CMH Gourmand

Culinary Discovery & Misadventures in the Ice Cream Capital of the World (Columbus)

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Archive for the ‘beer’ Category

The Road Warrior: Angelo Signorino Jr. – Brewer, Biker, Beloved!

Posted by cmh gourmand on February 21, 2014

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I debated whether to write about Angelo. Not because he doesn’t deserve a wagonload of kudos but like, me, he’d rather stay out of the spotlight and the limelight and practice his craft quietly. I mean he does work underground for part of the week. A couple of things tipped the scale for me. First, I recently wrote about Dan Kraus from That Food Truck and in the process of that I decided to add a new occasional series with the category heading – Fooderhero. There are many people in our community that have been quietly growing and planting seeds of greatness and Angelo is definitely at the top of the list.

The other thing that guided my decision was a story that Angelo recently told. He rides his bike to work nearly everyday, even in the weather we have had this year. As he was sharing the story, he described how he had the snowy Olentangy bikeway to himself and while riding along appreciating solitude and scenery he saw a Blue Herron. He then observed, for some people having a moment like that would be the highlight of their day as they commute to a job they don’t love. However, Angelo does pedal to a job he loves and he engages in his craft with a passion that is infectious. Angelo bikes to Barley’s Ale House #1 a few days a week and to Barley’s Smokehouse and Brewpub a few other days per week. At each destination he creates exceptional beers served from towers, engines, casks, barrels and firkins.

Angelo serves as a role model in many things he does. He has biked to work for years, commuting by two wheels long before others considered making that type of commitment. As for brewing, he has engaged in that trade for over twenty years. And while the volume of award-winning beers he has helped craft are well worthy of the accolade of being a Fooderhero, what really tips the scale is all of the encouragement and support he gives the rest of the brewing community. I’ll provide a few examples. If you see a bike parked in front a brewery afterhours, there is a good chance Angelo is inside sampling a beer, buying a growler or sharing beercraft lore with someone. There is also a good chance he is laughing. In the not so distant past, he was en route to meet his wife for dinner and just before his destination, he noticed that the lights were on at Four String Brewing so he popped in to see how Dan Cochran was doing. At that time, Dan was working fulltime during the day and then fulltime at night brewing and growing his own business. Angelo, without a prompt, spent 30 or more minutes helping Dan mash (that is the pre beer mixture that requires a lot of intensive physical work) while he waited for his dinner to get plated. As a third and final (but a mere drop in the bucket for what Angelo has done in the craft community) example, as much as Angelo loves people, he (like me) is an introvert so spending time in the public eye on a brewing day is not the most energizing activity he could engage in. Yet he does it like a pro. For Columbus Brew Adventures, Angelo walks guests through the history of Barleys in the course of four beers. Each beer has a great story and Angelo is a master storyteller. Interspersed with the information is the most memorable, distinctive laugh I’ve ever heard. It is a laugh of pure joy, passion, inspiration and celebration. And by the second beer there is not a person in the room that does not love Angelo. I have listened to him speak about the beers Barley’s brews over twenty times and I could listen to the spiel another 200 more. Each time to shares his tales, I learn something new and I get the satisfaction of watching 14 people transformed from casual observers to passionate craft brewing evangelists in less than 30 minutes.

As if the above was not more than enough there are a few more things I would like to share. Angelo started in beercraft as a part-time worker at the Winemakers Shop, which inspired two generations of home brewers and more than a handful of the brewers in practice at breweries around town today. Angelo is a lover of food and a long time supporter of the local restaurant scene, but it is in the arena of Food Trucks that he has excelled as a supporter. You are as likely to see his bike parked at a food truck as at a brewery and he offers the same infectious support to these new businesses as he does to every brewer he crosses paths with.

So as a tip of the hat to Angelo, I am only showing his bike in the post, instead of one of my many photos of him in action so he can stay under the radar. Cheers!

Posted in beer, beverages, culinary knowledge, FooderHero, Sub Dude | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

First Bite: Bar 145 (A Dual Review)

Posted by cmh gourmand on January 28, 2014

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I have long wanted to do reviews with more than just my spin on things. Think about Siskel & Ebert or American Idol style restaurant reviews. I always thought more perspectives equate to better information. I finally had my opportunity to try this out when I had a chance encounter with one of my 43 fans. Karl M. dined with me at Bar 145 and I asked him for his view of things and he delivered some fine prose. His review and comments will be in italics and mine will be in bold or regular font. I hope you enjoy this spin on things and if you would like to give this a whirl with me sometime, e-mail me at CMHGourmand@gmail.com


Serendipity — it’s more than just a 2001 movie starring John Cusack. This past December I brought my wife out to German Village for a date during the annual Village Lights Christmas open house. As we walked along the snowy, bustling sidewalks, we came across a booth for Columbus Food Adventures and Columbus Brew Adventures. The name was faintly familiar, so I inquired of the gentleman behind the table.

