Monthly Archives: September 2009

Restaurant Week Fall 2009: Cafe Corner

Oh wow, I got a bit distracted there, didn’t I? Back to Restaurant Week, and a review of the last couple of restaurants I went to.

Cafe Corner is one that we pretty much discovered during last Restaurant Week, and it’s a place that we’ve been frequenting regularly ever since. However, we haven’t really availed ourselves to their whole menu – most of the time when we visit, we’re doing takeout, so go for cold sandwiches that travel well. Since we were eating in this time around, we had a lot more choices.

And eating in is even easier now, since they built a patio – plenty of seating (where before there was a wait for a table inside), so at least when it’s nice out, finding somewhere to sit is a breeze. And extended hours make it a more practical option, where in the past we had to fight their limited hours. Great improvements on both fronts.

Patio at Cafe Corner

Their deal this week wasn’t amazing (2 sandwiches + 2 desserts + 2 cans of pop or bottled water for $20.09). It’s not much different than if you had bought these items a la carte, and in some cases, the Restaurant Week special was more expensive. To make it a good deal, we both went with pricey sandwiches.

Paul’s choice was this huge Country Egg Sandwich (normally $9.95), which is definitely big enough to share – each half of the sandwich is like a sandwich unto itself. It puts fried eggs, roasted garlic, walnut pesto, cheddar and prosciutto on a nice hearty old world bread, which is then grilled. This, my friends, is the breakfast of champions.

Country Egg Sandwich from Cafe Corner

I went with what I pretty much always go with when I eat at Cafe Corner, the Turkey Goat Cheese Wrap (normally $8.95). This is my favorite thing to eat here – it’s just a really good sandwich – think a nice turkey, goat cheese, mixed greens, and raspberry vinaigrette salad condensed into wrap form. Extremely refreshing in hot weather, that’s for sure.

Turkey Goat Cheese Wrap from Cafe Corner

Drinks and desserts weren’t much to write home about – they paled in comparison to the delicious snickerdoodle cookies I had the first time around. They were almost an afterthought after those big sandwiches.

Drinks & Dessert at Cafe Corner

We really enjoy Cafe Corner as a regular stop, and definitely wanted to give them some Restaurant Week love. Their sandwich prices aren’t cheap, but they’ve got some pretty creative combinations going on. Stop in and give them a try.

If you’d like to go: Cafe Corner, corner of 3rd & Pennsylvania, Columbus (Harrison West), 614-294-2233

Cafe Corner on Urbanspoon

Event: Taste the Future 2009

Last night was Columbus State’s annual fundraiser, Taste the Future. We were so thrilled to be able to attend for the fourth year in a row, and were so happy that the weather cooperated long enough for the event to be held outdoors.

As usual, the food was fabulous. That goes without saying. It always is. But there were new things going on this year, that thrilled me to no end. The first is the “No Waste at Taste” initiative – using compostable plates, cups, and utensils, and recycling bins throughout the courtyard. The other? The way they embraced social media this year. Inside, they had a projector with everyone’s tweets about the event, and I’ve never seen as many cameras, video cams, notepads and Twittering than I have this year. The way they embraced social and non-traditional media (as a member of both of those above) was heartening.

I also saw way more familiar faces this year than I have in years past. Whether this means that I’m getting around more (possible) or whether the event is more accessible I’m not sure, but it was nice to go to a charity event that was attended by a lot of younger people, rather than feeling a bit out of place among the rich and well-dressed as I usually do at charity events. I even saw one of my favorite CSCC instructors from my time at the college volunteering at one of the beverage booths.

So enjoy the sights of Taste the Future, save the date for next year (Tuesday, September 14, 2010), and make sure you click on the link at the end of this entry to see the rest of the pictures.

Ohio Sweet Corn Bread Pudding with Rosemary Caramel Sauce from Limited Brands

Watermelon "Tartare" Spoons with Creme Fraiche & Mint from Made From Scratch Catering

Chilled Tomato Soup with Butter Poached Lobster and Genovese Basil from Made From Scratch

Grilled Vegetarian Platter from LA Catering

Shrimp with Andouille Sausage, Tomatoes and Scallions from G. Michael's

Shark Centerpiece at The Columbus Fish Market

If you’d like to see the rest of the pictures of last night’s event, be sure to check the Flickr set I created.

