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CLOSED: The Original Leonardos

Posted by CMH Gourmand on September 1, 2013


Leonardo’s Pizza has a history dating back to the early 1950’s. It was one of the pioneers in a new wave of food in Columbus. If you read the comments on my older post on Columbus Pizza History, you will find many comments about memories of the several Leonardo’s locations over the years. The last shop closed their shutters in the late 1980’s.

Patrick and Anna Rose Orecchio started their first shop on Northwest Blvd. back in 1953 and grew a large family business with all of the kids working in front and back of the house. The empire grew to several locations by the early 1980s in various parts of town. Pizza gets in the blood and can often not be removed. This past month, Drew Orecchio (son of the founder) and his wife Laurie reopened Leonardo’s in a recently vacated Sparanos Pizza location on Hague Ave. Having read about the excitement of the grand opening in my blog comments I had to check the place out. The spot on Hague Ave. has a lot of history as well….but that is for some other time.

I suppose I was in a bit of a rush to try out this new version of a Columbus pizza legend. I left my wallet at home. No problem, after chatting with Drew and Laurie for a while, they were fine with me calling a friend to get a credit card number over the phone to pay for my order. By the time we were done, they would have gladly given it to me for free or taught me how to make my own – but I was insistent about not being a mooch. Drew spoke about his family’s history in the pizza business for a long time. He shared that his dad Pat worked 13 years without a vacation as he grew the business to other locations and mentored others in the business. Drew is clearly proud of Orecchio family history in the local pizza trade and has been overjoyed by the many former fans who have traveled to the west side for a taste of their past.

I did not have a chance to sample Leonardo’s when the original locations were open, but I did try the 21st century version of the pie. It won on all marks for me. Ample amounts of rich, slow cooked and herbed sauce, a crunchy and crackery crust edge but not thin wimpy dough crest in the in the middle of the pie. The cheese was dense with a few scorch marks in the right places. The version I tried, featured pepperoni which had just the right amount of curl and crisp. Some might call in a Columbus style pie, I say it is far better than the average for that genre of pizza.

I enjoyed the pizza and would gladly go back again. What I enjoyed even more was the conversation with Drew. He so passionate about his pizza, his business and his family he would have easily spoken with me for an hour at the end of a long day of a long week. Both Drew and Laurie have a lot of restaurant and food service experience which they plan to showcase soon when they add a bakery to the pizza shop. Laurie is a baker so I sampled one of her cream puffs and I am happy to report it is the best I have had in Ohio. The cream puff was enormous with fresh tasty and flakey pastry shell packed solid with plenty of vanilla cream. I consumed the second half the next day and it was still as wonderful. The desserts are currently from the Little Pink Pastry Shoppe and I can see their line expanding with Leonardo’s. These are good people making good food they care about. That is rewarding see and consume.

So based on one Pizza and one cream puff, I can say Leonardo’s is worth the trip. Other items include: calzones buffalo chicken cupcakes, pretzel sticks with beer cheese, sandwiches, house made soup in the cold months, pastas and salads. Head out to try any of those items with a pizza and hear a bit of pizza lore if it is slow. And make sure to take your wallet or they might think you are me.

The Original Leonardo’s
1783 N Hague Ave.
Columbus, OH 43204
614 487 0555

Closed Sundays
Monday to Thursday 10 am to 11 pm
Friday to Saturday 10 am to 11 pm

The Original Leonardo's on Urbanspoon

Posted in CLOSED, desserts, pizza | Tagged: , | 8 Comments »

First Glance: Mozart’s Beechwold

Posted by CMH Gourmand on August 7, 2013


Beechwold, that northern nook of Clintonville, has waited long for a viable food option between Henderson Road and Morse Road. Mozart’s delivers what the masses have waited for. However, I am going to skip the culinary aspect of the place. While the menu is largely familiar to long time Mozart’s customers the space is new as is some staff, systems and recipes. Don’t fret, Food still matters and I may discuss that somewhere down the road, but what really counts here is the most defining aspect that Mozart’s created with their new space….community.

