Review: Los Galapagos

We’re always on the lookout for reasonably priced ethnic “blink and you’ll miss them” restaurants, so we were surprised to find out that we had one such gem right here on the West Side of Columbus.

Los Galapagos

Located well off the beaten path (if you’re coming from downtown head down West Broad until you see the Home Depot right past 270, and then hang a left there at Grener Road and it’s about a half mile down on your left side), it’s hard to discern that it’s little more than a Latino supermarket from the outside. But inside, most of the space is occupied by tables, with grocery items being only a small part of this operation. The cuisine at Los Galapagos is primarily Ecuadorian, and as far as I know, is the only one of its kind in Central Ohio.

There were so many things to choose from, we had a hard time deciding. Take a gander at the menu board and you’ll see what we mean:

Los Galapagos Menu Board

And if that wasn’t enough to choose from, there’s another one just as long:

Los Galapagos Menu Board

We knew for sure that we wanted empanadas ($1 each), which were not exactly what we expected, but good nonetheless. Cheese empanadas I have had in the past have been filled with melty cheese that oozes out when you bite into it, but with this one the cheese seems to be attached to the dough itself, causing it to puff out and the center to be sort of empty.

Cheese Empanadas at Los Galapagos

We filled the center a little bit with some of the spicy sauce on the table – not quite a salsa, nor a chutney, it seemed to be sort of a combination of both. The spice and heat complemented the cheesy dough well, though – we could have easily munched on these all afternoon. And at that price? Why the heck not?

lSpicy Sauce at Los Galapagos

We also decided to share a plate of maduros ($3), which are ripe plantains fried until caramelized. These were absolutely amazing, much better than the other restaurants in town who make these, simply because they were sweet but not greasy. Sprinkled with a little bit of salt to contrast with the sweetness of the fruit, these were perfection on a plate.

Maduros at Los Galapagos

It took a little bit longer to decide on an entree, which I’m sure drove our poor waiter nuts. He was kind, attentive, and quite forgiving of our butchering of the Spanish language when trying to order. I finally decided on the Churasco ($12), a huge platter with a nicely seasoned flank (or perhaps skirt?) steak, saucy and flavorful sauteed onions, peppers and tomatoes, hand-cut french fries, white rice, salad and avocado, all topped with 2 fried eggs. The portion size was way more than I could ever imagine eating in one sitting. The food? Absolutely fantastic. I’m a sucker for just about anything topped with fried eggs, and this was no exception. I’d order this again in a heartbeat.

Churasco Platter at Los Galapagos

My husband went with the Pescado Frito ($12), lightly fried tilapia filets (you can also choose to have it served to you as the whole fish with head and tail attached, if that’s your thing) that are as good as any we’ve ever had locally. Served with rice, lime, tostones, and avocado salad, it was a completely satisfying meal at a price that can’t be beat.

Fried Tilapia at Los Galapagos

We liked Los Galapagos so much, we plan on going back regularly to try to work our way through the entire menu. Bear in mind the limited hours if you decide to visit – they’re closed on Tuesdays and only open until 8:30PM the rest of the nights. The West Side is hurting badly for good restaurants, and I’m thrilled to have found one so close to home. It’s definitely worth the trip, no matter where you live in the area. We got out of there, full beyond the telling of it, for about $35.

If you’d like to go: Los Galapagos, 378 S. Grener Ave, Columbus (West Side), 614.878.7770

Los Jalabagos on Urbanspoon

Cream of Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

Bookmarked Recipes Logo

On the neverending quest to find soups and stews to warm us up in these chilly days of winter, we ran across this hearty soup on another food blog. We used turkey tenderloins from Whole Foods, which worked like a charm. It was thicker than we expected, but very hearty and filling. We’d make this one again in a heartbeat. This is my contribution to this week’s Bookmarked Recipes event.

Turkey Wild Rice Soup

Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
recipe from Arctic Garden Studio

4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup wild rice
2 large chicken (or turkey) breasts, should equal 3 cups shredded
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms (about 4 ounces)
¾ cup chopped celery
¾ cup chopped carrots
¼ cup chopped shallots
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a large soup pot or dutch oven (4 quart) over medium heat add chicken broth, wild rice, chicken, thyme, and sage. Let simmer for about 40 minutes. Remove chicken from the pot, shred, and return to pot.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, celery, carrots and shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. Add 1 cup broth from soup pot and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add mixture to the soup pot. Stir in sour cream and parsley and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes more.