Restaurant Week Fall 2009: The Top Steakhouse

I can’t tell you enough how much I love The Top – basically because it hasn’t changed for 50+ years. Same menu, same retro ambiance, same great service, same wonderful food. I always know that I’ll go there and have an awesome experience. So I’m so very psyched that they’re part of Dine Originals Columbus and take part in Restaurant Week.

The door at The Top Steakhouse

The one benefit to Restaurant Week being held in September vs. being held in March is that almost all of the restaurants we’ve visited have their patios open. The Top was no exception – I love eating out there because inside, it’s so dark you can barely see your food. Outside, you get to see how beautiful the presentation is under the full spectrum of daylight.

The Patio at The Top Steakhouse

The Top’s menu for Restaurant Week is virtually unchanged from March’s menu – with the exception of one of the desserts, it IS the same. Not a problem, since we were so incredibly pleased with our meal in March. And in a twist of fate, we had the same server, too. We were thrilled that Emily remembered us, along with some of our preferences during that meal.

The Top Steakhouse Restaurant Week Menu

Every meal at The Top starts out with a relish tray. We love this, as unusual as this seems.

Relish Plate at The Top Steakhouse

We loved, loved, loved the bread basket that night – fluffy pillows of honeyed yeasty deliciousness that we couldn’t get enough of. This may be part of the reason I filled up so quickly, even though we only had 2 rolls each. They were served with a soft whipped butter that spread so easily and melted slightly into the still warm rolls.

Dinner Rolls from The Top Steakhouse

For his appetizer, Paul chose the escargot. Neither one of us had ever had escargot before, and we both absolutely loved them. The snails themselves are reminiscent in taste and texture of a really earthy mushroom, and they are swimming in a garlic-butter-cheese combination that totally rocks. Once you’ve plucked the escargot out, you dip the accompanying toast into the garlic butter to soak up the evilness that is the combination of all the flavors.

Escargot from The Top Steakhouse

I went with my eternal favorite at The Top, the French onion soup. I’ve been known to stop in for this soup alone. Imagine a slightly boozy, beefy broth, chock full of sweet caramelized onions and croutons, and topped with melted cheese. Theirs is easily the best version of this dish I’ve had.

French Onion Soup from The Top Steakhouse

For the salad course, Paul went with the House salad, which tops salad greens with all manners of veggies, blue cheese, and an Italian dressing. Simple, but delicious.

House Salad from The Top Steakhouse

My Caesar salad could easily be an entree unto itself. Mounded high on a dinner plate (yes, that is not a salad plate!), the crisp romaine lettuce is tossed in a mayonnaise-based creamy Caesar dressing, croutons, and Parmesan cheese. With the addition of a little salt and pepper, it was very satisfying. So satisfying that I got full about halfway through eating it. I realized then I should have passed on seconds on those rolls. πŸ˜‰

Caesar Salad from The Top Steakhouse

We both went with the Surf & Turf for our entree – in both cases, the lobster was slightly overdone and the steak was very underdone (I like mine still mooing, essentially, and it was less done than that). Paul sent his back to the kitchen to be refired, which they did without question, and it came back out perfectly the second time around. Since I was taking my steak and potato home to eat later, I chose to have mine boxed as is, so that when I reheated it later, it would be done to medium rare.

Surf 'n Turf at The Top Steakhouse

Not part of Restaurant Week, but my husband absolutely had to have the Potatoes au gratin side – he’s had this before at Taste of the Independents and loved it.

Potatoes au Gratin from The Top Steakhouse

For his dessert, he chose the Funnel Cake with ice cream and fresh strawberries. Fair food kicked up a notch, this was like an ice cream sundae on steroids.

Funnel Cake from The Top Steakhouse

I went with a classic creme brulee, and found it amusing that Emily had remembered what I said last time around about the sugar not cracking properly if you do it in advance of dinner service. This time around, it was absolutely perfect.

Creme Brulee from The Top Steakhouse

I’ll never, ever turn down a meal at The Top – and to dine there with a discount? Bonus!

If you’d like to go: The Top Steakhouse, 2891 E. Main Street, Columbus (just east of Bexley), 614-231-8238

Top Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week Fall 2009: Katzinger’s

I love the way in which Katzinger’s embraces Restaurant Week. We were thrilled to death with the 3 sandwich sampler they had during the spring edition, so it goes without saying that we were going to try out their offerings this time around. Since our focus this week was on keeping it on the cheap, Katzinger’s deal that feeds 2 people for $20.09 seemed like one we couldn’t miss.

