Restaurant Week 2009: Cafe Corner

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Events, Food Porn, Restaurant Review, Restaurant Week

For lunch yesterday, we went to a place that had been on our radar since last years Taste of the Independents, but had such short hours (9am-3pm) that it made getting in there virtually impossible for our schedules. Cafe Corner is a tiny little place on the corner of 3rd & Pennsylvania in the Harrison West neighborhood. There’s a limited amount of seating inside, but they built a patio in the past month or so that means almost double the amount of seating once the weather becomes nice again.

Their deal for Restaurant Week is 2 menu items (which includes salads, soups, sandwiches, wraps, etc) plus 2 desserts for $15. Since most of their sandwiches are in the $7-$9 range, this is a pretty good deal. You go to the counter, order and pay, and then sit down and they bring your food to you when it is done.

I was really happy with my choice, the 3rd and Penn Sandwich, which has corned beef, balsamic onions, swiss cheese, and spicy mustard on grilled marble rye. Great flavor, and grilled just the way I like. It comes with a bag of chips or an apple.

3rd and Penn Sandwich from Cafe Corner

Paul chose the veggie burrito, which is a huge spinach wrap stuffed with eggs, cheese, green peppers, onions, mushroom and tomato. It could have used a touch more seasoning, but it was filling, piping hot and best eaten there (as are most of their hot sandwiches/wraps). His was served with hash browns and salsa.

Veggie Burrito from Cafe Corner

Each of our sandwiches came with a dessert as part of the Restaurant Week deal. I chose the snickerdoodles, which were served hot from the oven and so delicious that I ordered some up separately to take home with me. Paul’s caramel brownie (not pictured) was also solid.

Snickerdoodles from Cafe Corner

Just an FYI – the Restaurant Week deal (through Sunday) is also usable for carryout, and we’ve found that the cold wraps travel the best. At night time (6pm to 4am), the location turns into EGGS, which offers carryout and delivery of breakfast items. Overall, we were quite pleased with the offerings at Cafe Corner – they have a few unusual sandwiches (like the white anchovy sandwich, or the hens in a basket) that we’d love to go back and try soon.

If you’d like to go: Cafe Corner, 1105 Pennsylvania Ave, Columbus (Harrison West), 614.294.CAFE

Cafe Corner on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week 2009: Alana’s Food & Wine

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Eating Local, Events, Food Porn, Restaurant Review, Restaurant Week

This isn’t the first time we’ve been to Alana’s (we’ve been previously for the Slow Food Columbus/UE Wine Dinner, and also for my birthday last year), so we both went in with high expectations for what she’d whip up for Restaurant Week. (BTW, yes – I know the picture below of the Alana’s sign has been used before, but it provides a much prettier picture than the winter blahs/major construction going on out front now).

UE_Alanas

Although I had a general idea of what Alana’s would be doing based on the menu they had listed on the Restaurant Week site at Dine Originals Columbus, I was excited to see what particular soup and risotto would be offered that night. The choices did not disappoint.

Alana's Restaurant Week Columbus 2009 Menu

One of my favorite things about dining at Alana’s is that she always stops by with an amuse bouche – today’s was a kumquat half filled with a mascerated pineapple that was quite refreshing.

And there’s always a lot of terrific bread for dipping in olive oil. We especially loved the herby one.

Bread at Alana's

But back to the menu proper – even though the salad appetizer sounded interesting, we both went for the Cafe Black Bean Soup with all the Fixin’s. This was easily the best soup I’ve had in a long, long time. The flavor profile was so exquisitely complex. Our server, James, told us it was because of the combination of coffee, coriander, cumin and Miller High Life in the soup. Whatever it was – wow, it really worked.

Cafe Black Bean Soup with all the Fixins

Every time I go to Alana’s I swear I’m going to get the risotto the next time I go. But I never do. And then I end up with severe risotto envy, wishing I had got the risotto. Today’s combination of flavors was especially good, a Barley and Brie Risotto with Confit of Fabulous Fungus (Truffled, of Course). This literally knocked my socks off. I love risotto as it is, but the creaminess of the Brie with the texture and flavors of the mushroom and the subtle earthiness of the truffle. Amazing.

