CMH Gourmand – Eating in Columbus & Ohio

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Archive for the ‘Athens’ Category

Brewed on the Bikeway ABC’s: Athens, Beer, Cider & More

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 12, 2017

When I heard about Brewed on the Bikeway, I saw this as a way to combine two things I needed more of: riding a bike more often (as in cycling more than the 5 minutes I have biked each spring for the last three years when I fill my bike tires with air and test them out) and I needed to drink more beer. Well, not just beer, craft beer specifically crafted in Athens. So when I was offered a “partial scholarship” of sorts to explore Brewed on the Bikeway I was excited for an opportunity to blend beer and bikes.

Breaking down what Brewed on the Bikeway is, the name speaks for itself. A while back, a few sharp-eyed and forward thinking individuals noticed how close the many Athens area craft beverage makers are to the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway. The bikeway follows the former pathway of the Columbus and Hocking Valley Railroad and the former Hocking Canal, often parallel to the Hocking River. The trail offers almost 21 miles of scenery connecting Nelsonville with Athens. Another amenity the trail offers is quick access to: Multiple Brewing (Nelsonville), Devil’s Kettle Brewing, Little Fish Brewing, Jackie O’s Taproom & Production Brewery as well the Eclipse Company Store. The trail is just a short hop from the original Jackie O’s Public House (which started the brewery explosion over a decade ago) and West End Cider House. Any one of these destinations is worth the trip – all of these combined makes for a great day. I was excited to explore how this all comes together.

But then, I felt trepidation. I am in horrible physical condition. Instead of Brewed on the Bikeway, I started the to fear the title of this post might be Fat Dude Sprawled out on the Bikeway. However, I was determined to stay the course. I quickly discovered the Bikeway is all about ease and convenience.

Having explored Nelsonville in-depth and with a short time frame to complete my “mission”, I skipped the northern 11 mile leg of the trail connecting Nelsonville to the nano community centered around The Eclipse Company Town in the Plains. The Eclipse Company Store Beer Hall was the perfect place to enjoy a few local beers, a great lunch and spread out my maps and materials to plot out my adventure.

Walking through the door, I was immediately smitten with the place. I chatted with owner Sean Kiser about the wonderland he has created in what used to be a small company town general store. At the Eclipse Company Store Beer Hall, a well curated collection of 30+ mostly local (Ohio) beers are paired with an impressive menu of pub grub incorporating many local ingredients. This is a relaxed, comfortable and sprawling space that is as conducive to chatting to people biking the trail or listening to live music inside or out.

The Beer Hall is adjacent to the Bikeway. After my meal which included samples of hard to find and newer breweries such as Sixth Sense Brewing in Jackson, I decided for a quick elliptical stroll around Eclipse before starting my ride. I popped into the Shop Athens Ohio store across the street to peruse the local products offered in a former row house. I found many interesting items, including pint glasses of closed Athens area watering holes to help former Ohio University Bobcats relieve their glory days.

My next destination, just a few feet away was Black Diamond Bicycles. The shop sells and services new and used bikes and conveniently offers reasonably priced bike rentals. After a quick check to make sure my bike was a good fit for me, I headed off on the bikeway.

As I approached the trail, several observations calmed my fears of a posting about the “fat dude subdued by the Bikeway”. The trail is in incredibly good condition and well maintained. Following a former railroad bed, it is largely on flat, level terrain. There are maps at many of the trail heads as well as mini bike service stations where you can check your tires and perform minor maintenance on your bike.

In a very short time, I found myself at my first brewery destination, Devil’s Kettle Brewing. Located on Columbus Road, the brewery is not adjacent to the bike trail but if you know the lay of the land, you can figure out how to get to it with minimal disorientation. I had a directional advantage because I have conducted many “research” visits to Devil’s Kettle in the past. To help out for your Brewed on the Bikeway adventure, if you see the bridge below, you are getting close (this is also the only significant elevational challenge I had on my ride and I easily bested it).

At Devil’s Kettle I was impressed by all of the changes the owners have made to their space in the short time since opening a few years ago. The brewery has progressed from a very raw, industrial space to being almost fancy. The one bit of infrastructure I was most excited to see was the solar panel array the brewery installed to supply much of the energy needed to run the operation.

I have always enjoyed the assortment of beers served at the taproom here, but as a PSA, I would be remiss in not mentioning that Devil’s Kettle usually offers one or two sodas they craft as well, including a really exceptional Ginger Ale. If you are visiting all of the breweries on the Bikeway and looking to pace yourself, an occasional craft soda, and a lot of water, is aways a good idea.

