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Archive for the ‘Gastronomic Stimulus’ Category

October in Overdrive, An Event Full Month

Posted by CMH Gourmand on September 27, 2010

I thought things might cool down with the end of summer but October is packed with food enthusiast friendly events. Loosen your belt and your wallet for an optimal month of extreme indulgence.

Here we go.

October 1st
Jeni’s Ice Cream expects to open at high noon in Clintonville next to Northstar Cafe.

October 2nd
Harvest Festival at North Market (I will be judging pies)

Harvest Festival Details


Market to Market Ride (Hills Market to North Market and back or vice versa, I have done this twice – always fun)

Market to Market Ride details.

October 3rd
Taste of Grandview Heights
A restaurant crawl in the heart of Grandview. Eat, explore, eat some more.

Taste of Grandview Heights details from Yelp.

Taste of Grandview Heights on Facebook.

October 2nd to 8th
Eat Local Week with Local Matters

Eat Local Details
Events include dinners, tours and a grilled cheese throwdown.

(I will have to skip this because I will be eating local in Cleveland as a guest of their convention and visitors bureau! I am super excited about this and will be hitting places I have wanted to go to for years with all types of chef interaction and behind the scenes action. I will be looking for Chef Ruhlman (maybe we can meet at Applebees) while I am there and will try to lure him to Columbus for culinary re-education / indoctrination. Stay tuned for my posts and tweets from Cleveland).

October 8th to 11th
Experience Columbus Days
Among many great deals is a flyer for 25% off at 50 odd Dine Originals Columbus Restaurants.

Details here

October 8th to 11th
Columbus Italian Festival
Columbus Italian Club will attempt to make the World’s Largest Meatball. Now that takes Moxie! It must be greater than 750 pounds to win the prize.

Details here

October 10th
Cupcake Camp (I am judging)
With categories like Best Use of Godiva Liqueur and/or Bulleit Bourbon and Best Use of Bacon there is no way this can not be an awesome afternnon.

Cupcakecamp website

Details via the North Market

October 11th – Celebrate Thanksgiving (in Canada) with Poutine at Hills Market
6 – 8:30 p.m. $8

Hills is frying up hand-cut french fries and topping them with a quarter pound of Blue Jacket Dairy’s fresh cheese curds and Hills Own Gravy (beef-based or vegetarian*). Due to the delicate nature of fresh-cut straight-from-the-frier fries, we’re taking orders in advance. The Veranda bar will be open and stocked with several great beers (Canadian and otherwise).
Call 614.846.3220 to place your order today. Please indicate whether you will be dining on The Veranda or taking your order to go.

October 14th
Ohio Historical Society Food Cart Festival
(Watch CMH Gourmand on twitter for details).

October 14th
Party with a Purpose – Thanks to Yelp and Vital FilmWorks

Details from Columbus Underground

October 15th and 16th
Ohio Smoked Meat & BBQ Festival (I will be judging)
Many varieties of BBQ from many cookteams and vendors. This is the last event of the Ohio BBQ triple crown. It is a one hour drive to Nelsonville.

Particulars from the organizers

October 17th
Foodcartapalooza / Tigertree
Watch CMH Gourmand on twitter for details.

October 23rd
2nd Annual Zombie Pub Crawl
This one is a no brainer. Stops include: Betty’s, Surly Girl and MojoLounge. Surly Girl is going all out with Zombie Wench cocktails (vodka, with pink grapefruit and a green salt rim), Brainberry cupcakes (they look like brains!!!!) and more.

Columbus Zombie Pub Crawl on Facebook

CbusZombiePub on Twitter

There is much more going on inside of 270 in October but with the above as a starting guide, you have no excuse to stay home when you could do any or all of the above.

Posted in events, Gastronomic Stimulus | 1 Comment »

Mid Range Deals and Steals

Posted by CMH Gourmand on November 14, 2009

In the last deal installment, I shared the downlow on how to get high end grub on the cheap. This time the focus is on high value for low investment at mid range restaurants and eateries.

Special thanks to CMH Gourmand readers and Columbus Underground posters for some hot tips, reminders of deals forgotten and research support. As you will read – it is hard to go wrong with this mostly B list.

Banana Bean Cafe
Banana Bean hosts a Happy Hour Monday to Friday from 4 PM to 7 PM. Features include a free basket of chips with house made Salsa and $2 Margaritas and Hemingway’s (rum based). I would avoid the twitter feed for this place as it tends to meander.

Barcelona Restaurant
The best deal here is on Wednesdays, when a three course paella dinner is offered for $25. You will have leftovers for sure for the next day.