“Do you happen to know the author of the CMH Gourmand blog?”
“Yes,” he responded, “I’m the author, Jim”.

Serendipity, how you delight me. You see, when I first moved to Columbus in 2008, one of my first priorities was learning more about my new city. Stumbling across the CMH Gourmand website was a true blessing and has inspired many a food adventure. I was excited to meet Jim and to thank him for helping me appreciate the amazing culinary diversity and opportunity here in central Ohio. Having now met him in the flesh, I asked him about meeting for lunch sometime and after a little back and forth we settled on a new gastropub in the Grandview / 5th by Northwest area called Bar 145. It is an honor to be able to share my perspective, however pedestrian, on Jim’s blog.

I’m a details-oriented kind of guy and whenever I go into a restaurant it’s always the little things that catch my eye. Bar 145, set back in the new plaza on 5th Avenue that also houses Romeo’s Pizza and Firehouse Subs, is a very pleasant place to have lunch. The decor is an interesting mix of what I consider to be industrial and modern. There’s a subtle scarlet and gray thing going on too between the color and material choices (dark red and lots of exposed metal). The location features a good-sized bar, a wall full of windows, a sizable patio and even an upstairs loft seating area. With a view into the kitchen and free wifi, there’s plenty to keep you entertained.

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Upon being seated, the servers helpfully explained what exactly a gastropub was (a bar with a menu crafted by a chef), and pointed out a few of the highlights on the one-page food menu. Not being much of a drinker myself, I bypassed the drink menu and focused on the food. Immediately several items caught my eye, including Bavarian pretzel bites (being the good German that I am) and Poutine fries with truffle, duck confit, gravy and cheese curds. Eventually we both ordered the make-your-own burger (a $5 Wednesday special) and a few dishes to share – the pretzel bites, the fries and the bar wings.

My burger, a meat patty with artisan lettuce, goat cheese, mayo, bourbon steak sauce and tomato on a pretzel bun, was good, but didn’t blow me away. Jim and I both agreed that while the condiments stood out, the meat was stoic and was just that — a meat patty. For $5, I’d definitely get it again, but Thurman’s, you still have my heart.

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Both Karl and I liked the build your own burger option and with a checklist to help and the special $5 Wednesday price it was irresistible to us both. One of the options was artisan lettuce which intrigues both of us. Outside the lettuce, we tried to work as a team to sample as many different options on the burger as possible. I opted for this on my burger: beef patty, pretzel bun, artisan lettuce, pickle chips, cucumber relish, spicy bourbon mustard, cheese and chicago style BBQ sauce. I requested the burger 145 style which I would describe as medium raw. Next time, I’ll get the burger medium well. The whole was greater than the sum of the parts with this burger. I liked everything but the hamburger patty itself. It lacked any flavor, it could have been a veggie burger for all I could tell. I kept waiting to see Gordon Ramsey or Robert Irvine burst through the kitchen shouting “you call that a burger, where is the salt and pepper and the bloody flavor man!”

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The warm Bavarian pretzel bites, though good, weren’t what I was expecting. The menu describes them as “Butter Baked Pretzel Roll Bites, garnished with Chopped Bacon & served with Cheddar Chive Sauce.” Once again, Jim and I, clearly both great minds that think alike, commented on the fact that the pretzel bites were more like toast. They were tasty, especially paired with the cheddar chive sauce, but not satisfying if you were excited about pretzels. In addition, the pretzel buns – thick nuggets of soft toast that kind of look like a pretzel – didn’t really taste like one. Admittedly, I did finish them all.

Karl was spot on with the pretzel bites. The sauce was great but I felt that I was the victim of a bait and switch, I could consider the bites to be toasted bits of bread.

The loaded fries were served poutine style — that is, covered with gravy. This was my first experience with gravy and fries and I must say, it was delightful. Similar to the pretzel bites, the fries were good in a surprising sort of way. The menu painted an exotic picture of ducks wading in a stream lined with truffles. Instead, all I tasted were decent fries smothered in gravy. Definitely tasty, but not the destination fries that I was expecting. If anything, it heightened my desire to try other poutine-style fries. Any fry would be hard-pressed to dethrone the current king in my book – the fries at Loops.

In my eyes – the fries were good but again, the bait and switch effect was in. I can’t say I think much of the truffle oil fad/trend so I did not order the fries for that. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to find I could not taste any truffle in the fries. The gravy was OK and I’ve never met a cheese curd that I did not consume” but this was probably the weakest poutine I have ever encountered and might make a Montreal native mildly irked.

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The bar wings — now those were fantastic! I’m not much of a bone-in wing guy, more of a BW3 boneless wing special sorta gent. These wings are far and away the best I’ve ever had. The skin was crisp and as you bit in there was a little heat followed by the meat literally falling off the bone. Next time I might just order the wings. They managed to put together a great tasting wing without resorting to smothering it in sauce. If your thing is to find the hottest wings around, these aren’t it. But if you are looking for a tasty bit of chicken wing and don’t mind just a touch of heat, definitely check these out.