I then continued along the trail on my way to what I cautiously share is my favorite brewery in Ohio, Little Fish Brewing. Having been a frequent visitor to this brewery as well, I spied a short cut that shaved 10-15 minutes off of my ride. I am not ready to give that short cut away, or to lure you off what is a really good section of the trail, but if you are pressed for time and every minute counts, an astute eye and good off road tires can be helpful. Again, (taking either path, and I did both) I was mildly shocked at how close Devil’s Kettle and Little Fish are by bike. I did not even break as sweat.

A craft beer fan would be hard pressed not to enjoy every beer on the Little Fish menu. In addition to a cozy indoor and outdoor space, Little Fish, has a little farm, where they grow some of their ingredients, a dedicated space for the many food trucks that serve at the brewery and because this is Athens and it is a brewery, solar panels. Among many notable notes regarding Little Fish, it was one of the first breweries to serve a beer with all Ohio ingredients (malt and hops).

Pedaling on, my next destination took me off the trail with a short ride to West End Cider House and a meeting with my pal cider maker, distiller and brewer extraordinaire Kelly Sauber. Kelly was a long time brewer at Marietta Brewing Company. Several years ago he created Dancing Tree Distillery, which later became Fifth Element Spirits. In spite of the demands of operating a distillery, Kelly siphoned off some time to get West End Cider House going as well. (Read my post on the Cider House ->HERE). Kelly is one of my favorite people in the industry so having some time to sample some of his ciders while he brought me up to speed on some exciting changes to the operation coming in 2018 was time well spent. If you are new or old to craft ciders, this is a true destination to expand your appreciation of this cider and spirits. West End Cider House also offers cocktails and area craft beers in a relaxing environment with a choice of locally focused snacks.

I stayed/strayed off the trail, navigating the streets near Uptown, but was clearly on track for my next depot on the Bikeway, Jackie O’s Public House and Brewpub, the spot that started the craft beer explosion in Athens in 2005. What started as a small brewpub has grown into a local icon and Ohio Craft Beer Institution. (To fully appreciate the story of Jackie O’s read this great overview article from Good Beer Hunting). While I had great food options at the Public House, including pizzas made with spent grains from brewing and other dishes showcasing ingredients grown on the Jackie O’s Farm, I did make a small detour off the Bikeway to meal up at two of my favorite Athens eateries.

O’Betty’s Red Hot serves what I consider to be the best hot dogs and fries in the state of Ohio. This tiny space seats about 20 in a cozy setting that also features a hot dog museum of sorts. Any trip to Athens requires me to consume two Mata Hari’s (hot dogs are named after famous Burlesque performers) with an order of fries.

Just across State Street, Casa Nueva is another of my mandatory Athens area pit stops. Founded as a worker owned cooperative restaurant in 1985, “Casa” helped pioneer the local foods focus of the community. While I might not always have room for a third or fourth meal while exploring Athens by bike, foot or car, my minimum “drive-by” order is a House Margarita with a side of locally produced chips and house made salsas.

Having fueled myself with encased meats and more, it was time to continue back in the Bikeway for the last stop, Jackie O’s Taproom and Production Brewery on Campbell Street. This space started in 2013 and now produces the majority of Jackie O’s beer. The attached taproom is a good place to wrap up the drinking portion of my Brewed on the Bikeway experience. And of course because it is Athens, and because the space is a brewery, the spot is largely solar powered.

The return to Eclipse Company Store was uneventful. If I had more time and if it had been a day of the week when Multiple Brewing was open, I believe I had ample liquid courage to pedal the 11 miles to Nelsonville to finish the Bikeway in style with a turn victory lap.

In summary, I survived Brewed on the Bikeway without any bruises to my body or self worth. The trail was easy for an old out of shape guy to navigate. The pacing of the stops helped maintain my courage to carry on. The ease of bike rental helped me avoid the hassle of loading and unloading my bike for the drive down. All in all, it was a great way to balance biking with exercising my 21st Amendment right to enjoy a few adult beverages.