November 2008 Roundup

The more feeds I add to my blog reader, the longer it seems it takes me to get these roundups to you. On the bright side, at least I’m not missing out on some great recipes. :)

I haven’t been posting much this past week because I’ve spent a good deal of time working on other parts of the site. The restaurant menus section has been updated to remove some dead links, and to add a few new menus. Restaurant owners, if you have a menu that you’d like to see there drop me a link or an attachment with the menu to my email at columbusfoodieadminATgmailDOTcom. I’ve also added some events, with a bunch more to be added in the next couple of days. Additionally, I’ve added several hundred new food blogs to the food blog directory, so I’m finally all caught up.

Don’t forget that later today (starting at 10am) we have the Winter Farmers Markets happening (in Worthington at the Griswold Senior Center (at the corner of 161 and High St), and in Clintonville in the UU church behind Panera Bread. Hope I’ll see some of you there.

Finally, here are the links to recipes that caught my eye in November:

In savory recipes, Smoky Roasted Eggplant-Garlic Dip from 5 Second Rule, Black Bean & Butternut Squash Quesadillas from A Good Appetite, Moroccan Spiced Beef Stew with Sweet Potato Dumplings and Meatball and Tortellini Soup from A Thousand Soups, Creamy Brussels Sprouts Gratin from A Veggie Venture, Breakfast Muffin Cups from A Year from Oak Cottage, The Very Best of Fall Lasagna from A Year in the Kitchen, CrockPot Mashed Potatoes from A Year of CrockPotting, Middle Eastern Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions from Adventures of a Food Slut, Red Lentil Soup with Couscous (Kuskuslu Mercimek Corbasi) from Almost Turkish Recipes, Zuppa Toscana from Amber’s Delectable Delights, Rigatoni with Sausage and Parmigiano from America’s Little Germany, Orzo with Sausage, Peppers and Tomatoes from …And a Cookie for Dessert, Italian Sausage Soup with Tortellini from Anissa’s Kitchen, Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup from Arctic Garden Studio, Pheasant Wrapped in Bacon with Bread Sauce, Red Cabbage and Devils on Horseback from The Bacon Show, White Spelt Bread from Baking Bites, Cheddar and Broccoli Soup from Baking Like Betty, Pomegranate Sesame Chicken from Beachlover’s Kitchen, Tiny Brie Bites from Big Red Kitchen, Mujadara (Lentil Rice) from bigYELLOWbowl, Amaretto Chicken from Bunny’s Warm Oven, Sage Roasted Sweet Dumpling Squash from Chomping the Big Apple, Curried Honey Dijon Roasted Chicken from Closet Cooking, Chicken Pot Pie Soup from The Crepes of Wrath, Lamb Meatballs in Prune and Apricot Sauce from Desert Candy, Crock Pot Cranberry Chicken from Dinners for a Year and Beyond, Eggs in Prosciutto Cups from Dragon’s Kitchen, Fried Vietnamese Spring Rolls from East Meets West, Samosa Soup from eat’n veg’n, Pork, Buttercup Squash and Chard Chili from eggs on sunday, Bourdeaux Beef Stew from Enjoy the Delicious, Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette from Fodder & Libations, Olive Oil, Caramelized Onion, and Sage Mashed Sweet Potatoes from Food Blogga, Spinach Quiche from food loves writing, Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic from Food Speak, Sweet and Spicy Sweet Potatoes from Fun Foods on a Budget!, Braised Five Hour Lamb with Wine, Veg and All That from The Gooseberry Fool, Pheasant Casserole from The Greasy Spoon, Ropa Vieja from Hedonia, Apple Cider Chicken and Dumplings from Inn Cuisine, Crab Hush Puppies from Je Mange la Ville, Fig Vinegar from Joanna’s Food, Turkey Cranberry Appetizer Wreath from Joelen’s Culinary Adventures, Spicy, Garlicky Spaghetti Squash from The Kitchen Sink, Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes from The Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch, Baked Buffalo Chicken from Lime in the Coconut, Slow Cooked Moroccan Short Ribs from Noble Pig, Turkey Roulade with Apple-Cider Gravy from Phe/MOM/enon, Southwest Style Egg Muffins with Black Beans and Corn from Pinch My Salt, Roasted Parmesan Creamed Onions from Proud Italian Cook, Chicken Tikka Masala from Rasa Malaysia, Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy Chicken from Real Mom Kitchen, Moroccan Meatballs Over Israeli Couscous from Savory Safari, Chicken Orzo from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy, Pumpkin Focaccia with Sage and Walnuts from Sugar Plum, Loaded Broccoli Cheddar Soup from SweetTea in Texas, Creamy Squash and Boursin Farro and Fettuccine with Garlicky Chard and Ricotta from Thursday Night Smackdown, Sopa de Fideo and Fideos a la Catalana from We [Heart] Food, and Spiced Lamb and Pumpkin Goulash from What’s For Lunch Honey?