The inside is an expanse of several nooks and crannies. There is an outdoor patio, some small tables in crevices at the front, a large room of family style tables in the center and an extensive common area/event space/multi-purpose area in the section farthest from the main entrance. Each area has a distinct sense of space. Part feels like a restaurant, part feels like a cafe and one area has the feel of a ballroom. There are several pianos placed throughout to reinforce the musical connect to the Mozart’s namesake. Images in the wall pay homage to Mozart, Austria and the Old Beechwold Ballroom. Throughout these spaces there is a mix of young and old, family and friends, large groups and solo coffee sippers. Some people are dashing in for ice cream or a treat from the bakery case while the rest are easing into an extended stay in a cozy, relaxing environment. Guests come by foot, bike and car but definitely a large minority is walking from their homes.

Mozart’s feels like it has been in this neighborhood for years instead of the few weeks since it opened the doors. Home is conveyed by how everyone seems to feel comfortable on both sides of the counter. Community us reinforced with tables dedicated to local business information. One table is set aside for Million Lego for Kids as great cause with a Columbus connection. All in all the vibe is library meets dance hall or somewhere in between.

In summary the largest serving at Mozart’s community while is ladled out with reckless abandon and that is the what Beechwold has hungered for the most.

Thank you Anand Saha and family for adding to the community and saving us from fast food and disconnected neighbors.

4784 North High St
Closed Mondays

<a href=”; title=”View Menu, Reviews, Photos & Information about Mozart’s, Clintonville and other Restaurants in Columbus, Ohio” target=”_blank” ><img alt=”Mozart's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info – Zomato” src=”; style=”border:none;width:200px;height:146px;padding:0;” /></a>

Posted in Clintonville, desserts | Leave a Comment »

Kuhlwein’s Farm Market and & Deli

Posted by CMH Gourmand on July 30, 2013


As some of you know, I have often said that there are only two reasons to go to Hilliard: Starliner Diner and Olive Tree. I have now added a third – Kuhlweins. I went there in search of two items. Jami’s Cheesecake and the Kulhwein’s Sub. I was only able to get one, we will get to that in bit.

Kuhlwein’s has evolved from a farm stand to an almost-suburban farmers market destination. The market is located next to some of its fresh produce, in particular, farm fresh corn. Visitors have come to that for years. The recently expanded their deli and it’s offerings to include a wider range of sandwiches and lunch meats. My goad was the Italian sub, but they were out of subs. How could this be? Well it seems that they serve the sub with a special multi-herb and seasoned Italian dressing that uncle Kuhlwein has crafted about 6 months ago (according to his nephew). This is liberally doused onto an Auddinos (home of the cronut) sub bun then piled high with freshly sliced deli meats, fresh lettuce and tomatoes then topped with mix of mozzarella and provolone cheeses which melts while the bun is toasted. They start making them fresh daily at 11:00 am.


Sounds like the perfect sandwich right? Well, as it goes, it may be. However, I did not eat it. They generally run out of sauce and ingredients early in the day so it is suggested that you order ahead. I was told they would make more sauce but they have two people picking corn full-time right now and if they had enough people they would have two more out there. So no extra hands to increase sauce production. The sandwich was described to me by a combination of employees and nearby customers – they all love the sub and say they have sworn off all other subs.

I’ll be back for that sub.

Also at Kuhlwein’s are large scoops of ice cream, a lot of produce. homemade baked goods from many nearby bakers, canned and pickles vegetables, groceries, a lot of corn, on the day I arrived a sign for free rabbits and much more.


I did find Jami’s Cheesecake – there were a few left. I sampled the Oreo. It was exquisite. Dense, moist, fresh, with a very tasty crust. Every rating area on my cheesecake index scored in the 10 out of 10 level. Thank goodness they had the cheesecake. And thank you Jami – whoever you are, you make a great product.

When I have the sub sandwich, I am sure I will tweet about it and hope to write about it too.


1859 Walker Rd
614 876-2833

Posted in bakery, culinary misadventure, desserts, pies, Road Trip, sandwiches, Sub Dude | 4 Comments »

Quicklick: Gelateria (at Caffe DaVinci)

Posted by CMH Gourmand on July 21, 2013


As you are all aware, the heat and humidity index has been less than ideal. Perhaps the heat of July is what inspired this month to be declared national ice cream month many years ago. While I consume more than an average amount of ice cream throughout the year, I find it extra appealing during the heat of summer. (Now wait a minute some astute readers of CMH Gourmand are thinking, the title says Gelataria – that means a place that serves gelato). Yes, ice cream and gelato are different. Those differences make gelato even more appealing on a hot day. Gelato appeals to my summer bred sloth and impatience when not given instant gratification. The differences between gelato and ice cream make gelato an even better choice during the peak of the heat.

