Best of Restaurant Week 2009

Wow, was that a whirlwind of a week or what?!? 1 week and 11 meals later, we’re exhausted…and a couple of pounds heavier. But so, so glad that we lived it up during Restaurant Week, because we were introduced to a few new places, had tons of delicious food, had a few old favorites redeem themselves, and all around – just had a great time. Huge thanks to Dine Originals Columbus and the 42 member restaurants for putting together an awesome event that showcased Columbus’ finest.  To put it all into perspective, we’ve decided to round-up the week in a “Best Of” post, that gives our picks of where certain places excelled. Bear in mind, that we can only review the places we actually ate at, so your mileage may vary. I’d be thrilled to hear what your picks are for these “best of” categories – just put them in the comments section.

Best Appetizer

Seared Jumbo Scallop with Grand Marnier Scented Roasted Beets and Chive Cream Sauce

We both agreed 100% on this – without a doubt, the best appetizer was the Seared Jumbo Scallop with Grand Marnier Scented Beets and Chive Cream Sauce from G. Michael’s. It just fired on all cylinders for both of us – perfectly seasoned and cooked scallops, perfect texture and flavor to the beets, and the cream sauce tied it all together. As burnt out on eating out as I am at the moment, I’d go back to G. Michael’s right this second if I knew this was on their regular menu.

Best Entree

Here’s where it gets a bit more difficult, because there were so many dishes that were that fantastic. For Paul, there was a clear cut winner, for me it came out a bit more as a tie. We both agreed that the Mushroom Risotto at Alana’s was definitely *the* best of all the entrees we had.

Barley and Brie Risotto with Confit of Fabulous Fungus (Truffled, of Course)

But I’m throwing a wild card in there, because I honestly couldn’t decide between the Risotto and the Lobster Gnocchi at Due Amici. Again, if this is on the regular menu, I’d be there in a heartbeat.

Lobster Gnocchi

Best Dessert

After seeing the same old creme brulees and variations on chocolate cake just about everywhere we went, we both agreed that in order to be considered a winner in this category, it would have to be something that is fundamentally different from the mainstream. Paul chose the Chocolate Chile Bread Pudding at Banana Bean Cafe because it was so unusual, in a good way. He said it was moist throughout, and the savory sauce put this one over the top for him. He’s happy that there was a dessert this week that wasn’t sickly sweet like all the others.

Chocolate – Chile Bread Pudding With Chipotle Crème Anglaise and Caramelized Banana

My choice was the Bananas Foster Creme Brulee, also at Banana Bean Cafe. I love Creme Brulee, and their spin on one of my favorite desserts made this one a winner.

Banana’s Foster Crème Brulee with Fresh Berries

Best Value

Surly Girl Saloon (Columbus, OH) Exterior Shot

We both agreed hands down that Surly Girl Saloon walks (nay, runs!) away with this distinction. For $15 each, we got more food than we could eat in one sitting, and we needed to take nearly an entree (combined) of food home that we couldn’t eat because we were already too full. Excellent value!

Best Service

Outside of Barcelona Restaurant (Columbus, OH)

Again, a category where we both agreed. Although we didn’t have any bad service during the week, Jeff at Barcelona went well above and beyond the call of duty. So much so, that the next time we dine at Barcelona, we’re going to ask to be seated in his section specifically. Awesome service.

Best Ambiance

logo

For this category, we both agreed that The Top Steak House’s retro feel was the best use of history and atmosphere to create a memorable dining experience.

Best Freebie

Chips and Salsa from Banana Bean Cafe (Columbus, OH)

We were tickled pink about Banana Bean Cafe’s free Chips and Salsa, and were thrilled to find out that it’s a normal thing that they do during Happy Hour. Between the discounts on drinks/food and the free chips/salsa, we’ll definitely be there again for Happy Hour soon.

Best Bread Service

Bread and Olive Oil

Hands down, we both agreed that Due Amici took this category. Between the bread still being hot and wonderful, and the little bit of sea salt that they add to the plate of olive oil that comes with the bread, this was definitely the best bread we’ve had in years.

Best Salad

Small Garden District Delight Salad

We both agreed that the Avocado-Caesar dressing on Surly Girl’s Small Garden District Delight Salad was what clinched this category for them. Between the excellent dressing and the fresh veggies, this was a winner. So glad that this is on their regular menu.

Best Soup

Ah ha…another point of contention with the married couple. :) For me, nothing else even came close to Alana’s Cafe Black Bean Soup with all the Fixins’. The complexity of the flavor was out of this world.