Here are a few tips for your own Brewed on the Bikeway adventure:

  • The Bikeway can be pretty busy on the weekends, so check ahead if you are renting a bike and allow a little extra time to navigate crowded taprooms.
  • If you are doing the whole route, know that Multiple Brewing has limited hours, mainly some weekend and evening hours, so call ahead. There is plenty to do in Nelsonville.
  • Some sections of the trail can be prone to occasional flooding, if that is an issue, the Brewed on the Bikeway social media team do a good job of getting the word out. Plan ahead.
  • The bikeway does not have any directional markers for the “brewed” destinations. Finding your way to the stops in often not intuitive, so you will want to take a look at a mapping site to orient yourself on how to get to some destinations that are a bit off the trail. Many are not within line of sight of the bikeway. For the organizers, I’d suggest some signage that on the Bikeway that could serve as prompts for some destinations. Something like “Columbus Road Spur” could help those not familiar with the area know that trail segment is the turn off to get to Devil’s Kettle without advertising the business or causing any legal awkwardness related to promoting an alcohol business on a public byway. Some embedded mini maps with suggested paths to the destinations not near the trail like West End Cider House and Jackie O’s Public House would be a good public service.
  • Whatever the amount of time you have budgeted for Brewed on the Bikeway, add another hour, or day, to your plan. You will still find there is much more you want to do and see in the area.

  • For more information on the area, visit AthensOhio.

    And to connect with what is going on while you are in the area, look for these hashtags during your adventure.

    #AthensOhio
    #BrewedOnTheBikeway
    #OhioUniversity
    #VisitAthens
    #Athens30MM (connecting you with locally focused eateries and events in the area)

    Brewed on the Bikeway is just one path of many that will allow you to enjoy all that Athens County has to offer. The area is a hiking and outdoor enthusiasts paradise. There are several wineries that are well worth the short drive and countless other ways to unwind and enjoy what Southeast Ohio has to offer.

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    Posted in Athens, beer, culinary misadventure, restaurants | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Lake Hope Lodge – Not your typical dining hall

    Posted by cmh gourmand on April 7, 2015

    For no good reason, when I think about a dining in a state-owned park, cafeteria quality food comes to mind. While that may apply to many dining options with government oversight, such is not the case of the Lake Hope Lodge Restaurant. Lake Hope is a state park located about 20 miles from Athens. I have journeyed there at least once per year since the mid 1990’s and it very quickly became my go to state park (after a fair amount of vetting). While my tent camping days are probably over, my first cabin experience was at Lake Hope and now an “Iron Furnace” Cottage is as close as I get to roughing it. I can’t say we visited the lodge in the center for the park for anything other than picking up keys but I did visit shortly after it burned down around 2005 or 2006. The lodge was rebuilt in 2012 with a lot of attention to detail considered through the construction. The lodge is largely built out of locally sourced wood and stone. The design and decor reflect the history and heritage of the area – with photographs throughout the lodge showcasing the people, places and structures of the Lake Hope area from the 1800’s to the 1950’s. The restaurant in the lodge is privately owned and operated with a result that is both appetizing and appropriate to the current culture of the area.

    The proprietor/chefs are Matt Rapposelli and Eric Lee, both highly training chefs with plenty of experience including gigs at Ohio University and operating Big Chimney Bakery among other ventures. The menu reflects the locally sourced focus that residents and visitors to the area prefer. The beef for the burgers comes from the Ohio State farm, chips in the nachos are sourced from local favorite Shagbark Seed and Mill, Raven’s Glen Wines add an Ohio option to the wine list and craft beers include Great Lakes and Elevator Brewing Companies. The meats are smoked on site and pizzas (evening only) come fresh out of the wood-ired oven. The menu is not extensive but is “right sized” to have just enough options with a selection of appetizers, salads, burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and desserts as well as a non insulting kids menu to provide a good choice for any picky diner.

    On our visit we tried the nachos featureing a mountain of Shagbark chips, cheese, smoked pulled pork, lettuce and a more diced tomato de gallo than pico de gallo with a side of sour cream. The nachos were good but they would have benefited from more “goo” either more cheese, a side of BBQ sauce, or something to add some wetness to the dryness (not a bad dry) to the chips and pulled pork.

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    I tried the Smoked Turkey, Bacon and Swiss sandwich with: smoked Ohio turkey topped with giant slices of cured bacon and Swiss cheese on freshly made bread. The smoked turkey was exceptional with great flavor and juiciness. The sandwich would have benefited from more and stronger Ohio Swiss cheese. The side of hand cut fries were very good.