I have written in the past about my policy of having ice cream “sweat”. I don’t condone eating ice cream instantly. It is often served “hard” from the container – still very cold and resistant to quick licking. I prefer to wait about 5 minutes to let the ice cream start to melt. This improves the flavors and how they mix together, limits the dangers of the ice cream headache and makes ice cream easier to lick, spoon or slurp. Gelato is stored and served about 15 degrees warmer than ice cream, which means it is at optimal consumption temperature the second it slides into the bowl. It is also made with less cream and more milk so it is a less heavy to the taste and slightly lower in fat therefore less likely to propel one into an ice cream coma after completion.


So yes, I am a fan of gelato but it is a rare thing in Columbus. The few places where I do find it, I often walk away disappointed because it is typically just repackaged mass-produced gelato from elsewhere which is neither fresh nor refreshing. I wrote about the Caffe DaVinci Gelateria way back in 2007. I did not forget about the place but I had mistakenly thought Caffe DaVinci had closed. Driving by recently, I saw the open sign in the window and decided to see if their gelato was still as good as I remembered it.

It is. Twelve rotating flavors are offered. The staff behind the serving freezer are friendly (they have the best job in the building) and they are assisted with translations of the flavors on the back of each sign. Samples are encouraged. Servings and samples are both ample. I can not think of another place in town that would have better or more authentic gelato to offer. The owners are clearly gelato enthusiasts as shown by proudly displaying photos of famous gelaterias throughout Italy. Other than not honoring the tradition of paying first before ordering, the rest of the gelato experience here will be pleasing to the palate and cool you sufficiently to survive the rest of the summer.


Caffe Davinci on Urbanspoon

Posted in desserts, gelato | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

CLEWeek: Sweet Moses

Posted by CMH Gourmand on June 11, 2013


I like ice cream. In fact I like Ice cream a lot. I have eaten much more than you have. I have read more about it. I may have made more than you have. So, in case it is not yet clear, I have a thing for ice cream. In an alternate retirement path for me, I see myself owning an ice cream shop in Athens Ohio that would be a more accessible, less (oh my god I am going go say/write it) pretentious version of Jeni’s. Another thing I have a thing for is history – the stories, lore, facts and falsehoods of food history, in particular ice cream.

The above sets the stage for why I adore Sweet Moses. Creating a culinary experience is a difficult task. Creating one that is also historically accurate as well as really, deliciously, painfully good and still profitable is……near impossible, downright expensive and risky as hell. So when I approached the doors of Sweet Moses, I was a bit skeptical. I really did not want to get my hopes up only to see them melt away and go down the drain.

The closest experience in my life to a true soda fountain occurred in my early youth before I could appreciate it. The Beechwold Pharmacy just up the street from my childhood abode was a quick banana seated bike ride away. I might have peeked my head in a few times as a youth, but I never stayed long enough to enjoy the place. It seemed a bit old-fashioned for my inexperienced pre-gourmand, pre teenage self. I was more interested in the pharmacy across the street that had an ancient coke machine dispensing a freezing cold bottle of coke for a quarter next to a stack of 25-cent comic books that time forgot. By the time I did get to an age where I could appreciate a true soda fountain, the Beechwold Pharmacy was a florist shop and I was scooping ice cream at my first job at Knight’s Ice Cream. (Note: I did find this soda fountain again in my later years).


Now that the flashback sequence is over, let’s get back to Sweet Moses. First – the name.
Sweet as in everything this establishment serves. Moses as in Moses Cleaveland, the founding father of Cleveland. Located within the Gordon Square Arts District, Sweet Moses was created with the intention of providing a family friendly place where guests can hang out, take their time and slow down a bit transporting themselves back to the era and pace of the 1930’s and 1940’s, the heyday of the soda jerk. Since we are all a bit too hectic and unschooled in the ways of the soda fountain, the shop conveniently displays signs to guide guests through the disorientation of not knowing what to do…. and having forgotten how to chill out a bit.


