Saturday, February 27, 2010

Polaris: Molly Woo's

One of the best part about my friends is that they are all willing to eat. New places, old places, different genres, I can always count on someone to share a good meal with. Although, this may be a bad thing when trying to watch my diet...

However, my friend Kellie and I make it a habit to get together on nights when we don't feel like going out, and have a good meal. One place we like to frequent is Molly Woo's Asian Bistro (Molly Woo's) at Polaris. I don't make it to Polaris a whole lot since I live close to Downtown, so I often forget how nicely planned it is, and the good shopping and restaurant choices there are.

Recently, I had read a review in the Columbus Dispatch about Molly Woo's, so I had been wanting to try this "Pan-Asian menu" that is "on the track to perfection." We sat at the bar, which provided a nice ambiance and a good people watching view (which is a hobby that Kellie and I are exceptionally good at).

We ordered two appetizers, an order of pot stickers and an order of crab rangoon. I forgot to take pictures because it was 8 pm and I was ravished with hunger. The pot stickers are filled with chicken and vegetables, and are in a flavorful ginger soy sauce, with a plum drizzle. On top of the pot stickers is a nice shaved carrot ensemble that is easy to pick up with a fork. I thought the pot stickers were kind of cold when they came out. But nevertheless tasty.

The crab rangoons are really small. I guess since Molly Woo's is a Cameron Mitchell's restaurant, the appetizers that are generally normal people sized at regular restaurants have to be fancy and smaller and more expensive. But the sweet and tangy sauce that comes to dip the rangoons in is AWESOME. And the rangoons are pretty good even though they are bite sized.

Kellie ordered the Sesame Beef with Brown Rice:

And I ordered the special Chinese New Year fried rice, with Lump Crab and Shrimp:

The selling point for this was the mango. However, the tomatoes really were unnecessary. I really don't understand why you would mix raw tomatoes, with raw mangoes, on top of shrimp and lump crab and a savory fried rice?

I wish this fried rice had more to it. For example, Haiku's fried rice has a lot of vegetables, sprouts, snow pod peas, beans,carrots, and pieces of meat or tofu. This fried rice just had chopped celery, onion, peas out of the pod, and some carrots. I don't even think there was egg in the fried rice? Anyway, I guess I paid $17.95 for like 15 pieces of not really big shrimp that I could probably get in a frozen bag from Trader Joe's, and a pile of lump crap meat that was cold and most likely from a can.

Kellie said her sesame beef was good though.

Ok, this is where things get crazy and gluttonous. It's 9 pm, and I look out in the hallway, and like ONE HUNDRED 16-year-olds are exiting the mall. SERIOUSLY. All of these kids. Who lets their kids go to the mall on a Friday night, and most importantly, how do these kids have money to go to Forever 21 and Gap and Victoria's Secret and buy things? Maybe it's a city thing that I didn't deal with growing up in Celina, but come on, really? A MASS EXODUS of children? Don't they have better things to do than hang out in the mall?!

Anyway, the dessert special on the Chinese New Year deal was a warm pear tart with coconut ice cream:

OMG. This was seriously the best dessert I've had in a long time. The pastry was warm, the pear filling was sweet and tart, and the coconut ice cream added a nice texture. We seriously demolished it in 5 minutes.

Due to the after shock of witnessing the degeneration of America's children, we ordered another dessert. The bar tender recommended this banana-peanut butter-chocolate-wonton-ice cream topped delight:

These were pretty good too. However, I think that it would have been better with Nutella instead of chocolate and peanut butter. And it was a cold dessert, not warm and delightful like the pear tart.

I had to do Body Pump and Cardio today to remove the guilt of having two desserts, but that pear tart was worth it.

CONCLUSION: I don't think I will get another rice dish from Molly Woo's. I'll probably just stick to the chicken dishes, or just get soup and dessert. And I will try and not go on a weekend around 9pm so I won't be terrified by the kiddos.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Downtown: Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace

When I was growing up, my dad was a huge fan of serving me hot dogs. Even though my mom was anti the idea, my dad used to like to cook hot dogs for me on the weekends, slice them in half, melt a slice of American cheese neatly in the middle, and place the dog on piece of toast. He would make a ketchup-Tabasco combo (I think we have 3 types of hot sauce in our fridge at home), and place some onions on top. It was a very fancy presentation and was even more delicious.

