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

Posted by CMH Gourmand on October 12, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in cocktails, restaurant reviews, restaurants | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lola’s Baci: Going to Gahanna

Posted by CMH Gourmand on August 2, 2009

100 Granville Street


Tuesday to Thursday 11 – 9

Friday 11 – 10

Saturday 5 – 10

I find new restaurants by word of mouth, suggestions and a inquisitiveness that is sometimes the bane of friends. (There is a restaurant 45 minutes east of town that will never be mentioned by the usual suspects and it was my fault).

Sometimes discovery is just plain luck – it happened to Columbus and it happens…well, outside of Columbus. One night at the Gahanna Grill, I decided I needed a new carry out menu from Gahanna Pizza Plus. While strolling across the parking lot, I thought I spied a little bakery in the anonymous retail strip. Then I saw the sign.

There are several signs to look for when casing out a new place. The sign above was a good sign – daily specials, with some items crossed out before 9 PM. What does that mean? If a restaurant runs out of something, often it was made fresh and was so good so everyone ate it. Such was / is the case at Lola.

I had been hankering for a good Italian restaurant for months. We have a few in the metro area – Scali, TAT, and Moretti’s. Basi Italia as well for nuevo Italian. However, I have been wanting something that feels small town Italian, in particular like a small cafe I found in the Cinque Terre region.

There were more good signs – inside and outside.

Lola’s is located in a suburban retail strip but the owners have gone to great lengths to make the place feel residential Italian. The exterior features a small picket fence and a few patio tables with Italian food themed umbrellas. On the inside, the already cozy space is divided into small rooms, each with walls painted in a different color and infused with rustic and homey decor. The table coverings are indestructible black vinyl with cloth borders that appear sewn in by hand.

Salads are served on apple shaped plates; there is a matronly woman in the kitchen; and aromas of garlic, oregano and basil permeate the air and space.

There are two schools of service at Lola. There are two veteran servers working here on the side that know the menu and the cuisine very well. One is from New York City and started working a few shifts after wandering in for a meal. The other school seems to be a cadre of first-job-ever-servers that are enthusiastic and eager to learn more.

The basics of an Italian restaurant involve bread and salad – both of these baselines are of good quality. There are several salads to choose from with house made dressing served on the side.

My standard salad selection is Lolas House Salad: mix of greens served with Port wine dressing tossed in among pears, sun dried cranberries, Gorgonzola, and spicy walnuts. All of the flavors fare well together with the spicy walnuts taking the whole package to the next level.

There are a few canaries in the coal mine for (American) Italian cuisine. (FACT:) If a restaurant can not execute meatballs or wedding soup well, my meal will be abysmal and the restaurant will be doomed to mediocrity or financial failure. Lola’s passed both of these litmus tests. Lola and Joe’s Wedding Soup: chicken and tiny meatballs with pastina, carrots and a changing variety of greens in homemade chicken broth sprinkled with Pecorino Romano cheese. The first time I sampled the wedding soup it was the best version I have ever had. Afterwards, while I liked it each time, I could not reestablish the magic for my taste buds of the first time. The wedding soup has now received scores of A+ to B- (on the Gourmand Scale), the spoon to belly experience seems dependent on the height in the soup pot my bowl is ladled from.

Meandering to the main menu now. The daily specials vary widely and frequently sell out quickly. My first meal was from the list on the chalkboard – a risotto which was as good as the best in town. I am saying Alana’s level of quality. On that particular night it may have been .0179% better.

Lobster Ravioli

Lobster Ravioli - a special



Sweet Corn Risotto with scallops...a special.....Please text me if you see it on the menu!

Sweet Corn Risotto with scallops... a special...Please text me if you see it on the menu!

Available on the regular menu is an exceptional dish that blends flavors together perfectly and is rich enough to satisfy a meat eaters palate or vegetarians conscience. Vegetable Tortellini is served with walnut Gorganzola cream sauce – oh my.

Moving right along, desserts, I have tried the bread pudding – it was wonderful. I have not tried anything else.

