CMH Gourmand

Eat, Drink, Repeat: Culinary Discovery & Misadventure in Central Ohio

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B & K Smokehouse

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 22, 2016

BK Smokehouse

Here are a few things you need to figure out or be ready for before you go to B & K Smokehouse.

1) Cash or Credit (your call, as a fellow small business person, I say go cash if you can)

2) For sandwiches: White, Wheat or Bun. I’d go with the bun

3) For other smoked meats / BBQ: White, Wheat or Cornbread

4) Sauce on or sauce on the side: Sauce on the ribs, Sauce on the side everything else.

5) If you want a Turkey Rib, visit after 4 pm.

6) Sweet sauce or Mustard sauce: Sweet!

Now let us proceed with why you want to go to B & K Smokehouse. First item of note, the staff are friendly, on my first trip they spied me getting out of my car as they were walking from the smoker out back to the kitchen saying “Hi there, are you here for the carry out order”. I guess a really white guy in a Subaru stands out around East Main Street but hey, saying hi when I am 100 feet from the front door is a plus. I was here for the ribs and they did not disappoint. The B & K ribs are among the top three in the city. My BBQ judge instincts and my taste buds suggest these ribs are smoked at least 12 hours, maybe longer. The smoke flavor is good. Suspended in a pond of sauce even better. The meat is tender to the bone and pulls away with ease. You can taste the meat flavor. Good Job B & K.

B K Ribs

Let’s move along to the wings. I’d place these as among the top five in the city. These are also well smoked, tender with the meat falling off the bones in some cases and very meaty – no scrawny BW-3 wings here. Go with sweet sauce on these. I’ve tried them on two different occasions and the consistency is there.

B & K wings

Now let me walk you through my notes for most of the menu.

Brisket Sandwich: OK. Benefits from sauce. A bit fatty and tasted more like pot roast than traditional brisket. Served shredded.

Pulled Pork Sandwich: OK. Benefits from sauce. Served shredded.

Baked Beans: watery and addition of pickle relish to the sauce is not an upgrade, but it is daring. I would not order these again.

Corn Bread: dry and crumbling, I would not order this again.

Mac & Cheese: fair but missing flavor seems to lack salt, pepper or any cream to the cheesiness.

Cole Slaw: Reminds me of KFC cole slaw which is my baseline for good cole slaw. This is among my favorite in town. (Note: for many years I though cole slaw was called cold slaw, I just thought you should know).

Potato Salad: Good. Mustard base. Better than average.

Green Beans: Good would benefit from a bit more seasoning or a touch of bacon.

Carrot Cake: Better than average.

B & K sides

Now for a quick review. Get a slab of ribs with sauce, a dozen wings and large cole slaw. Get a few other items to try for yourself (taste is subjective so don’t order based just on may favorite) and expect to have a great meal.

I’ll wrap up with answers to a few B & K mysteries. B is the first initial of one brother and K is the initial of another. The framed collection of old Mad Magazine covers on the walls come from the collection of their dad.

And now, you know.

B&K Smokehouse
1114 East Main Street
Old Towne East
NW Corner of East Main and South Champion
614 252 7917

Monday to Wednesday 11 am to 7 pm
Thursday and Friday 11 am to 8:30 pm
Saturday Noon to 8:30 pm

B & K Smoke House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in BBQ | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Great News: A New Graeter’s in Town

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 19, 2016

Graeters Polaris

It has probably been a long time since your heard anything about Graeter’s in Columbus. The company has been (mostly) quietly churning out great ice cream in Columbus since 1989 and since 1870 in Cincinnati. At one time the Columbus shops were a franchise but the family bought them back and now almost all of the fifty plus scoop shops are company owned. Among the new locations: Chicago, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. It is had to believe but at one time Graeter’s meant a long drive to Cincinnati but today their ice cream is ubiquitous in five states in scoop shops and at Kroger.