Sweet Moses gets every little detail right – from the antique high cresting wooden booths, swivel top stools and wire backed parlor chairs to the triple draft arm Bastion Blessings soda fountain from the 1940’s. Fortunately for us while owner Jeffrey Moreau was preparing for his departure from corporate American he was also collecting real deal soda fountain and ice cream parlor components from the 1920’s to 1940’s throughout a five state area. Some of the menu boards are repurposed from an 1800’s farmhouse. Moreau’s dream was to create a place that fit in with its neighborhood and would feel like it had always been there. His goal: to be authentic without being hokey was not the easiest task.


However collecting the equipment was an easier task than trying to get all of the soda fountain recipes right and ensuring flavors were spot on. A lot of soda fountain lore was lost in the decades so a fair amount of trial an error was needed before opening in March of 2011. And let me assure you, having sampled almost everything that everything is as it should be at Sweet Moses…..just right. The ice cream base is made using Hartzler Dairy milk from Wooster. The root beer is home-made and hand carbonated. The butterscotch, sauces and toppings are made from hand….all labor intensive, all ingredient driven and not inexpensive to source. The major investment is in time – it takes longer to make something than pour it out of a can but the tastes differences between fresh and manufactured never compare. For example, for the Bananas Foster Ice Cream, twenty just right and ripe bananas go into each tub of ice cream. The ice cream machine is the same (Rolls Royce of the trade) Carpigiani that Jeni’s Ice Cream uses. For those of you that are ice cream savvy, the ice cream is low overflow (dense ice cream with a low air content) with about 12% butterfat…..that is the sweet spot for ice cream in my book.


Whether the ice cream is scooped or dished served in a sundae or fresh made waffle cone – the attention to detail is shown in every item served from the counter. What else makes the experience authentic – soda jerk garb of hats and aprons adore each employee as well as a bit of soda jerk jargon getting slung behind the counter. Many of the tables have small placards with details about the shop, the lingo and the lore of soda fountains. Small touches include a salty pretzel attached to the spoon of each sweet sundae. Water service to each table, a lacy coaster with each dish – the right spoon for the right glass – everything must be just so.

What else makes the place a destination: Homemade pies….and brownies. Served with or without ice cream have quickly become well worth the calorie commitment. Or maybe a peanut butter sandwich….simple, basic, American as apple pie….and if you come on the right day, you could get that too. Another item that started as an afterthought and has become a signature items is house made caramel corn, with the addition of handcrafted toffee.


Or maybe you want to bring someone with you for The Gordon Square: homemade brownie covered with Bananas Foster ice cream then topped with warm caramel and hot fudge. The more ambitious or the chronically indecisive may want The Terminal Tower:Ten scoops of ice cream—one scoop of each regular flavor with five toppings, almonds, pecans, sprinkles, whipped cream, some cherries and a few things I may have forgotten.
Jeffrey Moreau aimed to create something that would honor the past and by doing so, has ensured a sweet future on Gordon Square.
6800 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio

the end

Posted in CLEGourmand, desserts, ice cream, Ohio, pies, Road Trip | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Time To Make The Donuts – Part 1: Destination Donuts

Posted by CMH Gourmand on April 9, 2013


With all of my hubris about the death of the cupcake and my pontificating about the merits of the classic donut, one might think I was building up to something. That is correct. Readers of CMH Gourmand are bright, astute go-getters who can see a preamble from long across a long counter. Time for the ballyhoo!

It is high time for the donut to go gourmet. The right gal for the job is Heather Morris. She is not some fly by night money grabber, this donut dame had her sights set on donut dominance for quite some time. She loved donuts as a kid. She saw a hole in the local donut market: independent shops making the treat by hand. And she knew she needed to find a niche, grocery stores and large chains sell donuts cheap. There are incalculable costs we pay for a lower price tag on a donut: less flavor, more preservatives and a loss of creativity among them. Heather wondered if people would “get it”. Would they pay more for a mere donut? She knew she needed to make her products different and memorable, so she named them Destination Donuts.