Cafe Black Bean Soup with all the Fixins

Paul preferred the texture and the seasoning of Banana Bean Cafe’s Cuban Black Bean Soup with Shaved Manchego, Fresh Crema and Scallions.

Cuban Black Bean Soup With Shaved Manchego, Fresh Crema, and Scallions

Best Presentation

G. Michael's in German Village

We both agreed wholeheartedly that G. Michael’s takes this distinction, because most of the time, their plating is almost a work of art. From the viewpoint of a food photographer, it’s super-easy to make almost anything of theirs look good. Their food also looked the most appetizing on the plate.

Biggest Surprise

Banana Bean Cafe Sign (Columbus, OH)

Because of the preconceived notions we had about Banana Bean Cafe based on our last couple of experiences, we weren’t expecting Banana Bean’s offerings to be as stellar as they actually were. The food, the creativity of the menu, the atmosphere of the new location, and the service all combined to make an experience that we not only enjoyed thoroughly, but want to repeat as soon as possible.

Most Unusual Menu

Outside of Barcelona Restaurant (Columbus, OH)

Barcelona’s Nine Course Tapas Tasting Menu was something that was unlike everything else that the other restaurants offered. I’m thrilled to see that this also will become a regular thing at Barcelona.

Best Overall

I thought that Banana Bean Cafe had the total package – great food, great service, great atmosphere. This is a place I could see myself hanging out at regularly. I think they took the idea of Restaurant Week and ran with it, to great success.

Banana Bean Cafe Sign (Columbus, OH)

Paul thought that G. Michael’s won it for him, because even though what they did wasn’t original or different, it was the same consistently good food with consistently good service in a consistently nice atmosphere. I can respect that.

G. Michael's in German Village

Restaurant I’d Most Like to See Join Dine Originals and Take Part in the Next Restaurant Week

We couldn’t narrow this down to just one. Instead, you get the Top 5. :) Rosendale’s, Sage American Bistro, Barrio, DeepWood or Brown Bag Deli.

I can’t wait to see what your picks are in these categories! BTW, rumor has it that there may be another Restaurant Week this year in the fall. I’m game, how about all of you?

7 thoughts on “Best of Restaurant Week 2009

  1. We went to The Top on Sunday, the last night of Restaurant Week. The ambiance of course was awesome. The service was very good, though not spectacular (we weren't offered a refill on our coffee/tea). The food was wonderful. All three of us had the french onion soup, surf and turf, and creme brulee. Disappointingly, we were not offered the wonderful veggie plate to begin with that you were. I ordered a pina colada and my fellow diners split a bottle of wine (and a rather expensive one, at that). We were asked if we wanted bread (of course!), and received 3 rolls. Hmm. Don't know what the deal was with no goodies to begin with and only 3 rolls. Maybe it was because we were there on Sunday night. But they didn't appear to be crazy busy. It certainly couldn't be because we were cheap diners (you really don't want to know what our bill was, even with the "RW" menu price…yikes! The wine!). Will we return? Yes. Will it be our first choice? No.
    Now Banana Bean was a different story…awesome all around!!!!

  2. We are humbled and ecstatic, and proud to be a member of such a great community and of Dine Originals Columbus. We promise to continue in putting forth the quality & creative food, customer service and value that we put into making Restaurant Week such a success. Thank you so very much!

  3. mrsgeedeck and I hit a few place for Restaurant week too

    -Burgundy Room was a disappointment. Tiny amount of food, only so-so and service was pretty bad.
    -Alana's was great. The service was a 180 from Burgundy, and well the food was… Alana's
    -Tasi was good, even if the menu was just their standard. Something special would have been nice

  4. I went to Burgundy Room and the service was excellent. The amount of food was small, especially for the main entree, but it was also only a $15 meal and they are more of a tapas restaurant anyways..I really enjoyed my experience and would definitely go back. Another place that I made it to was Handke's…it was a really nice experience with great food and service. I also went to Rigsby's and had a great meal. Overall restaurant week was a success. I went to so many places that I've never been to. Bring on the fall restaurant week! :)

  5. I'm so glad you said that about the run of the mill desserts (creme brulees, chocolate cakes)…I was so irritated about it I actually wrote a letter to the Dispatch about it! Columbus may not be New York but it's certainly worthy of a little creativity.

  6. My wife and I have had Jeff at Barcelona before as well and I wholeheartedly agree with your "review" of him!

  7. Pingback: Adventures in Restaurant week and beyond | Columbus Food Adventures

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