First Look: TOM + CHEE Soft Opening

Author: paulboyer  //  Category: Columbus, Eating Local, First Look, Restaurant News, Restaurant Review

Well, it certainly has been quite a while, hasn’t it?

Sorry for our extended absence, but Ms. Foodie’s had some health issues (again) and while attending to her needs I’m afraid website updates have gone by the wayside…

HOWEVER, today I chanced upon the soft opening of the new Tom + Chee restaurant — the second one in the Columbus area — on Hilliard-Rome Road at the location of the late unlamented Ruby Tuesday’s.

I must say, it’s a vast improvement over that corporate abomination. B and I have never gotten a decent meal at a Ruby Tuesday’s (or TGI Friday’s, or sundry other corporate chain-hell restaurants, for the most part; Olive Garden excepted, but that’s a story for another time).

As I said, I was running errands for B, who remains in the hospital recuperating. My errands brought me to the Meijer’s on Hilliard-Rome Road and the Bath & Body Works, and thus my fate was sealed — I had to pass by what I had thought was a soon-to-be-opened Tom + Chee restaurant. Imagine my surprise when I saw PEOPLE inside, buying food! Needless to say, I was lured in by the promise of fancy-schmancy grilled cheese sandwiches and their mutant offspring.

Exterior of TOM+CHEE (Hilliard, OH)

Upon entering the premises, I called B and informed her where I was and that they were in fact holding a soft opening at that time. She told me to get whatever I wanted, and to get her a particular sandwich (more on that in a moment), so I did as she instructed. I ordered two different sandwiches; one I was sure she’d partake of (the Tom + Chee plus bacon), and one I was sure she’d never touch in a million years (the Armagoetta). I also ordered the creamy tomato-basil soup. B’s special request was the Barbara Blue, a “grilled cheese donut sandwich”.

Menu at TOM+CHEE (Hilliard, OH)

Service was quick and accurate, surprising for a soft launch (usually the soft launches experience glitches and serve to troubleshoot problems with their ordering, cooking, and serving processes). Bravo, Tom + Chee. :)

Seating at the Hilliard-Rome location is ample both indoors and out; the patio out front offers some protection from sun and weather. Orders (at least during the soft opening) are brought out to patrons’ tables by the staff.

Seating at TOM+CHEE (Hilliard, OH)

Now, to the sandwiches themselves. B’s chosen poison was the Barbara Blue ($3.95). That sandwich consists of a glazed donut cut in half with the inside surfaces of the donut becoming the grilled outside of the sandwich (the “pieces of bread”, so to speak). Between those pieces of glazed evil yeasty sweet “bread” was a blueberry compote, a generous portion of ham, and slices of brie cheese. ‘Twas messy indeed, but quite tasty — almost a “dessert sandwich”, though it retained a satisfying savory note thanks to the ham and brie.

Barbara Blue Grilled Cheese Sandwich from TOM+CHEE

Second to be consumed was the Tom + Chee ($4.95) (plus bacon for $2 extra). This was also a generously-sized (though not ridiculously huge, like Melt’s) sandwich comprised of two slices of grilled sourdough bread surrounding fresh large-diced tomatoes, garlic seasoning, cheddar cheese, and mozzarella cheese. The bacon as requested for the sandwich is added in the form of a copious quantity of small pieces of crispy pig belly that distribute the bacony goodness throughout the sandwich instead of being concentrated in a few strips that might accidentally be pulled out during a bite (thus denying the bacon to the rest of the sandwich). This was also quite good, especially paired with the Creamy Tomato Basil Soup, a slightly chunky concoction that’s perfect for dipping any one of these sandwiches.

Tomato, Cheese and Bacon Grilled Cheese from TOM+CHEE

Finally, we came to the Armagoetta ($7.95). What can you say about it that Adam Richman hasn’t already said on Man vs Food Nation? Well, for starters, it’s not insanely spicy — you can actually eat it and taste the ingredients rather than go running for the nearest pitcher of milk. It’s a slice of sourdough and a slice of rye surrounding a thick slice of goetta (a Cincinnati specialty not unlike scrapple, that uses the squeals & heels from your basic swine combined with pin oats; scrapple is similar but uses cornmeal as its grain base), a liberal slathering of sliced spicy cherry peppers, fried onions, sweet hot mustard, and pepperjack cheese. I enjoyed it greatly, since no single ingredient overpowered anything else in the sandwich and it was a well-balanced sandwich; I’d order it again in a Cincinnati minute.

Armagoetta Grilled Cheese Sandwich from TOM+CHEE

My verdict? If their soft launch is any indicator, they should do well in Columbus as a less-expensive and less pretentious alternative to a certain Short North grilled cheese emporium. Their offerings are original, tasty, well-conceived, and most importantly, REASONABLY SIZED AND PRICED.

Tom + Chee will be opening officially on Friday, July 18th. They’re located at 1844 Hilliard-Rome Road, Columbus, OH. Hours will be 10:45AM – 9PM Sun-Thu and 10:45AM – 10PM Fri/Sat.

Customer Service Fail: The Mad Greek (Whitehall, OH)

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Rant, Restaurant Review

Save your money and avoid The Mad Greek like the plague. The calamari we ate on the way home was tasty, but the rest of our $150 (plus $30 tip) takeout order was a hot freezer burned mess. And no seasoning that I could discern. Horrible packaging meant a soup lid busted and soaked everything in the bag. We ordered 2 three dip samplers and they put them all in the same non-divided white styrofoam box that meant that they all mixed together into one gloopy mess. All of the vegetables were freezer burned. The lamb and kofta and the chicken in the mixed grill were overcooked to the point of inedibility. The souvlaki was undercooked and overcooked (it varied depending on which chunk you got). The fish also tasted like it came from a freezer and was so overcooked that even with a fork and knife, I couldn’t cut through it. Baked fish should flake easily. We called them (twice, even! the second time to talk to a manager) to see if they could rectify the problems with the order somehow (even if it meant that we had to drive across town again, since they are on the east side and we are on the west), but the only thing they offered to do is replace the one soup that broke the next time we came in (nevermind it ruined everything else that was in the bag with it, and that by this point, we had decided that there wasn’t going to be a next time). We paid in cash, so it’s not anything we can contest with our credit card company. We got screwed, big time, and hope that our loss acts as a warning that they just do not care about customer service, and if they screw up your order, you’re on your own because they refuse to fix their mistakes.