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    Mrs. Gourmand opted for the Warm Brisket and Bleu salad (opting to sub in cheddar due to her knocked up state) which included: slabs of slow-smoked, Ohio-raised brisket served warm on romaine lettuce with cheese, red onion, carrots and tomato. Mrs. Gourmand and I thought the brisket was very well crafted – tender and flavorful without being overly smoked. CMH Tobias also gave the scraps two paws up when he tried them later. The salad came with a fresh baked roll which could easily be converted to a sandwich bun for some of the brisket.

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    For those with challenged digestive systems and eating preferences, the lodge does have a good veggie burger and gluten free pizza crust. For those that like BBQ you can buy all of the meats by the pound to enjoy at home or for a party (or to pretend you are “roughing it” at your cabin.

    In addition to very good food, the lodge offers a great view of the lake as well as several good walking trails to allow you to burn off the calories after a meal. The lodge is obviously popular with visitors to the park whose nearest dining options are 15 miles away. But the lodge is liked by locals as well who drive the 40 mile round trip from Uptown Athens and beyond to dine. In fact, I ran into Kelly Sauber (Marietta Brewing, Fifth Element Spirits and West End Cider House Fame) who confirmed that Athens, Meigs and Vinton County residents are more than happy to head to the lodge for a meal.

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    Drive time from Columbus is about 1 hour and forty minutes (or 1 hour 29 minutes in my old Subaru which handled SR 278 much better than my current cars). If you are staying overnight and want to explore the area in more culinary depth I can also strongly suggest and endorse the following in Athens: O’Betty’s Hot Dogs, Casa Nueva, Bagel Street Deli, Millers Chicken, Jackie O’s Brewpub, Avalanche Pizza, Purple Chopstix, The Athens Farmers Market and West End Cider House (and yes, I often visit almost all of those places in one day).

    Lake Hope Lodge
    27331 State Route 278
    McArthur, OH 45651
    740-596-0601

    lakehopelodge.com/menunew

    Winter Hours (end April 1st):
    Monday & Tuesday: CLOSED
    Wednesday & Thursday: 11am-8pm
    Friday & Saturday: 11am-9pm
    Sunday: Brunch Buffet 10am-2pm

    For more about the history of the rebuilt lodge and the origins of the restaurant, click -> HERE.

    Lake Hope Lodge on Urbanspoon

    Posted in Athens, BBQ, Locally Sourced, pizza, restaurants, Road Trip | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

    Athens Adventures: Bagel Street Deli

    Posted by cmh gourmand on December 2, 2014

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    Mention three words to any Ohio University graduate from the last two decades and you will see their facial expression light up and a bit of drool slide out of their mouth. Those three words are Bagel Street Deli. Oddly, in ten years of intensive eating in Athens I’ve never dropped by. Mrs. Gourmand is a big fan so we opted to get a couple of sandwiches to go after our latest Athens Adventure.

    Bagel Street Deli is not the typical college sandwich shop, but the place is not atypical to the Athens eating experience. The business focuses on using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible and collaborates with other businesses as well including sourcing bagels from Sammy’s and Blocks in Columbus and cookies from Fluff Bakery around the corner. Whether a carnivore or vegetarian there is plenty to fill the bellies of both here. They offer 20+ varieties of custom bagel sandwiches, over 10 different meat & tofu options, six specialty cream cheeses and forty different toppings choices. There are truly too many choices but it is often too crowded to stand and ponder what to order.

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    The exterior is unassuming, the brick interior is filled with signs to guide you through the ordering process and maintain the cultural etiquette expectations of Bagel Street Deli. I was also intrigued by what appears to be an informal collection of mini tinfoil sculptures randomly placed and attached to the walls and others areas.

    I enjoyed the experience (we arrived at an off-peak time and I have a veteran customer with me). The steamed bagel sandwich I consumed, was really good – plenty of ingredients piled on top of each other and flavorful cream cheese to hold it all together. I’d go again and have added it to my Athens to eat list. A bit of trivia to wrap up, Art Oestrike, the owner of Jackie O’s is also one of the original owners of Bagel Street Deli.

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    Posted in Athens, Ohio, Road Trip, sandwiches | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

    West End Cider House, Athens Ohio: This Cider House Rules!

    Posted by cmh gourmand on November 30, 2014

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    In other posts I’ve mentioned my approach to appreciating Athens which usually goes something like this: visit O’Betty’s, Casa Nueva, and Jackie O’s, then depending on time allowed repeat the previous and/or add in one or more of the following: Avalanche Pizza, Miller’s Chicken, Burrito Buggy, (new) Bagel Street Deli and then head home or repeat. I’ve added a new mandatory stop to the list, West End Cider House.

