.

The potato and cheddar pierogi were perfectly pan fried with sweet onions. The filling was rich and flavorful. The onions might have benefitted from a finer chop.

The potato pancakes (placki ziemniaczane for Polish purists) are served with sour cream and applesauce as condiments. The sour cream was served in a small portion that seemed almost rationed. The applesauce added a sweet, spicy element to the Polish staple.

The cucumber salad had a bright, fresh flavor. Although most traditional Polish cucumber salads are made with sour cream, the sweetened vinegar dressing nonetheless had an authentic flavor. The rye bread, however, was nearly free of character.

The kolachky are a soft and sweet conclusion to a meal. The raspberry was a sweet, jammy treat, and the cream cheese cookies tasted like a contained cheesecake bite.

The dining area is split into rooms dedicated to Warsaw and Krakow. Colors are red and white like the Polish flag, and the coat of arms is painted large on the wall.

Babushka's Kitchen

Babushka's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

14 June 2011

The Cheesy Truck

The latest food cart in Central Ohio is the Cheesy Truck, and it turns out artisanal grilled cheese sandwiches. Proprietor Rick Harrison Wolfe's truck reflects on the time he spent in California while including local ingredients that shine brightly on the local food scene.

The colorful truck's grilled cheese sandwich comes on Stan Evans bakery bread prepared in house made olive oil butter with a choice of cheddar and American cheese. The American cheese is mild while the cheddar has a sharper character.

The sandwich also comes with add-on options that include Ohio tomato, Ohio pickles or a fried egg. There are also dipping sauces like the Mikey's Late Night Slice slut sauce, a hot sauce made by the pizza-by-the-slice operation.

The tater tots were soft and well salted. While the shredded cheese was a tasty accoutrement, it would have benefitted from the cheese being better melted.

Finding the location of the Cheesy Truck is as easy as following them on Twitter or Facebook. I should be chasing them around all summer.

The Cheesy Truck

The Cheesy Truck on Urbanspoon

09 June 2011

Lexi's on Third

Lexi's on Third is the newest sibling in the Danny's Deli family. The youngest sister features a bigger menu than its predecessors served in a brisk fashion befitting a Downtown breakfast and lunch spot.

The menu at Lexi's is far more vegetarian friendly than the menu at Danny's. There are meatless salads, a grilled cheese sandwich, a veggie wrap, an egg salad sandwich and a Luna Burger in addition to a bevy of side dishes.

Lexi's squeezed in a decent amount of seating into the restaurant. In addition to the dining room, there is ample seating on the outdoor patio. They also serve alcohol.

The veggie wrap is stuffed with avocado, mushroom, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, onion, cheddar and Swiss cheese with sun-dried tomato pesto and Italian dressing. The synergy of flavors works harmoniously well together.

In terms of the side dishes, the onion rings had a fantastic crunch but were served in too small of a portion. The potato salad looked unappetizing served from an ice cream scoop, yet it was deliciously subtle with a bright mustard tang that proves that looks can sometimes be deceiving.

The most impressive part of the experience at Lexi's was the speed at which they delivered lunch. Although I was 10th in line, it took less than 30 minutes from standing in line to walking out the door with a full belly. The rapid delivery of high quality sandwiches should endear Lexi's to area workers.

Lexi's on Third

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08 June 2011

La Macarena Pupuseria

Pupusas are a staple dish in El Salvador, and La Macarena Pupuseria whips up vegan and vegetarian fare from El Salvador that highlights this Central American classic.

Pupusas are a less famous cousin of the arepa. It's more of a dumpling or pancake than an arepa, which has more in common with a sandwich than a dumpling. There sometimes are subtle differences in the corn flour used to prepare arepas and pupusas. It's safe to say that if you like one, you'd probably like the other.

The staff at La Macarena is fun and friendly like the decor. The menu offers tons of vegetarian and vegan options, and the daily specials often include a meatless option.

The guacamole tostadita showcased fresh avocados and cilantro. The crushed red pepper adds an interesting spicy touch to a fantastic starter.

There were a few different vegetarian combo plates. I sampled one with a tamale, plantains, black beans, cheese pupusas and curtido, a Mexican/Salvadoran cole slaw. The tamale was soft. The plantains were starchy with a hint of sweetness. The pupusas were stuffed with a little bit of cheese that was sweetened up by corn. It paired well with the slaw and the hot sauce.

One other interesting item at La Macarena is the tableside condiment. There is a mild tomato and pepper sauce from El Salvador that is more tomato driven than its hot sauce relatives from other countries. This is another touch that adds an authentic flair to this restaurant.

Vegans, vegetarians and those who like international flavors all should find plenty to like at La Macarena. It's a family owned gem in Uptown New Orleans that is well worth a stop.

La Macarena Pupuseria

La Macarena Pupuseria & Latin Cafe on Urbanspoon

02 June 2011


Domenica is the latest project from New Orleans' resident culinary auteur John Besh. If you have missed Besh on Iron Chef or Top Chef Masters or HBO's Treme, his ever expanding empire gives diners a chance to experience his talent in a variety of different settings.

Domenica is a more casual affair than Besh's more heralded establishments like August. The same attention to detail combined with a whimsical sense of imagination makes Domenica equally successful as its more formal brethren.

The dining room at Domenica fits comfortably into the upscale Roosevelt Hotel. Though the dining room is visually striking, the tables suffer from being a little to small to handle the torrent of fantastic food pouring out of the kitchen. Overall, it's a small problem in an otherwise elevated dining experience.

The menu is divided into classic Italian components: antipasti, primi, secondi and dolci. Diners can pick a dish from every part of the classic Italian meal, or they can order pizza and toss in extra items to fill in the blanks. The staff caters to vegetarians very well and is easily able to address all dietary concerns.

The cheese plates come accompanied by savory beignets. The soft, puffy dough is a great vehicle for sweeping up fig compote and other antipasti components. The beignets are a delightful contrast from their sugar-coated cousins served at places like Cafe du Monde.

The fried squash blossom appetizer was perfectly breaded and stuffed with a creamy goat cheese. The bright flavor of the balsamic reduction and the tomatoes bring a nice acidity to the dish. These are delicious enough to make a full meal out of them by themselves.

The main attraction, of course, is the pizza. The crispy thin crust pies are fired in a wood burning oven. Meatless pizzas include a plain cheese, a Margherita, a goat cheese, scallions, radicchio and arugula pie, a four cheese pie and a spinach pie.

The Margherita was an updated version of an Italian classic. The crust had a great texture, and the blackened portions added a smoky flavor to the pizza. The fresh mozzarella, imported from Italy, is applied in perfect proportion to the tomato sauce and basil. The flavor of the tomato sauce is fresh and warm with hints of basil and garlic. The thinly sliced basil brings another layer of flavor to a flawless Margherita pie.

Cocktails and wine at Domenica are also excellent. The mixologist did a great job incorporating idiosyncratic ingredients into beverages that perfectly accompany the food. The wine list is heavy on Italian selections, but it has otherinternational and domestic component as well. In addition to alcoholic drinks, there are also house-made Italian style sodas at Domenica.


Domenica on Urbanspoon