But if you fry them, will they come? Heather had faith that the common man in Columbus would pay a little more for a much better product. But she need she needed to get her donuts in row first. Heather did her homework. She dusted off some lesser used culinary skills and training before she got started. Spent a lot of time perfecting her recipes and craft at home – testing, retesting, tweaking, tasting, etc. She even shadowed a place called Dynamo Donuts in the city by the bay to get a sense of how to make a good donut better. And, like me, she read about, studied and stalked donuts shops and trends around the country.


Instead of going out of the frying pan and into the fryer, she decided to start slow. She secured commercial kitchen space she could rent by the hour. She set her sights on the North Market and arranged to be a guest vendor there on alternating weekends. She launched in November of 2012. She kept her day job while staying up late and getting up early to make the donuts then transporting them to sell at the market. In spite of sleep deprivation and little word of mouth other than social media, she kept a smile on her face, asked customers and others for feedback and kept tweaking the art of donutery. She sold out. And then she almost sold out again. Then she started leaving no donut behind consistently. After that she added more slots at the North Market while forging a relationship with the Hills Market (prime or uptown) and Hills Market Downtown. She recently added Luck Brothers Coffee…because coffee goes well with donuts and everyone can use a little luck in a new business. She is now crafting her treats over 100 hours a month and looking for more places to sell her doughy love bombs.


What gets people interested and keeps them coming back? Her flavors combinations are inventive, some combine complimentary tastes while others compare and contrast ingredients. Examples include: Blood Orange and Dark Chocolate, Butterscotch Sea Salt, Pink Grapefruit, Lemon Blueberry, Strawberry & Rose Water……. You get the idea. The flavors vary from occasionally bold to mostly subtle but never unbalanced.

So with the concept proven and the sell outs persisting what is next? More flavors…of course. More locations to sell at… yes? But what am I waiting for the most? More cake donuts. So far most of the cake donuts have been holes. I waiting for the full size, deluxe cake donuts. And maybe some type of apple, bacon, sausage and something fritter. If things go well, maybe Heather will get her own donut bakery some day soon. If she does, what part of town do you think would be the best fit?

Find out more:
Destination Donuts
HeatherDonut on Twitter

Destination Donuts Heather Morris

Posted in bakery, culinary knowledge, desserts, donuts | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

Apple Cake: A Eulogy for My Dad

Posted by CMH Gourmand on December 12, 2012

Those that know me as well as a few long time readers and listeners to the old Columbus Foodcast Podcasts know that my father moved to Honduras in December 2008. Before he left, he moved in with me for four months so we could finish untangling several snarls he had in his life. In that short period of time we managed to tie up a lifetime of loose ends so he could move on with nothing left undone behind him. We unturned a lot of stones and made a foundation for a good bridge for him to travel over on his new adventure. Unfortunately, his life in Honduras went to shit very quickly.

My dad died on Fathers Day of this year while I was speaking with him on the phone. I had hoped it was just the phone that died….but he did too. The year prior to his death was very stressful for both of us and after many false alarms and failed attempts to get him home I felt some relief that he was at peace and no longer trapped in a bad predicament he could not untangle himself from.

Due to the situation in Honduras I was not able to travel safely to tend to his remains. I could not get a death certificate released to me either so I was unable to write an obituary marking his passing. I still run into people who wonder what Crash is up to (um, well….not much). His tombstone is a small name plate on the bar at El Dorado (a notorious North Clintonville watering hole) with his nickname – Crash – it was placed in his honor when he left the country.

The calm between the storms was the time that he lived with me. Before he left, we spent December 2008 making apple cakes and working on tweaks to allow him to make the cakes in Honduras with a few recipe substitutions. He had an usually had hard time finding satisfactory black walnuts in Columbus (and that was with my connections and sleuthing abilities) so we tried variations with different nuts so he could adapt it to his new life in Central America. I made the recipe with him several times so I could confirm all of the ingredients, scrutinize special “secret” techniques he used in its creation and to help him refine anything that might make the making or baking process easier. We had a good time in the kitchen. It was my duty to get the recipe to paper so he could share it with his friends by delivering an apple cake to each with a recipe included as he said goodbye to Columbus.