    I’ve known Kelly Sauber for a couple of years. I met him in passing at Marietta Brewing Company many years ago and came to know him well when we started to put together the Athens Tour for Columbus Brew Adventures. Kelly is a whiz with all things brewed, fermented and distilled. He was a brewer for Marietta Brewing Company for about 15 years. He grew tired of the commute (about 1 hour) and decided to try his hand at distilling. Originally his distillery was known as Dancing Tree but there is another business with a slightly similar name so Kelly had to change the name to Fifth Element Spirits. Regardless of the name, Kelly crafts some divine distilled delights from vodka and whiskey to an extra tasty rum made with sorghum. I’ve never sampled anything I did not enjoy. Kelly is a wealth of knowledge so it is difficult not to spend at least several hours at his distillery (about 15 minutes southeast of Athens) when dropping in. Apparently Kelly found himself with a few hours of free time and was looking for another challenge so he partnered with his significant other to open West End Cider House in May 2014.

    The West End Cider House is the sum of all of my obsessions: Athens + Craft Beverages + Block Pavers!

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    I’ll just briefly mention the excellent integration of historic block pavers into the design and decor of the Cider House here and go into excessive detail on one of my other blogs -> Bricks of Ohio.

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    Before we discuss the crafts of the business I’ll cover the details of the aesthetics of the building. The building itself dates back to 1880’s. It was once a confectionary or bar of some sort and it showcases some beautiful, original woodwork and cabinets from that era. The Athens area also serves as home to several great wood workers and they have had an opportunity to showcase their craft with some updates bar tops and other accoutrements. The block pavers I mentioned before are showcased on the back patio and the front of the building and include versions from about 20 or more Ohio brick / block making companies from the turn of the 20th Century. They not only look great but they highlight and preserve the history of the region. The space as a whole is just wonderful. It is easy to plant yourself at a seat at the bar and spend all day enjoying the space and what they have to serve.

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    The cider is made in-house with the tanks featured in the middle of the space. Kelly typically has 4-5 of his (constantly rotating) ciders on tap with 3 to 4 guest ciders featured as well. The bar features cider samplers with detailed descriptions of each. The beverage choices also include a few craft beers (notably a selection of harder to find beers from Portsmouth Brewing Company) and plenty of local/ regional craft spirits, wines and locally inspired cocktails (like the Meigs i can). While there is no kitchen, there are several locally made bar snacks available and they often pair with local mobile vendors to have food near by. And, it is only a two-minute walk to Millers Chicken.

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    So yes, this Cider House is the perfect Athens area hangout, you won’t have to steer around students cramming in cheap beer but you are still close enough to the other local hotspots that you can walk (if you need to) to pace out your evening (or day) while in town. Oh, the the bathrooms are cozy and pretty cool to boot (note the sign below).

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    You can check out what is going on at the West End Cider House at their Facebook Page below
    West End Cider House

    Posted in Athens, bar, cocktails, Ohio, Road Trip | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

    The Zen State – Brunch: Purple Chopstix; Athens, Ohio

    Posted by cmh gourmand on April 4, 2014

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    Over the last few years, I may have gotten a bit cocky about my knowledge about eating in Athens – my North American Home away from Home. In fact, as you will read in a later post, I developed a very happy rut of a cycle of places that I visit over and over again. Until one day when Dr. Balbo, Medicine Woman mentioned “why didn’t you go to Purple Chopstix?” “Purple what the who?” Apparently it is the Bees Knees of downscale hippy dining in the locavore mecca of Athens. Not only had I never eaten there, I had never heard of it. On my recent Bachelor Sabbatical to Athens, I was determined to try out the place. Unfortunately, I started my journey of discovery in a non Zen like state. Purple Chopstix Sunday hours on their website indicated that were open to 1 p.m. and I was running late in picking up my companion for the trip, the vice president of marketing and creative endeavours for Ohio Pop. In theory, we did not have time to make it before closing, but I was focused on meeting my need to dine at this place. Thank goodness for the Nelsonville Bypass, light traffic and good weather because we made it a few minutes before 1 pm. I was happy to see that the proprietors had hand written on to the hours sign closed….1:30 pm which allowed me to not feel like a complete douchbag for coming just before the door shut.