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

Not to say that my entree, Lamb Bolognese with Rustichella Spaghetti and First of the Season Sweet Peas, wasn’t outstanding in it’s own right. It was. The lamb cubes were tender, the sauce flavorful, the pasta cooked perfectly.

Lamb Bolognese with Rustichella Spaghetti and First of the Season Sweet Peas

By the time dessert rolled around, we were stuffed. Paul chose the Flourless Chocolate Torte with Mascerated Berries. This stuff was so dense, so chocolately, so rich. It was almost like a pure ganache of amazingly good bittersweet chocolate. How Paul managed to finish the entire thing is beyond me.

Flourless Chocolate Torte with Mascerated Berries

Even though I tried as hard as I could, I couldn’t completely finish the Apple Tart with Jeni’s Ice Cream, the dessert they had chosen to replace the Mexican Chocolate Pecan Tart, which wasn’t available. I loved it, but it was a bit too sweet and too much of a good thing for me to handle after the huge entree I had just consumed. Still, anything that combines apples + Jeni’s Salty Caramel ice cream + a nice caramel sauce garnish = win in my book so I soldiered through the best I could.

Apple Tart with Jeni's Ice Cream

If you’ve been longing to go to Alana’s, but have balked because of the price, or because you think it’s formal (it so isn’t – actually, it’s one of the most laid back and casual places to eat in Columbus in my opinion), take the chance during Restaurant Week to give it a try. You won’t be disappointed in the least.

If you’d like to go: Alana’s Food and Wine, 2333 N. High Street, Columbus (North Campus), 614.294.6783

Alana's on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week 2009: Surly Girl Saloon

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Eating Local, Events, Food Porn, Restaurant Review, Restaurant Week

Well, it’s three days into Columbus Restaurant Week 2009, and with six meals down and five to go, I’m still not tired of eating out. I’ve been extremely impressed with the way that all the restaurants have been going all out and showing off their best efforts. From my viewpoint as a critic, it’s heartening to actually enjoy virtually everything about every meal I’ve had so far.

Surly Girl Saloon is the only one of the restaurants in the Betty’s/Tip Top Kitchen/Surly Girl trifecta that I hadn’t been to previously. For some strange reason I figured it would be impossible to find parking in the Garden District (because of the lack of on-street parking), but duh – it turns out there is parking on the side.

Surly Girl Saloon (Columbus, OH) Exterior Shot

Back to Restaurant Week. They, like all of the other Dine Originals Columbus restaurants, have a special this week – 3 courses for $15. And when I break it all down for you, you’re going to have to agree that the value for your dollar potential of this restaurant is amazing under normal terms, and even more so during this week. Best yet, they don’t take reservations, so it’s not too late to head out, even tonight – they’re open from 11am to 2am daily.

Surly Girl Saloon's Restaurant Week Menu

I kind of had a feeling that I would like them before I even stepped foot into the restaurant. I mean, any place that has Lindeman’s Pomme on tap (lambics are the only types of beer/ale that I enjoy) already has a check in the plus column before we get anywhere near the food.

Pomme, on Tap!!

Co-owner Carmen greeted us and got us settled in – we chose a cozy spot near the front window that made for some really interesting people watching of the people strolling by outside. After a couple of minutes of trying to decide, our server came by (whose name by the life of me I can’t remember – which speaks badly of me because we talked the poor guy’s ears off) and jotted down our choices.

For the first course, my husband went with the Frito Pie, topped with chili. We were both uninitiated to this whole concept of Frito Pies, and were quite fascinated with them, actually. The reality didn’t disappoint. Really good chili with a lot of bulk topping a mound of Fritos and topped with a helluva lot of fixins. Great contrasting textures, nice deep flavor without being too spicy.

Frito Pie with Chili

I went with the Small Garden District Delight Salad, which was a deconstructed salad of sorts. The big chunks of veggies/eggs/etc. made it a bit awkward to eat, but I managed. The Avocado Caesar dressing that comes with this salad is spectacular.

Small Garden District Delight Salad

We both opted for the Southwestern Mac and Cheese, and added chicken to it ($2 extra). This was a huge portion, so huge that I ended up taking half of my entree home lest I not have enough room for dessert. Extremely comforting, nicely spicy in spots, and again, the veggies provide a nice crunch and texture to the whole dish.

