Monthly Archives: May 2006

Review: Anna’s Restaurant

Hubby and I used to love Anna’s Restaurant, and thought it was hands down the best Greek food in Columbus. Unfortunately, we had an experience with the food last time (a dish being sent back 3 times – first underdone, then burnt, and then tough) that had left a bad taste in our mouth, and kept us away for a while. After some really good Greek food in Cleveland a few weeks ago, we decided to give it another try locally.

Appetizers were wonderful. We ordered the Anna’s Combo, which according to the menu has “two dolmathakia (ground meat and rice in grape leaves with lemon sauce), tyropita (cheese phyllo turnover), spanakopita (spinach feta phyllo turnover), tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, served with hummus and the house tzatziki. It also came with gyro meat, which wasn’t listed on the menu.

This combo is so big it takes two plates to hold it all.

I’ve been craving hummus for a while, and Anna’s is excellent, rich with tahini and olive oil, and with a subtle bite because of the paprika sprinkled on top. It goes well with the soft, still warm pita bread it’s served with. Their dolmathakia are the best I’ve had locally – most local restaurants only have vegetarian dolmathakia, which I find underwhelming. The avgolemono sauce on top complements them perfectly, creating an interesting contrast with the beef-lamb mix. Their tzatkiki is fantastic, with a bite I couldn’t identify, and it went well with everything, from the spanokopita down to the gyro meat.

Hubby opted for an extra order of the dolmathakia because two just weren’t enough to sate his craving for them.

I have absolutely no complaints about the appetizer portion – they couldn’t have been more perfect.

Our problems started with the entrees. I ordered the pastitsio (baked macaroni and ground meat with a bechamel sauce on top) – according to the menu, it comes with lemon potatoes, green beans, fresh rolls, and choice of soup or salad.

My soup was great – nice creamy flavor with pieces of rice and chicken, with the lemon being very subtle.

But when my entree came, here is what I was presented with:

Um, ok. Pastisio – check. Lemon potatoes – check. Green beans – have suddenly turned into eggplant, which I hate unless well hidden in another dish, or breaded and fried. Rolls – completely missing.

The manager comes over, and I ask very politely – isn’t this supposed to come with green beans? “We’re out” And rolls? “We’re not baking any more tonight, but we might be able to find some pita”. OK.

Needless to say, if I had known this, I would have probably ordered something different, as these two items were half of the reason I ordered pastitsio in the first place.

Hubby was quite pleased with his choice, which was Lamb Kokinisto, described as “succulent lamb pieces cooked very slowly with tomatoes, scallions, fresh herbs, and finished with a special Greek wine.” He said the lamb was quite tender, and the flavor was good, but the overall vibe was more Italian than Greek.

For dessert, hubby and I shared a piece of galaktoboureko, which is a farina-custard filling wrapped in phyllo. I love this stuff, but unfortunately, I remember that it used to be much better.

Needless to say, overall it was pretty disappointing. Service was spotty, with us having to track down our waiter by roaming toward the kitchen area several times, and things would have gone a lot smoother if they had warned us ahead of time of the items they were out of. Considering the fact that they hadn’t, some sort of concession, like giving us the entree at the ala carte price, or giving us dessert for free, or even a sincere apology rather than shrugged indifference would have gone a long way toward making us return to their restaurant. Considering they were aware of the bad experience we had last time, this is even more true than usual.

It’s a shame, though – because they used to be so good. Their food still is. They’ve fallen into the disturbing trend I’ve noticed with several other Columbus restuarants – indifference. Too many places these days stop cooking fresh food at a certain cut off point. While I can understand the economics of it from a restaurant manager standpoint, this is the type of thing that will drive customers away in droves. If you have hours posted, make sure you treat your customers at 8:30 the same way you treat your customers at 6:00.

I usually visit a place at least twice before I give a critical review, unless the offense was so glaring the first time, that I won’t go back. In this case, I went here for years, and the last few times, it’s been consistently bad, either with food or service. Maybe I just have bad luck here. So overall review? Used to be great, but now inconsistent food and service. When it’s spot on, there’s no better. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been spot on in my last few visits.

If you'd like to go: Anna's Restaurant, 7370 Sawmill Center, Columbus, OH 43235, 614-799-2207.

