19 November 2013

Z Cucina di Spirito

Z Cucina in Grandview features traditional and old fashioned Italian fare with Mediterranean accents. It has a nice focus on local, seasonal ingredients, and the bar churns out great cocktails that keep it busy.

The kitchen of Chef Jamie George makes their own mozzarella, which adds so much to every dish it is used in. There is a great variety of vegetarian dishes on the menu. Other dishes can be also be modified for vegetarians. There is also gluten free pasta available.

The mozzarella is delicate and creamy, an unctuous vehicle to convey flavors in the classic Caprese salad. The simple ingredients are amplified by the great house-made cheese.

The eggplant Parmesan was also excellent. The slices of eggplant were tender, with a crispy breading. It was liberally topped with cheese, pesto and a bright Pomodoro sauce.

Hearty root vegetables dominated the fall seasonal offerings. Not every vegetable paired elegantly with Gorgonzola, which was in heavy use in dishes, and used with a bit of a heavy hand.

Desserts are excellent. There is a nice after dinner drinks list.

Z Cucina on Urbanspoon

09 November 2013

Veritas Tavern

Veritas Tavern is an exciting small plates spot located in practically the last place you would think - Delaware. The fast growing community North of Columbus is home to this exciting restaurant. It is well worth the drive if it is far from you to experience the work of chefs Avishar Barua and Silas Caeton, and it's even better if Delaware is in your back yard.

The menu features great seasonal ingredients. While there are a limited number of vegetarian items on the regular menu, the kitchen is able to accommodate vegetarians with additional dishes if given advance notice.

The dining room has ample bar space, and the bar has a nice selection of wine, beer and great cocktails. Mixed drinks are made with quality ingredients, and show great care. 

The decor is fun with cookbooks adorning the walls as well as menus from the restaurants of renowned chefs Grant Achatz and Thomas Keller. While the dining room is whimsical, it could benefit visually from a greater focus and organization.

The feta dip appeared straightforward with cucumber and flatbread on the plate. The flavor is clean with a subtle richness, and the dish is far more complex than the simple ingredients belie.

The potted blue cheese with chocolate biscuits and port wine in a squeeze dropper is a study in flavor. When combined, the sweetness of the wine tempers the strong cheese, and the chocolate adds layers of roasted notes. Each element can also be removed, changing the flavor profile considerably. 

The Brussels sprouts were roasted and served in a deeply savory sauce that made them irresistible. They were tender, falling apart. The sauce held the essence of tamari soy sauce. I'm not normally a Brussels sprouts fan, but these were good enough to order again.

The grilled asparagus with late harvest peas, maitake mushrooms and ricotta made fantastic use of great ingredients. The mushrooms were seared, and the texture and flavor were as close to bacon as anything I have ever experienced as a vegetarian. The cheese added a creamy background to the dish, and the peas sweetened it up and gave the dish a nice texture.

The white and dark chocolate dessert played with the contrariety of temperature and texture. White chocolate was frozen in liquid nitrogen. The dark chocolate was an ice cream, served with an even-darker hot chocolate fudge. The white chocolate dissolved into a rich frozen smoke. The chocolate was even more rich, and the warm fudge added a great contrast. Drops of Pedro Ximenez sherry add complex oxidized notes to the dish.

Service was exceptional. The staff capably deals with dietary questions. The menu changes often enough that regular visitors would not have to worry about repeating dishes. Interestingly, reservations on the weekend are not taken, and diners are seated first-come, first-served.

Veritas Tavern on Urbanspoon