Southwestern Mac & Cheese with Chicken

For dessert, my husband opted for one of the women-made beers, while I went for the cupcake of the day, a Fresh Lemon Cupcake with Berry Cream Cheese icing. Loved it, because it was moist and not sickly sweet as many cupcakes are prone to be.

Lemon Cupcake with Berry Cream Cheese Icing

Needless to say, we both left stuffed and wanting to come back again to try some stuff off of the regular menu. We’re not bar people, per se – but this is the type of place we could see ourselves meeting friends for drinks/food and spending some time at. Can’t wait to return! Our server said that the place has an entirely different vibe at night and we’d love to find out for ourselves.

If you’d like to go: Surly Girl Saloon, 1126 N. High Street, Columbus (Garden District), 614.294.4900.

Surly Girl Saloon on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week 2009: Banana Bean Cafe

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Eating Local, Events, Food Porn, Restaurant Review, Restaurant Week

I had a love affair with Banana Bean Cafe when they first opened, as you could see in my original review. I was thrilled that an independent restaurant was creating dishes that were unusual for the area, and that they came up with interesting combinations of flavors, etc. But as the buzz for their previous location grew, and the inevitable growing pains of having the demand for your food far surpass the amount of business the location could reasonably support, the food and service suffered, it became impossible to get a table without reservations, and they fell out of my favor for a little while. So when I heard that they had moved to a bigger location on Greenlawn Avenue across from Berliner Park, I hoped beyond hope that this was just the thing that Banana Bean needed to become once again the great restaurant I knew they could be.

Banana Bean Cafe Sign (Columbus, OH)

I am so glad that I gave them another shot. They have definitely redeemed themselves in my eyes, because my experience tonight was fabulous. I almost didn’t make it to Banana Bean for Restaurant Week, since our original reservations were for Rigsby’s (my husband overrode that decision and decided that Banana Bean Cafe would be his one pick for the week). Can I just say that I absolutely love their new space? Their space in German Village was way too cozy for my tastes, and I love the openness and light that this location provides. It suits the restaurant so much more than the Whittier space.

Since we arrived between 4-7PM (their happy hour), they brought us out a free basket of tortilla chips with a very spicy pineapple-habanero salsa. Even though I typically don’t like really spicy foods, this was a good burn, and I kept nibbling anyway. I don’t mind fire at all as long as I get flavor with it!

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

Even though it wasn’t on the Restaurant Week menu, my husband insisted that I get one a la carte item that he’s been drooling over, Ya-Ya’s Eggplant Fries ($7). These are served with a spicy chile sauce, but our server was kind enough to bring out a little bit of Spicy Island sauce for me, as well. The chile sauce is spicy, but has a nice sweet flavor to it. My favorite was a combination of the two. And eggplant fries? Who would have thought that something that sounds so run of the mill would taste so good? I think these have even managed to surpass sweet potato fries as my favorite pub food.

Eggplant Fries from Banana Bean Cafe (Columbus, OH)

But, back to Restaurant Week. We pretty much decided to try all 6 menu items, so there were no repeats on this go-round.

I started with a cup of their Cuban Black Bean Soup, which was thick, flavorful, and redolent with the flavor of smoky chipotle. The green onions added a wonderful texture, and the manchego cheese and crema helped tame down the spiciness a bit.

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

Paul chose the Farm Stand Arugula “Cracker Jack” Salad with Country Ham, Caramel Corn, Spicy Peanuts, Buttermilk Blue and Apple Cider Vinaigrette. I was amazed at how well the flavors in this salad worked with one another – reading the description I was a bit worried, but the saltiness of the ham played off the sweetness and crunch of the popcorn and the peppery arugula was dressed beautifully with a sweet and slighty acidic vinaigrette. We did notice, however, that our salad didn’t have the Buttermilk Blue cheese, and we wonder how it would have tasted had it been there. We hope we’ll see it on the menu again one day to find out.

