29 May 2014

Angry Wiener

The Angry Wiener is a Columbus food truck that specializes in hot dogs. It shares ownership with The Cheesy Truck, another food truck that makes appearances all around central Ohio.

The veggie dogs at The Angry Wiener are made by The Good Frank, a local company. They are served in a split New England roll, giving the dogs a unique bun that differs from many other local carts and shops.

Diners can build their own dog or choose from a number of off-the-menu options. Side dishes include beer battered fries and mac & cheese.

The Cheesy Wiener is topped with fried jalepeño peppers and elbow mac & cheese. It is a bit of a mess, and it goes down like a deeply satisfying heart attack.

The Greek is topped with  tomato, black olives, feta cheese, red onion and tzatziki sauce. The Mediterranean elements play together nicely.

The Angry Wiener makes regular appearances Downtown at the Columbus Commons Food Truck Food Court. Other appearances can be tracked on Facebook and Twitter, as well as other mobile food social media.

Angry Wiener on Urbanspoon

20 May 2014

Phatt Taco

Phatt Taco is a fast-casual lunch option in Downtown Columbus. It is located in the building that formerly housed Fresh 50 and Otero's Food Bar. It shares an owner with Phat Wraps on campus.

The dining room seats about 60. The menu features tacos and build-your-own tostadas. While vegetarian options are not plentiful, the counter service allows diners to customize dishes to order.

Topping options include vegetables like lettuce, tomato, onion, radish, stewed carrots, potato and hot peppers, rice, beans, salsas, sour cream, cilantro and sauces. 

There are also desserts available like cookies. They also eschew high-fructose corn syrup in beverages.

Phatt Taco on Urbanspoon

13 May 2014

Border Grill

Border Grill is the project of celebrity chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. The restaurant has locations in California and Las Vegas, and features fun, fresh, modern takes on Mexican fare. The chefs also focus on vegetarian diners, including their excellent meatless Monday special - three courses for $29. It makes it easier to justify buying a couple of the margaritas to wash down dinner.

The chefs are well known from the Food Network show Two Hot Tamales as well as their appearances on Bravo's Top Chef: Masters. Their personality comes across in the food and the fun atmosphere.

Three salsas come out with the chips. The green tomatillo salsa has an explosive flavor. The chipotle salsa had a great smoky base. The tomato salsa tasted fresh, bright and clean. The guacamole (which is not free) displays its essence of jalepeño, bright lime and fresh cilantro.

The green corn tamale just melted in my mouth. It was sweet and rich with a hint of spice. The spinach and mushroom empanada had an earthy base within its soft pastry exterior. Both were outstanding.

The mushroom mulitas is a giant portobello cap grilled and stuffed with pickled red onion, roasted peppers, guacamole and cream. It is served on a pile of black beans. It is a vegetarian dish where the savory mushroom flavors and textures almost mimic those of meat.  

The chocolate cake dessert was uninspiring. Maybe I was spoiled by a week of great desserts, but it seemed forgettable.

Border Grill on Urbanspoon

07 May 2014

Lotus of Siam

Lotus of Siam is Las Vegas' most talked about Thai eatery. It could be the most heralded Thai restaurant in the country. Every food personality visiting Sin City stops in Saipin Chutima's restaurant. The kitchen specializes in cuisine from the Northern and Eastern regions of the country, and they deal well with vegetarian diners.

Some dishes on the menu that might not be recognized by less adventurous diners, but most of the usual suspects can also be found here. The restaurant features a world class wine list full of carefully selected choices that pair excellently with the spicy cuisine.

All of this amazing fare would seem easy to miss in this unassuming location on the East Side. The restaurant shares a strip mall with Vegas' premiere swingers club and a number of seedy looking massage parlors and spas that may or may not specialize in happy endings. Though not exactly dangerous, a drive around the lot is good for a few laughs.

Sauces at Lotus of Siam are more nuanced than the Americanized Thai restaurants that fill most of the country. The peanut sauce that accompanies the fried tofu at Lotus of Siam, for example, uses crushed peanuts in oil to convey a subtle spice, unlike the sweet, peanut butter-filled goop that is common labeled peanut sauce at most places.

The panang curry is also built on layers of flavor. Coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass, chili pepper, cumin and coriander coat each piece of tofu, carrot and pepper. The $2 sticky rice upgrade is a good call.

The staff is capable of putting together more adventurous Thai vegetarian dishes upon request, like the spicy mushroom dip. Of course, safer options like veggie egg rolls and curries also fill the menu. Like most Thai restaurants, it is good to inform the staff of dietary guidelines when ordering.

Lotus of Siam on Urbanspoon

01 May 2014

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon is the workshop of the Chef of the Century Joel Robuchon in the MGM Grand Las Vegas. The open kitchen allows diners to see artful modern French cuisine made right before their eyes. It is located next to Joel Robuchon, the chef's top-of-the-line restaurant.

While French restaurants often offer limited options for vegetarian diners, there is a complete vegetarian menu and degustation available nightly at L'Atelier. Vegan diners were out of luck on the menu - dishes were almost always made with cheese and/or eggs - but the talented kitchen is capable of turning out great items for just anybody with advance notice.

The open kitchen concept has been utilized by other chefs to great success - visit The Catbird Seat in Nashville to see the approach absolutely shine. The dining room itself is a show with chefs performing acts of culinary precision in a way that puts every diner at the kitchen table.

The beverage program at L'Atelier shows the same rigorous care as the kitchen. The cocktails were divine, and the wine list was filled with gems. The second wine of Chateau Musar (Jeune), a Lebanese red blend, was a steal by the glass.

The amuse bouche was a vegetable fondant topped with avocado cream. Sweet tomato was fattened up by the whipped avocado, and it displayed a rich palate of green herbs.

The soft boiled egg in a vegetarian spinach veloute with a parmesan tuile makes great use of texture. The sauce is thick, the egg is soft, almost hidden in the dish, and the cheese crisp adds a nice crunch that unifies the dish.

The basil tomato spaghetti is rooted in Italy, but the olives give the dish a slight Mediterranean spin. While the pasta was excellent, it paled in comparison to the similar dish at Scarpetta

The gelato was artfully presented. It was a fitting conclusion to a great meal. 

L'Atelier isn't cheap, but it is a great introduction to one of the world's luminary chefs. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a destination worth finding in the Las Vegas desert.

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon on Urbanspoon