However, after a summer in India, my grandfather got me off of the hot dog kick and I never really ate them again (thankfully, my father got off the hot dog kick and progressed to cold cuts and McDonald's $1 double cheeseburgers).

The Betty's family of restaurants has three of the most popular restaurants that my friends and I frequent: The Tip Top (best variety of fries), The Surly Girl (the spicy peanut butter sandwich is delicious), and Betty's (fried plantains!). So when Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace (Dirty Frank's) opened in Downtown Columbus, it was destined to be a hit.

Dirty Frank's is in the location of the old Queen Bee, which I used to frequent during the 2006 campaign as it was across the street from the Strickland campaign headquarters, and around the corner from my office. It was amazing how quickly the place was turned around into a modern, hip restaurant.

I went to Dirty Frank's when it first opened. The great things about Dirty Frank's is that there are a variety of hot dogs: all beef dogs, brats, and both dogs and brats in veggie. Which is great for non beef eaters like me.

Today I had off work and ventured down to Dirty Frank's with my buddy Eric, aka the White Ninja (see the Unhappy Hour post). Eric is one of my go-to eating buddies and we hadn't been to Dirty Franks together, and I hadn't been there since the new menu rolled out, so we went for it. It was also the perfect day for comfort food, as it is snowing,windy, and all around miserable outside.

Eric and I ordered an order of the soft pretzels, and tator tots, in addition to our dogs. Eric went for the beef brats, and ordered the Lara's Pittsburgh Princess, which is topped with cole slaw, yellow mustard, and french fries, and a Chicago dog, with mustard, sport peppers, and pickles. I ordered two veggie dogs, one Beano, which has refried beans, tomatoes, onions, and sharp cheddar cheese, and I ordered a Lara's Pittsburgh Princess too.

The last time I had the pretzels, they were a little on the hard side, and perhaps had too much flour. I am a sucker for soft pretzels. Every time my mom and I go to the mall, we stop at Auntie Anne's and share a pretzel. The pretzels today were hot, soft, and had a great flavor. The
pretzels come with a cheese sauce, and a Sriracha mustard, which is delicious.

Here are Eric's dogs.

I love potatoes. I love tater tots. There are a lot of great tot locations in Columbus. Latkes, aloo parathas, french fries, mashed baked, twice baked, give me some taters! Dirty Frank's are not greasy, crispy, and we ordered them doused in cheese sauce and bacon. Amazing.

And here are mine.

I love the Beano. The refried beans have a nice kick, and the raw tomato/onion combo are great. However, I wish the cheese would be melted. I understand the appeal of unmelted shredded cheese on items (tacos, etc), but Maybe a little more warmth on this dog could do it some good.

Lara's P squared: I really don't know how i feel about this dog. All of the components on their own are delicious, but I don't think that this combo needs to do it. There needs to be something more spicy. I don't think balsamic vinegar would do the touch. Or Sriracha. Something. I wasn't a fan. It was pretty bland.

Luckily, the White Ninja agreed.

CONCLUSION: I really like Dirty Franks, a lot, and I will definitely be back. I really need to work my way through the menu, and branch out from always getting the Beano. I wish they would have veggie coney dog sauce, however, because I think a veggie coney dog would be delicious.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Downtown: Flatiron Bar & Diner

One neat thing about living in Columbus is the ability to see beautiful architecture. Apart from The Statehouse, there are a lot of homes and buildings from the 1800s that have been beautifully restored. The Flatiron Bar & Diner ("Flatiron") is fortunate to be in such a building. The Flatiron's website states that its namesake comes from the Flatiron Building in New York City.

My friend Sarah first introduced me to the Flatiron back in 2006. Since she knew I had a love of spicy food and good calamari, she thought it would be be a good place to take me. When we were working together, we'd often go to the Flatiron for lunch. I haven't really frequented since, maybe once last year.

So, in the theme of Fat Tuesday, I asked my other friend Sarah (I guess Sarah is a popular name among my friends!) to go to Flatiron with me for a good meal. She lassoed her boyfriend Todd to assist us in this culinary challenge (he is a foodie as well, so it wasn't very difficult haha).

We went to the Flatiron on Friday night for a late dinner. Since we were all famished, we ordered a sampler of appetizers.