Barrio Tapas Lounge
On Tuesdays Tapas are two for one all day. Come in with a couple friends, explore the menu and eat on the cheap with a mojito on the side.

Basi Italia
Basi is not a spaghetti and meatballs type of place but on Mondays, the restaurant goes retro with a twist. For $20 you can order a three course meal: salad, generous plate of pasta with a giant meatball and dessert. Meatball Mondays has been rolling on for about one year as a wonderful introduction to this Victorian Village gem.

Too cool to have a easy to find web site but hip enough to have 50 excellent beers on tap and good bar food to boot. Bodega boasts the best (not the most, but the best choices) draft selection in Columbus. Every one of those drafts is half-off during Bodega’s happy “hour” from 4 PM to 8 PM weekdays. The crowd favorite is the $1 grilled cheese special on Mondays.

Burgundy Room
The deal of deals for wine lovers are the monthly 30 for 30 wine tastings – 30 wine samples for $30. This is great practice for becoming a wine judge. Burgundy Room recently extended their happy hour to both the bar and restaurant and added an extra hour making it from 4 PM to 8 PM. There are drink specials starting at 4 PM and a limited menu of half-priced tapas from 5 PM to 8 PM.

Columbus Brewing Company (CBC)
Pizza and a Pint Nights: Monday through Thursday. Get a wood-fired pizza and a pint of Columbus Brewing Company beer for $12. This was a deal when it was $10 but still not a bad meal for less. If you have not had a CBC beer before, the beer flight is a great introduction to their craft brews. It is worthwhile to sign up for the CBC mailing list, they rarely send anything to you, but when they do, it is a deal, such as when they tap the first keg of a new brew. The keg tappings are on Thursdays with free appetizers flowing at the bar for the event.

Due Amicci
Moving on to the D’s, Due Amicci is on the A list for many downtown lunchtime diners. After work, there is a $10 Pizza & Drink Happy Hour from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM Monday to Friday. If you love the pizza and pastas you can buy $125 in gift certificates for $100 to save more down the road.

Other deals:

Cocktails at the Conservatory
If you have never been to the Franklin Park Conservatory, try a Thursday evening. Ten dollars gets your through the door and in exchange you get $10 in food and drink tokens, music, the deserts, rainforests, and other microclimates of the Conservatory with a side of Chihuly. I feel down right sophisticated and peaceful sipped on a cocktail by a waterfall in the rainforest. In the dead of winter when I am craving my other home in the southern hemisphere, this is my consolation prize.

(most) Thursdays from 5:30 PM – 10 PM
Free Parking
21 and over.

Did I miss some spots? Absolutely, there are two I am keeping to myself. If you have more suggestions, please share via the comment section.

Posted in Gastronomic Stimulus | 2 Comments »

Udipi Cafe: Vegetarian Buffet

Posted by CMH Gourmand on November 6, 2009

2001 East Dublin Granville Road (161) * Columbus * 614.885.7446

I love Indian food yet I know nothing about it. I can’t recall the name of the dishes I like. I could not begin to describe the subtle and not so subtle flavors of Northern, Southern, and the other regional cuisines of India. Each meal is an exploration of spices, tongue pleasing tastes and tongue tying names. OK, honestly my lack of knowledge is due to sloth because I am a sucker for an Indian buffet. A buffet is like a parade for my stomach – there is so much to see and eat that I lose track of the names and all of the flavors start to blend together.

The 161 / East Dubin Granville Road strip was known as restaurant row in the 1980’s, it consisted of miles of the best Columbus has to offer: Flakey Jake’s Hamburgers, Chi Chi’s, Olive Garden, The Elephant Bar and every chain restaurant that could find space to build. The area is still overrun with eateries but the glory days have gone. Udipi Cafe is very much an outlier in the seemingly endless array of fried food and cheese covered cuisine. The Beechcroft area is not exactly known for it’s large Asian Indian community however 80% of the buffet customers seem to be natives of India and make the trek to this part of town for the buffet. I think that is quite an endorsement.

I am certain the term vegetarian strikes fear into the minds and stomachs of many meat eating, Applebees lovin’ central Ohioans. I imagine the concept of Indian cuisine does the same to the people in a venn diagram overlapping with carnivores afraid of people that eat vegetables by choice. If you have one of these people in your life, might I suggest you take them to Udipi Cafe – as their gateway meal to the “dark side” of culinary choice.

The way to lure people in is through the value of Udipi’s lunch buffet. This all you can eat buffet will knock you back a whooping $7.46, including tax. In exchange for what would be a tip at many places you have access to fourteen plus entrees as well as soups, salad, sauces and dessert. A pitcher of water is brought to your table so you can stay hydrated during your feast.

