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Archive for the ‘restaurant reviews’ Category

Spain Restaurant

Posted by CMH Gourmand on November 7, 2006

Spain Restaurant
Spain Restaurant link

(Note. The location in this post closed and a new location opened in 2011)
76 Powell Rd (High St. / SR 23 and Powell Road)
Lewis Center, OH 43035
(740) 548-6900

When I am at Spain, I am afraid it will be my last time. It is rarely busy even on some weekend evenings. The location – inside a Best Western Hotel, within a suburban strip that is tricky to navigate, which is in a part of town, that is no longer “hot”. The restaurant business is usually about location and such is not the case here.

Basically, patrons fall into two categories –loyal regulars who love the place and mildly surprised hotel guests that are shocked to find a restaurant like this next to the reception desk (and once they walk through the door are a bit disoriented when they were expecting a cafeteria style meal or lukewarm hamburger).

The same 3-4 servers are there every time I am. These guys are true professionals – dressed in tuxedos and maintaining playful formality. The restaurant is semi upscale in décor and adornments but the atmosphere is very informal – patrons are often in jean or shorts and you can see hotel patrons flocking to the pool as you look out the interior windows of Spain. Service is top notch – you will see some theatrics when your sangria is served and never expect an empty water glass. The server may practically taunt you into getting dessert. For a touch of Spanish character – there is a mural of a matador on the wall.

The menu features the flavors of Spain – several types of Paellas as well as steaks, seafood, veal and chicken dishes with Spanish flavors and aromas. The paellas are an exceptional value and for most people one dish can easily feed a party of two (which Spain will do for a slight surcharge). The menu also includes authentic Tapas, homemade Sangria and exceptional desserts, including one of the best flans, I have ever had. The extensive wine list features many Spanish wines (which are now coming into style). All meals (lunch and diner) are served with fresh rolls with whipped butter and the soup of the day. Dinners are also served with a side of vegetables and thinly sliced potatoes. For your first visit – order a paella. I also suggest the Salmon Relleno – a filet of salmon stuffed with crab, scallops, and shrimp. Lunch is an incredible deal. The menu is more limited but the prices are great – nothing over $10.95, including the paella.

Paella 101

Paella is a typical Spanish dish. It is named for the paellera – a round flat pan with two handles – that the meal is cooked in. At Spain the dish is 13 inches wide and 5 inches deep.

At Spain the Paella includes a bed of saffron rice cooked with onions, bell peppers, olive oil, garlic, sea salt and a few peas. Added to this are mussels, shrimp, clams, scallops and langostinos (Spanish for prawns). This version is called Paella Marinera. Spain then adds Spanish Chorizo (spicy sausage) and chicken for the combination known as Paella Valenciana.



Churrascaria – Brazillian Stye Grill (No Chupacapra here)

If we eat there more often and ask frequently – maybe this will come back!

Churrascaria is a Brazilian style of cooking and serving skewered meat. Spain did this on Friday and Saturday evenings for quite a while but stopped in October 2006 due to low turn out. The meats included – pork sausage, roast pork loin, both breast and boneless leg of chicken, lamb, NY strip and top sirloin. Cost was $21.95. It was fun. I would love to see this come back. Let’s make this happen.

Another Surprise – Spain Night Club?

Spain also has a separate, enclosed bar that offers salsa, bachata and merenge for local latin dance lovers.

Sad postscript – Owner Jorge Michalowski passed away in January 2007.

Posted in Columbus, restaurant reviews, restaurants | 2 Comments »

Starliner Diner – nothing finer…..

Posted by CMH Gourmand on November 2, 2006

Starliner Diner
5240 Cemetery Road
Hilliard, Ohio 43206


Starliner Diner Link
Tuesday • Wednesday • Thursday
9:00 am – 3:00 pm
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Friday • Saturday
9:00 am – 3:00 pm
5:00 pm – 9:30 pm

9:00 am – 3:00 pm


I hate driving to Hilliard, I only do so from one reason – Starliner Diner. I never get tired of the menu. For most of us there is no quick or easy way to make a journey there, unless you live in Hilliard or just love to drive. From central Columbus, one must travel over the river and through the strip malls, and still drive a bit more, before arriving. The journey is a taste of suburbia and urban sprawl but the destination is worth the effort.