Farm Stand Arugula “Cracker Jack” Salad with Country Ham, Caramel Corn, Spicy Peanuts, Buttermilk Blue, and Apple Cider Vinaigrette

For my entree, I chose the Savannah “Surf and Turf”, which consists of a nicely grilled Brown Sugar Brined Pork Chop, BBQ Gulf Shrimp, Buttermilk Mashers, Fresh Skillet Beans, and Bourbon Molasses Red Eye Gravy. The amount of food in this entree was staggering, and our server told me that this is pretty much on par with the size of most of their dinner offerings. It was all prepared and plated beautifully, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The shrimp were cooked perfectly – even though I’m not a shrimp lover, it makes me want to come back to try the other shrimp dishes on their menu.

Savannah “Surf & Turf” Brown Sugar Brined Grilled Pork Chop, BBQ Gulf Shrimp, Buttermilk Mashers, Fresh Skillet Beans, Bourbon Molasses Redeye Gravy

My husband chose the Pan Roasted Florida Black Grouper with Rock Shrimp, Plantain Fufu, Blistered Spinach and Citrus Dulce de Leche. This one was literally a flavor explosion. So many differing flavor profiles that you wouldn’t think would work together, but just did. The savory fish, the combination of sweet, savory and garlic flavors in the plantain fufu (think plantain mashers, for lack of a better description), the citrus notes of the sauce. Another winner.

Pan Roasted Florida Black Grouper with Rock Shrimp – Plantain Fufu, Blistered Spinach, and Citrus Dulce de Leche

For dessert, I chose the Bananas Foster Creme Brulee with Fresh Berries. It turned out to be even better than I imagined it would be. Imagine a caramelized banana flavored custard, with the creme brulee crunch on top, topped with a combination of caramelized banana and fresh berries. Absolutely terrific. If this one isn’t on the regular menu, it should be.

Banana’s Foster Crème Brulee with Fresh Berries

The Chocolate Chile Bread Pudding with Chipotle Creme Anglaise and Caramelized Banana was unlike anything either one of us had ever tried before, in a good way. It was sweet and savory all at the same time, and almost meaty on its finish with the chipotle creme anglaise. I’m not usually a fan of super-sweet desserts, so this one was right up my alley. Again, if it’s not on the regular menu, it should be.

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

We were thrilled to death with our choice to spend the 2nd night of Restaurant Week at Banana Bean Cafe. It allowed us to fall in love with the place all over again. And since the new location is in our neck of the woods, I have the feeling that we’ll be stopping here regularly. Give it a try during Restaurant Week, because this is an amazing value for $30 per person.

If you’d like to go: Banana Bean Cafe, 340 Greenlawn Avenue, Columbus (Brewery District), 614.443.2262

Banana Bean Cafe on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week 2009: Pistacia Vera

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Eating Local, Events, Food Porn, Restaurant Week

We’ve been long time fans of Pistacia Vera. As a matter of fact, we started visiting them when they were still “Pistachio” and located in the Short North in the space where Tasi is now. Anne and Spencer and Kelly and the rest of them are no strangers to my love of canneles, or my weakness for macarons. And I love their new (well, not so new now!) space. Easy to get to, plenty of parking, light and airy and beautiful. When we walked up today, on this record-setting warm but slightly windy day, they had the movable wall open with the breeze flowing throughout the store.

Exterior of Pistacia Vera (Columbus, OH)

When we saw they were participating in Restaurant Week, we knew immediately that we would have to take some time out to try what they were offering. And wow – the “Taste of Pistacia Vera,” this sampling of their beautiful products for two, was rich and decadent and the perfect thing for a mid-afternoon treat.  I’ve never eaten in before, but I’m going to have to make a habit of it from now on. For $15, you get all this, plus two hot beverages (coffee or tea).

A Taste of Pistacia Vera

It’s hard to choose one favorite out of the sampler, because we love it all. I mean, this is what is staring you in the face the second you walk in the door. It takes all the self control in the world not to go hog-wild every time I step in here. And their online menu makes me drool.

Cake Case at Pisacia Vera (Columbus, OH)

I think Paul’s favorites are the pate de fruits.

Pate de Fruits at Pistacia Vera (Columbus, OH)

My favorites, outside of that cannele and macaron weakness? I’m a sucker for their Cashew Butter Caramels. Yum.

Confections at Pistacia Vera (Columbus, OH)

If you haven’t had an opportunity to visit Pistacia Vera yet, please do. From what I understand from those in the know, everything they offer is on par with honest to goodness Parisian patisseries, and is one of my favorite places to go (and bring out-of-towners) in Columbus.