At some point during your meal this will be delivered to your table….I could have asked what it was but I was too busy stuffing my face.

If you don’t have time to dine in, you can drop in to fill up a large carry out container for the same price.

The Udipi Cafe Buffet is a great way to explore the vegetarian cuisine of Southern India. The experience does not make you bother with having to remember or pronounce what you are eating. Once you get hooked in by the buffet you can always come back for dinner and discover the menu in depth.

The buffet is offered from 11:30 AM to 3 PM Monday to Friday.

Posted in Gastronomic Stimulus, restaurants | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

High End Happy Hours and Recession Era Repasts

Posted by CMH Gourmand on November 1, 2009

We are told there is still a recession. In the restaurant business, an already trying trade remains challenged by indecisive diners who are more discretionary with their spending and now think twice about credit card debt. There is a silver lining to all of this: schadenfreude. In addition to cash for clunkers and first time home buyer credits there are deals for diners looking to raise the culinary bar for their dining dollar.

I graduated college during a recession, I immediately created a list of every good happy hour in Columbus. “The list” allowed me to eat one good meal for the price of a beer or coke five days per week. This time around, my palate is a bit more refined and what I want in a meal is much more defined. Some of the best restaurants in Columbus have taken hard times head on and created opportunities for an informed eater to eat well on the cheap. Here is my list of the better bargains.

Dine Originals

Four times per year, Dine Originals releases 30% off gift certificates to several of the Dine Originals restaurants. A $10 certificate will cost you 7.50 and a $25 dollar certificate will cost you $17.50. Everything is online and you get a link to your certificate to print when you need it. Places like Alana’s, Basi Italia and the like typically sale out in an hour. However, after the first day, people seem to forget about the certificates. The certificates stay on until the end of the quarter so it is worth checking back to pick up a certificate or two. Last quarter, Dine Originals offered 50% off on the remaining certificates for the last week of the quarter.

Dine Originals also sponsored two restaurants weeks this year and we can expect more in 2010. Many of the Dine Originals restaurants go all out for the fixed price meals for this week looking for an opportunity to wow old customers to keep them coming back and woo new customers into coming in.

Restaurant e-mail lists, twitter accounts and websites

Signing up for every restaurant e-mail list and twitter account is a recipe for information overload and potential twitter sh*ter syndrome. However, a few restaurants are worth keeping tabs on to cut down on your tab.

If you choose only one restaurant e-mail list, choose The Refectory. When you sign up at their site your will receive a coupon for joining the mailing list. You will also have an opportunity to enter in a birthday and an anniversary. Like clockwork, you can expect to receive a coupon you can use for these special dates. The newsletter comes out once per month with highlights of events for the coming weeks. Some of their special dinners are exceptional values mixing fine food paired with select wines and often with a winery owner or distributor to provide some education with your digestion. The best deal to track is the 10 for $10 wine tastings. These occur at least once per month. The pours are served with free appetizers and/or baskets of the Refectory’s house made breads. The Refectory Bistro menu was a pre-recession addition but remains as a high value entry level three course meal at an excellent price. Another meal worth trying out is their annual April Tax Relief fixed price dinner which helps out those that have taken a hit on their taxes or are looking for a reason to spend their refund check.

Take a look at some of your other favorite restaurants to see if their twitter accounts announce specials, deals or discounts. A few others do the same with Facebook.

Happy hours, lunch for less, and the early diner gets the deal

Rigsby’s Kitchen

On an OSU game Saturday while 95% of Columbus is running around in a cult like frenzy, I often take the opportunity to enjoy Rigsby’s for a relaxed lunch away from the fray. During the week, Rigsby’s offers superior $10 lunch specials.

Black Creek Bistro

The early diner gets the deal at Black Creek Bistro. Monday to Thursday from 4 to 7 pm, the restaurant offers a Bistro feature for $10 and a three course dinner for $20. You have to move quick for the ten dollar deal because it does run out on occasion. Black Creek does farm to table dining so many of the selections on your plate are from the Black Creek Farm. Many people believe you can not eat farm fresh for less than a small fortune. That is a myth. Black Creek Bistro proves the doubters wrong.

Deepwood Restaurant

The Tavern menu is a good value for the ingredients used and a great entry point for this under the radar restaurant.

G. Michaels Bistro

Every Monday, G. Michaels presents a fixed price three course meal for $30. Please share this deal only with your closest friends.