While described as wings on the menu, these are really legs (as was pointed out to me by an astute observer of the obvious). These were fabulous and I would say the top three in the deep-fried wing/leg category in our fair city. Four legs (wings) cost $12.00 which is little steep in my book.

In conclusion, Bar 145 is a nice addition to the neighborhood. The only truly noteworthy dish that from my must-have food perspective were the wings. Granted, the menu boasted some potential winners that I didn’t get a chance to try — the apple pie burger, for example, or chicken and waffles. I could see myself returning for the burger special or to sit on the patio when the weather is nice – especially if it’s a chance to hang out with Jim. It’s a good addition to the 5th by Northwest corridor as it continues to experience a recent revitalization.


At the end of our meal Karl and I were pleased with the overall experience but felt we may have missed out on what Bar 145 excels at. After extensive quizzing of our server I decided I needed to return for the Chicken and Waffles, Coffee and Donuts and another order of the wing/legs. My report on trip two is below. But first let me digress by bringing a new term to your attention.

I first encountered the term Gas Bro Pub while engaged in conversation with three of the foremost lady experts in the field of food and beer analysis. I will not name which of the three threw out the term but as soon as I heard it, I thought of Bar 145. When you visit, think of what that term says to you and them let me know if that diagnosis is accurate.


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Now on to my second trip. I sauntered up to the bar and made the order you see listed above. Initially I was concerned about whether I could finish so much food. Fortunately for my girth and constitution the portions sizes were much smaller than I expected.

First, let me begin with my second order of the wing/legs. These were just as good as the first, maybe better because I felt I had a bit more sauce with these. These four legs were damn good. There is shredded carrot slaw underneath which is a bit bland, but when mixed in with any remaining blue cheese dressing from the wing/legs becomes a great dish by itself.

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As for the chicken and waffles. Overall I would say meh. However, there are some real gems in this dish. The side of macaroni with cheese meets expectations but the pairing of tasty bacon with the mac bumps things up a notch from mediocre. The fried chicken part of the chicken and waffles was really good. The chicken was juicy and tender and the breading was perfect. This may have been the best fried chicken I have had in town for a couple of years. The waffles were nothing to blog home about and the syrup tasted cheap and watery. All in all, it would be a good meal at $10 but I felt gouged at $12 for 1 1/2 chicken breasts, 1/2 of a waffle and a small side of mac and cheese.

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Last and somewhat least is the coffee and donuts. I was excited about this offering and had hoped for something to add to the Ohio Donut Trail. The coffee was really good, and that says a lot because I am not much of a coffee drinker. It had an added surprise of what looked and tasted like a giant junior mint floating on top of it. The donuts, would be what I would call fried dough croutons. They were small, hard, yet chewy squares of dough about the size of a 50 cent piece. These were good but overpriced and not what I would consider a donut.

All in all. I like Bar 145 and what they have to offer. I do want to try some more dishes and I’d gladly go back for the wing/legs and the Wednesday $5 build your own burger special. If you are looking for your first Gas Bro Pub experience and want it to be a good one, this is the place to go. At the time of this writing, Bar 145 has been open less than a month so I anticipate that it will improve and refine over time.

Bar 145 on Urbanspoon

Posted in bar, beer, hamburgers, restaurants | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Columbus Brewing Company Restaurant – Revisited

Posted by cmh gourmand on December 31, 2013

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It has been over six years since I wrote about Columbus Brewing Company Restaurant. However, It has not been 6 years since I have eaten there or even six weeks. I am also happy to report that not much has changed in six years, and that is a very good thing.

Many people do not know that Columbus Brewing Company and CBC Restaurant have different owners. Eric Bean has been brewer and owner of the Brewery for quite some time now. While the two business share a roof and a name, they are very different entities. The restaurant continues to feature and serve Columbus Brewing Company brews as well as to make the beers active ingredients in some recipes. As the Brewery has continued to expand as a business, the restaurants CBC offerings have contracted a bit. If you are a fan of CBC’s Bohdi (Double IPA) the restaurant is still one of the best places to find this award-winning beer but they also run out fairly frequently. However, there is no need to fear, the restaurant does a fine job of sourcing guest beers into their line-up with a strong focus on local breweries such as Actual Brewing Company.

As for food, Brian Cook is still in the kitchen which is good news for me and some of my favorite dishes. I think CBC Restaurant has some of the best nachos in town and if you are dining with mixed company (vegetarians and carnivores) they do a fine job of deconstructing their nachos to meet everyone’s tastes when needed. The Cuban Burrito with a mix of meats, chips and plantains remains nearly the same as the version I raved about years ago. Another favorite of mine is the beer cheese soup which is typically available in the evening is a perfect starter for a fall or evening meal. Desserts are top notch as well (insider tip: sign up for the restaurant e-mail list for a free dessert of your choice with your next meal). Another dish worth mentioning is the Bye Bye Miss American Pie: a wood-fired pizza with house-made fennel sausage, banana peppers rings, pepperoni and smoked provolone cheese.