In sweet recipes, Unfussy Apple Cake from 101 Cookbooks, Apple Custard Cupcakes from A Merrier World, Sweet Spud Cake with Pray-leen Pa-cahns from A Southern Grace, Sticky Gingerbread Fondants with Salted Caramel from A Year from Oak Cottage, Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut Pie from alpineberry, Pina Colada Cake from Annie’s Eats, Raspberry Thumbprint Scones from Baking Delights, Strawberry Whip from Baking Like Betty, Donut Muffins from Baking with the Boys, Stuffed Challah French Toast with Raspberries from Bay Area Bites, Two Ingredient Pumpkin Cake with Apple Cider Glaze from Big Red Kitchen, Cranberry Clafoutis from Bitten, Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust from Bowl of Berries, Shaker Lemon Tart from Bungalow Barbara, The Best Butter Tarts from Cake on the Brain, Cashew Fudge from Cave Cibum, Strawberry Goat Cheese Banitsa from Closet Cooking, Peppermint Patty Brownies from Coconut & Lime, Amish Shoofly Tart from [cogito, ergo creo], Brownie Peanut Butter Cups from Confabulation in the Kitchen, Pumpkin Spice Pancakes from Culinary Adventures of a New Wife, Pumpkin-Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake and Mini Turtle Pumpkin Cheesecakes from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, Mint Cream Brownies and Pumpkin Oatmeal from Dishing Up Delights, Pineapple Upside-Down Cake from eat me, delicious, Cranberry Butter from Fun Foods on a Budget!, Cinnamon Marzipan Sichuan Peppercorn Truffles from Habeas Brulee, Green Pumpkinseed and Cranberry Crispy Bars from Jerry’s Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!, Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins from Kats’ Kitchen, Honey Yogurt Panna Cotta from Kitchenography, Cherry Tomato Cheese Pops from Our Cooking Escapades, Sweet Potato Pecan Pie with Spiced Maple-Nut Ice Cream from Peanut Butter and Julie, Spiced Pumpkin Pie Rice Pudding from Picky Palate, Chocolate Stout Cupcakes from Pinch My Salt, Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls from Rice and Beans and Other Fine Things, Apple Cider Caramels from Sugar Punk, Instant Chocolate Mousse from Sweet Tooth, Creamy Apricot Steel Cut Oatmeal with Dates and Nuts from swell vegan, Orange Ricotta Hotcakes from Taste Buddies, and Cider Donuts from Vanilla Basil.

I’ll be posting December’s roundup shortly.

Maple Glazed Salmon and Sweet Potatoes

I’ve got a bit of a confession to make. I absolutely hated seafood in any form when I was a kid – it didn’t matter if it was fish, or shellfish, or whatever; if it spent it’s life in water, I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. I didn’t even like fish sticks, for goodness sake. Tuna was a real stretch as well, and I didn’t eat much of it growing up (only when there was no other choice).