Graeters Scoop

The new Polaris store is a different concept for Columbus, it is a more streamlined building with a drive through included. With eleven locations in Columbus is now one location ahead of Jeni’s. And now, I am going to give you permission to say or think something you may be afraid to voice in public. Just like a few of us are afraid to admit we don’t give a shit about the Buckeyes there are those reluctant to say they like Graeter’s more than Jeni’s. I’m letting you know that is OK. In my case if given a choice between Jeni’s and Graeter’s, I’ll choose Graeter’s 9 times out of 10. I’m not knocking Jeni’s, but I refuse to indulge in the cult of local culture – Graeter’s is as good if not better at sourcing local ingredients from Ohio and the Midwest. It should also be noted, Jeni worked at Graeter’s for a while in her formative years.

Graeters Counter Polaris

What is really amazing about this new location is that Graeter’s is growing. This now a fifth generation family business. Most family operations, especially those in the food industry don’t make it past a second generation. In the case of Graeter’s it has been a struggle with the family having to call in outside help to direct a path that would allow them to continue as a sustainable family operation. We are just a few years away from the sesquicentennial and that will be a great thing.

Graeters – Polaris
8749 Sancus Blvd
Columbus, OH 43222
614-396-7541

Graeter's Ice Cream  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in desserts, ice cream | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Cream & Sugar: A Sweet Surprise

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 13, 2016

Cream & Sugar

Having found myself on the Westside after being stiffed by some “mericans” I took solace in taking the slow way home via Sullivant Ave. Many people in this city have never traveled the full length of this west side byway. It seems like every block tells a story: Westgate, immigrant communities, working class folk and a few down on their luck. There are also more than a handful of taco trucks (including the best in the city – Los Guachos), independent hot dog and pizza shops and at least a couple soft serve ice cream spots. For some, a trip down this road is eye-opening, showing them a Columbus and an America they did not think exists. We certainly do not see much in the media about this strip of the city. I have spent a lot of time in the area and I have a respect for it that goes beyond a meal I had noticed it a few times doing taco truck runs over the last year but never had the time or the appetite needed to do a good research run. I’m glad I dropped in. I might have a pretty big crush on Cream & Sugar.

The first good sign happened as I pulled into the parking lot – I spied a police cruiser. I asked two of Columbus’ Finest what was good and they both said – Coney Dog!! In the voice of George Bailey I said HOT DOG! I’m always looking for a good hot dog spot so thinking I was just going to get some soft serve, I was happy to have a bonus. Walking up to the order window, I quickly found myself overwhelmed with choices. Let’s start with food. They do indeed have coney dogs, served with sauce make by local hot dog singer Phillips Coney Island. I tried one and would have a hard time telling this from the original in a blind tasting. Score one for Cream & Sugar. Roots Poultry in Fremont Ohio is well-known in that part of the state for their shredded chicken which is featured in sandwich form here. I tried one of these as well and also found it to be simple but good sandwich. A bun and finely shredded chicken, that was it and that was all they needed. Score two for Cream & Sugar. Other food items not tried but I found intriguing included a BBQ Pork sandwich, homemade cole slaw and a wide variety of Ballreich’s chips (also from Northwest Ohio).

Moving to the other side of the menu, they offered much more than soft serve dairy product including: giant Freezies Popsicles, sundaes, multiple type of cones, Stauf’s Coffee, and additional options I could not count on two hands. I opted for a simple kid’s size vanilla and chocolate twist cone. I may be a bit of an ice cream snob, but I always get excited about a good twist cone (the best in the state is at Dairy Depot in Delaware). I was pleased as I could be with this simple dairy treat. Also of note, Cream & Sugar is a site for Suspended Coffees where guest have an option to pay it forward by buying a pre paid coffee (or other food) for someone who has need for it. That is a nice offering for a small -> small business.