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The restaurant recently expanded hours to include Sunday Brunch so there are plenty of opportunities to see the depth of the menu the kitchen can push out. I’m happy to report that six years later that this place has retained everything that made it a great dining spot and if anything, has upped their game.

A final side note, I am slightly addicted to the house smoked chipotle sauce found on the nachos and the burrito. The restaurant partners with CaJohn’s to bottle their sauces so you can take them home with you. So there are two types of bottled products originating under the same roof.

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Posted in bar, beer, pizza, restaurants, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Brewed Awakening

Posted by cmh gourmand on October 7, 2013

So what have I been up to you might ask? Well, I moved back to a buzz cut, finally conceding that I have more head than hair now. I neglected to mention that I won a Vendy Award and last and very much not least have you heard about Columbus Brew Adventures.

Brewed awakenings

I have often immersed myself in a subject to learn more about it. I became fascinated with Australia so I got myself there six times for a total of 4 1/2 months, visited all the states and territories and make several lifelong friends in the process. Then I wanted to get a job at OCLC and improve my research skills for writing so I earned a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science….well, I did become a better researcher. And as you readers know, a few other things caught my attention: donuts, pizza, Food Trucks and such.

And now…..Beer and Business.

Partnering with (and learning a lot, every day) Bethia and Andy from Columbus Food Adventures we have been working on and since September 7th running beer tours. There have been countless meetings with brewers throughout the area. Even more e-mails and phone calls. There has been a good amount of time “product” testing as well. The brewing community is a great group of people – passionate about their craft and growing a craft beer culture in our city. I am honored to be able to work with these business owners and immersing myself into their culture. I am learning about more beer and myself every day.

Our downtown brewery tour has been very popular. We explore four breweries and even through I have done my research, I learn something new from each place we visit and each brewer we work with every time I guide a tour. We have also run a tour out to Licking County to visit Brews Cafe, Granville Brewing, Homestead Beer Company and Buckeye Lake Brewery. We made a run to Rockmill Brewery, Dancing Tree Distillery and Jackie O’s in Athens. As fun as that tour was, I was amazed that a couple drove in from Dayton to join us for a multiple hour tour and then drive back home. We are adding more tours this month to explore the breweries of Grandview and our local distilleries. Other ideas are fermenting as well. Pizza and Beer sound good? Maybe a progressive tour of a league of restaurants?

And of course, our tours include food to go with the beer. As you can guess, we take that part of the tour pretty seriously too. As for our beer tourists, each group has been fun to guide around. From craft beer neophytes, to home brewers and beer experts everyone has enjoyed the tours, tried beers they might not have tried before and even at places they might have visited on their own, taken something away they would not have without being on the tour. We learn something at each brewery be it history, how ingredients influence the brewing process, or sampling a beer flight that showcases twenty years of microbrewing in Columbus. In every case, I guests leave wanting to explore even more and go back to try these places again.

In the process I have learned to drive a 14 passenger van, initially felt like a freshman at Food Tour University, lost the company cell phone (which was one of the top 13 worst days of my life), and every day found myself nudged further out of my comfort zone. While learning I have found that there is so much more to learn, I guess that makes sense, beer has been around since the 5th century BC. I knew a good deal about beer before I walked down this road. Now that I jumped into the brewing culture of Columbus I find myself in the catbird seat observing something I believe is going to become a big part of the character of Columbus, a craft beer and distilling culture that will earn a lot respect in the industry. Columbus Brew Adventures is exactly that, an adventure. Care to join us on one?

Posted in beer, Behind the Counter, beverages, cocktails, Food For Thought, Gastronomic Stimulus | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

QuickSip: Pub Out Back

Posted by cmh gourmand on July 24, 2013

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The Pub Out Back is an unlikely bar in a likely place. If that makes sense. It is tucked into a small space in a small strip of shoppes hidden behind the main drag of Olde Worthington. It is an easy place to miss. That is part of the charm of the place and why it is the pub out back. While Olde Worthington might not seem to be a pub crawl destination of choice, the area offers one of the best areas to do so, in a compressed block. In addition to easy to spot pubs like Old Bag of Nails and PK O’Ryans, the choices out front also call home to the bar at Rivage, House Wine, La Chatelaine and a really good happy hour at the bar of the Worthington Inn. Insiders, like Robert Kramer, of the independent village of Riverlea, know the upsides of the drinking choices of this mini-downtown and for folks like them, the Pub Out back was created.