I don’t know when all that changed for me. I think sometime by early adulthood I had embraced tuna, and maybe breaded and fried flounder, crab cakes if they were good, but that was about the extent of it. Now, well into adulthood and diving headlong into middle age, I’ve expanded my tastes a bit. I’m still picky about fish, but I’ll eat it. I like just about every type of fish except swordfish (it’s a texture thing), but generally I only like fish pan-seared, and not baked or poached. I like crabs and lobster and crawfish, but I’m not crazy about shrimp. I only like scallops if they’re prepared perfectly. I don’t like shellfish (it’s a texture thing), but will eat clam if it’s chopped up in another dish. I’ve tried raw oysters, but wasn’t hot on the experience.

So when I saw this recipe for Maple Glazed Salmon (baked, not seared) in the oven, I wasn’t sure if I’d like it. After Paul made this recipe – oh my God, I apologize for having any doubts. This was absolutely wonderful – the fish flaky and mild (I used some wild salmon from Trader Joe’s), the sweet potatoes, and the sauce – absolute perfection as a combination. I’d pay to order this in a restaurant.

Maple Glazed Salmon & Sweet Potatoes

Maple Glazed Salmon with Roasted Brown Sugar Sweet Potatoes
recipe from Dinners for a Year and Beyond

1 tablespoon butter
about 2 pounds of sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced in 1/2″ slices
olive oil
salt
pepper
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons apple juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
juice of 1/4 of a lemon
3 tablespoons brown sugar
6 salmon fillets, about 6 ounces each

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Butter a large baking dish and add sweet potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in oven for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes, sprinkle the potatoes with brown sugar and continue baking for another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine maple syrup, apple juice, mustard, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Place salmon in a resealable bag and add half of the maple syrup mixture. Set other half of mixture aside. Allow salmon to marinate while the sweet potatoes bake.

After the sweet potatoes bake for 40 minutes, remove from oven. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Remove salmon from marinade and place on top of sweet potatoes. Discard marinade. Pour the other half of the maple syrup mixture on top of salmon and return to oven. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and the salmon is just cooked through.

Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Review: G&R Tavern

This is a throwback to a warmer time of year, a place I visited last summer that I never got around to blogging about, but a place so special that it’s worth the half hour to hour drive from Columbus to visit. It’s a place of road food legends, covered by national media and a destination restaurant as well as a watering hole for folks local to it. Where am I speaking of? The legendary G&R Tavern in Waldo, Ohio.

G&R Tavern Sign

Although they have a huge menu of just about any type of bar food you can think of, people come from far and wide for their famous fried bologna sandwich. This isn’t just any fried bologna sandwich – it’s a 3/4 inch thick slab of the finest bologna you’ll ever taste – spicy and garlicky and slightly coarse. It’s fried until the outside is browned and crisp and put onto a white bun with the normal condiments of monterey jack cheese, onions, and bread and butter pickles. It’s a combination of taste and texture that works so incredibly well together that it’s downright craveworthy. Sitting at the bar with my sandwich and a side of fries, I was so glad that I made the trip.

Fried Bologna Sandwich

Decor is just what you’d expect for a bar in the middle of nowhere (well, if nowhere is 10 miles north of Delaware) – austere and almost always crowded, so expect a wait at peak hours. Drinks are cheap and plentiful, and service was very friendly every time we went. So if you find yourself traveling north on 23  and get hungry, make the pitstop at the Waldo exit. You won’t be sorry.

Update: If you have enough room left over after dinner, be sure to grab a hunk of pie – this butterscotch cream pie is huge and delicious! Three of us shared a piece and were all quite satisfied with the choice.

Butterscotch Cream Pie from G & R Tavern (Waldo, OH)

If you’d like to go: G&R Tavern, 103 N. Marion Street, Waldo, OH, 740.726.9685

Lazy Winter Dinner

One of the misconceptions people (especially readers of my blog) have about me is that I cook every meal from scratch, and don’t make “normal” meals like Hamburger Helper, franks and macaroni and cheese, etc. Nothing could be further from the truth. While it’s true that we do cook more often than a lot of people we know, we too like convenience products. I’d say, in all honesty (at least this time of the year), we cook convenience type dinners (or repeats of our standbys) 3-4 days a week. The other days we’ll try out new recipes, or go out to eat. This is an example of one of our convenience dinners:

Lazy Winter Dinner

One of our favorite places to shop in town is Trader Joe’s – there are so many delicious things there that I can (in my head) come up with meals on the fly as I shop. This one, in particular couldn’t be simpler. Three main ingredients:

Fixins' for a Lazy Winter's Dinner

So tell me, what do you guys do for convenience foods? What are your go-to busy night meals?