    Upon arrival, my companion was a bit skeptical about my choice of dining establishment for first lunch. He was very hungry to the point of pre-crankiness and by nature he is very focused on the appearances of things and design. The exterior of the place would best be described as unassuming. While I am a variant of hippy my companion is anything but and I think he experienced minor discomfort when we saw the sign below.

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    So of course I banged the gong. We waited quite some times and the gong was not responded to so I barged into the room and asked the most hippy looking person if it was OK to seat ourselves. It turned out that person was a customer but a very pleasant young lady then took care of us and gave us her favorite table for two. You can see the table below, the booth we sat in reminded us of an old train car dining station. I am happy to report I could fit in. Looking out the window I saw a peaceful, babbling brook, many trees, some interpretive art and an odd assortment of eclectic items decorating the landscape including numerous block pavers (expect a post about that in Bricks of Ohio Blog soon). I knew the second I sat down I had found my new spot.

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    However, Purple Chopstix only offers a buffet on Sundays and we were arriving at the end of service. Some of the dishes were already wiped out and the rest looked unassuming at best. I was concerned that my dining companion would be displeased but to the contrary after we loaded up on our first plate he was completely in a blissful state I rarely see him in unless we are both intoxicated. The first item he sampled was a mini crepe which was exquisitely well executed. My first bite was a curry dish with vegetables and tofu. We quickly devoured our first round of breakfast items, salads and biscuits and returned for more. While my dining companion enjoyed coffee, I went out the patio area to explore and check out the landscape. I was pleased to see there were a few patio tables for use in better weather. I was pleased indeed.

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    I’d write more about the food but our friendly server shared that the buffet is different every week. We stared at the regular menu long and hard then made a verbal pact to come back in the future for three days in a row so we could explore the dinner menu in the depth it deserved. My colleague Jared from Nothing Better to Do, wrote a fine post on this spot a few years ago which I will share -> HERE. The next day we ran into our server again at Farmacy, where she also works and she once again served us well by helping us find the best place in town to restock our supply of spirits for the rest of my sabbatical. I look forward to writing about Purple Chopstix in-depth later this year. In the meantime – please share your experiences here and let me know what to order on day one.

    Purple Chopstix on Urbanspoon

    Posted in Athens, Locally Sourced, Ohio, restaurants, Road Trip | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

    An Obit. for O’Betty’s on Union

    Posted by cmh gourmand on May 3, 2013

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    First before you panic or you worry that I have panicked or become distraught, let me assure you that the original O’Betty’s is still open. I found out about the demise of the “other” O’Betty’s from John, a former manager that I worked with when I was behind the counter.

    I mourn the passing with a tinge of regret. During the dog days of August of 2011, O’Betty’s owner Bob Satmary and I were almost partners in opening a second location at a different site in Athens. That did not work out (actually a lot of things did not work out so well for me in August of 2011) but I was happy to see the second location open on a different spot and to see what O’Betty’s could do with a little more space for customers and a lot more room in the kitchen. In the end the place was moderately successful but not really worth the extra work it entailed according to Bob. The other, other Betty’s (the CMH Gourmand version) fell into the file of my many “What if’s” for 2011.

    On the bright side he may have more free time now for another hot dog related project (perhaps with a new investor) and the 10th anniversary of the original O’Betty’s is this summer.

    I guess another good / bad thing about the closing of O’Betty’s on Union is that I never got around to writing about it. I had attended the grand opening in January of 2012 as a VIP guest and had a great time that evening. I was also introduced to my Doppelganger (by report I have several) at the VIP party. This guy was described to me as the Athens version of me but with his passions directed towards music – instead food. When we met, for a brief moment we were concerned that combined our powers might either destroy or better the world. Fortunately, the world did not explode.

    For the historical archives, I have included some photos below of the place you missed eating at. Do keep the original O’Betty’s on your Ohio eating bucket list, it is the best Hot Doggery this side of the Mississippi. I will miss the second O’Betty’s because on my tours of Athens the route was typically: O’Betty’s, Casa Nueva, O’Betty’s on Union, Jackie O’s, one other place at random and them coin flip of O’Betty’s Uptown or Downtown. On three occasions I was in a party which made three combined visits to both locations for a total of three to five hot dogs.

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    This is the Doppelganger. For the safety of the world, we could not allow our photos to be taken together or allow ourselves to be in the same GPS coordinates more than a few minutes.

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    The larger space allowed Bob and Company to do more things with the decor, maintaining the Burlesque theme of course.