The first web designer that came up with the belief that people want music blaring on a web site should be located, sternly spoken to and threatened with a beating. When visiting the Lindey’s website, go immediately to the top right and click on the music icon to make the inane music go away. Now that I am calmed down here is the lowdown on one of the best deals around.

Slider..a la Lindey's

The bar menu at Lindey’s is hard to beat. This special menu is offered from 4:30 to 6:30 PM Monday through Friday and from 9 to 11 PM on Thursdays as well as 10 PM to Midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. You have to sit at the bar to get the menu unless you get a very, very sympathetic server late in the night. There is some variation to the menu but to whet your appetite here is a sample of past selections: Gigantic Meatball (Kobe beef stuffed with Fontina cheese spinach) – $5, All American Burger (ground filet & brisket) – $3 and Lindenhauf Chips (with Applewood bacon, horseradish and blue cheese dressing) – $1.

The Worthington Inn

I believe potential diners get the wrong impression about the Worthington Inn – because of the whole inn thing. People think of dainty old ladies having high tea or a Shirley Temple on the sly. Such is not the case. There is a reason why the Worthington Inn Sunday Brunch is the favorite of those in the local restaurant trade. This restaurant does local food at a significant level without getting sassy about it. The Inn also has some winning wine dinners at a good price, offers jazz on the weekends, hump day specials and other surprises. The deal here is happy hour, Monday to Saturday from 4 to 7 pm. Appetizers are 1/2 price, pizzas are $5 and housemade chips with blue cheese are $3. There are beer and wine specials as well. Expect plenty of room at the bar most nights. This is a spot worth following on Twitter – they rarely exceed one post per day and often announce deals and special events.

That was an appetizer to get you started and should cover you for a week of fine dining deals. There are more bargains out there – if you know of some good ones do your neighbor a favor and post away. I’ll cover some mid-range deals in a future post.

Posted in Gastronomic Stimulus | 4 Comments »

Win a $25 Dine Originals Gift Certificate!

Posted by CMH Gourmand on September 3, 2009

Karen Simonian from Dine Originals sent me a gift certificate for $25.00! However, the certificate is not for me – it is for one of you. Here is a list of Dine Originals Restaurants where the certificate can be redeemed. The only downside is that you can not use this for Dine Originals Restaurant Week specials.

So here is the deal. Tell me about the best restaurant(s) you tried during Restaurant Week via e-mail to (CMH Gourmand) no later than high noon September 16th. The best story gets the certificate and if you want – I will post your story here – with a byline or anonymous if your prefer.

Those without a story can e-mail as well, if I don’t get any stories – I will just select a person at random.

The restaurants have their restaurant week menus posted on the Dine Originals website. The fixed price meals are $20.09 or 30.09. This an opportunity to try something new and/or experience a favorite place for an exceptional value.

I have looked over the menus to plot my own meals. If you are looking for suggestions I think that Alana’s, Black Creek Bistro, Burgundy Room, Deepwood, and G. Michaels have the menus to beat for the week. But you really can not go wrong with any of them. The more adventuresome may want to go out of town to Shaws in Lancaster or the Inn at Cedar Falls.

Odds of winning are pretty darn good – so do it.

Posted in events, Gastronomic Stimulus | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Dirty Franks is Open

Posted by CMH Gourmand on July 1, 2009

Hot Dog Month press release and new website

July 1st marks the beginning of National Hot Dog Month. The first of July also marked day one of Dirty Franks. There was a sneak peak at 2 PM with doors opening to the public at 4 PM. Hours are expected to be 11 AM to 2 AM in the future. As a rare late night dining destination, there is hope Dirty Franks will be the gateway restaurant to grow more spots for those that opine there is no place to dine downtown.

The first item sampled was a Carribean Queen Slush:
(Cherry Slush, Lime Slush, pineapple juice, & orange juice)…no slouch here and the perfect drink for the summer. One can get a scoop of Jeni’s ice cream in the slush. Or maybe I should say – one should get a scoop of Jeni’s ice cream in a slush.

The full taco truck team teamed up to sample each of the side dishes. Honorable mention goes to the Mac and Cheese (which Chef Tanya has been tweaking) and the fries. Our favorite was a very non traditional hot dog side – Fried Leeks.

In the future, I plan to take a crack crew to help me critique and consume all 20 hot dog styles at the same time (I feel bad for the server on day I say “one of everything please”). Today, the hot hot dog was the Ohioana – topped with spicy corn relish (sweet corn, pickle relish & diced jalapenos), & a dash of celery salt. The relish was very good – I was able to get a small morsel from a very hungry Hungry Woolf.

The place was packed. Mayor Coleman dropped in for a hot dog – it was one thumbs up walking in and two going out.