If you’d like to go: Pistacia Vera, 541 S. Third Street, Columbus (German Village). 614.220.9070

Pistacia Vera on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week 2009: Katzinger’s Delicatessen

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Eating Local, Events, Food Porn, Restaurant Review, Restaurant Week

Today was a busy day in our Restaurant Week activities, as we ended up going to three (yes, three!) different places. The first of these was to an old standby, Katzinger’s. Even though I’ve come here ever since I moved to Columbus the first time around in 1995, without realizing it, a year can go by and I’ll have not been there. Don’t get me wrong – my issues aren’t with their food. It’s just not something I can afford all the time. I used to think that Katzinger’s prices were sky high, until I went to the delis in New York City and got bent over a pickle barrel if you know what I mean (even in NY, $25 for a sandwich? I don’t think so). That put things into perspective for me, and ever since then, even though it is a rare treat, Katzinger’s has always been on my radar.

I’ve been meaning to go back ever since they started their Recession Specials – where you can get discounted corned beef sandwiches on Monday, and discounted turkey sandwiches on Tuesday. When this whole Restaurant Week thing came up, it was just the impetus I needed to head over. BTW, for those of you avoiding Katzinger’s because of parking, we had no problem finding on-street parking at 2pm, and a sign in their store says they now have a lot of their own on City Park. So just an FYI.

Exterior of Katzinger's (Columbus, OH)

Ordering is easy – just step up to the counter and place your order, pay for it, and after a few minutes wait, they’ll let you know when your order is ready. Either sit and people watch, or wander around the store, and the time it takes to make your sandwiches will fly by.

Katzinger's Counter (Columbus, OH)

So anyway, back to Restaurant Week. Their offering for this week is a Flight of Corned Beef for Two (with Turkey or Vegetarian variations as well), which essentially gives each person a half of three different kinds of corned beef sandwiches, a small potato salad, and a brownie for $15 total. I managed to discover during this journey that I really like hot mustard on a sandwich. Good to know. :)

Katzinger's Flight of Corned Beef

And don’t forget to get some of those free pickles.

Dill Pickle Bucket at Katzinger's

I have to say, I wasn’t as enamored with the dill pickles as I usually am. For some reason, they were super salty today, and almost too salty to eat. But the garlic ones were as delicious as usual.

Dill and Garlic Pickle from Katzinger's

My problem with Katzinger’s is that they have so many delicious samples laying out and about in their specialty shop that I leave spending much, much more than I want to. Today I left with a bottle of a really sweet balsamic vinegar, a bacon chocolate bar, and some goat milk’s butter, which I’m going to eat with the 8-grain bread that I bought.

Bread at Katzinger's

It’s a good thing that I stayed far, far away from the cheese counter. If there’s one thing I can’t resist, it’s cheese. And they have quite the selection.

Cheeses at Katzinger's

While I was there, I saw that they have some upcoming events that I’d love to attend. Have any of you ever been? Was your experience enjoyable?

I think I need to start going to Katzinger’s more often. I think I’m going to start by going back later this week to try the Turkey Flight. :)

If you’d like to go: Katzinger’s Delicatessen, 475 S. Third Street, Columbus (German Village). 614.228.3354

Katzinger's Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week 2009: G. Michael’s

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Events, Food Porn, Restaurant Week

Our first stop on the great Restaurant Week tour of 2009 was to eat at G. Michael’s. Our reservations were early enough that we found on-street parking (although they also offer a valet service for $5). But even if we hadn’t found parking close, German Village is a pleasure to walk through, and G. Michael’s is extremely easy to find coming up (or down) 3rd Street.

G. Michael's in German Village

Once we got inside, we were seated very quickly. One of the things I love about them is that one of their dining rooms is more like a conservatory with tons of natural light because of the windows and skylights everywhere, and because of that, I get awesome pictures whenever I dine here. So when we requested to be seated in this area, they were more than accommodating.

Our server, a gregarious gentleman named Aaron who was quite easy to talk to, handed us both the regular and the Restaurant Week menu. We knew exactly what we wanted, and went ahead and made our picks.