Food of Love: Mom’s Pasties

Some people have extreme difficulty expressing their emotions in ways that we can understand. I think we as humans have a strange need to tie love to those three little words – “I love you” when in fact there are so many more ways to express ones feelings. I think rather than shut people out because they don’t communicate the way you want them to, it’s more important to learn how to expand our own thresholds of communication so that we, who are just as damaged emotionally, can pick up on non-verbal ways that those you hold dear show just how much they care.

Mom's Pasties

Case in point – these pasties. Made from scratch by my Mom. Brought out to me through the ice and snow by her, because she knew I’d like them and because she knew I was having a rough day. All I need to know is enclosed in the tender crust and savory filling. It was a hug that I really needed and for that I’m truly appreciative. Thanks, Mom. Even though I don’t say it often enough, know that I love you too.

Three Meat Sliders on Brioche Buns

Have you ever been inspired to make a dish just based on a single ingredient? I came across this newish (have only been open for less than a year) bakery in Worthington called Holiday Baking Company that makes some delicious brioche and even yummier still, these tiny brioche rolls. Once I saw them, I couldn’t help but pick them up and declared them perfect for sliders.

Brioche Sliders

I can’t really quantify a recipe for this, sadly, as I basically just played it by ear. I split and buttered the brioche rolls, and then grilled them. The burgers are a mix of pork, beef and veal, with a bunch of spices and Roasted Garlic and Onion Jam mixed into it. I made an garlic mayo for the buns, and topped them with some Boston lettuce, garlic cheddar, and Applewood Smoked Ready Bacon. Yum.

Closeup View of Brioche Sliders

Since this was a mid-winter spur of the moment thing, I couldn’t exactly grill the burgers on the BBQ outside, and ended up cooking them in my Arepa Maker (unitasker? I don’t think so!). I was surprised at how well it worked.

So what ingredients inspire you? What food discovery have you made that caused you to plan a whole meal around it?

Creamy Chicken and Dumpling Stoup

The weather has been so crappy here in Columbus that I’ve been all about the soups and stews this week. Just something tasty and hearty that warms you through and through – because if your house is like mine, certain rooms are nice and toasty while other ones are so nippy that you have to keep typing just to keep icicles from forming on your fingertips. So when I work in my living room, I drink lots of cocoa and eat lots of soup. A girl has to survive the long cold winter somehow, right?

Rachael’s recipe, prepared according to the original recipe, was about as bland as bland could get. I jazzed it up a bit by adding some additional ingredients (like Dijon, herbs, more robust poultry flavor, etc) that I thought would go well. According to my husband, it went from being “meh” to being one of his favorites in the course of like 5 minutes, so the changes must have worked. I also think that it could go for the incorporation of peas and/or carrots into the mix. Maybe next time?

Also, from the recipe, it wasn’t clear what she meant by “chicken tenders” – did she mean already grilled chicken strips? raw chicken tenderloins? chicken nuggets? After reading the recipe and seeing that it wouldn’t cook for long after the addition of them, we decided that she meant chicken nuggets of some sort. I didn’t want to use chopped and formed nuggets, but we did want to use the breaded kind (we figured it would thicken the stew), so we ended up using Trader Joe’s panko-crusted chicken tenders (from their refrigerated section). If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s close to you, try to find something similar in your local grocery.

Chicken and Dumpling Stoup

Leeky, Creamy Chicken and Dumpling Stoup
adapted from Rachael Ray

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
3 leeks, white and tender green parts split lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
5 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
4 c. chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
1 lb. chicken tenders, cut into small chunks
2 packages fresh gnocchi (about 24 ounces)
1/3 c. chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tbsp. dry sherry
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tbsp. turkey base
1 tbsp. Dijon mustardd
Penzey’s Parisien Bonnes Herbs seasoning to taste*

In a Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the EVOO two turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add the leeks, celery, bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cream, lower the heat and simmer until the soup bubbles at the edges. Add the chicken and the gnocchi and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Add the sherry and paprika and stir. Add turkey base by tempering with a little of the hot liquid in a separate bowl and then returning the mixture back to the pot. Add mustard, and enough Bonnes Herbes to suit your taste. Add parsley and serve hot.