The menu makes several references to Joe and Nonna Nunziata. Joe is Lola’s husband. Nonna was his mother. As I was walking to the Gourmandmobile after my first meal at Lola, I started chatting with a gentleman at a patio table. He asked if I enjoyed my meal as he was still enjoying his. I thought he was a loyal patron but as we continued talking it turned out it was Joe.

Joe is in his late 70’s with a thick Italian accent. We sat while he told me the story of how he came here as a 19 year old (or 20 or 21… the math seemed a little fuzzy at times), sailed by the Statue of Liberty and soon found himself in Nebraska rejoining other family members in the middle of nowhere. After several years to grow his cooking skills and help his Nonna, he followed a brother to Columbus and met “The French Woman”. As it turns out the French woman is Lola who grew up in small town Ohio. Lola has blended her cooking expertise with Joe’s treasure trove of recipes. After many years and a few restaurants (Lola’s Creekside Café and Lola’s Heart’s Desire Cafe) Lola now recreates the meals of the Iacobone’s kitchen with some help from Joe.

For Italian food, take a trip to Gahanna and see what the French Woman might create for you.

Lola's Fresh Italian Foods on Urbanspoon

Posted in restaurant reviews, restaurants, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Rant Away: Prototype Restaurant Rating Scale

Posted by CMH Gourmand on September 2, 2008

The need for a restaurant rating scale for CMH Gourmand has been on my mind for a while. I found a scale on an English food blog that sparked my muse but it needed more refinement. Using a star scale just seems too limited. Here is a my primordial prototype – let me know what you have to add to this work in progress – everything is open to debate – except food getting the most total points. (Special thanks to my Beta test group including: Bear, Liz, Andy, Heather, and Craig).

10 point rating scale for Food – because food is the most important part of the experience.


10 – My last meal before dying
9.5 – I want to eat here almost every day
9.0 – I want to eat here once per week
8.5 – Near Perfection, one of my top 5 favorites
8.0 – Great Food
7.5 – Very Good – with a couple of my all time favorites on the menu
7.0 – I’ll be back – some entrees I liked and some were average
6.0 – Good (or a good fast food place -Three Guys Burgers and Fries, Inn and Out Burger)
5.0 – Average – everything is fine – nothing worth writing about
4.0 – Good enough to eat
3.0 – I will eat here in an emergency
2.0 – Bad – I ate it to live
1.0 – I would rather starve


5 – Wow – I feel like royalty!
4 – The server must do this as their chosen profession.
3 – I was served my food and my check on time.
2 – I received my check when I asked for it.
1 – I left the restaurant for the safety of myself and others

Environment / Atmosphere / Ambiance

5 – Everything is perfect
4 – Feels nicer than home…because it is clean
3 – Everything is OK – nothing special
2 – Better than camping
1 – Welcome to the Jungle

And one final category. I have not found a word for this yet. There are places that we crave where the food is just OK, the place is a dump, or small, or crowded, or the service is hit or miss….but yet we love it. A local example was Nancy’s – decent food, diner decor, and decent service – but yet the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. I can not find a single word to describe this restaurant rating missing link.

The French phrase – je ne sais quoi = “an intangible quality that adds or makes something attractive or alluring”, is as close as I can get to the concept. Thanks to local Columbus Underground reader Andy D for helping with that concept. Another term might be mojo.

Everything gets tallied up – and there you go.

This is a community work in progress so feel free to add your two cents.

After some healthy debate – I will clean up this scale, re-post as a link on the blog and use for it restaurant reviews…..(which I have not done in quite some time).

Posted in culinary knowledge, restaurant reviews | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Basi Italia – Revisited

Posted by CMH Gourmand on January 25, 2008

Basi Italia
811 Highland Street
(Victorian Village / Short North)

Basi Italia offers much more than basic Italian cuisine. Nestled in the heart Victorian Village, Basi is a secret spot that you don’t want to share with a mere casual acquaintance. The building Basi is based in began as a carriage house long ago. Over the years it fed the neighborhood as a carry out and a pizza shop. As a restaurant, Basi reflects the spirit, tastes and vision of husband and wife duo John Dornback and Trish Gentile.