If you still want to give them a try after reading this (and trust me, you don’t): The Mad Greek, 4210 E. Broad Street, Whitehall, OH 43213, 614-338-0000

 
Mad Greek on Urbanspoon

South Jersey Edition: Luciano’s FreshMarket

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Eating Local, New Jersey, Restaurant News, Restaurant Review, Travel

Growing up in South Jersey, I pretty much took the whole eating local thing for granted. I mean, we had an embarrassment of riches to choose from: excellent milk from a the local dairy, garden fresh produce from my grandpop’s back yard or local roadside farm markets, fresh seafood from the Delaware Bay or the ocean. The Jersey Fresh motto encompasses everything that growing up in Cumberland County meant. The city I was born (Vineland) was named that by its founder because of how well grapes grew in our soil and climate. One of our claims to fame is that Thomas Welch himself started making grape juice a block or so away from our main drag. We have some of the best pasta ever (Conte’s is a favorite of mine), wineries, and more. The point is, growing up in South Jersey during the time I did meant Jersey tomatoes, blue crabs from the Bay, ethnic influence from Italy and Puerto Rico, and the cuisine of the area reflected that. That’s why on my last visit back, I was pleasantly surprised to find someone putting out awesome food in a small kitchen tucked away in the back corner of a newly opened public market.

Luciano's Fresh Market (at Landis Marketplace)

The chef in charge of the operation, Lurie Luciano, had similar experiences growing up – we’re fairly close in age, both have many of the same childhood food memories, both let ourselves go out into the world to explore and learn new things (in her case, to New Orleans, where she fine-tuned her culinary skills – in mine, to Columbus, where I started getting adventurous in my eating and taught myself how to cook). We both share similar food philosophies now, and both of us find ourselves drawn to the city where it all began.

To her, returning to South Jersey meant being the first person on board to occupy the new public market (more on that in a separate post – let’s just say for the moment that Luciano’s FreshMarket is the shining star of the place, by far). It means crafting a new menu each week based on what’s seasonal, what’s fresh, what inspires her. She, for the most part, keeps the preparation simple. When you’re working with the best quality of everything, it doesn’t take much to let the ingredients shine. She’s extremely skilled at coaxing out the inherent flavors of the dish, preferring to not drown it out in sauces, heavy seasonings that overwhelm the senses, or the like (which I find is done way too often in Cajun and Creole influenced cuisine). She releases a new menu weekly – here’s the menu from the week I visited in March:

Weekly Menu

Still, even with the printed menu, be sure to check the menu board, where you can sometimes find additional specials. Prices are quite reasonable for the quantity and quality of the food.

Menu Board

We went over the course of two days. I was so impressed the first day that I grabbed my dad and took him with me on the second. Even though he lives in Jersey, he wasn’t aware of its existence. I was lucky to stumble across it at all – I wish it were more visible from the street so that more people would try it out. Once you taste her food, you can’t help but be a convert.

The salmon cakes were solid – reminds me of something I would whip up myself when in the need for comfort food. The sweet potato fries were out of this world, especially when dipped in her remoulade. Together they made my mouth a very happy place. The slaw didn’t stand out to me, but then again I’m not much of a slaw person, so it’s a matter of personal preference.

Salmon Cakes with Sweet Potato Fries & Slaw

The gumbo was full of flavor, built on obvious care in making the roux. I was expecting it to be spicy hot, but it wasn’t – the flavor was quite nuanced with obvious infusion of the trinity. With shreds of chicken throughout, and on top of rice, it was a hearty meal unto itself. Considering it was still quite cold and late winter, it was the kind of stick-to-your-ribs warmth needed to give you the push to face the mad dash to the car in the cold. With the weather tending toward cold again with fall setting in, it’s a perfect choice whenever you see it on the menu.

Gumbo

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Catfish Po-Boys – hers is a little different than those I have had locally here in Ohio, being topped with a nice crunchy slaw rather than lettuce and tomatoes. The catfish was fried to perfection – flaky and tender and not even a little bit greasy. The remoulade, slathered thickly on the uber-fresh bread, tied the whole sandwich together. The portion was quite generous, with the catfish literally spilling out of the confines of the roll. One of the best examples of the sandwich that I’ve ever had. I still crave this regularly, even 6 months later.

Fried Catfish Po Boy

My dad got the Fried Shrimp Po-Boy, which is a similar take on the sandwich but with shrimp rather than catfish. My dad gave me a taste, and it too was cooked to perfection. Shrimp is very easy to overcook, especially when fried, but her expert hand at cooking seafood means that she nailed this one as well.

Fried Shrimp Po Boy

I was too stuffed to eat the Crab Cake Po-Boy while I was still there, and ate it later in my hotel room. Even cold, it was pretty darn good. I tend to prefer my crab cakes sautéed rather than breaded and deep fried, but even with that in mind I still enjoyed this one immensely.

Crab Cake Po Boy

Along with some more sweet potato fries, we got a crawfish pie – it was a nice small bite, with a bit of heat – an afterthought, really. Thought at the time it would make a great mid-afternoon snack.

Crawfish Pie and Sweet Potato Fries

I also enjoyed the Ahi Tuna Melt, which was seared earlier, and then sliced and topped with cheese that was then melted on top – technically, this ends up cooking the tuna through – but not the kind of through that dries it out and makes it difficult to eat. The texture was still spot on, as was the flavor. Since it used a bun rather than the rolls that are used with the Po-Boy’s, the balance of bread to fish was just right.