Katzinger's Restaurant Week Menu

Unfortunately, just like spring, we didn’t have much luck with the free pickles – this is usually my favorite part of eating at Katzinger’s, but this time around, the dills were way beyond salty, and the garlic pickles were barely pickled at all.

Pickles from Katzinger's

The deal this time around was 2 Sandwiches + 2 Salads + 2 Desserts from the choices on the menu for $20.09 (or $10.04 for one of each).

For what it’s worth, my sandwich was very good. Nice big pieces of turkey paired well with sweet caramelized onions, the tang of blue cheese, crisp slices of Granny Smith apples, all tied together with a balsamic dressing and then grilled. My salad, however good, was quite a bit underdressed, so Paul ended up eating since I have trouble eating salads that are on the dry side.

Oven Roasted Turkey Sandwich and Mesclun Mix from Katzinger's

I absolutely loved my dessert, a dense, almost ganache-like flourless chocolate bar with toasted pine nuts and fleur de sel sea salt. I love the combination of sweet and salty, and this was one of most successful executions of this that I’ve encountered.

Flourless Chocolate Bar with Toasted Pine Nuts and Fleur de Sel Sea Salt from Katzinger's

Paul chose the Pulled Pork Sandwich with caramelized onions and white Vermont cheddar on an onion roll. This was a great sandwich, and the roll added texture that it definitely needed. Paul also opted for the mesclun mix, and his was dressed adequately. His dessert was a pumpkin pie bar with caramel pecan topping, which tasted just like Thanksgiving.

Pulled Pork Sandwich, Mesclun Mix and Pumpkin Pie Bar from Katzinger's.

Before we left, we got the one sandwich that we hadn’t tried a la carte. The Roasted Eggplant sandwich, which pairs roasted eggplant slices with fresh mozzarella and house made tomato jam which is then grilled on fire bread. Quite savory and spicier than expected, this is the perfect choice for vegetarians, because it doesn’t compromise flavor for a second.

Roasted Eggplant/Fresh Mozzarella Sandwich from Katzinger's

We weren’t disappointed with our choices at Katzinger’s – it’s somewhere we don’t eat at nearly enough. I’m hoping we’ll return soon – with all the celebrations for their 25th anniversary coming up in October, hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.

If you’d like to go: Katzinger’s Delicatessen, 475 S. Third Street, Columbus, OH 43215, 614-228-DELI

Katzinger's Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week Fall 2009: Pistacia Vera

We had just enough room (and time) after our visit to Banana Bean Cafe, that we decided to stop at Pistacia Vera in German Village to try out their Restaurant Week offerings. We’re absolutely in love with their space there, even though it’s been a year or two now that they’ve been in that location.

Outside of Pistacia Vera

I’ve always been impressed by the beauty and simplicity of the store. Everything looks so darn appetizing that I guess it’s a good thing that the Restaurant Week menu is a set one. πŸ™‚

Display Case at Pistacia Vera

And what a menu it is – a sampling of almost all the great stuff on their menu for $20.09, designed to be a dessert and hot beverages for two (or one very hungry, very sugar tolerant person).

Restaurant Week Menu at Pistacia Vera

And here’s a picture of the selection. You get to choose what macarons and pate de fruit you want – since their menu will be changing for fall in a couple of weeks, we picked summer flavors like Strawberry Rose and Raspberry. For the pate, we chose Cherry Kirsch and Strawberry Lychee. Everything here is so decadent and rich, I had a hard time finishing my portion of the dessert.

Restaurant Week Selection at Pistacia Vera

So, if you’re on the way home from one of your other Restaurant Week visits, don’t hesitate to stop in, even if you’re not hungry at the moment. Because if you’re not in the mood to eat in their charming boutique? You can have the lovely ladies pack it in a package to take home with you instead. πŸ™‚

If you’d like to go: Pistacia Vera, 541 S. Third Street, Columbus, OH 43215, 614-220-9070

Pistacia Vera on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week Fall 2009: Banana Bean Cafe

We’ve been semi-regulars of Banana Bean Cafe since their fabulous showing during spring’s Restaurant Week, so we were more than a little surprised when by late Tuesday afternoon, there was no Restaurant Week menu up yet for Banana Bean. After a phone call where I was given bad information and a swift correction of that bad information via Twitter, I did find out that they are, in fact, offering a special for Restaurant Week, even though it’s not listed on the Dine Originals Columbus site – their deal this week is 2 Brunch Items + 1 Starter for $20.99 – considering the fact that the brunch items go for $9-$15 each (with the majority being $12 or $15), and the starters ranging from $5-$11, it’s one heck of a deal, especially if you’re getting 2 $15 brunch plates and an $11 starter ($41 value for $20.09).