The atmosphere at Basi mirrors the experience of dining in a friend’s home.
Instead of feeling cramped or crowded, all of Basi’s elements of ambiance come together to create a comfy and comfortable eating environment. Creative chair placement creates a cozy setting that seats thirty-eight souls; some patrons enter as strangers and leave as friends due to close proximity and an occasional impromptu shared bottle (or two) of vino. More than a few tables are intimately spaced and tightly tucked together. Seating is at a premium, on the weekends if you need to wait – it may be outside. The music is muted, the lights are low and the conversation is often subdued. Most tables offer a play-by-play view of the action in the kitchen as well as the banter back and forth between the servers and the chefs. The staff often sport Basi T-shirts and know many customers by name. A sharp eyed diner can often read the labels on the spices packed on the spice shelf while spying an entrée’s trip from stove top to plate.

The style and presentation of a meal is simple and innovative; relaxed and refined; and casual and elegant, all at the same time. The primo and secundo offerings infuse the standard Italian fare of pastas, pizzas and salads with a few culinary twists and turns plus a no holds barred use of the finest authentic ingredients. Goat cheese, Gorgonzola, fresh herbs and spices combine with imported meats and more to create memorable menus and enjoyable evenings.

Recent examples of meals to remember include: roasted beet carpaccio
(spiced walnuts, goat cheese and shallot vinaigrette), grilled ostrich fillet (butternut squash purée in fig-balsamic reduction), and frutti del mare (black tagliatelle, mixed seafood with saffron).

Have a fine dine at Basi.

A version of this review appeared in C-Bus Magazine – January/February 2008


Insider Tip – Basi is busy during the work week but not so busy that you would have to wait very long for a table – drop in on a Tuesday or Wednesday and you can probably get a spot as you stroll through the door.

A bit of history – Trish Gentile sent me a couple photos of the building that houses Basi – here is a blast from the buildings past, (circa 1947) as a grocery store.

Basi Italia on Urbanspoon

Posted in restaurant reviews, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Vegging Out at Whole World

Posted by CMH Gourmand on January 13, 2008

Whole World Bakery and Pizzeria
3269 North High Street
Clintonville – Corner of Longview and High


Whole World will observe its’ thirtieth anniversary in February 2008. For many years, it was the only vegetarian restaurant in Columbus. In 1998 they updated their menu and deleted the few meat items that had been offered up to that point (offered for the sake of tolerance and diversity). Whole World has continued to prove that Cowlumbus can handle an all vegetarian restaurant (Neo V does the same).

For breakfast/brunch (Sunday only from 10 AM to 3 PM), go with an omelet (you have ten ingredients to choose from); add a whole grain English muffin to this and you may find peace. In addition to the standard Sunday brunch menu, two or three breakfast specials are offered. The Big Breakfast – two eggs, vegetarian sausage patties, vegetarian hash or over roasted potatoes (very good redskin potatoes) with choice of bread is another good option. They also whip up a nice vegetarian (mock) sausage gravy. A trademark of Whole World is a small side of fruit served with each main course (all meals), I think this is a nice touch.

The specials can be a good choice for lunch or dinner but they can be either hit or miss. The pizzas are good with some very daring combinations of ingredients such as the Oregon Apple (apple sauce, sliced apples, raisins, provolone, and sunflower seeds, and seasonings) try any of the pizzas and to live on the edge for a moment, however be prepared to wait over thirty minutes or more for your pie.

The soups are exceptional and served with your choice of (toasted) homemade bread. If you plan on eating anything else, order a cup of soup because a bowl is a meal in itself. There are typically 4-6 soup choices per day. The Broccoli Burger is a long standing favorite at most Columbus festivals.

The desserts are displayed in the service counter. There are many vegan friendly cookie choices as well as some brownies, cookie bars and whatnot. My favorite – which is not often available, is the Chocolate Peppermint Brownie. This rich, dense, blend of rich chocolate and peppermint filling takes my breath away each time and I gladly pay $2.50 without reservation.