While we were waiting for our first course, our waiter brought out a bread basket that had a sourdough and a wheat-based bread, served with red-pepper and onion compound butter. Lovely start!

Bread Basket

My husband and I both chose the same appetizer, the Seared Jumbo Scallop with Grand Marnier scented beets and Chive Cream Sauce. Before ordering this, I wasn’t so sure how I’d like it, because even though I absolutely love scallops, I’m not very fond of beets. I have to say, this dish was absolutely sublime. The beets tasted like beets, but without the metallic tang that usually accompanies them. The combination of the flavors – the scallop, the beets, the sauce – was heavenly. I’d order this off their regular menu in a heartbeat, and it was easily my favorite dish of the night.

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

We each chose different entrees. I went with the Chorizo-stuffed, Bacon-wrapped Short Ribs with Sour Cream Mashers, Green Beans and Anchor-Scented Jus. Mine was good, but very spicy, and also very messy to eat. The crispy bacon elevated the short rib, though – and made the dish worth eating. The only thing I questioned was the use of the pommes frites. Although it made for pretty plating, it made the dish a bit more complex to conquer. They ended up getting in the way more than anything.

Chorizo-stuffed, Bacon Wrapped Short Rib with Sour Cream Mashers, Green Beans and Anchor-Scented Jus

My husband was thrilled with his choice, the Pan Roasted Cobia with Brie-enriched Risotto, Candied Carrots, and Pink Peppercorn Vermouth Butter Sauce. And from what couple bites he let me have, I can agree that it was fan-friggin-tastic. Another great reason to go back and visit G. Michael’s, as our waiter let us know that this item is on the regular menu as well.

Pan Roasted Cobia with Brie-enriched Risotto, Candied Carrots, and Pink Peppercorn Vermouth Butter Sauce

For dessert, I went with a classic that just happens to be one of my all-time favorites, Creme Brulee with Fresh Berries. Their custard is thick and rich, almost like a ganache, and had just the right amount of caramelization on top. Simple but executed beautifully.

Creme Brulee with Fresh Berries

My husband went for the 3 Layer Cake with Toffee-Brown Butter Icing and Whiskey Caramel Sauce, an over the top, super-sweet cake that nearly sent him into a sugar coma. Huge friggin’ portion, but so rich he had difficulty finishing it.

3 Layer Cake with Toffee-Brown Butter Icing and Whiskey Caramel Sauce

If G. Michael’s is an example of the level of quality and value that we have to look forward to this week, then everyone should have an excellent time. They’ve set the bar extremely high. And there’s still 6 days left for you to enjoy this menu. Give them a call, perhaps there are still reservations available, and for $30 per person, why not?

If you’d like to go: G. Michael’s Bistro, 595 S. Third Street, Columbus (German Village). 614.464.0575

G. Michael's Bistro and Bar on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week Columbus 2009 Begins!

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Events, Restaurant Week

Yay. Finally, here we are. The start of Restaurant Week in Columbus. New York fashionistas have Fashion Week, but for us foodies, this is pretty much the equivalent. So, at least on my part, expect daily coverage of my experiences.

I’m planning on liveblogging from Twitter while I’m at the restaurants (you just need to follow me in order to see the updates), and then posting a bit more in depth once I get home.

Tonight, I’m going to G.Michael’s, a place I’ve been to before and enjoyed greatly, but one that I haven’t been to in quite a while. And what a lovely evening to enjoy it! Can you guys believe the beautiful weather we’re having today?

It’s not too late for you to be a part of Restaurant Week – take a look at the menus for participating restaurants, and call to make reservations for your favorites. Hope to see you there!

So where are the rest of you Columbus locals headed tonight?

Review: Anna’s Sunday Brunch Buffet

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Uncategorized

You know that saying, “sometimes you have to break up in order to make up”? Well, it’s never been so true as with my on/off  love affair with Anna’s Greek Restaurant, a place I had stopped going to for a couple years after a few bad experiences in a row, which I explained in my last review of the place.

Well, she has won me back! The love affair is back on. I was convinced to give it another try when we scheduled a Meetup there last year. The food was outstanding. I went with a friend a few weeks ago. Still outstanding, and the buffet was beyond my wildest dreams. So not even three weeks later, I’m back yet again, bringing my husband and mother along to enjoy the glory that is their Sunday Brunch Buffet.