The apple cake was my father’s Christmas tradition. I can’t recall a Christmas without several in various stages of production or consumption on the kitchen counter. The amount of time and effort he spent producing forty or more of these cakes in the weeks preceding Christmas was impressive. He was proud of his creations and like Santa, he was very careful about making his list and checking it twice by making sure that the cakes went to those that were best of the naughty and the most sincere of the nice. The ritual of apple cake deliveries was something to quietly enjoy from a distance. If you got one, then you were worthy of a whole cake and if you were not deserving – he would tell the person why. We did not have much in common but the trait we both shared was that we do not suffer fools gladly. (I am a bit more diplomatic – my silence is usually the best indicator for the disdain I feel for a person).

The great apple cake breakthrough occurred in 2004 or 2005 when Crash found smaller bunt pans which allowed him to quadruple production while making a slightly more flavorful cake in less time. It was at this point that the cake list expanded to a couple of people who may not have rated one in years past. I am not sure if this was due to mellowing with age, a Grinch like change in his attitude towards “dilberts” or an intervention by one of his entourage. My inclination, is that he just had an overproduction of product and some recipients were getting “seconds”. While it was the act of giving that made the strongest impression on most people, the cake was good enough that people started inquiring about their delivery status in September. The cakes were simple looking and came wrapped in tinfoil, they won no points for presentation but they did win for having a lot of heart in them. For a few it was like getting a trophy: “Hey Earl, I got one of Crash’s apple cakes!!!!!”

In honor of my father and his holiday tradition, I share his apple cake recipe with you. Those that knew him are encouraged to buy lottery tickets on your way to search for black walnuts. If you can’t find them, try using cashews in a pinch.

Sharing this recipe is the most fitting eulogy for Crash. If there is an afterlife, I hope he is sitting at a bar with Mr. Cross, Big Red, Brooa-the and Coach with Duke (our first dog) growling under the stool.

Apple Cake Recipe


1 ½ cups of vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups cut (finely diced) apples (Jonathan, Rome or McIntosh)
1 cup black walnuts

Blend: oil, sugar, slightly beaten eggs, salt, baking soda and vanilla

Use ½ cup of flour to coat apples and walnuts

Fold floured apples and walnuts into mix

Bake in floured and greased bunt pan for 1 hour and 45 minutes – for 2 cakes 1 hr and 35 minutes
Temperature: 325 degrees

½ cup buttermilk
1 stick butter
1 cup white sugar
½ teaspoon of vanilla
½ teaspoon of baking soda

Mix ingredients in sauce pan, heat to boil, stir constantly

Boil 2 minutes

Poke multiple holes in the cake – pour topping over cake

Let cake sit 1 to 1 ½ hours

Cake Molds:
Large Bunt – 10 x 3 ½ – 1 cake
Small Bunts – 8 x 2 ¾ – 2 cakes

(writer’s note: I researched a eulogy vs. an eulogy….”a” won).

Posted in desserts | 6 Comments »

Ace of Cups: An Arsenal for Awesomeness!

Posted by CMH Gourmand on November 14, 2012

There is a lot of history at Ace of Cups. Some of it and the back story of Ray Ray’s moving to the spot were detailed earlier in the year – here. Consider that the prelude.

The Ace of Cups is located at 2619 North High Street in a building that housed a bank for decades and then a series of very lame bars including The Counterfeit Heist (really – what were you kids thinking) and Miani’s (again – what were you thinking, who was going to go to a bar that they would be hard pressed to pronounce or know if it meant anything drunk or sober). The space bolstered a bar scene of mediocrity serving college kids and folks training for El Dorado’s and Zuey’s. The area was helped by the arrival of Late Night Slice a few years ago to give people cheap pizza and slut sauce but that was not enough. What Old(e) North Columbus needed was a bar with character.

