28 February 2013

Pizza from Meister's Bar

Hidden in the pizza paradise that is the Grandview/Upper Arlington/Columbus area, the pizza from Meister's Bar is an admirable take on Chicago style deep dish pie. The 16-inch deep dish is big enough to feed four people, some most likely entering a coma upon finishing a third slice.

The thin-crust pie is not particularly authentic to the Windy City area. It lacks the liberal cornmeal dusting that is common in Chicago thin pizza. It is a more traditional tavern cut pizza that is common in much of Ohio.  It's worth a try if somebody is too delicate for the deep dish. However, deep dish pizza is the star attraction.

The deep dish pies were served with variable levels of toasted crust. The first visit had golden edges, while subsequent pizzas were served with well-done edges. The overall difference was mostly cosmetic, although the texture of the browned crust made it a little tough to chew.

The bar has a decent selection of beers and is a sports bar humming with activity during Ohio State games. It sometimes gets hectic, especially during big football games.

Overall, Meister's offers a solid version of Chicago deep dish pizza. If I were ranking non-chain deep dish pizza in central Ohio, I would rank Wholly Joe's near Polaris best, Meister's (a.k.a. Pi Pizza) second, Tristano's third and Fabian's dead last. B.J.'s brewhouse, a chain out of California, offers a close take on Chicago thin crust pizza, but B.J.'s deep dish has more in common with Pizza Hut than Lou Malnati's. While the Meister's deep dish doesn't claim the local Chi-Town Crown, it is almost as good as what you'd get in the City of Big Shoulders.

Meister's Bar on Urbanspoon

22 February 2013


Spagio is a standout casual cafe on the Grandview strip. Chef Hubert Seifert captains the capable kitchen, which turns out excellent fare with plenty of options for vegetarian diners.

The menu at Spagio typically has two or three meatless starters, an entree and a couple of wood-fired pizzas. The special menu on Valentine's Day was no exception. The staff capably addresses dining concerns, and delivers service evenly with flair.

Seifert has worked all over the globe, including stints in France working for Pierre Troisgros in Lyon, the royal family in Spain and a luxury hotel in Brazil. His international experience shows in his menu.

The tart flambe was prepared in the wood-burning oven. The thin crust was topped with garlic and goat cheese along with roasted bell peppers and onions. The tart was a delicate base that dissolved in the mouth, delivering great vegetable flavor tempered by the acidity of goat cheese crumbles.

The wood-fired vegetables, including zucchini, squash, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots and peppers, are served with a bright yogurt dipping sauce. Each veggie takes on a different character when roasted, and it makes healthy eating quite a mouth-watering experience.

The vegetable Napoleon was a vegan preparation. Thinly sliced layers of eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms and bell peppers are composed atop a roasted red pepper coulis with asparagus and sauteed spinach. It almost looked to good to eat.

The wine list at Spagio pairs well with the menu. It is fairly priced. Cocktails are fun and somewhat expensive.

While the artful cuisine at Spagio makes it seem like a white tablecloth establishment, the boisterous dining room makes it comfortably casual.

Spagio on Urbanspoon

13 February 2013

Hae Paul's

Hae Paul's is a new Korean restaurant Downtown. Operated by standout chef Paul Yow and his wife Hae Ran, Hae Paul's prepares classic Korean dishes as well as other dishes rooted in Korean tradition but fused with Mexican elements.

Service at Hae Paul's is quick, which bodes well for the Downtown lunch crowd. The server capably answered all questions about vegetarian dining concerns as well as those of the "what is that, exactly?" variety.

Interestingly, all of the items on the menu that don't list meat or fish as an ingredient are vegetarian, and most of the other items can be prepared for vegetarians. Prices are reasonable for the exceptional quality. 

The mung bean cake is served on a bed of greens dressed with vinegar and sweet chili oil. The mung bean patties have a light texture with layers of earthy flavor.

The green pea dip with crispy pita tastes great, but its name does little to describe what comes on the plate. The peas were chickpeas, the green was an herbal dressing and the pita was toasted but hardly crispy. While the dish was successful, its description could use some fine tuning.

The jap chae are sweet potato noodles tossed with a rich soy sauce, carrots, green onions, green peppers, spinach and shiitake mushrooms. The noodles are a light vehicle that carries the flavor of the dish. The vegetables add a nice textural contrast.

The Korrito, a Korean burrito, is a star on the menu. When requested vegetarian, the grilled tortilla is stuffed with sticky barley rice, a spicy black soybean hummus, carrots, red onions and romaine lettuce. The Korrito is served with a deep soy marinade and a candied jalapeño sauce that is both sweet and smoky. 

Orders are served with a variety of side dishes. The slaw had a light essence with a hint of smoke. The potato wedges were thinly sliced with a perfect crunch.

Dessert options seem to change regularly. 

Hae Paul's should quickly establish itself as a go-to destination for lunch. With fresh, exotic flavors and fair prices, it should be on everybody's Downtown dining radar.

Hae-Paul's on Urbanspoon

05 February 2013

Grass Skirt Tiki Room

Customers probably visit Liz Lessner's Grass Skirt Tiki Room primarily for the drinks. It would be a shame if they missed what comes out of the kitchen, since the selection of Pacific Rim fare pairs so perfectly with the cocktails.

There is a limited selection of entrees that accompany the cadre of small plates on the menu. There are plenty of vegetarian options on the menu, and the staff is very accommodating to dietary restrictions.

Edamame was cooked perfectly. The soybeans were flecked with cracked black pepper and Sriracha sea salt. While it was well prepared, the hint of chili oil didn't add much to the dish.

The veggie spring rolls were stuffed with crunchy green cabbage, peppers and onions. The sweet ginger sauce brings a bright freshness to the rolls.

The teriyaki mushroom lettuce wraps were a perfectly sweet yet savory ssam. The earthy mushrooms soaked up the teriyaki sauce, and the lettuce leaves add a crunch to each bite.

The vegetarian Thai pineapple rice bowl had layers of garlic and chili that were tempered by the sweetness of the fruit. It was a large portion.

The red pepper and mushroom menehunes (a Hawaiian word for sandwich) are sliders served on the classic sweet island roll. They continue the combination of sweet and savory that appear in all the dishes.

The decor is kitschy and fun. The restaurant is dark with carefully selected lighting that highlights the contours of the room.

The cocktails are excellent. There is a classic and a haute Mai Tai. Drinks are often garnished with tropical fruit and maraschino cherries and can be served in a take-home Tiki mug. The Mystery Girl, a drink not listed on the menu, picked up a great nutmeg flavor from the horchata-rum liqueur in the drink.

The menu at Grass Skirt is made to go alongside the drinks, but the small plates format allows even those who aren't drinking to sample many dishes if they eat in a group. Service was capable, but became slightly overbearing on a slow night visit.

Grass Skirt Tiki Room on Urbanspoon