I for sure had to get the calamari. The calamari are lightly dusted in cornmeal, fried, with a delicious remoulade sauce. We also ordered a Crab and Corn Cake with a Spicy Ancho Chile Mayonnaise; a Roulade of House Smoked Salmon Creme Fraiche, Capers and Red Onion with Cucumber and Baguette, and Cornmeal Fried Oysters with Tangy Remoulade Sauce.

The cornmeal on the calamari and the oysters is not thick at all. It provides a nice coating with a good crunch that doesn't leave a greasy feeling. And the remoulade is seriously drinkable-- not too heavy on a mayo taste with a nice heat.

I had higher hopes for the salmon combo, however. I guess I really enjoy Bodega's a lot, which is covered in red onions and capers. I was hoping that Flatiron's would have the same great flavor combinations. Maybe some more capers, or some red onion instead of the heavy creme fraiche.

The main course: Sarah ordered the half slab of ribs:

and Todd and I both went for the Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich. The BBQ is North Carolina style. I've never been to North Carolina, nor have I really had North Carolina style BBQ outside of the Flatiron. Nevertheless, the pork is in a spicy mustard sauce. However, with our fries, Todd and I both went for the Sweet and Hot style, with Balsamic Vinegar, Red Pepper Flakes and Vermont Cheddar.

I HAVE NEVER HAD FRIES LIKE THAT AND I WILL CONSTANTLY GET THEM AGAIN. OMG! I mean, balsamic vinegar is already the nectar of the gods. The tang from the vinegar, the spice from the flakes, and then the cheddar adds a nice sweetness.

I do love my spicy food (being Indian and all) but all of the combinations ended up being a lot for my poor little esophagus to handle. I'm still experiencing some heart burn.

On to dessert: Sarah ordered the apple pie special:

I had the chocolate special for the night, chocolate cheesecake:

And Todd had the Bread Pudding:

I gotta tell ya, I should have gotten the bread pudding. Custard Bread Pudding with Bourbon Anglaise and Shaved Chocolate. OMG. This comes out warm. All delicious like. The anglaise gets in every single crevice of the bread. It was so good, that after I polished off my cheesecake, I finished Todd's bread pudding.

Sarah's apple pie was pretty good, too :)

CONCLUSION: I will get my fries Sweet and Hot every time, and will get the bread pudding. Perhaps two orders.

Monday, February 15, 2010

What happens when Snowpacalypse prevents you from leaving the house?

More snow. Round two. For some reason, the ground hog has shown no mercy on Columbus.

(the intersection of 2nd and hunter, and my car, which has been parked since 2 pm).

I really like pizza on Monday nights, and contemplated ordering a pizza. However, my friend Sarah promptly reminded me that you really, REALLY, have to tip well in order for a pizza delivery person to arrive to your house in a level 1 snow emergency.

So I made up my own:


1. low carb 50 cal tortillas
2. natural kraft low fat mozzarella cheese
3. oregano
4. tomato sauce
5. hormel's turkey sausage

First I heated the oven to 350 degrees, and placed the tortillas in by themselves. After about 5 minutes, I combined the rest of the ingredients, and put everything in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Needless to say, it satisfied the craving. I just hope that this snow leaves for sanity and hunger's sake.

Grandview: Paul's on Fifth

It's neat sometimes to go to a restaurant and be able to order things that aren't on the menu. You feel kind of special, but most importantly, you know that the dish you order is super special because it's not something that's available every day.

That's what it's like at Paul's on Fifth, aka, Paul's Pantry.

Although the breakfast menu is pretty expansive, and has a lot of tasty items, the item to spring for is the thin and crispy.

What is a thin and crispy, you ask?


Seriously, the thin and crispy is paper thin Thin like a crepe, but crispy like a dosa. But it still maintains the properties that are most desirable of a pancake; the ability to soak in buttery, syrupy goodness.

I always go with three thin and crispies when I go to Paul's.

They come out piping hot, piled on top of each other, the outer edges so crispy like a tortilla chip. The butter immediately melts onto the cake, and the syrup soaks in like a Brawny paper towel.

You don't even need a knife to cut a thin and crispy, They are so delicate, that the gentle motion from a fork will do the job.