Ahi Tuna Melt

I really wish my visit to Jersey had been longer, or that I had discovered it earlier in my trip. If I still lived in Jersey, I’d have likely turned into a regular. I’m on her mailing list, where she sends out the weekly menus, and torture myself regularly reading about delicious stuff that I’d have to drive 10 hours each way to get. But alas, it’s not to be.

There was an article earlier this week in my hometown newspaper, about how she’s not renewing her lease with the market when it expires at the end of the year. Given the circumstances (more about that in the post about the Marketplace – way too complex an issue to get into right this second), I would probably do the same thing, but I’m still sad to see her go. I have no doubt she’ll land squarely on her feet and will be off and running once she finds the right location, but you still have a couple of months left to give this place a try while it’s the same concept in the same location. Trust me when I say it’s worth the trip even if that’s your sole purpose for going there. It’s a bit of bright light in a corner of Vineland that people unfortunately write off because of preconceived notions. Once you try it, if you like it, let Lurie know. You can’t miss her – she’s the redhead at the counter with infectious smile and passion for all things local. Personally, I’d love to see her do a food truck of some sort in the interim – I think it would be a great match with the nature of the food she puts out. And be sure to keep an eye on her website – she posts regular menu updates and gives other pertinent info about hours and special events. I hear the lobster pot pies this week are to die for.

If you’d like to go: Luciano’s FreshMarket/New Orleans Seafood Kitchen (inside the Landis MarketPlace), 631 E. Landis Ave., Vineland, NJ 08360. 609-970-7653. Also on Twitter.

South Jersey Edition: Pegasus Restaurant

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: New Jersey, Restaurant Review, Travel

If there’s one thing I remember about growing up in New Jersey, it was that every adventure was punctuated by a visit to a diner. In South Jersey, especially, diners were as ubiquitous as trees. Every town, no matter how small, had at least one (if not more). The ones that I remember from my childhood no longer exist (Presidential Diner, I’m looking at you – and miss you and your Belgian Waffles with Strawberries terribly), but due to their ubiquitous nature, there’s always another diner around the next corner.

Pegasus has existed for a few decades now, but since it was in the next town over (and much of my time living in South Jersey was as a non-driver), I had never been there. It was a mini family reunion, of sorts – I went with my father and his significant other, and also had the opportunity to visit with my Uncle Will and Aunt Susie. It seems as if all of the above are regulars there, as is the norm in most diners – service was quick, friendly, and very accommodating to special requests (extra crispy potatoes, and no olives in my omelette in my case).

About that omelette – it doesn’t look like much, but it has to be one of the best I’ve had in quite a while – a nice balance of flavors, and purely vegetarian. I’ve tried like crazy to replicate it here at home since I’ve been back, to no avail. I guess you need a flat-top grill seasoned with the flavors of many years to get it just right.

Mediterranean Omelette and Home Fries

One of the things I’ve missed since moving to Ohio is having the option of ordering pork roll (or scrapple) as my side of meat with my breakfast. Yes, I know I can get Taylor Pork Roll at a few of the specialty stores around here, but really – it’s just not the same cooked at home.

Pork Roll

The fruit cup, in retrospect, I could have taken or left. I love fresh fruit with breakfast, but this combination has definitely seen better days.

Fresh Fruit Cup

Would I go back? Definitely. Prices were reasonable, service was great, and food was definitely above average.

If you’d like to go: Pegasus Restaurant, 455 Delsea Dr., Malaga, NJ. 856-694-0500. Also on Facebook.

Pegasus Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Updated manual worth the wait

Chicago Sun-Times February 16, 1992 | Les Hausner Since it first arrived in bookstores in 1973, Reader’s Digest’s popular Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual has sold 10.5 million copies. this web site how to install a dishwasher

This is the manual I normally check first when seeking help on a project around the house.

After 23 revisions, the book has been completely rewritten and illustrated and retitled New Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual. The cover price is $30 – actually a bargain for any homeowner interested in keeping the house or making improvements without having to call in a professional.

Of course, no manual ever deserves the word “complete” in its title, but this book comes close to achieving that end.

There are some new chapters, including emergency repairs, which offers immediate stopgap solutions for power outages, clogged drains and leaky roofs. “Your House” is a new chapter dealing with the house structure, hiring a contractor, building codes and financing repairs.

The book’s updating reflects our changing lifestyles. For example, the chapter on plumbing gives well-illustrated instructions for installing whirlpool baths. The electricity section tells us how to install home security systems, telephone wiring and smoke detectors.

The chapter on woodworking should be helpful to anyone trying to solve the mysteries of cutting joints, grooves and miters.

There is much that is new in New Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual, and the book is an excellent primer for one wanting to learn how to paint or wallpaper, repair and install floors, and make plumbing and electrical repairs and installations.

No doubt a revision of this manual already is in the planning stage. I have a suggestion for at least one addition: How to install a dishwasher. This should have accompanied the instructions on installing a garbage disposal.

About seven years ago, I installed a dishwasher in less than two hours and with the aid of simple tools after a craftsman quoted me a price of $210 for labor alone. I wonder what it would cost today? go to web site how to install a dishwasher

I am not certain what Charles H. Self had in mind when he compiled Making Pet Houses, Carriers & Other Projects (Sterling Publishing, $9.95 paperback).

I presumed such a book would present a wide assortment of original plans for pet structures and would be accompanied by clear illustrations. That is what the do-it-yourself book trade is about.

Instead, I discovered that half the 128-page book is devoted to woodworking and refinishing techniques.

Many of the photos are of tools with the brand names prominently displayed. A snapshot of a bottle of (I won’t name the brand) hide glue does nothing to help anyone complete a proejct. The same goes for a photo of a set of chisels, which does not explain the particular use of any of them.

Plans for building two dog houses were obtained from the American Plywood Association, which also supplied color photos of their finished projects. We have to guess how the other products will look after completion.

Save your money. You can write to the American Plywood Association, Box 11700, Tacoma, Wash. 98411, for a free catalog of plywood products, including pet products.

There is a charge, probably $2, for an individual pattern. If you want a videotape explaining how to do it, the charge is $15.95.

Les Hausner

Restaurant Week Columbus 2012: Spagio

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

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.

Review: T.A.T. Ristorante di Famiglia

Author: paulboyer  //  Category: Columbus, Dining Deals, Restaurant Review

Have you ever gone to a restaurant, and then, for some reason, never got around to going back again for quite a while? Then, when you finally do return to that restaurant, you wonder why you hadn’t returned for so long?

Last week, we returned after a ten year hiatus to T. A. T. Ristorante de Famiglia. In all honesty, I think the reason we’d avoided returning to T.A.T. was because our last meal there (ten years ago) had been unremarkable at best for both of us — I’d ordered the Baked Ziti With Eggplant, which had been not at all what I’d been expecting, and B. had ordered pork chops (from an Italian restaurant; go figure) that underwhelmed her.

A brief aside, first, about the history of T.A.T.:

The Corrova family, specifically Pete and Philomena, opened their first restaurant in Columbus in 1929 on Goodale Street in what used to be known as Flytown during the Depression era. Due to city planners’ ambitious “improvements” to downtown Columbus, they were forced to move their restaurant… and move they did, to the far east side of Columbus. Eventually in 1980, the family combined all their businesses into a single operation at the corner of South James Road and East Livingston Avenue, where they have remained ever since. On our visit, at least, we noted that the restaurant attracted a much older clientele, probably because they’ve been going there for decades.

The last time we’d dined at T.A.T., we had both ordered entrees that didn’t showcase what T.A.T. does best… this time, however, we decided to dive headlong into T.A.T.’s specialty, which is homey, homely, but satisfying Southern Italian and Sicilian fare.

We arrived in the early evening around 5:30pm, before the dinner rush. Since it was a Sunday, we couldn’t get the Early Bird Special(s), but that was fine; we’d come with a game plan, and stuck with it.

We were seated promptly and our beverage orders were taken. Beverages were brought out promptly. We placed our orders — both of us chose the Sicilian Delight, described in T.A.T.’s menu as a “ten course meal!”. I don’t know if, strictly speaking, it’s a ten-course meal, but it was certainly huge, and exposed us to much of the best of what T.A.T. has to offer.

We were given a choice of a half-pour (3 ounce glass) of either a burgundy, a rose, or some variety of red wine. B. and I both selected the rose, which was brought out presently. It was a nice enough house wine, dry with a hint of sweetness, and very light.

Rose Wine at TAT Ristorante

Our server also brought out a bread basket with whipped butter. It was typical Italian bread, crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside. No complaints there.

Italian Bread at TAT Ristorante

Our first course was the soup; I’d chosen the minestrone while B. chose the Italian Wedding Soup. B. reported that her soup met all the requirements for a proper Italian wedding soup, and was a fairly good and straightforward interpretation of the dish.

Italian Wedding Soup at TAT Ristorante

My minestrone was thick with mixed vegetables and a robust tomato broth, and was very satisfying (and vegan-friendly, heh).

Minestrone Soup at TAT Ristorante

The second course was an individual-sized italian salad. I ordered mine with the house Italian; B. ordered hers with Country French dressing. The salad itself consisted predominantly of bite-sized pieces of iceberg lettuce with some romaine scattered throughout and some chunks of winter tomatoes (read: pale and flavorless; not their fault, tomatoes are out of season). The salad was crunchy enough thanks to the iceberg lettuce. The house Italian (made in-house and in fact bottled and sold through T.A.T.’s takeout operation) was exceptionally good, elevating what would have been an afterthought into a solid little appetizer salad. B.’s Country French selection was definitely a Marzetti product, and as such was quite good though not my cuppa tea. Note that when I asked the server what dressings they had available for their salads, she began to rattle off a list of at least 33 varieties — several made on-premises, the rest typical Marzetti bottled fare.

Salad at TAT Ristorante

The third course, if it can be referred to as such, was what the menu referred to as “Sicilian bread”, which was a well-seasoned, toasted garlic-and-butter bread made from a loaf of Italian bread split lengthwise then slathered with butter and garlic (probably garlic powder; I didn’t detect any fresh minced garlic) and baked under the salamander until crunchy and brown. It was quite good.

Sicilian Bread at TAT Ristorante

The fourth through ninth “courses” were served together on one large (and I do mean LARGE) plate. These were the homemade spaghetti, the veal parmigiana, the meatball, the meat-filled ravioli, the Italian sausage, and a ricotta-stuffed manicotti.

Sampler at TAT Ristorante

The spaghetti and its accompanying red sauce are both freshly made at the restaurant, and it shows. I’m partial to the onion- and oregano-heavy red sauce, which is thick and tart yet slightly sweet. B. found the sauce less to her liking, but still acceptable. The spaghetti, as mentioned made in-house, are fairly thick strands of boiled semolina pasta. We both noted that the spaghetti was more cooked than we prefer; had we read the menu more closely, we’d have seen that T.A.T. cooks their pasta fully by default and that we would have to specifically request for it to be cooked until al dente. I attribute the restaurant defaulting to fully cooked pasta to its sizable contingent of older diners amongst the clientele; they probably find al dente pasta a bit difficult to chew and/or digest.

The veal parmigiana is a by-the-book presentation of a pre-formed, breaded veal patty baked and covered in red sauce then crowned with melted and browned provolone and parmesan cheeses. It was good but nothing I haven’t made at home just as well.

T.A.T.’s meatballs are a thing of beauty. They are of decent size (between 1-1/2 and 2 inches in diameter) and nicely seasoned. I believe these meatballs are actually better than my old standby for homemade meatballs, Carfagna’s Kitchen.

T.A.T.’s meat-filled ravioli is, in fact, a pierogi-sized pouch of homemade semolina pasta surrounding a simple filling of browned lean ground beef, salt, pepper, and a bit of wilted spinach. Each ravioli is pressed shut using either a handheld ravioli press or, from the looks of it, a fork. It is very large. It is also very good, making Carfagna’s beef-filled mezzaluna pasta pale in comparison. Note that a full dinner order of ravioli consists of four (yes, four) in the house red sauce along with soup or salad and bread service. These ravioli are VERY large, VERY dense, and VERY filling.

T.A.T.’s italian sausage as presented on the Sicilian Delight meal consists of a half-link of their in-house mixture of ground pork. Italian seasoning and a touch of red pepper flakes then pumped into a sausage casing and (for this meal) pan-fried or baked thoroughly. I found the heat from the red pepper flakes to be a welcome addition to an otherwise inoffensive sausage (there appeared to be a total absence of fennel in the sausage mixture, which is NOT a problem for me or B.). B. found the sausage to be too spicy for her tastes.

The manicotti was exactly as advertised — a boiled manicotti tube filled with a mixture of ricotta, egg, and herbs. Nice, but not something that would alone compel me to return to T.A.T.

In addition to the above mentioned platter, we got to choose a side dish as well. B. and I both went with the pickled beets – I thought they were just fine, but B. didn’t enjoy them because she thought they tasted like canned beets.

Pickled Beets at TAT Ristorante

Ever accommodating, the server brought out some cole slaw for her to enjoy instead. While not the best specimen of the dish she’s had, it was a nice palate cleanser to cut through all the red sauce on the platter.

Cole Slaw at TAT Ristorante

The final course of the evening was dessert. Spumoni ice cream was not available on Thursday, so we chose among the available selections, which were one of two types of iced sheet cake (yellow cake with buttercream frosting or a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting) or a small bowl of ice cream. B. and I both chose the yellow sheet cake with buttercream frosting. The cake was good though unremarkable.

Yellow Cake at TAT Ristorante

All in all, the dinner represented a fantastic value at $20.99 per person; you get a good sampling of T.A.T.’s available fare without breaking the bank, and you in all likelihood will take some home with you to finish later that night or the following day. B. and I both agreed that we would be returning to T.A.T. to try their other old-school Southern Italian/Sicilian fare.

If you’d like to go: TAT Ristorante di Famiglia, 1210 S. James Rd., Columbus, OH 43227. 614-236-1392

Review: Piada Italian Street Food

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: First Look, Food Porn, Restaurant Review

Depending on who you speak to, it can be argued that the name “Piada Italian Street Food” is a little misleading; after all, with such a bustling and quickly growing street food scene here in Columbus, there’s an almost unwritten expectation that our street food be, you know – actually served on the street, out of a cart, taco truck, or even in an obviously ethnic store front tucked away in an otherwise long forgotten strip mall in what used to be the burbs but are now huge ethnic strongholds.

Arguments aside, after seeing some pre-opening pictures of the food, we were really looking forward to the opening of the fast causal Piada, the latest concept by BDI founder Chris Doody, who has a proven track record of restaurant successes in Columbus and other locations around the US.

It opened up just this past week in a strip mall on Lane Avenue in Upper Arlington, next to Buckeye Corner.

Piada Italian Street Food Exterior

On entering, we thought the look and feel of the place and menu was very similar to Chipotle, and that comparison is not coincidental – they studied Chipotle’s business model for a couple of years before taking the plunge with Piada, and decided to try to bring the spirit of the traditional Italian street food piada (or piadina, as it’s more commonly known there) to a concept that can be easily reproduced for future expansion/franchise possibilities.

Ordering is simple – you choose your format (piada, pasta bowl, or chopped salad), what grill item you’d like, whether or not you want grilled vegetables and or pasta in it, a sauce, cheese if you’d like, and a whole host of fresh vegetables and/or dressing. The price is based on what grill item you choose, and there’s no nickel and dime add-on charges for your choices.

Piada Italian Street Food Menu

Most of the meat choices are already on the line (Italian meats, sausage, etc), others are cooked to order (the salmon, for instance).

Meat Choices

There aren’t a ton of cheese choices (mozzarella, shaved Parmesan, or feta were the ones I saw), but they are the ones that made the most sense to be there. It would be nice if they expanded the cheese choices a bit in the future to include things like gorganzola, asiago, fontina, etc. There are five different sauce choices, including red or green pesto, parmesan, pomodoro, and diavalo.

Cheese Choices

Where they really shine, however, were the veggie options. So many options – onions, tomatoes, arugula, olives, shaved fennel, avocado, etc – and all of it super fresh and full (those that do run low are quickly refilled). You can choose to top the veggies with an additional dressing if you like.

Fresh Veg Choices

I decided that I’d go with a Piada, since it was the signature item of the place. I chose the sausage piada ($6.35) with pasta, grilled zucchini, grilled red peppers, pomodoro sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, mixed greens, red onion, tomato, avocado, arugula and balsamic vinaigrette. It was absolutely delicious, but very messy to eat because the piada shell has a tendency to crack a bit (but that could also be that they filled it up so much with goodies – I occasionally have the same problem when getting burritos at Chipotle too). Super-duper filling, I was only able to finish half and took the other half home. The flavors melded together beautifully, and this will probably be my regular order here from now on.

Sausage Pasta Piada

Paul opted for a pasta bowl with salmon ($7.65) – he topped it with grilled zucchini and red peppers, both diavolo and creamy parmesan sauces, mozzarella, shaved parmesan, and black olives, and for the most part he was pleased with it. Our experience was not without opening week hiccups, though – because the salmon was woefully undercooked. However, when he brought it to their attention, they remade the dish for him, and told us to have soup, on them. Restaurant owners, pay attention: *that* is how you do customer service right – you apologize, you remake it, and realize that you only have one chance to make a positive first impression. We already were liking them up to that point because of the friendliness and helpfulness of their staff, and the way they treated us when something went wrong will bring us back.

Salmon Pasta Bowl

We probably wouldn’t have even tried the soup if it hadn’t been comped to us – it just didn’t occur to us to order it. But oh my, are we so glad we did try it. We got the lobster bisque (normally $4.25), and it was the best version of the dish we’ve had yet – creamy, smooth and rich, with multiple levels of flavor and bits of real lobster scattered throughout. Served nice and hot like soup is supposed to be served but rarely is. We had the opportunity to try the tomato basil bisque ($3.45) today, and it, too, is one of the best versions we’ve had. Do yourself a favor and try the soup if you stop by.