Cream & Sugar
2185 Sullivant Ave
West Side
Facebook

Cream & Sugar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in hot dogs, ice cream, kid friendly dining, sandwiches | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Yellow Brick Pizza and the Old Towne East Eating Intersection

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 10, 2016

Welcome to Olde Town

Checking over my list of favorite pizza places, I noticed I had not written about Yellow Brick Pizza. My apologies. Yellow Brick is an Old Towne East Icon part of the Oak Street Boom, which unfortunately has not spread farther out. Opening in 2009, the place quickly established itself as a hot spot with good pizza and a craft beer collection with depth and breadth. The pizza is described as East Coat style with Rhode Island influences since one of the owners worked in a few Rhode Island pizza shops. The dough is hand stretched with a medium thickness to the crust and a signature thick dough ring. For the non-traditional eater in your life, Yellow Brick offers plenty of gluten and vegan friendly options for pizzas including gluten-free crust, vegan cheese and Textured Vegetable Protein sausage. Wondering about Rhode Island Red Sauce? It is featured on a few of the pizza options to give the sauce a bit of heat and kick. The specialty pizzas offer a wide variety of combinations many of which stretch the genre of traditional pizza toppings to great effect.

Yellow Brick Slice

Most pizza places offer a few mundane salads as an afterthought, not the case for Yellow Brick, I have found each of their salads to be exceptional. My favorite salad there and probably my favorite salad in Columbus is described below.

Kale Salad

All of the ingredients in this salad compliment and contrast well with each other providing a mix for flavors, textures and crunchiness. The red peppers in the salad are not just slices that have a bit of marinated flavor as well. Even my bean avoidant wife was happy to gobble down a few bites.

Add in some Arcade Super Awesome upstairs in the evening for extra distraction and Yellow Brick is well worth a planned night out on the town.

Yellow Brick Info

Yellow Brick Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Speaking of town, this block on Oak Street in Old Towne is a mini entertainment district. Starting with the business that started things off – one of my favorite spots Angry Baker

Angry Baker

Old Towne Tavern also offers good food and selection of local and regional craft beers.

Old Town Tavern

And perhaps a new location will mean a bit of a rebirth for Camelot Cellars and an option for non beer drinkers on the block.

Camalot

Posted in beer, Best Pizza in Columbus, pizza, vegan friendly, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Don Pedro (Taco Truck) now in Clintonville

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 2, 2016

Don Pedro Truck

(Update – June 13th – Sorry to say these guys have vanished already).

Long time fans of Taco Trucks Columbus know we/I would include Don Pedro’s as one of our Top Ten Taco Trucks over the years. Their hours, locations and operation have been hit or miss during the last couple years to the point I was fairly sure they were closed. That is a shame because we came to know the owners, actually the whole family, as we enjoyed their food and showcased them in some events. For some history take a look at -> this, -> this and -> that.

So while running some errands this week, I was surprised to see a new food truck at the Super Food Mart on Clintonville ( 3166 N High St, Columbus, OH 43202). This location has a long history as a food truck destination starting with Ray Ray’s, then Mya’s Fried Chicken and El Manantial Latino. From a distance, I was not sure I wanted to block out time to check out this new mobile food vendor. Approaching the blue and yellow truck (always popular in OSU obsessed Columbus) the owners recognized me at the same time I recognized them. After a mini reunion and catching up, it was time to order food. I opted to get something safe for Mrs. Gourmand by ordering a quesadilla. It was just as good as I recalled it and Mrs. Gourmand using her litmus test (of how does this compare to Taco Nazo) found this to be very good too. One warning. I forgot how hot their green salsa is but fortunately there was about 1/2 pound of sour cream with the quesadilla to quench my burning taste buds. I opted for chicken but I could have had ham, pork, beef or even hot dogs as my protein of choice.

Don Pedro Food

The menu is deep and diverse including the standards – tacos, quesadillas, burritos, (some of the best on the city) Tortas, agua frescas and coming soon some daily and weekend only specials. They just opened this week and could use some foot traffic for an infusion of capital to stay in the area and add to the menu. So if you are in or near Clintonville, I’d love for you to drop in for a meal and welcome them to my/our barrio. There are two picnic tables nearby for eating on site if you choose.