Marcy Mays has a lot of character. To those that follow(ed) the 1980’s music scene of Columbus Marcy Mays is well-known as one of the members of Scrawl. Before Liz Lessner launched the empire that was Betty’s Family of Restaurants which is now the mighty Columbus Food League, Marcy was a partial investor in the first incantation of Surly Girl in the early 2000 – oughts. Marcy has a passion for music and bars and food and then more music so for our benefits she has invested those passions, and her heart, soul and retirement income into Ace of Cups. Although continuing to work a day job she, like many super heroines, has an alter ego as the proprietress, chief glass washer and booker of really good but somewhat obscure bands at Ace of Cups. She is assisted by an able body of local bar talent including the muse of G.A. Benton. The bar would best be described as eclectic hence the need for a ping-pong table in the middle of the floor. The place has the essence of what you would want a bar to have when you were in college with the addition of what you wanted a bar to have after college with a small dash of what you need to feel like you are not an old person hanging out in a bar. The whole works. The parts work. And it all comes together. The bar menu includes a strong beer selection, well mixed cocktails, homemade lemonade and vodka infusions. There is small in-house menu of simple snacks and nachos.

Adding to the electic mix mentioned above is Ray Ray’s. I will not wax on about Ray Ray’s because I have numerous times before. If there was ever a place that Ray Ray’s was made for, it is the patio of Ace of Cups. The pairing is like the marriage of friends that you know will last forever and you are a bit jealous of. Another perfect fit for the bar is Rogue Bakery. I am surprised that the goddess Demeter has not struck me down for failing to mention Rogue Bakery. I know the owner. I have tweeted about him, Foodcasted about him and eaten at least one hundred of his cookies in my lifetime. He once totaled his car shortly after delivering cookies to me. I owe him. But the most important thing I can say about Rogue Bakery is that Carl crafts the finest cookies with the best labels that money could buy. So here is the thing. THE THING! Ace of Cups has an exclusive Rogue Bakery Cookie. The only place, in the world, where one can obtain this special (and very good) cookie for consumption is at Ace of Cups. Quick reminder inserted here. Ace of Cups is a bar…..that has the best cookie in town. And the best BBQ. And really good beer. And character. The only thing the place is lacking….the absence of a vintage Galaga Machine and a barmaid that has a soft spot for me who slips me a free cookie with my beer on occasion. But who am I to want perfection when I am given pure awesomeness.

A few side notes on some other notable features: house made vodka inclusions, a comfortable couch and better bathrooms than one would expect.

Posted in bar, BBQ, beer, desserts | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Small Bytes: Pistacia Vera – Brunch and Other Stuff

Posted by CMH Gourmand on December 17, 2011

I had an axe to grind regarding brunch at Pistacia Vera. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pistacia Vera and I think the world of Spencer and Anne. Here’s the thing, as you know, I am not a fan of breaking fast (reasons outlined logically in previous posts). I might even be the Grinch of breakfast. I was miffed during the most recent Dine Originals Week. Historically my Dine Originals Week ritual is to get the $10 Pistacia Vera tasting box to cap off the week. Well, last time there was no box just a brunch deal. Hrumph!

I started to hear high praise for the brunch options from many credible sources. I am not a fan of quiche (only because it is so often prepared poorly) but quiches as well as Shirred Eggs and a Cottage Ham & Brie Sandwich were repeatedly mentioned in my presence. Hmm. Sandwich on a Pistacia Vera Croissant….I could do that and sniff out these other offerings in the process.

I went on a reconnaissance meal with my diner-in-chief. I was happy to see Jim Budros sweeping the front walk at the German Village shop (Jim is a BBQ Master, Pizza Purist and father of Anne and Spencer). Looking at the menu, I was hooked so we committed to two dine in brunch options.

We tried the Shirred Eggs: two eggs, baked in cream with parmigiano, oregano, garlic, herbs, and tomato fondue. This is served with a toasted, sliced croissant and house-made preserves.

The verdict? Superior, perfect, excellent. This now on my top three breakfast/brunch picks (the other two being the Pattycake Bakery Orange Sticky Bun and the Egg Sandwich at Explorer’s Club).

Selection number two was the Cottage Ham and Brie Breakfast sandwich: smoked cottage ham, fromage d’affinois, Dijon mustard, cornichons, fresh greens on a toasted whole wheat croissant. Thoughts on this one? Also excellent, easy to share and conveniently, could hold its own in the lunch category.