Lobster Bisque

We shared an order of the cannoli chips ($2.95), with cinnamon and powdered sugared bits of cannoli shell that are served with a smallish dollop of ricotta cream. Wish there had been just a bit more, because even eating a conservative amount of the cream, we ran out of it long before we ran out of chips. Not sure if I’d order this again, but if you’re in mood of just a little something sweet and don’t want to commit to a heavy, large dessert, this fits the bill.

Cannoli Chips

There are lots of things we like about Piada – the food is fresh and tasty and a good value, the place is super clean and organized, the design of the takeout containers and layout of the restaurant are thoughtful, and the customer service and willingness of employees to make the customer happy is amazing. Not everyone will get it, but I have no doubt that enough people will in order to make it another Doody success story.

If you’d like to go: Piada Italian Street Food, 1315 W. Lane Ave., Upper Arlington, OH, 614-754-7802

Piada Italian Street Food on Urbanspoon

Review: Vito’s at the Links

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Restaurant Review

Let me precede my review by explaining how it came about that I ended up at a restaurant that is part of a country club out in the middle of nowhere. If you remember the Abyssinia Cafe debacle of a few months ago, you’ll recall that the solution WTTE/IncentRev came up with to solve the problem was to offer me replacement certificates for one of the open offers. So it was either this, or Vonn Jazz Club. I had heard nothing good or bad about either, and price-wise this was a more reasonable option, so we went with this.

Fast forward to now, after months of the certificates languishing in my purse, we decided to head out to the sticks (or in this case, the far east end of New Albany) to use them. The location is really hard to find – it’s in the middle of a subdivision (the golf course, that is), so we drove past it a couple of times because it didn’t have any signage at all, either on the main drag going into the subdivision or in front of the building or road itself. We had to call for directions, as a matter of fact.

Vito's at the Links

Finally we get there, and were able to be seated on the patio. We waited about 15 minutes for our waiter to show up – in the meantime we did a bit of people watching, and were amused at how the people we saw so exemplified the “country club” stereotype. Polite golf claps and laughs that reminded me of Carter Pewterschmidt from Family Guy. Lots of stank thrown in our direction because we weren’t wearing the requisite khaki pants or shorts and a polo top. We started making jokes about the situation as it became obvious what direction this dinner was going – if it weren’t for the fact that we needed to use the gift certificates, we probably would have left.

15 minutes later, our server shows up, all frazzled because he was overwhelmed with the other table he had, and upset that his managers were hanging him out to dry while they languished in their offices. He quickly takes our drink orders (ice water for both, no lemon for me) and our appetizer orders and even though we’ve been sitting there for a while with our menus and already knew what we wanted, said he’d come back for our entree orders after he got drinks for the other table.

Another 30 or so minutes pass by, and the chef comes out with our apps. We ask about the server, and when he was going to take the entree order and bring us our drinks, and the chef ends up taking our order. Our water comes out a couple of minutes later, both with lemon, and the server is all kind of upset with us because we had incorrectly assumed that he was in the weeds with one other table – he had a couple of people at the bar too, and it was too much for just him to handle. He proceeds to go into a diatribe about how someone needs to tell his manager that he needs more help, that he’s been there since 8am without a break, etc. Nice enough guy but I didn’t think it was professional of him to bring up personnel issues with customers. There’s a time and a place for everything, and our food was getting cold…

About the apps – since we had $50 of certificates we needed to use up, we decided to get two “Par 3″ appetizer combos, where you could select 3 apps from a list for $10.99.

For my combo, I went with crab cakes, pretzel nuggets, and cheese wedges. Sadly, I don’t think anything on my platter was made in-house. The pretzel nuggets were straight up Super Pretzel, and the cheese wedges were also cooked from frozen (and, as luck would have it, half of them didn’t have any cheese in them – it was just a fried outer breading). The pseudo-cheese sauce that came with the pretzel nuggets was definitely from a can. The crab cakes (a dish that I usually love), were largely uninspired, and tasted a bit off – kind of like they were freezer burned.

Par 3 at Vito's at the Links

P. fared no better with his choices, the Twisty Bread (think stromboli or calzone), the fried pickles, and the boneless wings. The Twisty Bread was alright if you dipped it into the marinara sauce, but is not something I would order again. The fried pickles were just that – fried pickles. Again, nothing standout about it. The boneless wings were dire – they were supposed to have a garlic herb sauce, but what we got were breaded chicken nuggets tossed in a powder that was still stuck to the breading. All in all, the apps were extremely disappointing. While I would expect this sort of grub in a bar, I would have thought that they would have set the bar a bit higher in a country club. As a matter of fact, we’ve been to bars that have had much better food.

Par 3 at Vito's at the Links

At this point, we were contemplating nominating the place for Kitchen Nightmares. But for better or worse, we were sticking it out. We started to see the amusement in the situation, and figured if nothing else, it would make for an interesting blog entry – we were almost afraid to contemplate what was to come – and let me tell you folks, the restaurant did not disappoint. The rest of our meal was a comedy of errors.

The side salads ($2.49 when added to an entree) were probably the best part of the entire meal. The greens were fresh, as were the toppings, and it was a perfectly nice salad. Again, nothing imaginative, but after the appetizers we got, my expectations weren’t that high anyway.

Side Salad at Vito's at the Links

They brought out a loaf of warmed bread – unfortunately for us, we’re fairly convinced it was a take and bake loaf. After we found this out, it went uneaten. I hate to waste food, but I also hate to waste calories (and carbs!) on something that isn’t even good.

Bread at Vito's at the Links

I really should have quit while I was ahead. At this point, almost 1 1/2 hours into our meal, we probably should have cut our losses and gone for something simple. Something that was impossible to screw up. But no…I had to go for something that had a lot of room for error – The Foursome ($15.99) It’s described as blackened or grilled salmon along with shrimp, scallops, and crab over angel hair in a Cajun cream sauce. Silly me, I expected a roux-based sauce that had layers of flavor, maybe finished with cream. What I got instead were 2 horribly overcooked shrimp, 2 eraser sized bay scallops, no crab, and overcooked fish with a sauce that tasted like it consisted of two things – cream and many, many, many tablespoons of blackened seasoning. It was so in your face that I could only make it through one bite before asking for a box.