Since our last visit, Banana Bean Cafe got a bit of a paint job – the exterior is now brightly painted, in colors reminiscent of South Florida.

Banana Bean Cafe Sign

And they’ve really fleshed out the back patio, it’s got loads of character now. Love the outdoor grill.

Banana Bean Cafe's Patio

And I love the tables they built, the decorations, and the paint job that matches that on the front of the building.

Another View of Banana Bean Cafe's Patio

As an aside, one thing I don’t love is the fact that the Ohio smoking ban doesn’t extend to the back patio of the place – when we started our meal, there was no one else out there, but by the time we left, there were 3 cigarettes and a cigar going at a table near ours, and we had to get out of there because the stench was really starting to get to us. I’m usually fairly tolerant of smoking, but not so much when there’s so much of it going on that it affects the taste of my food.

Banana Bean Cafe has great drink deals – they offer $2 margaritas all day long, and I always get one or two when I eat there. Although not the best margarita I’ve ever had, it’s pretty solid, and pretty strong.

Margarita from Banana Bean Cafe

And if you get there during happy hour (4-6PM), one of the perks is a free basket of freshly fried chips and a nice spicy salsa.

Chips and Salsa from Banana Bean Cafe

Even though it’s not part of the Restaurant Week menu, Paul opted to get a cup of their Cuban Black Bean soup ($3) a la carte – he enjoyed it so much during the last Restaurant Week, that he wanted it again today. This is a hearty, stick to your ribs, full of flavor soup, which if one had gotten as a bowl, would be a meal unto itself.

Cuban Black Bean Soup from Banana Bean Cafe

For our starter, even though there are tons of new appetizers on the menu, we got one of our old favorites – the YaYa’s Eggplant Fries (normally $7). You can’t really tell these are made out of eggplant, as they’re just savory and crunchy on the outside, while moist and non-descript on the inside. They normally come with a spicy but sweet chile dipping sauce, but we love tempering the heat of the chile sauce with a small cup of the creamy Ya-Ya sauce.

YaYa's Eggplant Fries from Banan Bean Cafe

For my brunch item, I went for one of the new menu items, the BB Ranchero (normally $12), which consists of two fried eggs, grilled tortillas, house potatoes, black beans, sweet fried plantains, avocado mash, Mexican crema, and red hacienda sauce. While the serving size was substantial (but mostly potatoes, unfortunately), and the flavor fairly solid, this one didn’t quite resonate with me – I’m not sure if it’s that it seemed to be missing something (meat? heat? not sure), or because the potatoes seemed to overwhelm the dish and drown out the other flavors, or if because the tough tortillas made eating it unwieldy, but I probably wouldn’t order it again.

BB Ranchero from Banana Bean Cafe

Paul’s choice, the Lobster Hash (normally $15), another new brunch item, absolutely was the bomb-diggity. An almost insurmountable mountain of griddled lobster, red bliss potatoes, two poached eggs, and a green chile hollandaise, this dish was flavorful, spicy, and downright decadent. We did notice, after the fact, that it was completely missing the simple salad it was also supposed to come with. Not that he would have had room for it in his belly, mind you. As it was, he had to take a good portion of the hash home with him.

Lobster Hash from Banana Bean Cafe

There are tons of new dishes on the new menu, which has only been in effect for a few weeks. With the spectacular bargain that Restaurant Week offers, run, don’t walk, to give one of the 7 new (in addition to the 8 existing) brunch items a try at a great discount. We’ll probably be going back ourselves before the week is up – I have my eyes on the North Shore Seafood Omelette (an open faced griddled omelette with scallops, gulf shrimp, and blistered vegetables sauteed in a garlic butter tomato sauce), while Paul is all geared up to try the Grandaddie’s Chicken and Waffles (buttermilk fried boneless chicken breast with an almond scented Belgian waffle and apricot honey syrup).

