30 July 2014

The Sycamore

The Sycamore in German Village is the first new concept from the folks behind the popular Harvest Pizzeria. They turned the former Sycamore Cafe, a grungy dive bar in the heart of the neighborhood, into a stylish hang-out with a killer kitchen.

Rather than pizzas, The Sycamore offers pub fare that pairs nicely with the classic cocktails and reasonably interesting wine and beer lists. There is a small selection of vegetarian items on the menu, but most of the options are delicious.

The veggie burger, in particular, was a standout. The patty was quinoa, chickpeas, carrots and greens, topped with grilled mushrooms and onions with white cheddar, lettuce, tomato, mustard and house-cured spicy pickles with a subtle bite. The patty crumbles easily, but it delivers layers of flavor. The garlic and herb-tossed fries are great, and the malt vinegar aioli adds a rich, sweet accent to them.

The guacamole, on the other hand, added little to the Mexican staple. The chips were greasy, and the dip needed more avocado and cilantro and less radish and tomato.

Other vegetarian menu items include papas rajas and wild mushroom tacos and a mixed grilled vegetable plate.

The wine list skews heavily toward the New World. There are excellent beers by the bottle and on draft with a number of local choices.

The Sycamore on Urbanspoon

23 July 2014


Challah is a regular participant in the Food Truck Food Court at the Columbus Commons, and it pops up regularly at other spots around town. The ladies behind Challah prepare fresh comfort food rooted in Jewish cuisine, particularly the kind from Eastern Europe.

There isn't a ton of options available for vegetarians from Challah, but there is a meatless sandwich and side dish on the menu. The bread is good enough to make sandwiches a must-have from the truck.

There were differences in the bread for the tomato sandwich on separate visits. The interior with heirloom tomatoes, Emmental cheese, endive and mayonnaise is a perfect marriage of ingredients for a summer sandwich. The sweetness of the tomatoes amplifies the richness of the cheese and the spice in the greens in perfect synergy.

The latkes, served with sour cream or apple sauce, are made with thin ribbons of potato. It is a superior side to the somewhat ordinary cole slaw.

The cart handled a high volume of business well with minor timing flaws. Staff capably handled vegetarian questions and fixed all service issues. 

Challah on Urbanspoon

16 July 2014

Rishi Sushi

Rishi Sushi is the latest concept from David and Song Kim, who also own Moshi Sushi in Bexley. Rather than a straight down the middle sushi bar, Rishi is more of a small plates concept with interesting fusion dishes with one foot in Japan.

The restaurant has a focus on fresh, local ingredients. There are vegetarian and gluten free items identified on the menus. 

The sushi menu has pretty standard vegetarian offerings. In addition to meatless starters and salads, there is a veggie burger and a couple of generous vegetarian ramen bowls.

The edamame hummus is plated with cucumber, carrots and rice crackers. The dish creates a subtle harmony between the essence of Asia and the spirit of the Mediterranean.

While sushi is featured in the restaurant's name, the ramen is a real star. Bowls are piled with a vegetable broth, fresh ramen noodles, edamame, corn, scallions, shiitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, spinach, bok choy and seaweed. While the Lazy Summer Day is deeply satisfying, masochists can also inflict the Good Luck Ramen challenge, made with scorpion peppers, upon themselves.

The bar has excellent cocktails and a decent beer and wine selection to accompany the food coming out of the kitchen. There is a happy hour menu with sushi, small plates and drink specials. 

Rishi Sushi Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

09 July 2014

AJ's Cafe

AJ's Cafe is a fast-casual spot Downtown that offers soup, salads and sandwiches. It is located in the spot that formerly held C-Town Market and Deli.

The owner, Ajay Kumar, owned the Taj Mahal on campus. It was sold to relatives and reopened as Mughal Darbar. While Kumar didn't bring the menu with him from his old restaurant, he definitely brought the Indian flavor profile to a number of the dishes at AJ's.

There are many vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu. The restaurant is open Monday through Friday for breakfast and lunch, and Saturday for lunch.

Soups include an outstanding vegan lentil and spinach, as well as broccoli cheese. There is a vegetarian green salad and a vegan lentil salad. There are a variety of baked goods in the morning as well as a vegan breakfast wrap.

The spiced chickpea wrap hints at dal makhani, and the tamarind chutney adds another layer of sweet Indian flavor. It makes a filling lunch with a side dish.

Prices at AJ's are reasonable, and service is quick. It is another strong option for the Downtown dining landscape.

Aj's Cafe on Urbanspoon