Restaurant Week Columbus 2012: Spagio

I haven’t been able to attend Restaurant Week (614 or Dine Originals) in more than a year either because I was in the hospital or just plum couldn’t afford it. My loss, too – I’ve heard stories of many fabulous meals at many fabulous restaurants on a variety of newer food blogs that have started up since my last time covering Restaurant Week. And they’ve picked up the slack quite nicely, as their entries had me yearning for meals that I missed. But I’m back, baby, and I’m really hungry.

I’ve been missing Spagio’s goulash for ages. They took it off the menu a few years ago, and other than a seasonal reappearance a while back (of which I had none, because I didn’t make it there in time), we’ve been reliving that particular meal time and time again in the interim. So, having said that, the goulash (which appears on this week’s Restaurant Week menu) was what drew us in this time around. About Restaurant Week: 614 Magazine’s version of the concept encompasses a wide variety of chains *and* independents, at many different price points ($15-35 per person) for 3-4 courses. Spagio’s menu is somewhere in the middle with 3 courses for $25. And well worth it, too – given the amount and quality of the food.

We got there when they opened to a very empty restaurant. One of the waiters joked that even though they’ve been busy all week, today was particularly dead because it seemed as though Columbusites have forgotten how to drive in snow. I actually enjoyed getting there and not having the place be as packed as it usually was on my last few visits. Our waiter brought us out a nice basket of crusty rolls, which were fantastic with a bit of butter – you can opt for olive oil if butter isn’t your thing.

Crusty Rolls @ Spagio

For my appetizer, I chose the Prince Edward Island Mussels, which were steamed in a cast iron cocotte with a heady broth of smoked bacon, white wine and cream. The combination of flavors was outstanding – the juices released by the mussels made for a great “pot liquor” (so to speak) and they were cooked perfectly. Easily one of the best preparations I’ve ever had of the dish. The number of mussels given were quite substantial, and it took me a while to finish them.

Prince Edward Island Mussels @ Spagio

P. (not a mussel fan) went with the Minestrone Soup – nothing about it stood out, really – it was solid interpretation of a classic recipe.

Minestrone Soup @ Spagio

About the goulash – while the flavor of the dish was just as we remembered, there were a couple of things about the preparation that were a little less than perfect: namely, a small puddle of oil near the bottom of the dish, and a few tough beef cubes (while others in the same pot were melt in your mouth tender). Still, it’s a dish we would order again because despite its inconsistencies, it’s still a stellar dish. P., especially, used the rest of the crusty rolls to mop up the flavorful gravy.

Hungarian Goulash @ Spagio

For dessert, P. chose the multi-layered Chocolate Pot au Crème, a nice take on the recipe which topped a rich chocolate pudding with a layer of Crème Anglaise and whipped cream. It was rich enough that we were able to happily share it. Because of the way it is prepared, this is one dessert you’ll want to eat in-house.

Chocolate Pot au Creme @ Spagio

I chose the Cherry and Cheese Strudel, which was a strudel made in the same way that my German great-grandmother used to prepare hers – a flaky, layer upon layer strudel crust, filled with a cherry and cheese combination that didn’t really stand out in its flavors – but isn’t strudel all about the pastry anyway?

Cherry and Cheese Strudel @ Spagio

We were quite pleased with the attentive and well-paced service, and went home with enough food for me to get another meal out of it (guess who’s having leftover goulash and strudel for a midnight snack tonight?). A great value, as we both left thoroughly stuffed and happy with the overall experience. Definitely worth checking out before Restaurant Week ends this Saturday night. Just be sure to make reservations if you’d like to check it out, given that Fridays and Saturdays are usually very busy for restaurants in Grandview.

If you’d like to go: Spagio, 1295 Grandview Ave., Columbus 43212, 614-486-1114. More information on other restaurants participating in Restaurant Week Columbus (along with their menus) can be found on their site.

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