CMH Gourmand – Eating in Columbus & Ohio

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Terita’s: Serving the North End since 1959

Posted by cmh gourmand on December 8, 2018

How is it possible, having lived on the north end most of my life and for much of that as close as 3.2 miles away….. that I did not hear about Terita’s pizza until 2018? The answer, in 2018 I decided it was important to start researching the surviving pizza parlors of the 1950’s. Terita’s is definitely a survivor.

I did some cyber research on Terita’s which meant reading a lot largely positive Yelp and other reviews. Based on this, I determined I needed to make a field research mission to check out what appeared to be a local institution. Long time customers raved about many things the small shop has to offer, the most common item mentioned was the homemade sausage on the pizza and sandwiches. The Iannarino family has run this shop in the same location since 1959. I still have a bit more research to do but I am pretty sure other than Gatto’s Pizza which has been in the same spot and same family since 1952, Rubino’s (1954) and Tommy’s (if Lane Ave. is an original location), Terita’s is the third or fourth oldest continuous pizza operation in the city. That is pretty incredible for any Cleveland Avenue business.

For my recon mission I order a sausage and pepperoni pizza, a gluten-free pizza with ham and pineapple (I was surprised this was an option) and a sausage sandwich. Upon entering Terita’s I was impressed. In spite of being open over fifty years, this place was clean. The crew working the ovens and prep space were “tight” in how they worked together and professional. My veteran eye can assess a good operation in five minutes or less and Terita’s is clearly “on it”. The inside was fairly spartan to mesh with the bunker like exterior. There was nothing fancy inside and just a few tiny tables for small groups that might want to eat in on the fly. As a first timer, I was not comfortable asking about the deeper meaning of their mascot Gus the Pizza Man, but I am sure I will learn more over time. The staff were friendly and recognized me as a new customer so said they hoped I would be back. I will.

I brought this fare home to CMH Spouse and CMH Griffin. Griffin enjoyed the gluten-free pizza so that was an endorsement since is he has tried most in the city at this point. CMH Spouse gave high praise to the sausage. This is quite an endorsement for numerous reasons. My wife comes from a very Italian family in Northeast Ohio. She still has Italian speaking cousins in the old country. Sauce, meatballs and the like are a big deal with her family so quality and especially quantity are never taken lightly. CMH Spouse has a very fine-tuned sense of smell. It is actually super human. If I have more than 2 ounces of beer, she can smell it the moment I walk through the door. If I ate at an Indian restaurant say two to eight hours before, I don’t have to tell her, she will tell me. She knew I ordered sausage the second I placed the boxes on the table. After trying the sausage on the pizza and the sandwich she proclaimed “It’s just like the sausage in ravs (ravioli) and stromboli. That means it meets both the family standard as well as her personal standard which requires a sausage not be too stinky, it can’t be over or under spiced and the anise percentage should arch low instead of high. So yes, CMH Spouse approval of sausage is a big deal.

So let us discuss the pizza. Our “normal” pizza was Columbus style which means thin crust and tavern or party cut. The sausage was tasty and while I do not know the exact source of their pepperoni, Terita’s uses what most would call “old world style” so it curls a bit at the edges and can serve as a reservoir for pizza grease. We liked this pizza. I’d place it in the top twenty for the city, further research may increase that ranking.

https://cmhgourmand.com/?attachment_id=11905

The sausage sandwich was a real surprise. I think the bun is from Auddino’s. It was fresh and flavorful and toasted just right. The sausage was clearly homemade and thick sliced whole patty form whereas most places use sliced sausage links. The toppings were minimal but that is because the sandwich did not need anything other than the sausage although cheese was a good addition. The one half sandwich that survived the first eating was still exceptionally good the next day.

Teritas Sausage Sandwich close up

So initial results look promising and I think Terita’s is will easily sustain another fifty years or more of service.

Terita's Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Posted in pizza, sandwiches | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Zoup is Good Food: Triple Bread Boule is Good for Indecisive Soup Slurpers

Posted by cmh gourmand on December 7, 2018

If you are familiar with Heywood Banks and his Song, (I Like) Toast, you can replace that word with soup to understand how I feel about soup. I am a big soup fan. Especially this time of year. My favorite soup destination was Whole World Bakery in Clintonville (which closed a few years ago). While some of the menu could be hit or miss, I never had a soup there that was not exceptional. And each of the soups there was vegetarian or vegan.

When Zoup opened a few years ago, I was happy to see their addition to the soup scene since there are not many grab and go or at least fast casual options for soup that offer more than one or two choices. At Zoup, there are a dozen soups offered daily. You are free to sample as many as you want before making a choice. Their other fare (salads and sandwiches) leans toward the healthy side as well. The price for a good lunch is not offensive either.

When I was contacted by Zoup with an offer to try a Triple Bread Boule, it was very easy for me to say Yes or maybe Yez if I go with their phonetics. The Triple Bread Boule is a special item for the holidays and will be around through December 30th. The Boule is a gigantic loaf of bread that had three holes / or soup retention areas hallowed out in it for three soup selections of my choice. I like having a flight of soup. With twelve to choose from it is hard to pick just one soup to commit to and since they change their soup rotations often it can take a lot of visits to figure out what your favorite soup might be. I picked three very different soups for my flight. I was happy to see the flavors were protected from blending by thick, dense, toasted, chewy bread.