CONCLUSION: You'll probably find me at Paul's in between 8:30-9:30 am on any given Saturday or Sunday, if I am not checking out some new place. I'll say hi, but please don't disturb me during my euphoria of thin and crispies.

Short North: Haiku

Five. Seven. Five.

The composition of a haiku.

When you are seated in the dining area of Haiku, in the heart of the Short North, there are haikus posted by restaurant patrons everywhere. Some funny, some serious. Mine tend to be goofy and nonsensical, but clearly that is just me.

Haiku has been known as one of Columbus's finest sushi restaurants. A great outdoor dining area that is packed any given night in the spring and summer, and two dining areas inside with different vibes; tables with bench seats, one side with larger tables for bigger parties than the other.

Apart from Sushi, Haiku has many other palate pleasers, including noodle and rice dishes, chickens sauteed in a variety of sauces, and a slew of appetizers. However, the best kept secret of Haiku is its lunchbox.

It's kind of a tradition started by my friend Todd and I that whenever we go for lunch, we'll usually go to Happy Greek for salads, or if we are craving a plentiful meal, we will head to Haiku for the lunchbox. Todd is actually the first person to introduce me to the Haiku lunchbox.

For $14.95, the Haiku Lunchbox comes with enough food for two people: 3 pieces of an Alaskan roll, 3 pieces of of a California roll; a variety of tempura; seaweed salad; 2 pieces of sashimi; choice of chicken, beef, or fish; and three pieces of gyoza. In addition to all of this, you also get a bowl of miso soup and a salad with a light ginger-peanut dressing.

I personally think that the gyoza at Haiku is pretty gross. I always ask if I can trade out the gyoza for an extra side of seaweed salad. Sometimes the waitress is unwilling to budge; however, today, I was in luck.

Don't expect the chicken to be warm. It is slightly chilled, in a sweet teriyaki sauce. The chicken is grilled however, and has a nice char to it.

The tempura usually consist of: 1 onion, 1 sweet potato, 1 potato, 1 squash, and a broccoli. Really, a piece of broccoli? Who wants to shove a gigantic piece of broccoli that's battered in often times overly thick and greasy tempura batter into their gullet at lunch time?

Anyway...the tempura today were warm and crispy, but slightly overcoated. The seaweed salad was typical seaweed salad. Not heavy on the vinegar, which is nice. And I had a double order since i swapped out the gross gyoza...hopefully that added some nutritional value that the tempura depleted.

The sushi rolls were pretty typical. Nothing to report there. However, on the Sashimi, I must point out that the knife skills on the piece of tuna were really great. I wish I had my real camera, so I could have captured the detail.

As in typical fashion after a delightful Asian meal, fresh fruit was served (although in winter, Japanese Oriental Restaurant will serve dum-dum suckers instead). Here we had a nice half an orange, with once again beautiful knife skills on the fruit. The orange was sliced so that we could pick it up in individual diamond shaped sizes.

CONCLUSION: This is the best deal in town for any sushi lover at lunch time.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Downtown: Due Amici (aka, the un-happy hour)

I really do love Due Amici.

Due Amici is in the perfect spot downtown. The deep woods, dim lights, white table cloth, and long, bar make Due Amici a cool vibe, along with the upbeat music played in the background. I love the owners, as they always gave me great deals when I used to host Blue Cocktail Progressive Mixers there in 2007.

Located on Gay Street, it is so conveniently located from Cap Square, and is a great place to go for a business lunch, a fundraising dinner, or a quick drink with a friend after work.

Which is exactly what I did yesterday. I met my friend Eric (aka, the White Ninja to some of you) for a quick drink after work. Eric works downtown, and I do too, so we like to meet there for a good glass of red wine and maybe some snacks.

Which leads me to the point of this post. I saw on twitter and facebook how Due Amici has a new happy hour special. Here are the links:

So, it clearly says, 2 for 1 bar apps/bar menu items from 4-7 Mondays-Fridays. So needless to say, I was pretty excited.

I meet Eric at the bar. Now, I noticed that when Barrio, Due Amici's sister restaurant opened, that a lot of the good wait staff went along with the new, exciting restaurant (I'm sure I'll get to Barrio at some point). Now, at the bar on weeknights, is a bartender whose personality resembles Styrofoam, and who is not very friendly.