If you are getting take out, add at least five minutes to the time stated for your order to be ready. You are dealing with a largely modern, urban hippy workforce so time is kind of relative. Those who are in the know go to pay their bill at the counter when finished to save time. The bathrooms are downstairs in the basement.

Whole World is a hang out for people who were hip before 1985. I find it to be a mecca of multicultural/alternative lifestyle types (kind of a mini Yellow Springs) which leads to good people watching with your meal. The recycled bowling lane tables are worth looking at. Local artists display their works on the walls for sale. There is no dress code for patrons but employees must be pierced or tattooed. Please seat yourself when you enter.

Occasionally, I feel Whole World is overpriced. Sometimes, I find the specials a bit disappointing. Recently I noticed that they are charging for tap water… quite a bit, without advance notification. However, the whole has always been greater than the sum of the parts at Whole World and they serve some of the most unique soups in town.

Whole World Natural Restaurant & Bakery on Urbanspoon

Posted in bakery, breakfast, pizza, restaurant reviews, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Banana Bean Brunch Buzz

Posted by CMH Gourmand on October 25, 2007

This review is long overdue.

Banana Bean Cafe
410 East Whittier (Schumacher Place /Merion Village / German Village)

Second Location as of September 22nd, 2008
340 Greenlawn

Banana Bean Cafe


Closed Monday
Tuesday – Friday
Lunch 11:00 am – 2:30 pm
Dinner 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday
9 am – 3 pm

(Reservations strongly suggested)



This cozy, low-key café has quickly became a favorite destination for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner in spite of a slightly off the beaten path location and scaled down hours of service. Banana Bean’s menu is a funky fusion of Floribbean flavors combining the cuisines of Cuba, Jamaica, the Caribbean and Key West. Peachy terra cotta style walls, a Conch Republic flag and a live TV feed from the Hogs Breath Tavern, an infamous Key West fixture, fuse with other fun elements to establish an atmosphere that transports diners far south of Interstate 70.

Different tastes blend together to create many memorable menu items. The Arnold Palmer is a mix of iced tea and lemonade, the perfect beverage for the undecided. The #1 Little Havana Cubano is among the number one best sellers for lunch. This sandwich stacks citrus kissed pork tenderloin and sweet bolo ham with Emmenthaler Swiss cheese, dill pickle slices and Dijon in between two crunchy slices of Cuban bread.

Since the majority of the menu is available all day, it is agonizing to decide among the eclectic choices but one “Bruncher” item is a must any time, even as a default desert. Bananas Foster French Toast features thick slices of Cuban style bread perfectly transformed into French Toast with fresh berries; Captain Morgan spiced rum sauce, bananas, and a dollop of whipped cream.



The crepes can be a meal or a dessert, or whatever – again the is the perfect place for the undecided – since many elements of the menu are interchangable.



The hours and the size of the cafe can sometimes be a challenge – but it is worth the wait if there is one. The service is top notch and friendly. The Bean is a must visit and probably one of the best Columbus has to offer for casual cuisine.

Funky Fact: The Patina of Key West??

Patina, that’s what the sign says, I looked up patina and googled it but could not get a precise answer, so I e-mailed the owners.

what the owners say –
“patina” in the literal sense is brought on by exposure to certain atmospheric elements; we feel that our patrons, therefore, are exposed to the elements and atmosphere of establishments that one would find in South Florida/Key West, i.e., our menu, etc…

What you need to know….

You won’t get wasted away in Margaritaville here – there is no alcohol available on the menu.

Vegetarian Monte Cristo

A version of this appears in C-Bus Magazine.

Banana Bean on Urbanspoon

Posted in CLOSED, restaurant reviews, restaurants, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Tommy’s Diner – Not All Greek to Me

Posted by CMH Gourmand on August 29, 2007

Tommy’s Diner
914 West Broad Street

Tommy’s is a downtown destination filled with a continuous flow of steady customers. The décor is quintessential of the 50’s and 60’s with lots of likenesses of James Dean, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando and other hallowed Hollywood stars hanging out (on the wall) mixed in with other nostalgic items and neon signs. This is a classic American diner with bouncy booths, a U shaped counter with stools, black and white checked floors and a retro sign outside.