The genesis of the Starliner Diner began when Jerry Burgos – rocketed away from The Galaxy Cafe (my favorite restaurant of all time – gone for many years now). For years, people debated whether Starliner Diner or The Galaxy was better. The answer is they were both equals – the influences, attitude, and atmosphere were so similar but had enough subtle differences to give each an identity of their own. The food is a fusion of Cuban/Tex-Mex/diner cooking styles. The Starliner features eclectic furnishing, mismatched tableware, a space themed mural on the wall, and assorted flea marketesque everything else. Since this is South of the Border fare, the sounds of Spanish coming from the kitchen gives me a good feeling. The serving staff is a mix of young and middle-aged folks, as are the patrons.

Starliner Mural

I have enjoyed anything ever served for breakfast here. The Huevos Rancheros and Breakfast Burritos are among the best in the Columbus metropolitan area. Several breakfast specials are offered which vary by the day. These specials are so good; I have been prevented from fully exploring other items on the regular breakfast menu. The Crabcakes are my favorite breakfast special – two crabcakes swimming in black beans, covered by two poached eggs, with red salsa on one cake and green on the other. The sweet potato omelet is a close second.

Starliner omlet

(above – sweet potato omelet, with homefries and cuban toast)

An array of appetizers helps pass the time while you struggle and ponder on which main course to get. The Quesadillas are a personal favorite and the Sweet Potato Tamales are worth a taste, if just to support this unappreciated tuber.

The dinner selections include pizzas, pastas, and large plates of food in various combinations. The Media Noche – a traditional Cuban sandwich, with pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard on a grilled bun is a safe introduction to Cuban cuisine. For something more traditional the Cuban Style Roast Chicken, seems to please the meek of palate. The pizza and pasta category choices include – Cheeseless Veggie Pizza , Chicken BBQ pizza and one of my favorites pasta dishes, Vegetable Caliente – Mixed vegetables, smoked chipotle cream sauce tossed with spinach fettuccini. There is something for everyone (from conservative redneck to liberal culinary snob) on the menu. You will also find exceptional plantains as an appetizer or as a side with some dishes.

The Starliner is the type of place, which people could drive by, or even take a quick peek at then decide to head down the road for a more familiar meal. However, once someone makes it through the door, they are hooked.

Starliner Diner on Urbanspoon

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

El Arepazo – Latin Grill

Posted by CMH Gourmand on October 7, 2006

El Arepazo

Arepazo sign
47 North Pearl Street
Columbus (Pearl Alley – between Broad and Gay Streets)
614 228 4830
Monday – Thursday 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Friday – 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Saturday – 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM

Arepa is white corn meal. This is cooked into a cake which is used for a bun to make a sandwich called an AREPA The sandwich fillings can vary depending on the locale and availability of ingredients. In Venezula – these little sandwiches are usually cooked on a grille. Carlos Gutierrez and Eliezer Molina had great success selling these sandwiches at the Columbus Latino Festival so they took the leap and opened a very popular spot in Pearl Alley. The signature dish – is an Arepera – hence – El Arepazo.


The menu features Venezuelan and Colombian dishes with a some other specialties thrown in. The Latino fare features a variety of items including Mexican Sopes, Tilapia (grilled fish), Chuzo (marinated steak), Plantains, Burritos, Empanadas, Carne Asada and Flan as well as daily specials.

Service is friendly and quick. The dining area is small but there is outdoor dining available. The inside is cozy and seats about twenty. The decor is simple and bright with some interesting latin themed artwork to look at. Many downtown diners get their food to go. The price range is $3.50 to $8.00. I have only sampled the place a few times but everything sampled (Chicken, Pork, and Beef items were tried out) was good. The best bet so far – seems to be the Venezuelan Platter (Pabellon Crillo) – rice, black beans, shredded beef, a fried plantain and a arepita (small / little arepa cake). I’ll be trying this out again.

El Arepazo Latin Grill on Urbanspoon

Posted in Columbus, restaurant reviews, restaurants | 7 Comments »