If you’d like to go: Banana Bean Cafe, 340 Greenlawn Ave., Columbus, OH 43223, 614-443-2262

Banana Bean Cafe on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week Fall 2009: Black Creek Bistro

In foodie circles, Black Creek Bistro has always had a stellar reputation, and has always come highly recommended. So I was fairly sure that my less than ideal experience during Restaurant Week in the spring was an anomaly, and I had all intentions to go back and try it again when food was seasonal. Lucky for me, Restaurant Week Fall Edition was scheduled for right when the best produce would be available, so returning to Black Creek Bistro for a follow-up visit this week was a no-brainer.

Black Creek Bistro Sign

As they did in the spring, Black Creek Bistro is one of the only participating restaurants that is offering four courses instead of three, but with the addition of a couple of new chefs since then, it inevitably was going to be a much easier thing to pull off. I had already made my choices before we even walked in the restaurant door.

Restaurant Week Menu from Black Creek Bistro

I was glad to be able to take a couple of minutes to catch up with Chef Kent Peters, who I had not seen since Taste of the Independents. As I’ve mentioned before, he’s one class act. I have the utmost of respect for the sustainability he incorporates between farm and restaurant – to know that most of the vegetables eaten during the meal were grown on the farm made my little locavore heart happy.

Bread service (not pictured), were run of the mill dinner rolls, but they were nicely warmed and crispy on the outside, and served with a rather delicious compound butter.

To start, I chose the chili relleno, which was a fiery, roasted hot banana pepper stuffed with melted queso fresco, dipped in what tasted like a beer batter and fried until crisp, served on top of a cold ragu of tomatillos and other veggies which added a sweetness, tempered the heat of the chile pepper, and just paired wonderfully. Although the dish was at the very edge of heat level I can tolerate, it still was a starter that I’d look forward to ordering again if it were on the regular menu.

Chili Relleno from Black Creek Bistro

Paul chose the Tri-Color Seafood Carpaccio, in which raw tuna, scallop, and salmon was pounded thin and given a treatment similar to ceviche (with lime juice and olive oil). The roasted garlic was an especially nice touch, but I think the crostini was a bit of a distraction and not even necessary to pull this dish together.

Tri-Color Seafood Carpaccio from Black Creek Bistro

For the salad course, I went for the Heirloom Beet Salad, which topped farm fresh mixed greens with roasted red beets and 4 different kind of heirloom tomatoes. A nice crumble of goat cheese and feta, a flavorful pesto, and cucumbers just made this a perfect example of the farm on a plate. It doesn’t get much better (or fresher) than this.

Heirloom Beet Salad from Black Creek Bistro

Paul opted for the Bistro Salad, which was a nice simple composed salad of mesclun mix topped with strawberries, gorgonzola cheese, red onion, walnuts and a slightly sweet balsamic dressing. While not the least bit complex, it was absolutely delicious.

Bistro Salad from Black Creek Bistro

My entree was a perfectly seared red snapper, paired with a triangle of au gratin potatoes, fresh spinach, and balsamic roasted red pepper relish that was studded with olives. Although I’m not a huge olive fan, the flavor wasn’t overwhelming, and just added a bit of brininess to the dish.

Snapper from Black Creek Bistro

Paul’s entree was the most unusual dish of the evening, a Peanut Butter and Jelly Duck. A perfectly seared breast of duck is sliced, and topped with a slightly sweet berry sauce. The noodles are tossed in a slightly sweet peanut sauce. Combined, the sauces truly do taste just like peanut butter and jelly. The portion size was perfect, because this dish could easily get cloying in a larger quantity.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Duck from Black Creek Bistro

We both opted for the Bacon Apple Tart for dessert – it was a simple apple tart, served with house-made buttermilk ice cream, and sprinkled with crispy lardons of bacon. I love the combination of salty and sweet, and this did not disappoint. I especially loved the ice cream.

Bacon Apple Tart with Buttermilk Ice Cream from Black Creek Bistro

In short, our experience this time around was the polar opposite of our last experience, and I can now see why it’s both a media and local foodie darling. I can see myself visiting much more often, especially during the growing season.

Our server, Katie, was absolutely awesome. Engaging, friendly, non-obtrusive, and anticipated our every need without us even needing to ask.

If you’d like to go: Black Creek Bistro, 51 Parsons Ave, Columbus, OH 43215, 614-246-9662

Black Creek Bistro on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week Fall 2009: Milo’s Deli

As part of our desire to do Restaurant Week recession-style, more than half of the places we visit this week will be $20.09 or less for the pair of us. This is one such place.