This small place packs quite a compressed punch. The front bar seats just over a dozen and maybe 16 or so more at five tightly placed tables. Upon entering, you might think you entered the Cheers of Worthington. Everyone does not know your name but they are glad you came. The front bar also features seven large screen TV’s which is what was missing from the other bars of Worthington – lots of large TV’s. Free peanuts in the shell were promptly offered upon arrival. While the pub does not have food service, like many successful bars, the owners forged an alliance with a nearby pizza place to provide quick access to food for eating with beer.

There are 5-6 good drafts on tap and a deep selection of craft microbrews in the bottle to choose from. Hidden in a back corner is a barrel of games to share. While the place is small, it is not as small as I originally thought. In the back bar there are four tables, a few stools and a small table top shuffle board game of some sort. To show community pride a Worthington Cardinals image graces the wall in back. All in all a good bar especially for manly activities of drinking beer with other men interested in sports. I did my initial reconnaissance with The Drinking Duder. His response to our inaugural visit was “yeah, it was not bad.” In Drinking Duder terms, that means it was a good bar. As for me, my loyalties run deep with O’Reilly’s and St. James but since I have my hair cut nearby and I enjoy a bar off the beaten path, I think I may find myself back at the bar again munching on peanuts and cheering the next person to walk through the door.

You will not find the address too helpful in finding the Pub Out Back, but here it is:

679-C High Street, Worthington, Ohio 43085

Their Facebook page will help you: ThePubOutBack

For quick directions. Turn west at the intersection of New England Ave. and High Street. Turn north into the large parking lot. Park your car near the northern fence line and follow that to the second line of shoppes. The Pub Out Back with be tucked at the end waiting for you to visit.

Posted in bar, beer | Leave a Comment »

CLEWeek – A Maker and a Shaker: Sam McNulty

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 14, 2013

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I meet so many people who have a passion for something but lack the focus or sense to make it work. Many have a passion for food but not a lick of business sense. And as many people are so focused on every cent they create a soulless business that can’t keep a customer. It is a rare spirit that can blend the two – a focus on fun, a directed passion but just enough common sense and structure to make the dream a reality and to keep the whole thing fresh, financially afloat and sustainable. I truly believe that a business that connect with their community stands a much better shot at sustainability than one launched by someone with a riveting business plan and a MBA to boot.

The heart of Ohio City is West 25th Street. The soul is definitely West Side Market but epicenter of growth and vibrancy has been fueled by alcohol, passion and good food on West 25th. Bier Markt was an early entry (2005) on what is now a brewery district by any other name. Ask any passerby to name a favorite spot on the street and they are likely to mention one of more of the following: Market Garden Brewery, Bar Cento, Speakeasy or Nano Brew. What do all of these spots have in common other than good libations, good food and distinctive style? The answer Sam McNulty. The key to the success of his enterprises – there are several and he would have all on a cool key ring no doubt.

I had the opportunity to tour all of these locations with McNulty back in October of 2012. I have done many meet and greets with restaurant and bar owners. Most are short, somewhat forced and canned and usually not so memorable. Not the case for McNulty, he spent many hours with the group of writers in my pack – on a busy weekend night. He walked us through every nook and cranny of each of his businesses. He told us the history and inspiration of each. My notes were extensive and throughout his genuine caring for his community, employees and partners shined through. He knew every employee by name. How did he begin the evening – he did not talk about himself, his “brand”, etc., he asked where else we had been and when we mentioned CROP – he raved about the place, how his competitor’s restaurant was so good for Ohio City. When we asked him what was his next project – he shared the next focus would be whiskey, rum and bourbon distilling…..which led to him raving about Middlewest in Columbus.

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Many of the little things that set his places apart, start to turn into big things. There is definitely a desire to increase the DIY capabilities of all operations by creating a space for fermentation, aging cheeses and charcuterie and more. McNulty shared that he started to think about the carbon foot print of bringing Italian prosciutto to Cleveland. Then he asked himself, why he was doing it when Cleveland had everything he needed to do it in-house? He has the right people and ingredients. Then he broke the process down into the small steps to make it a big idea: build relationships with local farms to source the right types of pigs, then find the right way to process the hogs, build out a curing room and…… Although a lot of work, the end result is that because he now knows where everything is coming from and who is putting it together, he feels better about serving it. he can serve something that is Ohio to the heart and what his neighbors would want and what his chefs like to create. Another key to making this work (and why all of this works) is he finds the right people who share a passion for what they do – cooking, brewing, serving and he lets them take risks and pursue these projects with the resources they need and the freedom to experiment.

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What inspired each concept – mainly the people of Ohio City. McNulty lives within steps of his establishments. When he moved to Ohio City he ditched his car for a bike and a scooter. When not working in or on one of these spots, he is roaming Ohio City as an informal mayor and ambassador. He asks himself and his Ohio City peers what they like….and creates what reflects their values. If you go to the right juice spot in West Side Market and ask for a McNulty – you will get a special blend created for his high energy / hectic lifestyle. A telling aspect of his muse comes from the newer kid on the block, Nano. Since McNulty and his neighbors are so pedal happy, he decided he needed to create a new kind of biker bar….but this time for cyclists. Nano sports an inside bike repair station while the outside features a repurposed shipping container that was built as a bike parking area (to keep his customers bikes from getting wet). Cool and inventive, sure, but it also required working with the city to get a variance to make it work – not the easiest path but it created something unique that is distinctive for the space and for the customer.

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McNulty takes care of his staff – mainly by giving them the tools and environment to succeed but also supporting them. Nearby Black Pig is operated by one of his former chefs. And for employee appreciation – here is an example and benchmark to aim at for those in the restaurant trade. McNulty closed operations down the Sunday before Super Bowl (2012) and created a space for four food trucks to serve his team. Then he hired four party busses to bar hop his group around town which he paid for deep cleaning of the kitchens while they were out having fun. If you are in the food biz, having some fun at someone else’s place then coming home to a clean workspace, can’t be beat. Take care of your people and they will take care of your business and your customers – an easy lesson but missed by many.

So take the above and a lot more and that is how one builds sustainable businesses in Cleveland and elsewhere. There are many of McNulty’s peers doing the same but of those I have met to date, no one does it with the vigor and radar guided smart bomb focus of Ohio City’s favorite resident.

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(Two side notes) During our tour it was raining heavily. McNulty grabbed a patio umbrella from one restaurant and used it to keep his guests dry moving to the next destination. A young McNulty delivered newspapers to Michael Ruhlman for ten years, and the esteemed Cleveland food writer was noted to be a good tipper. McNulty might give Ruhlman a tip or two these days.

Posted in beer, CLEGourmand, Locally Sourced, Ohio, Road Trip | Leave a Comment »

Seventh Son: The Marriage of Microbrewing and Mobile Food

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 30, 2013

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The two surging trends in the Columbus Food scene for the last two years have been microbrewing and microrestauranting – in the form of food trucks. The exponential growth of both has been staggering. In the case of microbreweries as well as specialty beers stores and bars focusing on locally and regionally brewed beer, the number of businesses tapping into this trend has at least quadrupled since 2011. As for Food Trucks, although some have asked if this is a fad that is jumping the shark, the evidence shows this trend has shown no sign of going off the road at the curve. My observation indicates our choices have grown by nearly ten fold in the last couple years.

Some of the elements these two microenterprises have in common include: a desire to own a business, to be able to create something unique to the owner/brewer/team, a focus on local ingredients as well as supporting other local businesses and a sense of contentment of not having to be all things to all people and to not have to dumb down quality for the additional opportunities of being on more shelves or serving more people at more locations. Such is not the case for all owners…some food truck owners view their business as a pathway to a restaurant or other food business. Some Microbreweries have an eye on additional products or markets, but for the most part, the people behind these businesses are happy to have a sustainable business that allows them to earn a living and create something that is a reflection of themselves and their values.

The pairing of these two businesses is a natural fit. The costs of adding a full kitchen to a microbrewing enterprise is daunting. The challenge of finding a location to park and serve to a captive audience that has a reason to stick around and access to amenities like tables, chairs and bathrooms is helpful to a food truck. The trucks need a place to set up. The breweries need food to help draw in customers and to keep their customers on site longer. The marriage of these two types of independent businesses is a marriage that is destined to last.

In the early days of mobile food, bars and food trucks established a quick bond. St. James Tavern, Dick’s Den and a few other watering holes were quick to see the advantages of having fresh food to serve to their patrons…good for the bar business. Access to a set location is key, though maybe counterintuitive, to most mobile food businesses. While not mobile, the expansion of Mikey’s Late Night slice to Woodlands, the Newport and other bar venues was critical to the growth of that business and to the success of the businesses Mikey and Company paired themselves with.

Geoff Towne at Zauber Brewing Company was the first to pair microbrew with regular scheduled appearances by multiple food trucks. What started as growler pours at lunch or dinnertime grew into larger monthly events. We can expect to see more of the same from Zauber in 2013.

At the dawn of this year, Seventh Son Brewing Company started a similar pairing but what makes the place unique is that the layout and design of the brewery, bar and space was with the intention of having food trucks on site on a regular basis. Currently, Seventh Son hosts mobile food Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Saturday and Sunday lunch and brunch service are in the works. Seventh Son just started to offer their own beers to the public in April. In addition to their own brews, the bar maintains a focus on local and regional beers and spirits. These pair perfectly with the food truck offerings. All in all the combination of location, beer and food makes Seventh Son a Hipster Heaven and acts as an anchor for the growth of the Italian Village neighborhood. This is a partnership where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. More than two types of businesses benefit, the community does as well with the addition of more food choices in a neighborhood lacking them and on the end there is a stronger community.

Now for a photo tour of Seventh Son.

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Customers can see the brewery in action as they walk through the front entrance.

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The open space of the main bar provides quick access to food trucks and an easy view of 4th Street.

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The rear bar area is a bit more intimate and can be used as event space or for spillover traffic.

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The large outdoor patio has plenty of tables, quick access to the inside as well as to the food trucks in the parking lot and a fire ring to allow to space to continue to be cozy in the frigid late fall and wet early spring of Columbus.

Seventh Son Brewing Co on Urbanspoon

Posted in beer, Mobile Food | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

ManBque: An Anthropological Analysis of an Urban Mens Movement

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 25, 2013

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A few months ago I was invited to ManBQue. A what the what? Man – B – Que. Simply put this is a gathering of men who want to celebrate and extol three things: Meat, Beer and Rock n Roll. This month I was invited again by Chef Ed Kowalski. I looked at the ManBque website, read his pitch and decided I may have to give this a shot. I have sampled Ed’s culinary work in several places over the last couple years so I knew I would eat well. And, I was honored, this was an invitation only event. I was uniquely qualified for invitation because I am a man.

A few disclaimers and notations before I begin. Most of my friends are women. The few male friends I have, while valued, would, like me, never be accused of being high-test, testosterone manly men. I can’t speak for them but for most men of the Midwest I must be an absolute conundrum. Well, a manly man would not use that word, he would probably just grunt or something. I just never fit in with roaming herds of males. What are some of my failings: OSU Buckeyes….who cares, sports – meh, cars and muscle machines – I drive a Subaru, playing lots of blood and guts video games – nope. Sporting a ball cap, driving a pick up truck, while wearing jhorts and engaging with other dudes in horse-play….is not something I can pull off. I never adapted to being in the pack. I dropped out of Indian Guides because it was too structured. I did a Fraternity rush my junior year of college and just could not drink the Kool-aid. The only man based group I have ever been associated with on a long-term basis is called Nerd Night which involves watching TV and eating pizza with a female librarian. There is one exception to this long history of lack of manliness. You might call this a fling. For two years I was a member of the Loyal Order of the Moose. I joined so I could eat a really good $2 hamburger and play pinball during lunch time and then walk back to work in two minutes. I was often the only one there. Now don’t get me wrong, I like the ladies but I don’t hang out at the Stitch and Bitch classes or watch Grey’s Anatomy. I have never been one to run with the herd. Usually, I just saunter off in the other direction and do my own thing. The only really macho thing I can say about myself is that I am an Appalachian Porch Hound Trainer.

So as cool as it may seem to gather as a tribe and worship Meat, Beer and Rock N Roll, three things that rank high on my hierarchy of needs, it is not by my nature to do so in an organized pack. But, because I care about my readers and I have a mission to explore the world of culinary trends I was resolute to investigate the ManBque meat up which is quickly becoming a world-wide thing. On the plus side of going, the April Manbque was at Savor which is close to my house and would ensure quick access to good beer. I also knew than Rin, the Beer Knowledge Goddess of Savor would smack down any out of control mantics (man-antics) and made sure I had someone to talk to in a pinch.

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I approached the location with caution. After parking, I heard the music of Bob Marley wailing through the air. I could smell smoke….of charring meat and cigars….. floating through the air. I followed these sensory clues to the back lot of Savor to find one green egg, three grills, 2 large speakers and twenty plus males from 22 to 62 engaged in grilling, eating, drinking, smoking and laughing. After taking a few more whiffs of the meats being cooked, I knew I was in the right place and my sense was I made the right choice.

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Rob the vice-president of the Columbus Manbque cell, seeing I was a newbie, greeted me and showed me where the communal beer cooler was. I tracked down Ed inside Savor buying more beer. I mingled among the members and listened in on some of their conversations. I asked a lot of questions. While this is a very fraternal group it is not a fraternity-style group…well probably not, I was told there is not any hazing or odd rituals. Members do not need to wear weird hats like in the Flintstones (I was bummed about this). The most common thread I found among each of these guys was a passion to eat meat that is cooked really, really well. After Ed was done preparing some exceptional bone marrow, he as both my host and the president of the Columbus chapter of Manbque explained more about the group both locally and nationally. Each month members bring meat to cook and share with the group as well as beer to do the same. Among the feast of meats I dined on: bone marrow, pork loin, bacon wrapped chicken breast, bacon wrapped shrimp, and several cuts of marinated and seasoned beef cooked to perfection.

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ManBque started in Chicago and has since expanded throughout the USA and abroad. More than just a manly meet-up, the group hallows the holy trinity of cooking meat, drinking craft beer and celebrating great rock n roll pretty seriously. Each of these three elements are respected for the skill of art and science it takes to craft them. The growth of these local ManBque groups has been expansive and is expected to become exponential after the release of a cookbook in the near future. While “no girls are allowed” this is not a he-man woman haters club. Locally there will be a mixed group meeting in June. In Chicago – there is an all female group with the same goals who have engaged in a competitive but friendly rivalry with their male counterparts. In Columbus, as the group continues to grow, Ed and company want to add in classes, special events and serve charitable causes too.

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There are a few rules to the group. New members must be invited by a current member. Meat-ups occur during the week, not on weekends. At the end of the evening (this is where I started to worry about the hazing part) new members are given their ManBque name while the group stands in a circle. I think there may be something to this ManBque thing. I had to cut out early, so I did not get issued my official ManBque name but…I would go back, to the pack, to do so.

Want to learn more?
ManBque.com
Facebook

Interested in membership? Contact Ed: e.kowalski@yahoo.com

Posted in BBQ, beer, culinary knowledge | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

High Beck Corner Tavern (Hi Beck)

Posted by cmh gourmand on February 21, 2013

menu

Before we begin…..let’s have a quick history lesson. The Brewery District has seen the best of the boom times and could have been classified as a ghost town in other eras. Long ago, before prohibition, it really was a Brewery District supporting over 600 bars and Taverns in Columbus and more elsewhere and business was very good. The High Beck opened in 1921, after Prohibition started, during the “meh” era of South High Street. In the early 1990′s to early 2000-aughts, it was the boom times and the Brewery District was THE place to be. Parking was scarce, Victory’s was the premiere meat/meet market to be for the gold chained, polo shirt wearing, pegged jeans and big hair crowd while the pre-dawn of hipsters were hanging out at Hoster’s and the Columbus microbrew world was experiencing the first renaissance that did not persist. At the epicenter of this, at least for many I knew, was the High Beck. (We called it the Hi Beck, as per the sign on the south side of the building). Often crowded beyond comfort, this joint, was the place to go for great local music and good beer. While I saw a few good bands here in the 1990′s, I never really hung out there otherwise and promptly forgot about the place. But then, the area fell out of favor again and many businesses went bust and the district faltered. The area is taking off again, but during the limbo era in between, the High Beck Corner Tavern survived the lean times while Victory’s, BW-3, The Clarmont and others bit it.

Why High Beck? The tavern is at the corner of South High Street and Beck Street, hence the name. Why has the High Beck survived? Regulars can answer that question better than me – and they are much of the answer I am sure, so if the High Beck is, your spot, please post here to enlighten me. The joint still features live music but not as much as in days gone by. As far as how the tavern came back on my radar the answer is easy….pizza. During of the Pizza Gran Prix events I used to do, some wonderful person brought in a SmokeHouse Combo Pizza from the High Beck. The Smokehouse features both the house made Texas BBQ brisket and hickory smoked pulled pork on top, house made BBQ sauce at the base with some mozzarella mixed in so it can be called a pizza and not a sandwich. This was easily one of my favorite speciality pizzas and more importantly, it ages well for next day consumption. However, I always had the pizza to go and never experienced it in house. It has taken me years to get back to the High Beck and the pizza got me through the doors. However, this delay on my part still lacks any rational reason. On Mondays, the tavern offers FREE pizza from 4 pm and after. On Tuesdays….FREE coneys….and yet, contrary to all things that define me….I never made it there for free food.

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The BBQ itself is worthy of mention. The house made sauce can be found in squirt bottles on the tables. The menu tells us that the house BBQ is created by Tiny. Tiny’s BBQ was perfected over 15 years in the south now to find itself in the land that spawned the war of Northern Aggression piled on top of an Italian Pizza Pie. This may seem like an odd twist of fate yet I have no complaints. I know many people (mostly of the female persuasion), that hate BBQ pizza as an abomination to the purity of the pizza concept. I do not. There are many foods I would add BBQ to if social constructs were more forgiving, but I usually know how far to push things. Well, sometimes I do, maybe not for food. Tiny, keep making BBQ and find more stuff to pile it onto.

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But if BBQ is not your thing, the High Beck has some belly busting chili cheese fries that will balance out two or three beers with no effort at all. Or, maybe you would like to try out their make your own bloody Mary Bar? Finally maybe food means nothing to you (so why are you reading this?) if that is the case you will find a good selection of beers, ping-pong, foosball, darts and a pool table to pass the time and wonder why you keep thinking about getting a BBQ sandwich.

The High Beck Corner Tavern
564 S. High St
Brewery Distrct
614.224.0886

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High Beck Tavern on Urbanspoon

Posted in bar, BBQ, beer, restaurants | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

PSA: Savor Now Serving Growlers

Posted by cmh gourmand on February 19, 2013

I mentioned a few months ago, that Savor would soon have growler sales of select drafts. Well, they are ahead of schedule on this project. As a PSA: Public Service Announcement Pour Some Alcohol Post, I am letting you know the growlers are in and ready to fill.

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Posted in beer, Clintonville | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

 
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