Eric had been waiting for me for about 10 minutes, and had just gotten his glass of wine when I sat down. It took me about 5 minutes to get a wine menu, and then another 5 minutes to place my order for my measly glass of red wine.

We order an appetizer; calamari. Due Amici's calamari is fried, with various vegetables, and a marinara sauce at the bottom. Seriously, it's nothing like Lindey's, or Hyde Park's. Anyway, it hit the spot and was pretty good-- I forgot to take a picture.

NOW....time to my reason for referencing the power of social media. I ask the bartender, aka Lurch, to order another appetizer because I saw on Twitter, that appetizers are two for one.

He told me that was only for the day of Snowmageddon.

REALLY? Because when you look at the Twitter and Facebook page, it says NOTHING about being valid for Snowmageddon day only.

So, I pull out my Blackberry (well, I pick it up off of t he bar) and while probably embarrassing the White Ninja, I reference Lurch to facebook and twitter, where he proceeds to tell me I'm wrong again.

Fine. But it clearly says different!

Five minutes go passed, and Lurch comes back. He says that he'll give us another appetizer because of my "Twitter mistake." White Ninja asked Lurch if he was responsible for the Twitter, and Lurch informed him it was "some girl" that was "wrong" because the special was for the "snow day only."

Lurch hooked us up with a spinach artichoke dip:

It was pretty garlicky. The toast points were crisp, and there was definitely more cheese/cream than spinach/artichoke.

CONCLUSION: IT was a pretty unhappy hour. Maybe I love the actual Due Amici over Due Amici's food. But Lurch really has got to step up his attitude.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Do you ever eat at home?

That was a question I received from a reader.

Yes, I do. In fact, this is what I made today for lunches/dinners for the week:

Stir-Fried Tofu, Red Cabbage and Winter Squash (minus the winter squash because Kroger was out):

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar or honey

2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons canola oil or peanut oil

1/2 pound firm tofu, cut in 1- x 2-inch dominoes

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 pound butternut squash, cut in 1/2-inch dice

Salt to taste

1 1/2 pounds red cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped

Rice, bulgur or buckwheat noodles for serving

1. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, the rice wine vinegar, sugar or honey, sesame oil and cornstarch. Set aside.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles and evaporates upon contact. Add the tofu, and stir-fry until lightly colored, about three minutes. Remove from the pan, and season to taste with soy sauce.

3. Add the remaining oil to the pan. When it is hot, add the butternut squash. Stir-fry until it begins to color, five to eight minutes. Add salt to taste, the ginger and garlic. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds, and add the cabbage. Stir-fry until the squash is tender and the cabbage is crisp-tender, about six minutes, adding about 1/4 cup water to the pan from time to time if the vegetables begin to stick. Return the tofu to the pan.

4. Stir the sweet and sour mixture, and add to the vegetables. Stir just for a few seconds until they are glazed. Remove from the heat and serve with grains or noodles.

I also made Soupe au Pistou, minus the pistou, pasta, and I had to use up a bag of many beans so I didn't just stick to white beans:

For the soup:

1 1/2 cups white beans, soaked for six hours in 6 cups water and drained

2 quarts water

1 large onion, chopped

4 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed

A bouquet garni made with a few sprigs each thyme and parsley, a Parmesan rind and a bay leaf

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 leeks, white and light green part only, cleaned and sliced

1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or 1 14-ounce can, with liquid

2 cups shredded savoy or green cabbage

2 large carrots, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 medium-size zucchini, scrubbed and diced

2 medium-size turnips, peeled and diced

1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and broken into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups), blanched for five minutes and set aside

1/2 cup soup pasta, such as macaroni or small shells

Freshly ground pepper

For the pistou:

2 large garlic cloves, halved, green shoots removed

Salt to taste

2 cups, tightly packed, fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan for sprinkling

1. Drain the white beans and combine with 2 quarts water in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Skim off any foam, then add half the onion, half the garlic and the bouquet garni. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes. Add salt to taste.

2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet, and add the remaining chopped onion and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Add the leeks and remaining garlic. Stir together for a few minutes, and add the tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have cooked down slightly and the mixture is fragrant, five to 10 minutes. Stir this mixture into the soup pot, add all of the remaining vegetables except the green beans, and bring back to a simmer. Cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes to an hour. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

3. While the soup is simmering, blanch the green beans for five minutes in salted boiling water. Transfer to a bowl of ice-cold water. Drain and set aside.