These two entrees made for a great meal, but there is much more than makes brunch at Pistacia Vera special and well worth the effort. Columbus is fortunate to have several excellent coffee roasters. One that tends to stay off the radar due to a consumer unfriendly approach to opening hours is Cafe Brioso. Pistacia Vera serves several Briso blends and sells bags of ground Briso coffees. Having access to this coffee to drink and buy at more customer friendly hours is a boon. Pairing Pistacia Vera with Brioso is genius.

Maybe this is starting to read like a commercial or product endorsement? Well, this paragraph is brought to you by Pistacia Vera Preserves. My modest serving with the Cottage Ham and Brie sandwich was good enough to inspire me to purchase two jars. If you are reading this before Christmas, a few purchases at Pistacia Vera could cure your own Grinchness or make you the hero of a holiday gift exchange.

And, let’s not forget the primary reason to visit Pistachia Vera – chocolates, macaroons, tortes and more, oh my! We opted for a pre-brunch appetizer of a Buche de Noel (Christmas Log). A slice of log is a great way to celebrate the season and Pistacia Vera makes the best in Columbus.

Humbug? I am now the Grinch who ate breakfast. Thanks Pistacia Vera. One final, but vital note. the Hot Chocolate at Pistacha Vera is the best in town. Better and less expensive than Northstar and Jeni’s. This proclamation may be sacrilege to these two culinary holy cows but if you charge $4.50 for hot chocolate it should be orgasmic, Pistacia Vera hits the mark at $3. Now I am off to put antlers on CMH Tobias.

Pistacia Vera
541 South Third Street
German Village

Pistacia Vera on Urbanspoon

Posted in bakery, beverages, breakfast, chocolate, desserts | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

The Angry Baker – (CLOSED)

Posted by CMH Gourmand on July 13, 2011

The Angry Baker is anything but angry. Friendly and engaging, Vickie Hink made her way to Columbus to pursue a culinary path. Along the way she moved to Olde Town East and shifted her focus to baking. Shortly after Yellow Brick Pizza opened she walked by the space she now bakes in and decided it would be the perfect spot for her own bakery. This up and coming Olde Town culinary block will soon be joined by a tavern serving Ohio beers and sandwiches with Angry Baker buns. This is an exciting time to live in the area and certainly something to be happy about.

Vicki gets up at 4 am to bake a variety of breads including Brioche. The day starts with breakfast, which is served all day. The crowd pleaser is the Egg Sandwich featuring a fried egg with Bluejacket Dairy Ludlow cheese on a Bacon, Swiss & Chive Scone. Lunch and later includes soups, salads, sandwiches and (vegan) desserts. Many of the ingredients are Ohio Proud such as: Sharp White Cheddar (L.W. Randal’s, Warsaw), Mayfield Havarti (Orwell), Turkey from Cooper Farms (St. Henry), Eggs laid at Hillandale Farms (Croton) and oats, flour, bran, honey, maple syrup – Stutzman Farms (Millersburg).

I sampled The Turkey sandwich piled with cucumber, alfalfa sprouts, dijon, brie, tomato
on Brioche served with a side salad. The sandwich was hearty and tasty. I would get it again. I might get two.

In the dessert category I tried the Blueberry scone (rated 10 out of 10 on the scale of perfect sconeness), the vegan chocolate blueberry brownie (dense, tasted of chocolate without blocking the blueberry flavor) and after seeing the neighboring couple take one bite then sigh with pure bliss – a chocolate eclair (the yellow custard had flavor, richness and thickness with the dough and chocolate complimenting the filling with balance). Did I like the dessert? My run-on description should attest to my feelings on the matter.

The space is small with a tiny table and bar counter seating six or so. There is a table outside as well. Most of the orders are to go. If you have time, score a seat at the counter to watch Vicki construct sandwiches with speed and grace at an incredible pace without breaking a sweat. Placed under the plastic countertop are copies of recipes and cooking notes which creates the feeling of being in Grandma’s kitchen. This practical decor is integrated with the rest of the urban folk style art throughout the space. The highlight of the art (all by the same designer) is the bathroom mural.

If you bake it or pour it, they will come and that is what is happening in Olde Town East. A bustling culinary block is building a better community.

The Angry Baker
891 Oak St
Olde Town East


The Angry Baker on Urbanspoon

Posted in breakfast, desserts, restaurants, sandwiches | Tagged: | 2 Comments »