The Foursome at Vito's at the Links

If mine was bad, P.’s was worse. Even though his was supposed to come with a side (he asked for spaghetti, assuming it too would be topped with the picatta sauce), what he got was this:

Chicken Picatta at Vito's at the Links

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you – that is exactly what it looks like. Just some chicken and sauce. Nothing else. He asked about his side, and was told they assumed he didn’t want one, just the salad. Uh, we really wanted spaghetti, could you bring some out? We were expecting plain spaghetti, and got this:

Spaghetti Side at Vito's at the Links

Because nothing tastes better as a side for Chicken Picatta than spaghetti with marinara, right? Speaking of the picatta – the chicken was dry as sawdust, and the sauce was overly salty because of way too many capers to the point of near inedibility. He tried to make the best of it, and asked for some cheese for his spaghetti figuring it was a better idea not to rock the boat at this point. Out comes the cheese, he sprinkles it on his spaghetti, takes a bite – except, as it turns out, it wasn’t cheese, it was garlic salt. His expression? Priceless.

Paul's Yuck Face

At this point, I think our server got fed up with us, and his manager comes out with a small container of “better quality shredded cheese”, for spaghetti that had already been adulterated. P. just asked for a box and some fresh, plain spaghetti. No apologies from the manager, just a sullen look and a glare when we suggested he have more staff and better quality control.

They did send on our way with a box of equally dire complimentary chocolate chip cookies (again, which tasted home-baked in the same way that Pillsbury break and bake are) – while I’m sure that they thought that was an adequate apology, truly, I’m seeing as it more as an added insult to our injury.

Vito's at the Links Chocolate Chip Cookies

We had hoped that this meal out would have been a nice celebration of the end of a quarter at school, the sad fact is that it ended up being more of a punishment. I find it amusing that New Albany Links requires their social members to spend at least $60 a month on food and drink here, and I’m beginning to wonder if it’s because it’s the only way they’d survive? If it’s not obvious already, I really don’t recommend Vito’s at the Links – there are much better options in the same price range that don’t require a trip out to the middle of nowhere and leaving your taste buds and expectations at the door.

If you’d like to go: Vito’s at the Links, 7100 New Albany Links Drive, New Albany, OH 43054, 614-939-5914

Vito's Italian Pub on Urbanspoon

Review: Skillet, Rustic. Urban. Food.

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

Skillet, Rustic. Urban. Food. (hereafter referred to as Skillet) opened up to much fanfare late last year in the Schumacher Place location formerly occupied by Banana Bean Cafe until they moved over to much larger digs on Greenlawn Ave. While the space was definitely too small for the volume of Banana Bean Cafe, it was reinvented brilliantly with Skillet, the new concept from father and son Kevin and Patrick Caskey, who were also key in Banana Bean Cafe’s success.

Skillet focuses on simple, seasonal and ingredient driven honest food. Patrick, in particular, has a passion for this type of cooking, and his passion shows in the menu. You’ll see a lot of things on Skillet’s menu that you don’t often see anywhere else. He’s not afraid to experiment with ingredients and flavors, and with the able assistance of his father, is able to usually knock the food out of the park.

Upon entering for the first time, it’s a little confusing on what you’re supposed to do – there’s no one there in the front of the house to greet you, so it takes a moment to realize that you pick up the menu and place your order at the front window, and then seat yourself. However, once you get past that minor hurdle, it’s easy to remember to do that on future visits.

Since there were three of us dining there for lunch, we decided to just order a bunch of dishes to share, so we could sample all of them. We’ve had their amazing porchetta as a take out item and were hoping it was on the menu that day, but no such luck – one of the other items I had hoped to sample, the Savory Sweet Potato Folded Egg Omelette, had sold out earlier in the day.

As a lover of all things pork, my favorite dish from among all I tried was the Spicy Pork Belly Quesadilla ($8), which is mostly your classic preparation of meat, cheese and flour tortillas, with a lot less cheese and a lot more porky goodness. Topped with a salsa verde sauce that added a little heat but didn’t overwhelm, this was just a perfectly balanced dish that worked surprisingly well. This is a dish that, like the porchetta, I could find myself craving regularly.

Pork Belly Quesadilla from Skillet

Their Truffled Griddled Cheese on Brioche ($8) has two different types of cheese on it – a cheddar cheese that’s paired with an herbed boursin cheese, then topped with a touch of truffle oil. Much different from previous incarnations of grilled cheese I’ve had, but in a good way. The truffle oil lent a bit of earthiness to it without overwhelming it or tasting artificial as truffle oil often does.

Truffled Grilled Cheese from Skillet

As part of the grilled cheese, one can choose a soup of their choice. Even though they were out of the pumpkin-black bean soup, the one they did have (Cream of Tomato) is the one that you most associate with grilled cheese. It, like most credible cream of tomato soups, made a terrific dipper for the grilled cheese. Even so, we had a little tomato soup left over, which you’ll see I found a perfect use for a little later.

Cream of Tomato Soup from Skillet

Their Spiced Lamb Burger ($12) was a nicely sized patty cooked to order – in our case, we asked for it to be pink but not bloody, and it came out exactly that way. It was served on a soft Ciabatta roll with cumin mayo (whose flavor kind of faded into the background), a grilled slice of sheep’s milk feta, and a bit of fig-orange vinaigrette dressed arugula. While the burger as a whole was good, the individual ingredients got a bit lost in the mix. Still, a solid burger all around.