Tommy Pappas, is the owner, he knows his many regular customers by name. Tommy is more likely to be at the front register– greeting people as they arrive and checking on them as they leave but he still slides behind the grill when he can if he is not mingling around to mediate the banter between servers and patrons at the counter. The servers are very friendly and some can be a little sassy.

Tommy and company behind the grill

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner are served from 6 AM to 3 PM each day. In addition to a large menu of typical diner fare, there are several varieties of gyros as well as lamb and feta enhanced entrees – reflecting Tommy’s Greek heritage. Best bets can often be found among the 5 – 6 daily specials that can vary from corned beef and cabbage to Grecian chicken. Other favorites include old-fashioned milkshakes and house made rice pudding.

The food gets you to the door and the fun and friendly staff that treat you like family keep you coming back.

Diner of the stars?.. Kathy Pappas, Tommy, Marilyn, and the King

Tommy minding the till…

Corned Beef and Cabbage – a daily special

Tuna Melt with Curly Fries

Tommy's Diner on Urbanspoon

Posted in Columbus, Diners, restaurant reviews, restaurants | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Anatolia Cafe – Terrific Turkish Lunch Buffet

Posted by CMH Gourmand on August 16, 2007

1097 Worthington Woods Blvd.

CLOSED(June 2010)

This very cozy Cafe has had the same name for close to a decade and several different owners while maintaining a constant tradition of excellent food. The original proprietor went on to start Cafe Istanbul at Easton. The current owners are a very nice Lebanese couple. The husband cooks and the wife serves as hostess. The quality is as good as or better than the previous versions of the Anatolia Cafe. A new addition is a great lunch buffet at a reasonable price. The Cafe is hidden in a declining strip mall nook in suburban sprawl, but if you are close to the area. the trip is well worth the effort.

The buffet consists of soup (often a delectable lentil), salad, six buffet items which include rice, gyro meat, and a varied selection of four entrees from the menu as well as a couple sauces, pide (bread) and dessert (usually rice pudding). The staff is always friendly and quick to keep your water glass full. The rice pudding is the best that I have had locally and their custard may be perfect. All of this for $6.99.

Here is a sample of a very full plate

A picture of pide above, it is a dense pita bread – very good

After trying out the buffet a couple times, I suggest heading back for the lunch or dinner menu. The best item to get is the appetizer sampler (small – $10.95, medium – $14.95, large – $23.95) consists of babagannush, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, tabouli, ezme salad, eggplant with sauce and lebni (yogurt with walnuts, garlic, and dill). The small feeds two people very easily. This nugget in a nook is worth the trip.

Posted in CLOSED, restaurant reviews, restaurants | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

A few more bytes on Northstar (Clintonville) – The S factor, breakfast and a sandwich for skeptics

Posted by CMH Gourmand on April 28, 2007

Surprise – much more ado about Northstar

Northstar Kitchen

I have been paying attention to how Northstar operates in my weekly visits. I was eating there just before closing tonight.The owners do everything right. I noticed they were eating together, talking about the day and very clearly enjoying what they have created. It is inspiring when two people can find a passion, follow through on it and see it be wildly successful. Awesome!

So this is what I have noticed about Northstar – the S Factor.

Subtle: No big sign – just a name painted on the door. The prices are all off kilter with the rest of the restaurant world – $1.88, 7.96, 6.79 – these guys think out of the box.

Simple: The menu is small. The ingredients are basic. The decor is cool but not over the top – it reminds me of IKEA or the kind of functional efficiency I expect to find in Switzerland.

Service: Everyone is NICE! You order at the counter, take a number and your food is brought to you. I have yet to encounter a Northstar employee that was not fully focused on making the dining experience anything other than great.

Saving the Planet: Local suppliers when possible. Recycled paper napkins. Northstar is a member of 1% for The Planet – so 1% of their profits goes to good things.


The Clintonville Northstar is now serving breakfast – Monday to Friday 7:30 AM to 11:00 AM and Saturday and Sunday 7:30 AM to 3 PM.