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    More space meant a larger menu selection as well and a Sunday Brunch (during a brief collaboration with Jana’s)

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    Posted in Athens, CLOSED, hot dogs | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

    Summer Solstice Spricebush Celebration: at Jackie O’s, (Athens) June 18th

    Posted by cmh gourmand on May 21, 2011

    So you survived the rapture? Now get ready for the Solstice. Chris Chimel has a knack for taking something off the culinary radar and placing it in the center of attention. He took the lowly, forgotten Pawpaw and made it the state fruit Then he helped organize a festival to celebrate everything Pawpaw, including Pawpaw beer for three straight days. Not to be content with Pawpaw pushing, making creative goat cheeses, selling local foods and cranking out ramp crackers he and the Athens community turned their attention to the Spicebush.

    In addition to celebrating the departure of students from OU, the Spicebush Celebration will offer education, Spicebush cooking demonstrations, Spicebush beer and foods, music and more. One of the best breweries in the state Jackie O’s is making the beer and hosting the inaugural event. Plus it is the Athens rural-metro area which is my favorite culinary region in the state. Go and celebrate the solstice southern Ohio style.

    For more details check out Integration Acres

    Chris is a pretty neat guy, to learn more about him and his works read this.

    Posted in Athens, culinary knowledge, Road Trip | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

    The Burrito Buggy at Byrne’s Pub on March 19th!

    Posted by cmh gourmand on March 9, 2011

    Fact: There is a young woman living in Baja Clintonville whose life was saved or at least made bearable by a Burrito Buggy Burrito.

    Fact: There are many OU Alumni in Columbus and when you say Burrito Buggy they go a little crazy.

    Fact: I love the Burrito Buggy and when I think about it, I go a little crazy.

    During some wintery evening in 2010, I was discussing culinary missions and tasks for Columbus in 2011. At some point I said, “I want the Burrito Buggy here in Columbus”. “Where should it go other than my driveway?” The answer. “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah”. And then, “Byrne’s Pub, all the OU people hang out there”.

    OK. My mission at hand, I researched, plotted and sent out e-mails. I asked every Burrito Buggy fan I knew if they were interested and how many burritos they wanted. Everyone was enthused. Everyone wanted at least two burritos. This seemed to bode well for everyone.

    I contacted Pat Byrne at Byrne’s Pub, his response was:

    “That sounds absolutely awesome, the 19th would be perfect.”

    The 19th looks to be a big day at Byrne’s. It will be the third day of celebration of St. Patrick’s Day at an Irish bar. The John Smoltz Project will be playing in honor of St. Smoltz Day. A tent will still be set up in the parking lot and the Burrito Buggy will be here. It is a Saturday. It is almost spring. You will eat burritios, you will probably love them.

    Byrne’s is paying travel expenses for the Buggy to come to town (I offered to cover these but Pat said Byrne’s would pay the fee for the sake of the burrito loving masses). If you see Pat say thanks, tip his staff, drink a beer and buy a bunch of burritos so that everyone involved considers doing this again. For the sake of everyone in line for food – bring small bills to pay for your burritos. Please be considerate of where and how you park in the surrounding neighborhood streets….it is going to be busy.

    The Buggy will open around 2 pm (Athens time) and will stay until they run out of food, maybe as late as 2:30 am (Columbus time). I will tell you right now, I am getting six burritos, I know others will do the same. If you have been on the fence about street food or mobile kitchens – this is your gateway meal to understanding why this works.

    Byrne’s Pub
    1248 West 3rd Avenue
    Columbus (really close to Grandview)
    614.486.4722

    Burrito Buggy

    More Burrito Buggy info from me.

    Posted in Athens, bar, beer | Tagged: , | 12 Comments »

    Shade Winery Tasting Notes & Dec. 4th Art, Farm & Wine Tour

    Posted by cmh gourmand on November 28, 2010


    On December 4th four Southeast Ohio businesses are teaming up for an interesting tour. From 1 to 5 pm, the doors will be open to Integration Acres (home to goat cheese, Paw Paw production and more), Rock Riffle Run Pottery, Thorn Ridge Studios (hand blown glass) and Shade Winery. Chris Chimel from Integration Acres handed me a flyer a few weeks ago when I was at the Athens Farmers Market. I will be out of town for the tour but decided I could stake out Shade Winery as an incentive for the rest of you to go. (Shade Winery is listed fourth on the tour but is easiest to find so I would go there to pick up a map and circle back at the end).