Lamb Burger from Skillet

My husband, in particular, loves their Crispy Fingerling Potatoes and Burnt Ends ($3) – for those not in the know, the burnt ends are actually pieces of brisket, which complement the browned and roasted potatoes. The potatoes have a solid rosemary flavor to them, which is either a great or a bad thing, depending how you feel about rosemary. I thought the potatoes, as a side to the lamb burger, brought out the best in it. Rosemary and lamb is one of my favorite flavor combinations in the world.

Fingerling Potatoes with Burnt Ends from Skillet

The Braised Beef Short Rib Sandwich ($11) piled super-tender short ribs with a spicy pepper mixture between two slices of buttery brioche. While it was a bit too spicy for it to be my thing (the apple-horseradish crema helped a bit, but not quite enough for my spice-sensitive palate), the two other people with me who love spicy foods thought it was great. Agreed – I’d order it again, but ask them to go light on the peppers, because minus the heat, the flavor was fantastic.

Short Rib Sandwich from Skillet

On the side, we had Anson Mills Stone Ground Grits with Sharp Cheddar ($3) – these are some of my favorite heirloom grits (I order them myself here at home). While I liked what the smoked tomato pan gravy brought to the party, I thought they were absolutely amazing with the remainder of my cream of tomato soup poured over top like a gravy.

Grits from Skillet

In short, everything we ordered here was extremely comforting, just all around good food that was reasonably priced. Drink service is either bottles of pop or water that you get yourself. I really like that they make quality food accessible, non-pretentious in a super-casual space. It’s a great fit for the neighborhood and we’re looking forward to visiting again.

If you’d like to go: Skillet, Rustic. Urban. Food., 410 E. Whittier Street, Columbus, OH 43206, 614-443-2266

Skillet Rustic Urban Food on Urbanspoon

Review: Matt the Miller’s Tavern

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

Our last few meals out haven’t been planned – we’ve pretty much found ourselves in a suburb running errands when hunger hit, and put ourselves at the mercy of Yelp or Urbanspoon to guide us to nearby sustenance. Fortunately for us, we’ve yet to be let down by a choice we were given.

Such is the case with Matt the Miller’s Tavern. It occupies the space on Perimeter Drive that previously housed The Burgundy Room Dublin. We were hoping another great restaurant would grab that space, and we’re glad to see that it made the transition fairly painlessly. Although we went mid-afternoon on a weekday, when it was fairly empty, I hear the place really gets packed on weekends.

The menu is fairly extensive – literally, there are choices there for everyone. We honestly had a difficult time narrowing our choices down to what we ultimately got. We’re hoping to go back again soon to try out more of the menu.

Rather than ordering an appetizer from the Starter portion of the menu, we decided to split one of their flatbreads – in our case we splurged and went with the Ahi Tuna flatbread ($14.95 – other flatbread choices are significantly cheaper), and did not regret it for a second. A crispy dough was topped with a creamy miso mousse, avocado slices, Asian slaw, perfectly seared sliced ahi tuna, toasted sesame seeds, wasabi aioli and a soy reduction. The combination of flavors was out of this world. Even the portions that didn’t have tuna on them had an enticing umami about them that left me wanting more – I could have eaten this for days. Needless to say, I can see myself ordering this as an entree all to myself on our next visit – it was THAT good.

Ahi Tuna Flatbread from Matt the Miller's Tavern (Dublin, OH)

P. decided to get himself a bowl of their soup of the day, a black bean and beef chili ($4.95), which had a nice complex spice profile with a pleasant smoky undercurrent to it.

Bowl of Black Bean and Beef Chili from Matt the Miller's Tavern (Dublin, OH)

I chose to get a side portion of Matt’s Salad ($3.00), a combination of super fresh salad greens tossed with white cheddar shreds, caramelized walnuts, dried apricots, and a mustard maple vinaigrette. On first thought, I thought the dried apricots were a bit out of place, but by the time I finished the salad, I appreciated the slight sweetness they brought to the party. Great salad, I absolutely loved the vinaigrette, which was creamy and vinegary without being too much of either.

Side Order of Matt's Salad from Matt the Miller's Tavern (Dublin, OH)

I was a bit less enamored with my entree choice, the Turkey and Avocado Sandwich ($9.25), in which all white meat turkey breast, smoked bacon, Swiss cheese, herb mayo, avocado, lettuce and tomato fill a buttery grilled brioche. It wasn’t that the sandwich was badly prepared – the preparation was just fine. We just happened to find it a bit bland compared to their other offerings. The best part of the entree was the sweet potato fries on the side – while by themselves they are nothing special (think McCain’s), with the addition of salt and dipped into a side of garlic aioli (bypass the normal ketchup and ask for this instead) they were downright addictive.

Turkey and Avocado Sandwich from Matt the Miller's Tavern (Dublin, OH)

P. absolutely loved his burger, The Miller ($12.50), a 3/4 lb. behemoth topped with lettuce, tomato, onion rings, bacon, Swiss, cheddar, garlic aioli, and creamy slaw in between a homemade rosemary potato bun that definitely held up to the burger. The combination of flavors was tantalizing, but what stuck us the most that it was actually cooked correctly – we asked for medium rare and got just that, which is one of the first times that has happened – kudos!

The Miller Burger from Matt the Miller's Tavern (Dublin, OH)

For his side, he switched out the normal fries for an order of their scalloped potatoes, which were aptly prepared – nice browned edges, tender but not mushy potatoes, good balance of cream to cheese.

Scalloped Potatoes from Matt the Miller's Tavern (Dublin, OH)

Service was quite excellent – our server was attentive and thoughtful, thinking to tuck away a couple extra containers of garlic aioli into our take-home bag knowing how much we loved it. The whole cost of the meal was quite reasonable. Knowing they have a great patio, we can see ourselves returning often on nice days, even though Dublin is a bit out of our way. Great selection of beers on tap, and good happy hour deals. If you find yourself and Dublin, this is an excellent choice. We were quite pleased with all aspects of our experience and do not hesitate to give it a full recommendation.

If you’d like to go: Matt the Miller’s Tavern, 6725 Avery-Muirfield Drive (entrance to the parking lot is on Perimeter behind the Huntington Bank), Dublin, OH 43017, 614-799-9102.