Milo’s Deli is located on West Broad in Franklinton, just a few blocks west of Mt. Carmel West Hospital. Franklinton is a much-maligned but underappreciated neighborhood, chock full of history. I happen to think it’s a diamond in the rough, similar to the Short North circa 1995. I’m hoping that due to it’s proximity to downtown, like the Short North, it will eventually show some revitalization. Places such as Milo’s will go a long way toward making that wish a reality.

Easily accessible since it’s on Broad Street, there is no shortage of parking, as there is both plenty of on-street parking and Milo’s also has it’s own lot off to the side.

Milo's Deli Sign

Upon walking in, we saw that the Dine Originals special was prominently displayed. We went around the side to order, talking to the slightly standoffish but otherwise helpful cashier. After paying for your order, you seat yourself, and wait for them to call you.

The special this week is 2 Milo’s Reubens, 2 side salads, 2 drinks and 2 cookies for $20.09. While this is very similar to their regular price (you can buy the sandwich/side/drink combo normally for $9.75), it is one heck of a value for the amount of food. Both Paul and I left there absolutely stuffed. The Milo’s Reuben that was the centerpiece of both of our platters was one of the better ones I’ve had – good meat to bread ratio, nice combination of meats (corned beef, turkey and pastrami), nicely grilled, hearty rye bread that had properly chewy crust, and good balance among all the other toppings. It is very similar to the sandwich offered by a well known deli in town, but at a fraction of the price. The sandwich is a static offering during Restaurant Week, but there are quite a few other choices otherwise – about 6-8 different types of drinks including fountain soda, several different potato and pasta salads to choose from for your side, and about 6 different types of cookie.

Special Menu at Milo's Deli

I went with the combo of Reuben, Redskin Potato Salad, Chips and Sugar Cookie. The redskin potato salad is sour-cream based, with a bit of dill, and the generous portion was quite enjoyable. The requisite dill pickle was crunchy and had good flavor. And the sugar cookie was the size of a softball, and extremely moist.

Reuben, Potato Salad, Chips & Sugar Cookie at Milo's Deli

Paul went with the tortellini salad, which is cheese tortellini with fresh veggies and an Italian dressing, and an oatmeal raisin cookie, which was also huge and full of traditional oatmeal raisin flavor.

Reuben, Tortellini Salad, Chips, and Oatmeal Raisin Cookie at Milo's Deli

The regular menu at Milo’s is huge, and we hope to go back soon to experience more of it. I was surprised that such a deli existed in Franklinton, and can see why it’s extremely popular with hospital employees. I can only hope that people won’t be put off by the location and venture over to give it a try. It certainly is worth a visit.

If you’d like to go: Milo’s Deli & Cafe, 980 W. Broad St, Columbus (Franklinton), OH 43222, 614-224-0104

Milos Deli & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week Fall 2009: G. Michael’s

Let me just first start by saying that I’m thrilled to death that Restaurant Week is back for the fall. I enjoyed my experiences so much this spring (as did others) that it was a win-win situation for both the restaurants and customers alike. Our choices this time will be a bit lower cost, but that doesn’t mean we won’t get a fewer higher end ones in there, like this one.

Let me just put it on record that I’ve never, ever had a bad experience at G. Michael’s. It’s easily in my Top 10 list of best restaurants in Columbus, and we’ve had absolutely stellar food and service each time. So this was the first place on our list for Restaurant Week, and we didn’t want to wait until the end of the week when word of how great it is got to everyone else making it impossible to get in there. πŸ™‚

G. Michael's Bistro in Columbus, OH

The three-course menu at G. Michael’s will run you $30.09 per person, making it one of the more expensive options for Restaurant Week, but given the quality of the food, the atmosphere, and the listed menu prices for the components of the meal, it truly is a great value.

G. Michael’s hasn’t changed its bread service in like, ever; but the bread here is so good that I can see why they stick with something that works. As usual, the hearty sourdough and what I believe to be a wheat bread are served with a nice, soft, pepper and onion based compound butter.

Bread Service at G. Michael's

For my first course, I chose the Pan-Fried Crab Cake with sweet corn butter sauce and house-made guacamole. This was a very nicely composed dish, where the flavors really played off of each other. Not to say that each individual component wasn’t good on it’s own, especially the guacamole that had a nice flavor to it (which I later found out was lime zest) that you don’t usually find as a component. The crunch of the breading on the crab cake, too, lent a good contrast that I found to be well-balanced.