    I have been stalking the progress of Shade Winery for months. I heard rumbling that the winery was constructing a building for tasting. Since there are no other wineries in the area and access to these wines has been limited I was keen to case out the place. The doors opened about two months ago. After some detours I was finally able to meet Neal and Oui Dix to sample all of their wines.

    It is an easy drive to Shade Winery. Take SR 33 (past Athens if you are heading south) to the Rainbow Ridge Road and you hit Gilkey Road in about one minute. The winery was established in 2004 but Neil has been at his craft much longer. He started making Elderberry wines by hand in 1986. Chris from Integration Acres gave him a “nudge” to start selling his wine commercially several years ago. Initially the Elderberry wine was available at places like Casa Nueva and The Farmacy. Neil has grown the number of wines over time. He added some grape vines for “curb appeal” for the winery but decided to start doing something with them. He has expanded his acreage along with his wine varieties over the last few years. Current wines available include: Estate Vidal Blanc, Corot Noir, Elderberry, Riesling, Chambourcin, Niagara (blush), Concord, Schnuckleputz (not a cartoon character but a wine made with lemons, ginger and organic sugar) and (Root Source) Elderberry wine with ginseng.

    Full sampling of eight wines costs $6. Since Hocking County and “metro” Athens is an integrated food community cheese platters with Integration Acres cheese and ramp crackers are available to go with your wines. Tastings are typically Friday and Saturday from 1 to 8 PM but check the website or call ahead in the cold months especially since Neil and Qui take off for Thailand for weeks on end in the wintertime.

    Posted in Athens, Ohio, Road Trip, wine | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

    Athens Street Food 101 (Starring The Burrito Buggy)

    Posted by cmh gourmand on November 3, 2010

    Street Food has come to national attention in the last two years. Korean Taco Trucks in LA, over 300 food carts in “pods” throughout Portland (with an app to track them), articles galore, a Food Network show and mobile food conventions in San Francisco as well as Boston. Street Food is hot/haute.

    Down in Athens and Ohio University this mobile food mania is old news. There has been a mobile food court at the corner of Court and Union streets for decades. At any time, two to four of more food carts are serving students and local’s lunch, dinner and late night post revelry refreshers. The king of the court is the Burrito Buggy. Open since 1984, this cart is a local landmark and a source of addiction for undergraduates and alumni. For at least one Columbus based food writer the mention of a Burrito Buggy Burrito has the same power as the suggestion of a free dime bag to a heroin user.

    There was a major panic in the winter of 2009 when notice went out that long time owner of the “buggy” Paul Wildeck was looking to sell the business and in the interim, the buggy would be closed. I contacted Paul about buying the buggy but the cost was out of my price range. Fortunately, the business was purchased and some of the previous employees stayed on to maintain the quality and tradition of the Burrito Buggy. I have sampled several burritos in the new era and have found each as good as ever.

    The Supreme comes with choice of beef or chicken, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, jalapenos, your choice of salsa, sour cream, rice and black or red beans with guacamole available for an extra $0.75. Get the Guacamole! The burritos range from $4.50 to $7.00. Everything is fresh and locally sourced when possible. There are many vegetarian options. Beans and rice is a low budget staple for diners that are short on cash or do not have the capacity for a one-pound burrito weighing down their belly.

    Other carts and trailers serving the masses include Ali Baba (Middle Eastern: gyros, baba ganoush etc.), Bagel Buggy, Zaanti (Sanskrit word for peace – Indian cuisine). Mr. Softee and A-Town Pies (pizza) and Fries. I would like to say that I have tried the other mobile vendors but put the Burrito Buggy in front of me and I am going there (and most likely heading to O’Betty’s and Casa Nueva within the hour as well).

    In my opinion, Athens leads Ohio in locally focused food. Athens also led the state in embracing food cart culture. Many OU graduates migrate to Columbus after college with a firm foundation in street food appreciation and in some cases a BA in Burrito Buggy Studies. I am sure local OU alumni are more apt to engage in the incredible Taco Truck and Street Food culture that is growing in Columbus.

    If you are reluctant to take the plunge into “street meat”, I suggest you head to Athens for an education.

    (Alternatively, buy local and do a Columbus Food Adventures Taco Truck Tour).

    How to find the Burrito Buggy
    Burrito Buggy on Facebook
    on twitter – @burritobuggy
    Or, old school technology – the phone:
    740.593.6065

    Posted in Athens, culinary knowledge, Ohio, Road Trip | Tagged: | 1 Comment »