Most of the time I’m fairly indifferent about buffets, because for the most part, what’s included is super-cheap to prepare, more carbs than you can shake a stick at, or just stuff they need to move quickly. Not so with the buffet at Anna’s. They truly bring their “A” game, bring out the big guns of the menu as you’re about to see.

At $14.95, it’s an absolute bargain. Not only do you get unlimited access to regular menu items that are normally expensive a la carte, but the items are refilled promptly as they are eaten, kept meticulously clean and organized, and you’re guaranteed to get the same experience if you show up at 2pm as you will when the buffet opens at 11am. And the best part? It happens every Sunday from 11am to 2:30pm.

So what exactly does one get for $14.95? Take a look. There’s a table of appetizers/salads/soups, including a delicious tahini-rich hummus, a nice garlicky tzatziki sauce, a couple of types of soups (avgolemono and lentil), pita, a couple of types of salad, cheesy scrambled eggs and potatoes. And that’s just on the first short table.

Sunday Brunch Buffet at Anna's - Salads and Soups

Once you move over to where the entrees are, you’re met with a myriad of choices, with standbys like gyro meat, pastitsio, and moussaka, to Anna’s-specific dishes like the Chicken Corfu and a rice dish, a Greek tomato based spaghetti dish, to other delicious items like dolmathes (beef and lamb stuffed grape leaves covered in a rich lemon sauce), spanakopita and tyropita (spinach/feta and cheese turnovers, respectively), cod and calamari, grilled chicken, side dishes like lemon potatoes and green beans with tomatoes, and much more. So much more that even with two trips up to the buffet proper, taking tiny samples of each dish, I still didn’t have enough appetite in order to try everything. They even make Greek omelets to order, all you need to do is ask.

Sunday Brunch Buffet at Anna's - Main Dishes

If you still have room left, there’s a huge dessert table, with classics like rice pudding, baklava, galaktoboureko (a farina/filo sweet dessert), waffles and fresh fruit, Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts, lemon cake, and more.

Sunday Brunch Buffet at Anna's - Desserts

Service has always been friendly and attentive, with Anna herself often checking in with her diners to see how they’re doing or how they’re enjoying the food. If you do go, make sure to fill out the survey, as she will send coupons to those who are on the restaurant’s email list.

We missed Anna’s, we truly did. We missed the beautifully muraled space (decorated with a seascape of Santorini with it’s beautiful blues and whites), we missed the people, and we missed the food. If you’d like an introduction to the place, and the dishes it offers, the buffet is the perfect opportunity to get acquainted.

If you’d like to go: Anna’s Greek Cuisine, 7370 Sawmill Rd, Dublin. 614.799.2207

Anna's Greek Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Hot Tamale Soup

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Food Blogging Event, Food Porn, Recipes

Can I just say that I’m glad that we have a weekend of warm weather to look forward to? Because really, I’m ready to leave the soups behind and get back to grilling. There’s nothing like a bowl of hot soup to warm you up on a cold winter day, though – and this is no exception.

Truth be told, the only thing I didn’t like about this soup was the tamales – but that could just be because of my aversion to canned/jarred tamales, which I think are godawful. Maybe if I made my own from scratch, I’d like that aspect of it. But for now, I’m leaving the tamales out, and enjoying the soup for the nicely thick and spicy concoction it is, which is even better when garnished with fresh avocado, tortilla strips and sour cream.

I’m sending this one over to be part of the Souper Soup Challenge, hosted by Running with Tweezers.

Hot Tamale Soup

Hot Tamale Soup
recipe courtesy Tammy Randerman via Bon Appetit

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch of ground cinnamon
3 cups canned chicken broth
1 14-to-16-ounce can tomatoes, chopped, with juices
12 purchased tamales, 3 ounces each
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed, drained
1 cup frozen corn kernels
Shredded cheddar

Heat heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add first 4 ingredients and cook until beef is brown, breaking up meat with fork, about 4 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, cayenne and cinnamon and cook 1 minute. Add broth and tomatoes with juices. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat tamales according to package instructions.

Stir beans and corn into soup. Simmer until corn is just heated through, about 3 minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Place 2 tamales into each of 6 bowls. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.