The bread held up well to the soups. The loaf itself was a meal in itself so I had some left to enjoy later. I just had to chew out the soup soaked portions to make transporting easier.

Zoup! The Fresh Soup Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in restaurants | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Yin Yue and the Lunch Bunch

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 24, 2018

Looking at the title, I expect some of you think I may be writing a review of a forgotten 1970’s movie or sitcom. Alas, while I am sure it would have been a great show, this is the story of a small under the radar American Chinese Restaurant with a large and loyal customer base. One of my missions this year has been to find a low-budget lunch spot. In this I have succeeded. That is good, most of my other missions have been dismal failures. I was first told about this place when I was given a name of Yin Yuey’s with a 17th Ave location. That did not pan out but it gave me enough information to sleuth that what the person meant to advocate was Yin Yue on East Hudson Street. I was surprised in my many adventures I had never noticed this Linden institution. The restaurant has been at the same location for at least forty years and the extended family that runs it may have a local restaurant tradition going back decades before that. Information on Yin Yue is a bit spotty from the owners, while their English is poor, my Mandarin is even worse as in non-existent. Long time customers are unsure of many of the facts themselves and after years of trying to determine the origins of the restaurant they have become content to just enjoy the food. We know the original owner created all of the paintings in the space and the current owners are either nieces, nephews by marriage, grandchildren or some distant connection to the founder. Nearly everything else is legend and lore, except for a guy named Gary. Gary has been dead for decades and no one I have spoken to recalls meeting him, however he warranted at least three menu specials in his honor that remain to this day (Gary Special, Gary Special Shrimp and Gary Special Beef). Let me digress to the food then I’ll tell you about the lunch bunch.

The typical Columbus Foodarazzi would quickly and decisively turn their noses up at Yin Yue. This is unequivocally Americanized Chinese food made by folks that have not yet been Americanized. Anyone that enjoyed Chinese food in 1970’s Columbus would find all of their Chinese comfort food classics here including Wor Sue Gai, Chow Mein and Chop Suey. The restaurant is small, with seating for under forty yet the menu features well over one hundred items including a few Pat Thai dishes.

Looking at Yelp and other reviews for guidance prior to my first exploratory mission, I tried frequently cited “sure things” such as Wonton soup, an egg roll and Wor Sue Gai. All items met my expectations and the bill was about $12.

On this first exploratory mission I was pleased with the short commute time from my house to the restaurant and then my son’s school, I had to hit all three destinations in under one hour or the world would literally end, I was able to run this route with minutes to spare. Other things that did not suck: a good portion size to value ratio, big squirt bottles of several sauces, a fast order to plate of food in front of me time and efficient staffing. I get one lunch out per week and I have a limited budget so it is important to not have a horrible lunch experience. During my first trip I was surprised to see so many cars in the lot and so many people all crowded together at one table. I overheard bits of their conversation and became intrigued by what seemed to be a very diverse and disparate band of brothers that were able to discuss a broad range of topics without coming to blows. I felt this group warranted some more anthropological research, so I decided at least one more trip to Yin Yue was in order to study this tribe.

On my next lunch at Yin Yue I ordered Egg Drop Soup, Crab Rangoon and Chicken Curry Chow Foon. I ordered the last dish mainly because I had never heard of such a thing and it sounded vaguely healthy. Chicken Curry Chow Foon consists of thick, dense and slightly chewy rice noodles, sliced chicken, mushrooms, water chestnuts, bok choy, celery and bean sprouts and of course a healthy dosage of curry powder. This was a good entrée and caught the eye of some diners next to me who decided that might break with tradition and try this dish next time. The soup and Crab Rangoon met my expectations as well.

I was now two for two for meals but this time an early arrival and some bad news for a member of the lunch bunch cut attendance down to two guests and I did not want to disturb the two members in residence since one was helping the other with a family crisis. I decided my questions about their confederation could wait for a better day. I was content with a bill totaling all of $12.36 for a big lunch.

On my third mission, I ordered Wonton Mein (what the heck is that I thought) and the Happy Family: chicken, shrimp and beef cooked with broccoli, carrots, snow peas, water chestnuts and baby corn in a brown sauce. I asked my server what the wonton mein was but the explanation provided was a bit vague. I understood the noodles part. When I ordered it she was shocked that I wanted the Happy Family too. The Wonton Mein is only $5 so I did not understand that it apparently is a full meal for most normal people. When it arrived this was more clear to me the instant it made contact with the table. When I clean plated all of my items my server gave a slight bow of respect.

I soon found out that Wonton Mein is a giant bowl of Wonton Soup with a brick sized block of Ramen rammed into it. Bazinga! The Happy Family did not disappoint either.