Here is the menu:

Granola with Vanilla Yogurt

Sweet Potato Hash

Red Peppers
Sweet Onions
Sunny side up egg
Sweet potatoes

Big Burrito
Black beans
Red peppers
Sweet potatoes
White cheddar

add bacon or sausage – 1.88

Cloud 9 Pancakes
Riccota cheee pancakes with maple syrup

Egg Sandwich
Egg with white cheddar cheese on a biscuit

Add bacon or sausage – 1.88

Other Items:

Praline Scone (the best I have ever had)

Ham and Cheese Scone

Morning Glory Muffin

Peanut Butter cookie

Chocolate Truffle cookie

A simple sandwich for Northstar skeptics

Turkey Dandwich

I sometimes have to lure people into Northstar because of concerns that the restaurant might be some kind of “vegetarian, hippy, tree hugger, granola munching place”. My best weapon for that kind of mindset is pictured above.

House Smoked Turkey Breast Sandwich

marinated peppers


rosemary aloli


add bacon

served on hefty house made bread bound with a thick toothpick

served with roasted peanut slaw

Ok – the peanut slaw might throw someone off – but it can be replaced with a side of torilla chips if the slaw is too freaky.

Final note – my Northstar wish list is growing. I still want to see soup – soup really is good food. Also – if two items from my departed and beloved Galaxy Cafe could be added (Ricky Barnes are you reading?) – I would be in heaven. I crave black bean hummus with garlic sauce and Adobo eggs with jalepeno cornbread. A Gourmand can dream – (an when he does – it is about food.)

Posted in breakfast, kid friendly dining, restaurant reviews, restaurants, Vegetarian Friendly | 4 Comments »

I Like Alana’s A Lot

Posted by CMH Gourmand on February 19, 2007


Alana’s (Food and Wine)
2333 North High Street
614 294 6783

Alana’s website

When the local media list the best restaurants in Columbus we always see Handke’s, The Refectory, M and the most recent flavor of the week. A name often falling off the radar is a restaurant that has equal pedigree – Alana’s. Since opening in 1999 it has built a great reputation with local gourmets, gourmands, gastronauts, foodies, and others that have a passion for food.

Alana Shock seems to be an artist at heart and this is reflected in the creativity of the cuisine and in the décor of her restaurant. While her background does include art – it also includes experience as a chef for Emeril Lagasse in New Orleans.

Alana’s is housed in an old house just north of the University District. The outdoor patio is busy in the summertime although the view of COTA buses passing by may be less than ideal. The inside is brightly colored and features art from local artists on display for sale. A small, comfortable wine bar is located in the back. The servers are professionals who care about the food and the service they provide. The atmosphere is informal but you can expect the extras you would find in a fine dining establishment. Diners can usually expect to see Alana popping out of the kitchen to check on guests and she will sometimes offer a small taste of what she is working on.

I wish I could list some suggested dishes however the menu changes constantly since the focus is on fresh seasonal ingredients that are locally obtained when possible. These are the things you can expect everytime: a choice of exceptional soups; new and innovative cocktails; an impressive wine list; an array of tempting selections on the cheese plate (from Curds and Whey) and several entrees that will make it hard to choose just one. Desserts are always exceptional and when paired with ice cream – expect it from Jeni’s. There are always plenty of vegetarian and vegan offerings as well as mouth watering meats for carnivores.

For the sake of example here are a couple selections from a recent menu:

Roasted Ruby Beets and Watercress with a Baklava of Feta, Pistachios and Cashew Drizzled with Fig Balsamic

Duck Breast with Kabocha Pumpkin Polenta, Collard Greens and a Bing Cherry Demi Glase

For fun and education – Alana’s offers Degustation Dining . Before you freak out – this is just a fancy term for a sampling menu. Typically, this is presented as several small presentations of favorite dishes paired with specific wines. If this sounds interesting call ahead and see what Alana has in mind.

Alana’s is not cheap, two people can expect to pay about $80 to $100 or more if you pick an expensive wine but it is worth it.

Alana's parking

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Posted in restaurant reviews, restaurants, Vegetarian Friendly, wine | Tagged: | 4 Comments »