Pan-Fried Crab Cake from G. Michael's

Paul went with the Summer Tomato Bisque, which was a thick, creamy, extremely savory but not overly spiced hot tomato soup, which captured the flavor of the seasonal fruit beautifully. This was an extremely hearty offering.

Summer Tomato Bisque at G. Michael's

The entrees, though, is where it was at, especially Paul’s choice of Spinach-Stuffed Golden Trout, served with a fingerling potato, bell pepper, green tomato and apple-smoked bacon hash with leek cream sauce and pecan pesto. Oh, this dish was absolutely beautiful in every way, and I’m so glad it’s a regular menu item, because we WILL return for this one before the menu changes over next month. The skin-on trout was crispy on the outside, stuffed with a nicely seasoned creamy spinach, on top of a concoction of absolute evil that was swimming in some of the best creamed sauce ever. The pecan pesto just brought the entire dish over the top. The flavor? Beyond describing in words, you’ll have to try this one for yourself.

Spinach-Stuffed Golden Trout at G. Michael's

I was equally pleased, however, with my choice of Veal Osso Bucco with sweet pea, shiitake mushroom and roasted garlic risotto, in a saffron-scented jus and candied tomatoes, if for no other reason that you rarely see this on any menu, and I’m a huge fan of anything with marrow. It was tender, flavorful, and sat upon a risotto which although not the traditional preparation for Osso Bucco (a Risotto Milanese), went together perfectly. I think that’s why they used the jus to bring those saffron flavors in. I’m not so sure about the candied tomatoes, though – they seemed just like chopped regular tomatoes to me.

Veal Osso Bucco at G. Michael's

Paul’s dessert choice of Lemon Gingersnap Tart was a good one – the lemon filling was super creamy, tart but not too tart, in a candy-like crust. I’d order this one again myself.

Lemon Gingersnap Tart at G. Michael's

I really enjoyed my Buttermilk Panna Cotta with crumbled maple-oat streusel and blueberry-vanilla sauce. The streusel is what elevated this dish above being “just a panna cotta”, and was probably my favorite component in the dish.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta at G. Michael's

There’s a good reason we keep on going back to G. Michael’s – excellent food (they are especially artful at fish/seafood, we’ve found), understated but extraordinary service, great atmosphere. If you choose just one place to visit this Restaurant Week, this is a winner.

If you’d like to go (and a link to their Restaurant Week menu): G. Michael’s Bistro, 595 S. Third Street, Columbus, OH 43215, 614-464-0575.

G. Michael's Bistro and Bar on Urbanspoon

DOC Restaurant Week – Fall Edition

By popular demand, Dine Originals Columbus has decided to bring back the wildly successful Restaurant Week for a fall edition. I went gung-ho this spring, and went to 15 restaurants in 7 days. I won’t be able to be quite that enthusiastic this time around, but keep your eyes open starting Monday night for my Restaurant Week experiences. It will run this time starting Monday the 7th, and ending September 13th. You can view more details and the restaurant week menus on the Dine Originals Columbus site. Prices will be either $20.09 or $30.09 for a multi-course meal. The extra .09 per diner goes to charity, which is a nice touch.

So, I’ve got a little treat for you all. Karen Simonian of Dine Originals Columbus has provided me a $25 gift certificate (that can be used at any one of the 40 Dine Originals Columbus member restaurants) to give away to one of my readers. While this can’t be used during Restaurant Week, it will give one of you the opportunity to maybe try a restaurant you’ve been wanting to. So, how do you get your name in the hat to win?

In the comments section below, let me know either a) if you had to pick one, which Restaurant Week menu is your favorite OR b) about one of your DOC Restaurant Week experiences (from either this upcoming week or the spring edition. The random drawing will take place at the end of Restaurant Week, on September 13, 2009 at 11:59PM. One entry per person, please – and make sure your email address is linked in there somewhere. Bonus entry to those of you who Twitter this contest and leave a comment with your Twitter username so I can verify.

Good luck, everyone – and I hope you enjoy your meals out as much as I will!

Update: I threw everyone’s name (including bonus entries) into Random.orgΒ  and the winner is #3, Lynz. Congratulations!