May is definitely a busy month for foodies, with several events all taking place within days of each other. The first of these we attended was last Thursday’s Taste of the Independents, an annual fundraiser that benefits Dine Originals Columbus. We were lucky enough to attend last year, so we’ve been looking forward to it for months now.
Much of the food was visually stunning, the most striking of which was the plating of this Lamb Sirloin with Sweet Pea and Minted Pesto from Basi Italia. Luckily it tasted as good as it looked.
Even though I’m not usually a fan of chocolate covered strawberries, the ones from Handke’s Cuisine were downright addictive, and I went back for seconds…(and thirds…)
I loved the presentation of these Parfait of Walnut Cakes with Buttercream Espresso from Alana’s Food and Wine. Alana made about a half dozen dishes, putting her own creative spin on all of them.
I think it’s so awesome that there are events like this, that showcase the talents of this group of independent restaurants, all under one roof. I had an awesome time going from station to station, noshing on this and that all night. By the end of the night, I was stuffed.
Always a sucker for sweets, I spent way too much time near the Pistacia Vera table. I have a weakness for their macarons.
I think the best part of the evening was seeing familiar faces everywhere I looked, and taking the time to chat with some of my favorite chefs in Columbus, many of whom graciously posed for pictures even though they were busy with prepping food for hungry guests. Here’s Kent Peters of Black Creek Bistro with his new sous chef, whose name escapes me at the moment.
The only damper of the evening for me was the Fifth Floor. This year, Dine Originals Columbus offered two levels of tickets, the regular ones (for $75), or for $50 more per ticket, they offered access to the 5th Floor, which promised non-specific extras that were supposed to be really special. Maybe I was expecting too much, but for nearly double the price of a regular ticket, I was thinking there would be lobster, maybe some tenderloin or even Kobe something, foie gras, truffles, just something special that would justify the higher ticket price. When we got up there, there was a wine station, and there was this:
No food in sight. There were supposedly passed appetizers, but we never saw any the four times we went up there. Neither one of us drink much (we sip on Moscato d’Asti occasionally at home, and aren’t fans of hard liquor), so the booze up there was totally lost on us. So for $100 extra collectively, we got absolutely NOTHING. And the worst part, is that they were letting just anyone up there, without asking for tickets or names or anything. It really did put a major black cloud on an otherwise enjoyable evening. For what we paid extra, we could have gone to Alana’s and had a huge meal. And we should have. I was hoping that the extra cost would have meant that I would have had an amazing experience to blog about, something different from the mainstream coverage. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to provide that for you. At least I know better than to spend the extra money next year.
I don’t want to leave this writeup on a negative note, because I’m not a negative person. So big kudos to all of the restaurants and volunteers who put in a ton of hard work to make sure the main event was a rousing success! I can’t wait until next year.
I took a ton more pictures – almost 100 in total. If you’d like, you can see the rest of the set here.