By the time I finally finished my meal(s) a large number of the lunch bunch arrived and thus I felt ready to pester them with questions. They were glad to divulge their group history and mores. The founder of the group starting coming to Yin Yun for lunch thirty-eight years ago. The most senior member present during my interrogation has been dining there for thirty-seven years. Most people in the group have been coming for at least a decade and there are a handful that have been assimilated over the last year. Many come in for lunch up to six days per week. Some just come a handful of times during the week. The size of the group varies from two to twenty-five depending on the day. The largest number come on Saturdays at 1 pm. Many are older but some are young. A few are retired but many work nearby. Topics of conversation range from but are not limited to: how the UPS delivery system works, how to better set your contacts in a smart phone, the mechanics of garage door spring repair without lethal injury and how to make the world a better place. I was invited to come anytime and it was made clear that all are welcome. In our present state of community affairs nationally and living in a highly polarized state of society it was pleasant to see that old school ad hoc communities can exist and sustain over time.

I made a few other observations. The art work is diverse and shows a shift in subject matter over time with the older art reflecting traditional Chinese themes and the newer art reflecting the character of the neighborhood.

There is a very modern clock, with the Yin Yue name on it which only tells time with electronic laser dots, it is both out of place and appropriate for the decor here. I like that Yin Yun is somewhat quiet. Although there is their is a constant but muffled chatter in the kitchen and sometimes guests there are no other sounds to disrupt my digestion. No Fox News. No music. There are two small TV’s mounted on the wall but there just show the feeds from the 6-8 security cameras inside and outside the restaurant. On a final note, there is a very clearly marked pick up spot in the front of the building.

If you are looking for value priced, fast and better than average American Chinese food and you would not mind some company and conversation, Yin Yue is a fine choice. One final note, while the Lunch Bunch does not have an official name, it is their understanding the kitchen staff refers to them as the Friends of the Long Table.

Yin Yue
1236 East Hudson St, Linden (just west of Cleveland Ave.)
Yin Yue website

Yin Yue's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in culinary misadventure, Gastronomic Stimulus, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Awadh: An Addendum to Indian Buffet Battle & An Education in Pani Puri

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 14, 2018

What first brought me to Awadh was a pressing need to find an easy access public bathroom at Carriage Place Shopping Center because at I really had to pee. It being a Monday, Awadh was not open (that is changing soon) but the $8.99 Lunch Buffet sign put the restaurant high on my radar for a later, less pressing trip after I finished one of the lower level needs on Maslow’s pyramid. In the past, I spent a lot of time at the movie theater and restaurants of Carriage Place located near the Northeast corner of Bethel Road and Sawmill. Today, I mainly go to the area to donate blood, but, I had a new opportunity to drive the length of the Carriage Place Shopping Center (with a lot of focus) and see everything that has changed over the years – many of the restaurants have moved on and some new but familiar faces like Fitzy’s Diner have become part of the landscape.

I dropped into to Awadh the next day with pretty low expectations. The name of the space is a bit confusing. While the main signage says Awadh, there are numerous posters on the windows suggesting it may be called TGIXpress as well. One migh think it is a bar due to one large poster that is selling beer specials. The spot is small, seating 40 to 50 with some creativity and does feel “new” which is appropriate, it has only been open five months. I was greeted warmly by a very friendly hostess and I was followed in by two regular customers who were known by name and beverage preference upon arrival. I excused myself to the bathroom when I entered (this time in a less pressing manner than the day before) and by the time I returned, there was a plate with warm, fresh samosa waiting for me. The hostess mentioned this comes with the buffet and the the kitchen wants to make sure these are always as fresh and warm as possible for customers upon arrival.

Settling in, I spied ten entrée dishes available to sample as well as naan and Bhature (a puffier, slighty sweet bread), a bit of salad, chutneys, and two desserts offered at the buffet. The offerings during my visit were: Asian Style Noodles with cabbage and vegetables, Chili Potatoes, Cauliflower Potato Curry, Saag Paneer, Chicken Pea Curry (noted as Chole), Basmati Rice, Chicken Tika Masala, Chicken Biryani, Goat Curry and Tandoori Chicken.

Each dish was well labeled, looking appetizing and fresh. Entree were set up in smaller batches in the holding table so they could be rotated quickly. I found each of the dishes to be good. My favorite was the Chicken Biryani which featured whole chicken wings.

My memorable experience of this trip occurred when I made my last run to the buffet. The hostess had checked on me many times and seemed to enjoy my many questions about the business and food. She may have admired my dedication to research as I thoroughly tested out each dish. I had fallen off her radar for just a few moments which allowed the next faux pas to happen since I was unsupervised. The photo below shows how to not put together a Pani Puri. In my defense, oddly, this is not a dish I have had before, which is saying a lot since I am a long time fan of Indian cuisine.

The hostess noted my erroneous attempt and kindly walked over to me before I returned to my table. She quietly and discreetly asked me if I had Pani Puri before. I said no and looking at what I had in my dish and her look at it, I realized I had missed the mark by a mile. She then politely showed me how to construct it properly – breaking the delicate little ball of hollow, fried puri and filling it and then surrounding it with everything I had not topped it with. I was a good learning moment for me and a good opportunity for me to help her with finding the right English words to use as she struggled to walk me through some of the steps of purveying puri to my plate. I like an opportunity to learn during my meal and I was very impressed with how the hostess graciously guided me down the right path.

Jumping back to the buffet battle series from 2016, the Indian Edition, following the buffet battle format here are my initial ratings of Awadh as I make an addendum.

Value 5
Quality 4
Quantity 4.25
Highlight: friendly and attentive service and a clear desire to continue to improve the business and grow new customers
Kid Friendly Quotient 4 (some booths are kid friendly and CMH Griffin and I can pop in easily since his school is just around the corner).

Other bits of knowledge you may find helpful. Awadh is a region in Northern / North Central India. Pani puri is a common street snack in several regions on Nepal and India. It is presented as a round, hollow puri, fried crisp and filled with a mixture of flavored water, tamarind chutney, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion or chickpeas. My bill came to $9.66 with tax (my beverage was water). It was a good value for both the experience and the quality of food offered.


TGIXpress Bistro & Bar – Awadh India Restaurant
awadhindiarestaurant.com

Posted in Buffet Battle, culinary misadventure, restaurants | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Happy Hour at Rockmill Tavern

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 8, 2018

Rockmill Tavern has a lot to offer and that is not just me, who is likely to be biased, saying that. It was voted best new restaurant when it opened in fall 2017. It has been a top ten restaurant in Columbus in both 2017 and 2018. A big part of this is Chef Andrew Smith and his focus on great, local when possible ingredients that pair well with Rockmill Brewery beers in particular, Belgian styles. Another part of this is the freedom owner Matt Barbee gives the kitchen to do their thing. Matt is no slacker when it come to food pairings and an eye for good ingredients and great talent. All in all the front of the house and the back of the house work well together to deliver a good meal consistently. Over the last year, Rockmill Tavern has been quietly crafting and testing the waters for a happy house menu. It launched over the summer with little fanfare. The offerings, which are still occasionally tweaked, have consistently make me happy. It was recently announced that Chef Smith will be leaving Rockmill Tavern to embark on a new culinary venture adventure but he leaves behind a tightly run kitchen that can execute what he crafted and maybe even crank it up a notch.

Below you can see the current offerings. My guess is some items may ebb and flow over the winter but the key elements will stay the same and keep me coming back. The most critical element of the happy hour is the price point – nothing is over $5. Additionally, each item is designed to be a hefty snack but each offering showcases something from the kitchen you typically do not see on the menu or at least with a different preparation. The Happy Hour runs Tuesday to Friday from 3 to 6 P.M. often paired with a beer special.

If you have never been to Rockmill Tavern, you have probably heard at least one word associated with the menu – biscuit(s). These are so good, in any format – large or small, with or without a massive egg or something sweet or something savory that one local young lady will honor them as currency. Ms. Cheryl Harrison, a local expert on beer, bacon, board games and biscuits, values a Rockmill biscuit over even Bitcoin. The Happy Hour menu offers a mini version of the biscuits and for $3 per order why not have several and if you know Cheryl, take a few home for her.

An unexpected item in the menu is an English standby, Tea Sandwiches. Why, do you you say, should a Belgian inspired Taproom, in the heart of the Midwest and apparently as red as can be, offer a British afternoon staple? And I say back, why not old chap or my lady, they are quite good and provide just enough tasty carbs to carry one over to the next draft.

A crowd pleaser, which also find their way onto (OSU) game day menus (because….America) are the Adobo Wings. These are whole marinated Filipino style wings served crispy with a hint spice and Korean pickles to offset the heat and accentuate the flavor of the offering.

Last and not least, because this is a personal favorite is the Croque Monsieur. This mini sandwich makes perfect sense since it is a traditional French bar snack. This Sandwich is always offered with a fried egg (unless you opt to decline the egg which would be foolish) which technically makes this sandwich a Croque Madam. Gender confusion aside, this simple sandwich, is simply divine and one of my favorite food items of 2018. The quality of the bread paired with Muenster cheese and Prosciutto creates a messy although perfect blend of layers to make for a delicious sandwich. The eggs at Rockmill are sourced from Amish farms making the fired egg just a bit better and typically fresher, often same day fresh. The flavors of all of these ingredients exceed even the very high quality of the individual parts. At $5 per sandwich, this item meets my current budgetary restrictions and this snack has saved me from having a totally shitty day on more than one occasion this year.

There is no good reason not to have this happy hour on your end of the year bucket list so go do this.

Rockmill Tavern
Brewery District
503 South Front Street
plenty of parking all around

Posted in Locally Sourced, restaurants | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Swenson’s Sweeps into Columbus (A Special CMH Spouse Post)

Posted by cmh gourmand on October 29, 2018

Due to a schedule that is a mix of grueling and chaotic this week, I called in CMH Spouse to pinch hit for me to check out the soft open / test drive of the first Swenson’s in Columbus.

Hello CMH Gourmand fans! This episode of “The Gourmand Eats” is being brought to you by Mrs. Gourmand, a.k.a. CMH Spouse. The Gourmand has been super busy guiding beer and ghost enthusiasts around town, so I was asked to fill in for him this weekend at the soft opening of Swenson’s Drive-In, located at 7490 Sawmill Rd. in Dublin. To say that I was happy to serve as his proxy is an understatement. I, and many of my fellow Northeast Ohio transplant friends, have been enthusiastically sharing articles about Swenson’s opening in central Ohio for months.

Originally hailing from Kent, I grew up dining on Swenson’s burgers and shakes. Every time the Gourmand, myself, and CMH Griffin head to Kent to see my family, Swenson’s is one of the locations we always stop at. Their burgers and shakes are deliciously simple and taste like no other burger in the world. (I feel like I can say this as an authority on burgers having dined with the Gourmand at many burger and dog joints around the nation). ((CMH Gourmand Note: We don’t get out much these days, but pre CMH Griffin, investigatory dining as an occupational hazard of being my spouse)). Swenson’s has been open in the Akron/Kent area since 1934 and has been a favorite of my family for many generations. My grandparents were frequent customers, parking in their giant Lincoln Town Car, flashing their lights, and ordering a couple of Galley Boys, the signature and award winning burger Swenson’s is famous for.

The Gourmand himself is a big fan of the Galley Boy. I like to try to steal the green olives they place on the outside of his burger before he eats them, but prefer to order a good old-fashioned cheeseburger. My typical order is two cheeseburgers, with just ketchup and a grape milk shake. (And yes, you read that correctly, a GRAPE shake. Try it, you will love it.) No matter what burger you decide to order, the bun is always lightly toasted. Growing up, rumors circulated that the bun (or maybe the patty itself), had a little brown sugar added to it. I cannot honestly say whether this is a fact, but the burger definitely has a slight sweetness to it, that pairs really well with the heavy coating of cheese that they add to it.


Swenson’s also produces delicious fried side items you can add to your order. Throughout the years, I have sampled fried mushrooms, fried zucchini, French fries and my all-time favorite, onion rings. I don’t often indulge in the Crispy Extras, because the shake and burgers are quite filling, but if you have never been to Swenson’s before, they are a must try.

Another perk of dining at Swenson’s is that you don’t even have to get out of your car. As soon as you pull in, a highly enthusiastic server will already be sprinting to your car to greet you. If you are a Swenson’s regular, they will immediately take your order, if not, you will be advised to turn your lights on when you are ready to order, and the first server to see them will be there to assist you. Orders turn over fast, and will be delivered to your car on a tray that fits over your window (along with your check). When you have gobbled down the last crumb of your meal, you simply flash your lights and a server will be there immediately to take your tray and payment. The servers all share the tips, so everyone is compensated for their hustle. And hustle they do, rain, shine, or snow.

The grand opening of the Sawmill location is November 9th, and I already know that teams of Kent-ites will be arriving to get their Swenson’s fix. If you are a Swenson’s virgin, check it out, you won’t be disappointed. A second location will eventually be opening on Ikea Way in the Polaris area, conveniently located just down the street from the school that I teach at!

Posted in hamburgers, kid friendly dining, Ohio, restaurants | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

The Boat House at Confluence Park: Dinner and a View with a Nod to 1958

Posted by cmh gourmand on October 12, 2018

I know you have heard, I don’t get around much anymore. However, CMH Spouse and I had an unprecedented third date night for the year. We went to the Boat House at Confluence Park. This is a spot we have been to once in the past while CMH Spouse was pregnant. This is where we told CMH My Mother that CMH Spouse was with child. That was a big deal, for a lot of reasons. This time, it was just a big deal for us to be out of the house and feeling alright about doing so. I will be forthright in sharing that we were there as guests of the Boat House for a big deal for them, the sixtieth anniversary of Specialty Restaurants Corporation the operators of nationally known restaurants including the Boat House, The Rusty Pelican, 100th Bomb Group and 94th Aero Squadron.

My mission, which I gladly chose to accept was to try out the 1958 Reef Throwback Menu offered to celebrate the anniversary of the company. This special menu is offered through October 21st and features signature dishes from The Reef which opened in 1958 as the first restaurant in the company.

It was good to get reacquainted with the Boat House after a four-year absence. I recall a day in my past when it was easy for me to keep my list of restaurants I wanted to try out very short, but in the last five years, the number of good options has increased exponentially and my opportunities to try them out has decreased factorially. I drive by the Boat House almost weekly as I go about my duties in the city but I had forgotten some of inherent perks this restaurant has to offer. First, parking, parking, parking! Most restaurants we seek out do not have much in the way of easy parking so it was refreshing to have our pick of spots close to the entrance. Second, location, location, location! The Boat House rests at the confluence of the Scioto and Olentangy rivers offering an exceptional view of downtown Columbus. The evening we visited offered absolutely perfect patio weather (observationally, I would say 2018 has offered the city three evenings as climatically perfect as our night out so I am glad we snagged the last one this year is likely to offer). I had never dined outside at the Boat House or in the past when the site was called River Club however within a few seconds I decided this is an experience I could easily get attached to. Our view was great, our table was comfortable and we were in the care of a phenomenal server.

We started out with the house bread. Bread service seems to have lost favor in the world of current dinning trends but I miss that tradition. As our household has been largely gluten-free for the last five months, we both missed our good friend gluten and were happy to dive into the loaf of bread offered to us. The bread was light yet filling. It is proofed and baked in-house and lightly brushed with butter, parmesan cheese and roasted organic garlic.

At this point our drinks arrived. We sampled two signature cocktails, Dave’s Margarita and a classic Mai Tai. The margarita is named for SRC’s founder and World War II veteran, David Tallichet since this was his favorite in-house drink. He added his signature to the classic drink by showcasing fresh lime juice and orange liqueur, for the anniversary version of Dave’s namesake drink the restaurant adds Camarena Tequila, Grand Marnier Italia and Cointreau. Served with a slice of lime and hardy glaze of salt on the rim, this was by far the best margarita I have had in a long while. The Mai Tai was a treat as well. It reminded me of days past at the Kahiki. Most of the Mai Tai’s I’ve had in this decade were disappointing, The Boat House did not fail me on this cocktail, it was one of the best of the style I have tried.

Moving on along to appetizers, I enjoyed the Throwback special of a crab cake with Tiki sauce, fresh mango was a highlight of the tower of tiki inspired ingredients resting atop the crab cake on my plate. As CMH Spouse is intensely allergic to mango so opted for the house crab cake (lump crab with a spicy remoulade). Having lived in Maryland for ten years, she found these crab cakes meet her high standards.

Not on the Throwback menu, but definitely something I would throwback all night is the calamari. At the Boat House, the squid is sourced from Rhode Island and never frozen. The breading is infused with buttermilk and served with a mildly spicy Thai sauce. The flavor of this dish was great, it was clearly fresh and was not over-fried or greasy in any way. We also discovered that the remoulade from the crab cake was an outstanding alternative dipping sauce for the calamari.

My next course on the Throwback menu was Teriyaki steak with jasmine rice and steamed broccoli. This was a simple, straight forward dish. My steak was perfectly cooked and marinated. While the steak did not need the sauce served with it, the blend of flavors in the sauce perfectly accentuated the steak and went well with both the rice and broccoli when I was so inclined to drizzle some on each.

CMH Spouse dined on the Pan Seared Tasso Chicken which was a chicken breast served with sliced marble potatoes, asparagus and Tasso ham with all parts of the dish swimming in creole cream sauce. When my wife started to fill up with plenty left on her plate, I gallantly offered to finish it for her. We both loved the rich flavors offered in this recipe. The Boat House will be launching a new menu for the season later this month so we were happy to hear this entrée would continue through the winter.

Last and not least on the Throwback Menu was Pineapple cheese cake. This dessert was executed brilliantly. The slice was generous in size, the crust of the cake held up to the weight of the cake filling itself with the flavors in both complimenting each other nicely. The pineapple was gently piled on top but added a noticeable pop of flavor to each bite. This was not something dumped out of a vacuum sealed bag, it was fresh pineapple diced, then cooked down with sugar.

I’ll also restate again, our server was phenomenal. I apologize to her for not asking for the proper spelling of her name, but “Raye” was friendly and fun while being both poised and professional. She had deep knowledge of all of the dishes both on the regular menu and the 1958 Reef Throwback menu and made good recommendations to us throughout the evening. While she has only been at the Boat House for ten months her depth of knowledge might suggest to first time guests that she had been there for many years.

I enjoyed the 1958 Reef Throwback Menu as well as my wife’s selections for dinner. We could not have had a better evening and I appreciated the opportunity to do something fun with my wife knowing that everything would be great as soon as we entered the threshold. We were so stuffed we had to head home instead of dropping in to Seventh Son, the site of our wedding which was one of our last big nights out, so for CMH Spouse to decline an opportunity to extend an evening means we did not need to add to an already perfect experience. Thanks Boat House and happy anniversary to the company.

Where to dine:
The Boathouse at Confluence Park
679 West Spring Street
(where the Scioto meets the Olentangy River)
(614) 469-0000


The Boat House Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Pizza in Columbus Podcast with This Week News

Posted by cmh gourmand on October 5, 2018

There are just a few conservational topics one should prep for if moving to Columbus or to better assimilate into our society: 1) How ’bout them Bucks! – you can respond with any affirmative phrase or O H….pause. 2) How about that humidity! – again any affirmative or profanity will suffice. 3) What is your favorite pizza place? To this inquiry I would say, point behind the person then run. You are likely to encounter a highly partisan response. The good people of Columbus are passionate about pizza in general. In the 1990’s Columbus was decreed to be the pizza capital of the USA based on both the number of places serving pizza per capita as well as our frequency of consumption. The first pizza in Columbus is easily tracked back to TAT Ristorante in the 1930’s but the rise of pizzerias as we know them started in 1949 and never looked back. A favorite pizza place will tell you where someone grew up, often if they are a native and almost always what part of town they live in now. Pizza is not a light-hearted topic for casual conversation. This Week News had a few people come together to discuss the best pizza in Columbus and it was no easy matter. You can listen to episode 1 -> here.

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The White Castle Impossible Burger: A CMH Gourmand / 614ortyNiner Joint

Posted by cmh gourmand on September 30, 2018

I received a text from a colleague suggesting I try the Impossible Burger at White Castle. Based on the location of this venture, I decided it was a great opportunity for another joint evaluation with the esteemed 614ortyNiner.

I actually thought the location of this Impossible Burger to be a bit….improbable. A White Castle at SR 161 (Dublin-Granville Road) and Karl Road? This is an area that has not been known for food innovation since the early 1990s. However, I did confirm the venue via an Impossible Burger locator and found that the Impossible was not only probable, but true, it was indeed at this White Castle as one of the first sites in the city.

What makes a burger impossible? It is a vegetarian burger which has been challenging all types of food businesses to create a tasty sandwich using their creation as a base. Their philosophy, if you want to make a good burger without meat, it is possible to get people to eat more of them and this consume less cows and such.

The mere mention of an Impossible Burger and White Castle in the same sentence is likely to make a large percentage of the population snicker to the point of derision. However the two Venn diagrams of non believers are unlikely to have much overlap. On one side we have the Foodies and the general White Castle haters who see no value in fast food in general and “sliders” in particular. To that Venn diagram I say, dig a little deeper and you might find something that is not worthy of ridicule. I have editorialized in the past about my respect for White Castle as an innovator in food technology, work force development and etc. While I do not go to White Castle often, I have been a sucker for their breakfast sandwich for many years and typically I am drawn to any new menu item the company offers like a sailor to shipwreck by sirens.

As for the other Venn diagram in this online soliloquy, those that snicker at attempts to offer vegetarian alternatives to our military/industrial/oil/meat-focused complex economy I say, look to the future. The things that give use cheap meat are getting more expensive: gas, water, land, cheap feed, agribusiness, etc. Add to that, there is a lot to question about what is going into the meat we eat. It has been a decade and about seventy pounds since I was a six day a week vegetarian but I respect a good vegetable based burger and will support any effort to make such palatable to the masses. We need it. Me more than most.

Fast food is the perfect environment to try out a good vegetable based burger and of course Columbus with our long-standing reputation as the premiere food test market is the place to do so. This is not the first time White Castle has come on board with a meatless burger (some way they have been doing so since 1921). They debuted their veggie burger years ago and I was there to try it. White Castle still serves a veggie burger and it is still 99 cents – that it has persisted is a win.

In the case of the Impossible Burger, the approach appears to be more high-end than the typical slider. Both 614ortyNiner and I approached this taste test with great seriousness. Also, without planning to do so, we both used the same approach in our ordering. We each got a “standard” slider, a veggie burger, an Impossible Burger/Slider plain and an Impossible Burger with cheese (the default cheese for these is a smoked cheddar). We both wanted to start with a baseline and work our way up so as to fairly compare the Impossible Burger to what else is in the White Castle Universe. The FortyNiner shared he had limited experience with White Castle since he grew up and lived a large part of his life on the Bay Area. So on this trip not only did he try an Impossible Burger he also tried a regular, nothing added, run of the mill, plan White Castle Slider (I had mine with jalapeno cheese). We progressed in our burger consumption and made similar observations. The prep time for the Impossible Burger is about two times longer than the other items. The burger patty is about 2.5 times thicker than a standard slider. While we know it is a vegetable based burger, it does not really look like one (unlike the White Castle Veggie Burger which has visible vegetable parts in the patty). We do not know what vegetables are in this burger but we both thought it has a slight aroma of mushrooms as well as a slight hint of mushroom in the flavor profile. The patty was textured somewhat like a hamburger but was light and fluffy. It was edible, neither horrible or delicious. The Impossible Burger with cheese was significantly better than the plain Impossible burger. We both thought this burger would benefit from more add on’s, such as pickles. It was at the moment we both agreed to this pickle upgrade that we noticed the marketing poster shows pickles with this burger….so we say, make sure you get yours. We also noticed that the onions served with the Impossible Burger were very different that the typical finally diced and fried slider onions. These were bigger, wider and looked and tasted like they came out of a microwave. To make the product cycle lifespan of the Impossible Burger – Slider edition longer, this product would benefit by having the addition of the standard White Castle heap of onions.

Does this Impossible Burger actually accomplish the impossible of being a great burger? No! However, it is a passable product if you add on the right add on’s. In particular, I have always felt that any White Castle slider was a case of the whole being much greater that the sum of the parts so adding more parts to your Impossible Burger is the right call. I do, think this burger is destined to fail. The origins of fast food as well as the reality of fast food today is based on two elements – food served quickly at a low price. I’d also suggest dumping the smoked cheddar cheese, you can’t taste the difference and a standard slice of American or Jalapeno cheese will help them cut down the price. For the Impossible Burger to succeed it will need to reduce the price and the cook time by one half so it can be assimilated by the masses. Thanks for the assist 614ortyNiner.

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No Menu Mondays at The Market at Italian Village

Posted by cmh gourmand on September 9, 2018

Let us begin with a quick overview of The Market at Italian Village before we get into the meat of the matter. The Market at Italian Village or Market IV which I sometimes hear people say, opened in the summer of 2014. It creates a European flair by combining the services of a butcher, deli, bakery, wine shop, bar and cafe offering small plates and entrees for lunch and dinner. You could, in theory, tell your spouse that you are going out to pick up some milk but in the process get some fancy cheese, a nice snack and a refreshing cocktail while still bringing a glass jug of Hartzler Milk home so as to not have your errand excuse tainted.

No Menu Monday was my first visit to the Market (really). Here is the concept for No Menu Mondays, starting at 4 PM the kitchen serves one-night-only experimental items created by Chef Tyler Minnis. The menu items change weekly allowing the cook team to flex their creative juices and have fun while showing off what they can do. The menu is hand written with some highlights on the wall mounted chalk board. On some Mondays there are also some pairings with classes. The night I dropped in there was an Amaro (Italian liqueur) making class that CMH Spouse and I would have loved to have attend but our schedule did not cooperate.

Speaking of CMH Spouse, this outing was also a date night. We do not get many of those. Our disposable income is nearly non-existent as is our unencumbered free time. Our schedules and energy levels rarely overlap. When the possibility of a date night does come up which is a rare opportunity, it is hard for us to justify the cost of a sitter and meal/activity since the cost of a few hours away would pay for a speech therapy session and an occupational therapy session both of which are not cheap and not covered by insurance. On past date nights we have: bought a cell phone, picked out a treadmill and at least 80% of the time if a meal was involved, one or both of us has had some type of gastronomic distress shortly thereafter. On this magic Monday, we had an in-house sitter, a school orientation we were both required to leave the house for anyway and (disclaimer) I had a credit to cover part of the meal from the kind folks at The Market at Italian Village. Plus this was a Monday which is often the only day of the week where both of us have our schedules remotely line up.

The No Menu Monday format turned out to be the perfect fit for us. We both were able to go to a place we had never been to. Since we were walking in for a menu that had never existed before and would not exist again, we had both no expectations of what we might have and a guaranteed unique experience that we could not exactly replicate again (which is great because we are unlikely to have another date night for at least six months). Most importantly the way No Menu Monday works ensured that we would get to work as a team – evaluating the menu together, deciding what the best candidates seemed to be as well as which were both mutually acceptable. If you are familiar with the Tom Cruise film, Oblivion, this may make sense, in my mind I constantly hear the phase from Mission Control “Are you still an effective team…Jim.” Yes, yes were are. CMH Spouse and I have way too much practice with team work. We planned our wedding and honeymoon in less than two weeks both of them perfectly executed and under budget. We sold two houses, moved twice and bought one house in eight months. Then things started to get complicated. Three days after we moved into our house she fell down the stairs breaking her ankle thus requiring three surgeries, eleven screws, a few metal plates, months of physical therapy and some interesting scooter rides at stores around Columbus. Within a week of her being “released” to walk independently and off her pain meds, she was pregnant with CMH Griffin. Griffin was born exactly one year after she broke her ankle so I often tell people I kept my wife incapacitated for a full year. The pregnancy and the post pregnancy had a lot of complications. Passing by that, raising CMH Griffin has had more than the average share of challenges. We have been in almost constant teamwork and problem solving mode for our entire marriage. So it was refreshing to have a teamwork exercise where the most pressing problem was how to maximize the probability that we picked the very best menu items for our tastes!

On to the meal. We started with Toast! Not your typical hipster Avocado toast but a very good house made bread, toasted and topped with fresh peaches, tomatoes, arugula and other tasty tidbits on an olive tapenade base. The verdict -> great!

Moving on along, we had a charcuterie plate with an assortment of meats, sauces, berries, pickled beans and other things, cheese, whole grain mustard and the best pork rind I have ever crunched on. This was paired with a plate featuring more house made bread. This was a huge hit as well.

Our main course was a shared plate of ravioli. My wife makes her own and she is of strong Italian descent so the standard is very high. The marinara inspired sauce with this dish was a winner as was the base of pasta it coated. This was the favorite of our selections for the evening. My wife was a bit concerned about the corn in the sauce but found it added a needed bit of sweet to the entree and although outside her realm of tradition, she embraced this in the dish.

We wrapped up with a dessert of a homemade ice cream sandwich with homemade cookies. This was just enough to ensure we were both stuffed without being incapacitated.

We had a very good meal with no mishaps which if not a first, is at least a rarity for at least our parenting years of our marriage. We will collectively take that as a win. Thanks for getting us out of the house, at the same time, No Menu Mondays.

If you care to supplement the musing on my No Menu Monday experience, The Market often posts photos of No Menu Monday menu items on their Instagram feed.

Market Italian Village Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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