4. To make the pistou, mash the garlic with a generous pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle. Remove it and set aside. Grind the basil to a paste in the mortar, a handful at a time, then add the garlic back in and mix together well. Work in the olive oil a tablespoon at a time, then stir in the cheese.

5. Add the pasta to the simmering soup about 10 minutes before serving, and cook until cooked al dente. Add pepper, taste and adjust salt. Stir the blanched green beans into the soup and heat through. Serve, adding a spoonful of pesto to each bowl for guests to stir in. Pass additional Parmesan for sprinkling.

So there you have it! Yes, I do cook!

Short North: The Burgundy Room

One of my favorite things about Columbus is Gallery Hop. The first Saturday of every month, the Short North comes alive, where hundreds, if not thousands of people, eat, drink, visit the galleries, and roam up and down high street.

The best part about my new apartment (besides not paying any utilities) is that I live two blocks from High Street, and can easily walk to the Short North and partake in Gallery Hop.

Saturday night, my friend Sarah and I went to one of our favorite restaurants, The Burgundy Room. Snowmageddon did not stop us from having an enjoyable Saturday night. The view from the Riffe Center on Friday:

The Burgundy Room is located almost in the heart of the short north. Deep, wood floors, a long bar, and multiple rooms make up the restaurant. There are a large variety of wines, in addition to various beers and cocktails. There is valet parking, for you non-Short North residents.

The Burgundy Room is known for its great tapas menu. Mussels, truffle fries, beet dip with toast points. However, The Burgundy Room recently changed its tapas menu, and Sarah and I just had to try it.

Sarah ordered the wine for us, a great bottle of pinot noir, "The Innocent Bystander."

We ordered a couple of tapas to start. I was addicted to the former truffle fries with basil aioli, so I tried the House Cut Parmesan- Rosemary Fries with Garlic Aioli:

Sarah sprung for the Beef Carpaccio with Horseradish Aioli, Cornichons, Pecorino Romano and Lavash Crackers (See, I told you I'd recruit a beef eater!!):

The fries were amazing. Fresh, hot, thick sliced. I thought the Parmesan rub may be overly greasy, but it was delicious. However, I wished the aioli could have had more spunk. Perhaps maybe the basil aioli could make a return to the fries. I clearly wasn't complaining:

Sarah loved the carpaccio. However, she could have done without the peppers.

We had to try the next two menu items. Roasted Asparagus with Poached Egg, Pancetta, Garlic Chips & Porcini Hollandaise and Duck Corn Dog with Fennel Slaw and Blood Orange Marmalade.

Corn dogs, really?!

When the server brought out the asparagus, he told us that the asparagus would change our lives.

Omg, he wasn't kidding!

The asparagus was perfectly cooked. Tender, yet firm. The porcini hollandaise, i could drink it! and the egg was perfectly poached, it tasted like butter. So, so good. Our waitress told us that the garlic chips take the chef forever to make, and I can imagine why; seriously, not even a quarter of an inch thick, perfectly crispy. I could eat this asparagus every day:

Uhh--corn dogs. I love corn dogs. However, most corn dogs are made from beef hot dogs, something I obvs don't do. These were made from duck:

The actual duck was pretty mild to the taste; I think it was only lightly seasoned with pepper, it wasn't very spicy. The corn bread surrounding the duck
was delicious, crisp, and not soggy. The corn dogs came with a nice slaw that was different from most; it was nice not to be sogged down with mayo.

Since we were already being gluttons, we sprung for dessert.

Sarah went for the Carrot Cupcake with Ginger Crème Anglaise, Saigon Cinnamon Ice Cream & Candied Walnut:

And I went for the Dark Chocolate Mousse with Fresh Berries and Whipped Cream:

I will probably get the carrot cake cupcake if I get dessert next time I'm there. The mousse was so-so, but I wanted to try something different than Sarah, and the creme bruele was rum flavored, so that didn't really scream "delicious" after the rich meal we had.

CONCLUSION: The Burgundy Room is great for girls night, a quick bite alone, a meeting spot with a group of friends, and would definitely be a great date spot. Next time, I will not eat before I go and have 2 orders of the asparagus.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Random Website

I just saw this website and it really raged me. A restaurant in San Francisco charges at least $10 for a dosa.

REALLY??!?!?! TEN DOLLARS! I mean, I think it costs $10 to make a huge batch of dosas with chutney and sambar!!


Clintonville: Beechwold Diner

I love breakfast.

Growing up, my parents did an amazing job of accommodating both American and Indian style breakfasts.

My mom would make egg-less pancakes, which were very tasty. My mom doesn't really eat egg, unless it's baked into cakes and cookies and she has no control over it, so she wouldn't cook with it. My dad, on the other hand, is the master of the omelet. I have tried over the years to replicate his style. My dad first takes a small frying pan (not even a type casted omelet pan). He heats the pan with some ghee, or clarified butter, staple of Indian cooking. He neatly cracks two eggs in a small bowl, in this series of Tupperware bowls my mother must have bought 30 years ago, takes a fork, neatly whisks the eggs. He adds salt, pepper and garlic. My dad always knows when the heat of the pan is exactly right, adds the egg. He then flips it, adds a piece of American cheese, and bam. The perfect omelet, that can be easily transformed into a bread sandwich. However, on days when my dad didn't feel like cooking, he'd take my sister and I to McDonald's and we'd all split a big breakfast. Those were the days!

However, South Indian breakfast is a big deal. Totally savory. Delicious dosas with coconut chutney. Upma, which in made from a semolina-like substance called rava, with fresh vegetables, served with spicy mango pickle. The only really sweet dish I can think of are these coconut dosas my aunt makes, with molasses chutney. Melts in your mouth!

Anyway, I am a big fan of American style breakfast. I love sitting in coffee shops and home style diners and having buttery, delicious stacks of pancakes, omelets that are overflowing with goodness, and having a great cup of coffee.

Last night, Columbus had a pretty big snow storm. Although it wasn't the snowpacolypse that the east coast apparently received, it was pretty bad. I had made plans with some of my friends to visit the Beechwold Diner this morning for breakfast. Luckily, the snow stopped over night, so we were able to venture this morning.

The Beechwold Diner is located on Indianola Avenue, between Cooke and Morse roads. It is only open for breakfast and lunch. It is in a building that is occupied by several other businesses as well, so parking is plenty. When we walked in, it reminded me of the German Village Coffee Haus, with four seaters booths and one big booth, and plenty of bar stools overlooking the grill top. The bar tops looked like they were made of granite. Very clean, very nice.

We were allowed to self seat, so we chose a roomy booth for the four of us. Upon glancing at the menu, the prices were very reasonable. The most expensive omelet was the garbage omelet, which was $7.50.

I like looking at what other people order when they go to restaurants. Most people around us had omelets. I normally get pancakes when I go out for breakfast, but today I sprung for the omelet. Although I must say,the cinnamon rolls looked AMAZING.

After a round of coffees, which tasted like a very fresh brew, we all ordered our omelets.

Mine, a sausage and cheese omelet with wheat toast:

A bacon and cheese omelet with an English muffin:

A garbage omelet with wheat toast:

And a good ol, plain cheese omelet:

The omelets were paper thin. I was amazed at how neatly the eggs were folded, like a piece of paper. Due to this thin-ness, I was surprised at the contents that could fit in the omelet. The cheese warm, delicious, and gooey, was on my fork after the first cut. It was really great.

With the omelets, a delicious side of potatoes and toast came. The potatoes were scalloped, crispy, and not greasy. Very good. The toast was buttered, which was fine because the meal was fat fatty anyway.

I wish I didn't gorge on the breakfast. The dessert special was pie. DINER PIE. I saw someone get a slice of blueberry, and it looked amazing. The special was french silk pie.

I also wish I would have saved room for a cinnamon roll.

CONCLUSION: I will be back. For pancakes. And cinnamon rolls.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Grandview: Mazah Fresh Mediterranean Eatery

I love Mediterranean food.

Hummus. Baba ganoush. Tabouli. Falaffel. Kebabs.

All simultaneously.

I get really excited when a new non-American cuisine restaurant opens up in Columbus,especially one that is less than a mile from my apartment. So, when I read on Columbus Underground about Mazah, I knew I had to try it.

I enlisted the taste buds of my good friend Annie, who coincidentally had been craving hummus, and we trekked the short distance to Grandview Avenue this evening to try Mazah.