Anna's Greek Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Food Porn: Pork and Sauerkraut

Pork and sauerkraut is something we usually make on New Year’s Day. However, when we got our last whole pork loin on sale at Giant Eagle (we stock up when it’s $1.69/lb), we had them cut a few pork loin roasts out of one of the loins we bought. We were meaning to make a roast pork with savory fennel bread pudding, but after actually buying and cutting into the fennel, I realized it smelled like licorice. I can’t stand black licorice, so needed to find another pork recipe in a hurry.

The recipe is simple. Throw a pork loin into a slow cooker with 2 bags of sauerkraut. About an hour before it’s done, throw in a package of garlic knockers. Serve with mashed potatoes. 🙂

Community Supported Agriculture

Hubby and I have been throwing around the idea of buying a share in a CSA for a while now, but aren’t quite sure yet that it’s the right thing for us.

Let me start by saying that I *love* produce. I live for spring because that means that the farmer’s markets will be opening soon, and that the pick your own farms will be opening pretty much right after that. I love the colors, the taste, everything – even more so when it’s fresh off the farm and untouched by chemicals and wax and all the other crap they put on it during the wholesale process to make it look “pretty”.

If my yard weren’t solid clay, I’d try to grow my own veggies. Almost every meal I eat has a veggie component to it. I hate canned veggies, and will only eat frozen in the winter if I’m in a pinch and if it’s most cost-effective (off-season produce usually sucks in quality).

What I worry about is a couple of things. I would love it if those of you who belong to CSAs could answer these questions for me.

– Why did you decide to sign up for a CSA in the first place?

– How much produce do you usually get in a share? It’s just hubby and I, so I don’t want anything to go to waste.

– Have you been satisfied with the quality of the produce that is provided to you? I’m a stickler for being very particular about my strawberries not being overripe, etc.

– Have you found that the cost (which seems to be pretty high) is justified?

– What do you do with the veggies that you don’t like or eat? (I can’t stand beets, for instance)

– Have you found that going out of your way to pick up your share is inconvenient, given the limited hours you’re able to do so?

– If you had it to do all over again, would you?

– And if you’re in the Columbus area, which CSA do you recommend?

Food Porn: Orzo Salad with Spinach and Feta

Ever since I discovered Wild Oats Market, I’ve fallen in love with their Orzo Salad with Spinach and Feta. Unfortunately, my wallet hasn’t, since it costs $8.99/lb. So I’ve been searching high and low for a recipe that comes close to theirs – and the other day, I stumbled on it. I now have the honest to goodness store recipe, and I made it last night. It’s virtually a clone, the only change I made was to use crumbled feta because I prefer the taste throughout rather than huge chunks like the recipe calls for.

Orzo Salad with Spinach and Feta

Courtesy of Wild Oats Market

1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp. black pepper
½ c. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. orzo pasta, cooked until al dente and cooled
15 kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
½ c. red onion, diced
½ c. celery, diced
2 stalks green onions, thinly sliced
8 oz. fresh spinach, roughly chopped
½ c. pine nuts, toasted
6 oz. feta cheese, cubed

Whisk the vinegar, garlic, and pepper together. Slowly add olive oil until it begins to thicken and set aside. In a mixing bowl toss pasta, olives, onions, celery, spinach, nuts, and feta cheese until fully combined. Pour vinaigrette over the salad and toss until all the ingredients are covered. Chill at least 1 hour before serving. Tip: toast pine nuts on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven or in a non stick sauté pan over medium heat until golden brown. Be careful not to burn.

Food Porn: Italian Pasta Salad

It’s been a while since I’ve done a food porn post – I misplaced my camera for a while, and then realized it was pretty much right in front of me the whole time. I found these huge spiral noodles at Giant Eagle yesterday, and thought to myself, “this would make one hell of a pasta salad.” So, I basically took my standby pasta salad recipe and jazzed it up a bit to match the huge size of the pasta.

Italian Pasta Salad

12 oz jumbo rotelle or 8 oz. regular rotelle pasta
1 small red pepper, julienned into thin slices
1/2 large red onion, sliced thinly
10-15 grape tomatoes, halved
16 oz. fresh mozzarella (get the 1/3 oz sized ciliegine)
6-8 leaves fresh basil, sliced in a chiffonade
1 stick margherita pepperoni, diced into small pieces
1 cruet prepared Good Seasons Italian Dressing

Prepare pasta according to package instructions, and then rinse under cold water to cool quickly. Toss all ingredients together in a bowl. Chill at least 1 hour before serving.