*Penzey’s seasoning is a blend of chives, dill weed, French basil, French tarragon, chervil and white pepper. If you don’t have access to Penzey’s, just use a blend of the seasonings above to suit your tastes.

Queen City Edition: Oleg’s Tavern

A few weeks ago, Paul and I made our semi-annual trip to Jungle Jim’s, that wonderful foodie destination that can beckon me to spend my whole month’s grocery budget in one fell swoop. We’ve taken to trying new restaurants in the Cincinnati area while down there, and this time was no exception.

However, what did make this trip different is that this year I own an iPhone. And the iPhone has such wonderful applications as Yelp and Urbanspoon, which make finding a restaurant close to my destination a breeze. When I saw a German restaurant listed, I knew we had to try it.

Oleg’s Tavern is a small family run restaurant set in a strip mall in a suburb north of Cincinnati proper, run by a very friendly Ukrainian couple named Oleg and Olena. When I say family run, I mean family run – Oleg mans the kitchen while Olena handles hostessing and waitressing duties. Their two daughters also pitch in to help in various ways as well.

The menu is mostly German (with a few other European specialties thrown in here and there), chock full of such regional delicacies as Goetta (think scrapple, but made with oats instead of corn) and such German/Austrian dishes such as roladen, sausages, pork and sauerkraut, etc.

We started with a bowl of German Potato soup ($5.25), which was thick and hearty and smoky with bits of sausage in it. A really satisfying start to what promised to be a big meal.

German Potato Soup from Oleg's Tavern

We also shared a side as an appetizer, one of their Potato Pancakes with Applesauce ($1.99), which was just like Oma used to make, perfectly golden and crispy on the outside.

Potato Pancake and Apple Sauce from Oleg's Tavern

Paul went with an entree of braised pork and sauerkraut ($14.95), which paired tender pork with an Austrian-style kraut (more sweet than sour, with chunks of apple and seasoned with paprika) and a side of spaetzle in place of potatoes. While he was thrilled with the pork and the spaetzle, he was expecting a more traditional style sauerkraut and found the sweet kraut a bit offputting. This is purely a matter of personal taste: I, who am just as fond of sweet kraut as I am of sour, thought it was a great example of the dish.

Braised Pork and Sauerkraut from Oleg's Tavern

He did, however, really like the Hot German Potato Salad ($2.99), which consisted of chunks of potato covered in a thick and slightly sweet bacon dressing.

Hot German Potato Salad from Oleg's Tavern

I went with the Austrian Meatloaf ($13.95 for a dinner entree), which was a multiple-meat (I want to say beef, pork and veal – although it may be just beef and pork), heavy with mushrooms, very light textured meatloaf that is thinly sliced and served with a delicious mushroom gravy. I also chose spaetzle and sauerkraut, and both paired wonderfully with my choice of meat.

Austrian Meatloaf from Oleg's Tavern

The best part about eating in a place like this is that you get to interact with the people who make and serve your food. Since this was during the mid-afternoon slow period, we had an opportunity to talk to both Oleg and Olena for quite a while. I wondered aloud how it came to be that a Ukrainian man would be so good at cooking German food. It turns out he trained in Germany, which explains the authenticity and skill with which the food is prepared. Olena, his wife, also explained that they will make special off-menu dishes (including Ukrainian/Russian classics) as a special order given enough notice in advance. Good thing to remember.

Needless to say, if we lived in Cincinnati, we’d be regulars at this comfy, casual place. Instead, we’ll have to settle on making sure we visit when we’re in the area. To someone with a German background who misses her grandmother’s cooking, it’s the closest I’ve come in restaurant form in quite a while.

By the way, it wasn’t until I was doing this review that I noticed that all of their food is organic/natural. Nice touch that makes me love them even more.

If you’d like to go: Oleg’s Tavern, 11929 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH 45249, 513.774.0700

Oleg's Tavern on Urbanspoon