Congratulations to Liz Lessner, Harold LaRue and the rest of the Dirty Franks crew – it has been a long wait. I hope after a few weeks Liz and Harold can take a break so they can start planning their next culinary venture.

Note for July diners from Harold LaRue at Dirty Franks, July 3rd:

We’re happy to be open and are contining to work-out the bugs and implement the knowledge gained in the first few days; to do so, we’re keeping hours of 4pm to 1am for the first week or two (still waiting for some menu items to arrive, like Jeni’s ice cream.)

We’re also taking an uncharacteristic, though much needed, day off to regroup, recharge, and plan for Phase Two of our operation which, as of tonight, includes a fully-operational draught beer system…yay!

We’ve stocked-up on Frost Top Root Beer (you cleaned us out the first day!), added a second steam well dedicated to those warm, delicious, poppyseed buns, set-up a second server station to process orders and payments far faster, and…a hundred other things I’ve already forgotten.

Soooo, we’ll use this Saturday to dream up some more and better ways to feed you, Columbus, and be back at it on Sunday, July 5th, at 4pm.

Harold LaRue
GM, Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace

More DF info here at Nothing Better to Do (Good photos to be seen here)

Columbus Underground on Dirty Franks Opening night with some great photos by Jen Killius

A couple Post Script Post notes:

There is a myth that there is no parking near Dirty Franks – not true, there are a multitude of meters within easy walking distance and several side street meters as well.

On day One – the place was packed from open to close. This will continue to be a busy place, but service is fast so don’t let a small line discourage you – just get a drink at the bar.

Posted in bar, Gastronomic Stimulus, hot dogs, restaurants | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »

The Downlow on Dirty Franks

Posted by CMH Gourmand on June 23, 2009

After years of being the Charlie Brown of American cuisine, Hot Dogs are Haute and getting hotter.

You should not put ketchup on a hot dog, but waiting for Dirty Franks Hot Dog Palace to open has been like watching the spout of a Heinz bottle – anticipation held back with patience.

It has been quite an odyssey, almost a year behind schedule, but you can listen to some back story HERE – Columbus Foodcast.

Dirty Franks under construction... the city asked that equipment be tethered in case of earthquake...yes, earthquake

Dirty Franks under construction... the city asked that equipment be tethered in case of earthquake...yes, earthquake

Ladies and Gentlemen – Dirty Franks is expected to open about one week from now.

Poster by Clinton Reno

Poster by Clinton Reno

248 South 4th Street
Downtown / Red Brick District

If you want to track the exact hour that the doors will open – use any of the multiple social media below to keep up to date on when the floodgates burst to the hot dog loving masses.

Dirty Franks on MySpace

Dirty Franks Website

Dirty Franks on Facebook

Dirty Franks on Twitter

Talking about hot – Dirty Franks was famous for hot dogs before opening day.

New York Times on Sriracha

Columbus Dispatch on Columbus Hot Dogs

The wait is over, it was worth it and the menu looks great. Here is a sneak preview of some of the fare at Liz Lessner’s new lair.

The dogs can also come Vegetarian or Vegan style. Really. Probably Bacon style too if you ask nice.

Razzle Dazzle
Cream cheese, grilled peppers, & fresh onions

Sriracha Slaw Dog
Sriracha slaw, mustard, & fresh onions

Zippity Zam
Sriracha cream cheese & roasted red peppers

Seoul Dog
Topped with Kim Chee

Whoa Nellie!
Topped with pulled beef brisket & a drizzle of BBQ sauce

The Nickola
Tzatziki sauce & zesty Greek relish

Hot Bollywood
Spicy hot Indian mango chutney

Dog From Hell
Spicy Giardiniera pepper mix & soothing cream cheese

Fresh Hand-Cut French Fries

Sriracha Slaw

Fried Leeks

Tater Tots

Mac & Cheese with Vienna® Sport Peppers

Boston Baked Beans topped with cheddar & onions

Hot Rod Slush
Habanero-Lime Monin
syrup, swirled into Lime

Carribean Queen
Cherry Slush, Lime Slush,

Root Beer Float
Made with Columbus’s
own Frostop Root Beer
& Jeni’s Ice Cream!

The Francis Buxton
Lime Slush with a scoop
of Jeni’s Vanilla

Madame Ruby
Cherry Slush with a scoop
of Jeni’s Vanilla

Thanks to the Dirty Franks Crew for an advance look at the menu – portions copied above. Another cool thing – most prices are in the $2, $3 range.

Posted in Gastronomic Stimulus, restaurants, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »