25 June 2014

La Tavola

La Tavola resurrects an old name run by area favorite Rick Lopez. Lopez had a hand in Columbus' original haute Mexican outpost Tapatio, the old Polynesian-themed Kahiki and the fast-casual and (temporarily) closed Knead. La Tavola was open from 1999 to the late 2000s in Powell and Dublin. The new restaurant is on 1st Avenue in Grandview.

House made and seasonal items make up the backbone of the menu. There are not a tremendous number of vegetarian items on the menu. There is a vegan pizza. The server checked with the kitchen on specific vegetarian concerns. 

The space is open, and the decor is warm and inviting. The ironic wall paper also doubles as the background on the restaurant website. 

The pasta was magnificent. The strozzapretti, a loose, eggless pasta twirled into a tight, lengthy s-shape, was bathed in kale pesto, mushroom, green beans, yellow pepper and shallots.

The bar had a small but well chosen selection of draft beer. There are also sodas from Boylan's and Grown Up, as well as Brioso coffee.

Desserts are prepared by Krista Lopez. There is bound to be something to like on the list of Italian sweets which go from tiramisu to gelato and semifreddo.

La Tavola on Urbanspoon

18 June 2014

Hudson 29

Hudson 29 is the latest Cameron Mitchell concept, and the first one opened this year in Upper Arlington on Lane Avenue. The kitchen produces classic steakhouse fare and sandwiches paired with sushi and flatbread pizza.

The menu has a couple of vegetarian options, and the staff dealt well with questions about dietary restrictions. Service at the restaurant, however, was uneven beyond that. 

While one lunch visit in a nearly empty restaurant saw attentive service and great attention to detail, a second night visit was severely overbooked on reservations. My reservation seating was 90 minutes late, and while the front of house offered free cocktails because of the delay, it did not make up for the continued service issues in the dining room. The server never brought water to the table despite numerous requests. Other orders were delivered incorrectly. It would be kind to say the experience was a disappointment.

The food was from chef Jonathan Basch was very good despite the hemorrhaging service flaws. The veggie burger, in particular, was a standout. The house made black bean patty was topped with pepper jack, avocado, lettuce, tomato, red onion and sweet pickle mayo. It was served on a toasted bun.

The cheesy bread rolls are a worthwhile expense. The arugula salad was forgettable.

The vegetable flatbread was piled with arugula pesto, shiitake mushrooms, kalamata olives, pickled red onions and fresh arugula. The flavor is a nice blend of savory, salty and fresh vegetable notes that play together nicely with  subtle garlic.

The wine list is heavy on New World labels with some fun choices. There are limited brews with Rockmill carrying the local banner. Cocktails were a nice mix of classics with a few more modern spins.

The dining room and sushi bar are sleek and modern with a nice organic warmth. The couches in the waiting area by the fireplace create an inviting place to relax while waiting for a table.

An inviting space and a few tasty morsels from the kitchen, however, will not be enough to save the place if the front of house is unable to control its reservations book. Improvements in execution will be needed if the restaurant concept is to be duplicated successfully.

Hudson 29 on Urbanspoon

12 June 2014

Raisin Rack

The Raisin Rack is Westerville's locally owned organic market/grocery store. The offerings include fresh, frozen and prepared foods with a heavy emphasis on vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dining options.

In addition to fresh veggies, frozen and boxed meals, there is a salad bar with dieatry restriction information included on each item. The vegan samosas, hummus, stuffed grape leaves and gluten free Thai peanut noodles on the hot bar looked fantastic.

The cafe makes soups, sandwiches and burritos. Orders can be eaten on site or taken to go.

The three bean veggie chili was full of beans - kidney, black and cannellini - as well as tomatoes, onions and peppers. It was rich, a little spicy and deeply satisfying.

The cheese sandwich comes with a choice of cheese - the deli has about 10 different options - as well as organic lettuce, organic tomato, organic red onion, sprouts, mayo, mustard and choice of bread. The nine grain loaf was hearty and gave the sandwich a layered base with a subtle sweetness. 

The avocado sandwich is hot with toasted bread slathered in organic avocado, melted cheddar, mozzarella and provolone and ranch dressing. 

Desserts are from local gluten free operations Cherbourg and Eban's, as well as vegan favorite Pattycake.  

Raisin Rack on Urbanspoon

10 June 2014

Halwani Cuisine

Halwani Cuisine is a pizza shop along the Grandview strip. Shawn Halwani's restaurant makes thin crust and hand tossed pizzas, and the menu is pork-free for kosher/halal diners.

The restaurant has pizza, stromboli, sandwiches and standard pizza kitchen sides. The hand tossed crust is still relatively thin with hints of garlic in the dough. The thin crust is cut tavern style and is cracker thin.

Meatless specialty pizzas include the Margarita, Napoletana, vegetarian, Greek and white pizza. Topping are fresh and plentiful.

The Margarita pizza had classic toppings including fresh tomato and basil. The basil was slightly overdone, and it would have been improved if it were added later in the process. Despite the minor flaw, the pizza was excellent.

Halwani Cuisine is reasonably priced. The majority of business is delivery and take out. It is a good change-of-pace pizza option in an increasingly more competitive marketplace in the Grandview/Upper Arlington area.

Halwani Cuisine on Urbanspoon

03 June 2014

Wolf's Ridge Brewing

Wolf's Ridge Brewing is one of many brew pubs to open up in Columbus over the last year. Guided by Chef Seth Lassak, the operation is on the radar of most if not all the foodies in central Ohio.

The restaurant offers a printed vegetarian menu upon request. It indicates gluten-free options with an asterisk.

There are meatless salads, appetizers, soups and entrees. The kitchen's course is determined by seasonal ingredients, meaning specials and some items change regularly.

The kitchen makes haute cuisine that pairs well with the house brews. The staff handles dietary restrictions well, although the menu overall seemed to lack multiple options for vegan diners.

The kale salad is a perfect synergy of ingredients playing off each other in a delightful harmony. The dressing and goat cheese have acidity, the fruit and candied pine nuts have a great sweetness and the kale gives the dish an understated bitterness. Flavors can be combined by the diner to highlight a variety of characteristics from each individual ingredient.

The selections on the cheese plate came from different classes of cheese. The fruit, house made crackers and bread accompany the cheeses.

The saffron risotto was creamy, piled high with assorted mushrooms, candied red onions and smoked paprika oil. Its appearance was surpassed only by the layered, unctuous taste.

The brewery produces a number of beers in a variety of styles from the traditional (pale ales and cream ales) to a few less common options like Zane's Trace, a roggenbier (German-style rye ale) named after a famed frontier road that ran through central and southern Ohio. The sampler is a great way to try six different brews. Cocktails look delicious, but might be tough to justify ordering since the beer is so good.

Wolf's Ridge Brewing on Urbanspoon