Mazah isn't easy to find, there isn't a sign on the outside of the restaurant. It is located next to Trattoria Roma, in between 3rd Avenue and 5th Avenue.

We entered the restaurant around 7:45, and it was pretty busy, only three tables were empty. We were seated and given menus. I must say, the best deal would have to be the sampler platters; one sampler had several salads, dips, a soup, and an entree for under $20; in other words, a lot of delish treats for a little.

I knew I had to get a lamb kebab. Lamb is my ultimate guilty pleasure. I try not to eat it very often, because the thought of killing a lamb is sad, but I cannot help myself when I go to a Middle Eastern/North Indian/Mediterranean restaurant.

When we were seated and after drink orders were taken, we were given some slices of pita bread and fresh hummus.

Um, no other restaurant I have been to in Columbus does this. Whereas Cafe Shish Kebab and Cafe Istanbul deliver their amazing breads with an olive oil/tomato dipping sauce, no one gives hummus. REALLY? Hummus is like, a $3-5 appetizer and we're getting it just for sitting down? That's like, almost as amazing as the endless chips and salsa at El Vaquero!

Annie and I settle on our meals, after much deliberation. The menu is pretty extensive. Besides the combination platters, there are a variety of dips, sandwiches, and entrees.

Annie went for the chicken shwarma platter, with a side of Mediterranean Potato Salad (yes, you read correctly, Potato Salad) and a Fava Bean Hummus.

I started with a lentil soup, and for the main event, went for the lamb kebab with rice, and baba ganoush. The owner came out to inform me, however, that there wasn't much baba ganoush left, so she would give me a generous helping of hummus.

The lentil soup arrived, and unfortunately I forgot to snap a picture. Mazah uses the green lentil, and I tasted hints of carrot, garlic, onion, and cumin. However, my soup was lukewarm. I love lentil soup, but it would have been even more delicious if it was warmer. This perhaps may have been due to our waitress; nice lady, just a wee bit slow.

Before, I had mentioned that the owner came out to inform me of the lack of baba ganoush,and said she'd provide some generous hummus.

Um, generous is used liberally here. The portions were HUGE.

Here is my meal:

And here is Annie's:

What a beautiful presentation on both plates. All of the dips and meats were arranged so neatly with the nicely seasoned rice.

The owner and wait staff came and checked on us after we got our meals. The owner even came and gave me some hot sauce for my kebab--score!

I used the generous bread that was left on the table to scoop up my food. The baba ganoush had a great eggplant taste; the eggplant was clearly roasted to perfection, and had contained the smokey flavor that makes eggplant so great. The hummus was creamy, and had a great balance of chickpea and garlic notes.

And now to the meat. Most restaurants in town have the kebab in the actual kebab shape, blocks. At Mazah, the kebabs were more flat, but still perfectly charred. The kebabs were on top of a spanish-flavored rice pilaf. It had a nice tomato taste, and was different from the plain basmati rice.

Annie ordered the Chicken Shwarma platter, with the potato salad and fava bean dip. I was intrigued by this potato salad so I had to sample Annie's.

Wow. Nothing like the typical potato salad that we're used to at potlucks and picnics. The soft potatoes were tossed in garlic and lemon sauce. Very nice. I would have eaten it all, except it was Annie's side dish.

The fava bean hummus had a smokier flavor than the traditional chick pea hummus, and a beautiful color.

Annie and I both wanted to try dessert, so we managed to eat only a portion of our meals.

I had read online about the tiramisu, so I ordered that. It was different from typical tiramisus, it had a nice rum flavor, and the marscapone creme was creamier than most places,

Annie ordered a version of Kunefe, a pastry with shredded vermicelli, a sweet simple syrup, and a filling of a light cheese. I was hoping that there would be more of a cheese surprise in the middle, but I think that the Kunefe at Shish Kebab is better.

Unfortunately, I snapped the pictures AFTER we had started eating the desserts. Whoops.

All in all, for $21, Mazah gave me a great meal. Apart from the spotty waitress, the draft from the door, and the dismal take out boxes (my leftovers did not fit in the tiny boxes that were provided, so I had to specifically ask for a larger, Mazah was an enjoyable experience.

CONCLUSION: I will definitely be back to Mazah, and this time, I'll get the potato salad!