Don pedro Menu

You can find Don Pedro at:
Super Food Mart
3166 N High St, Clintonville 43202
(corner of East Pacemont and High Street)
614 584 7149
Hours (being established)

Don Pedro Taco Truck  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Clintonville, Mobile Food | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

The Sidedished Food Blogs of Columbus

Posted by cmh gourmand on May 31, 2016

Blogging ain’t what it used to be. “Lifestyle” blogs seem to dominate the focus of most new blogs today with more focus on photography and aesthetics over substance and content. And what some call I blog I would by any definition define as a website. And for competition for grabbing people’s time and attention there are some many competing medias, social and otherwise, there may not be much mental space for a traditional blog any more. Since I am no longer a man about town, I did a quick search for new food blogs to see what I am missing but I have not found any of interest. So I decided to block out some time to get caught up on the “establishment food blogs” to see what the “base” is up to. I found that many blogs of the “good old days” are gone, inactive or on extended hiatus so my reading was shorter than planned. After doing so I thought it would be a good idea to share a few food blogs that may have flown under your radar over the course of time. These may give you a sense of what else there is to eat out there. For each, I’d suggest going back a few years to read older content then work your way to the present. I went straight to the source and posed these questions to a few bloggers.


Jarsloth

Jarsloth Blog

Year Started:
2010

Speciality/focus/favorite subject:
smaller, independent restaurants; Asian food

Short description of your blog:
jarsloth blog highlights the places I like to eat and drink (as well as chronicles some of my travels). The restaurants featured aren’t always the most glamorous, but they serve good food and drink and are local businesses well worth supporting.

Day job:
graphic designer

Why you started:

Blogs like Taco Trucks Columbus, Alt Eats, and CMH Gourmand opened my eyes to a whole new world of eateries that were in my neighborhood. These blogs helped me get out and discover places I never knew existed and I wanted to share them with others. Most of these small, independent restaurants didn’t have marketing budgets or any way to advertise except word of mouth and I wanted to help spread the word.

Why you continue:
There are always small restaurants that are overlooked or forgotten because they don’t advertise in popular publications. I like blogging and reading blogs because (unlike publications) bloggers tend to explore the places that aren’t always on the radar. There tends to be a more genuine appreciation of food in the blogging community as most of us do it as an unpaid labor of love.

What is the state of Columbus Food today:
The Columbus food scene is probably the biggest I’ve seen since I moved here in 2000; I can’t begin to count how many new restaurants have opened in the past year alone. While this is generally a good thing, both for our economy and for the food community, many seem to be following current trends and there’s a lot of commonality across the board in the dishes being served. However, there is also a growing selection of ethnic offerings (a benefit to our growing immigrant community) which adds some real depth to Columbus food options.

A favorite place you think is overlooked by others:
Diaspora on campus is my favorite Korean restaurant in Columbus. Because it doesn’t feature the table top grills, it’s often overlooked by those looking for the Korean BBQ experience. On any given night, however, it’s packed with Korean students from OSU (a good sign) and they have been consistently turning out good food in the 6 years I’ve been going there


Weber Cam

Webercam

Year started:
2005!

Specialty focus:
cooking methodology,
re-examination and exploration of simple foods
bread baking
smoking
pizza
grill fabrication/destruction (occasionally)

1-2 sentence description of WeberCam
I strive to bring versatile, reproducible preparations of deceptively simple foods to the masses.

Day job:
A job.

Why I started?
weber_cam is proof my memory is not good. My site was created for myself, an electronic kitchen notebook, but shared publicly. It’s not overly organized or pretty, just a good reference for myself and a handy place to offer links from. When I look back upon a bread I made 5 years ago, I’m often surprised at the appearance and it takes a few minutes to recall that I actually made it. It’s a memory prosthetic.

Why I continue?
My memory is only getting worse, I need every tool possible.

State of Columbus Food.
I’m so proud to be here. Our Japanese haven there on Henderson, all the Asian places on Bethel and Olentangy, MiLi, Huong’s, plenty of bbq, so much to be grateful for. I’ve honestly not embraced food trucks before, but as I meet more and more proprietors of the trucks, largely by hanging out at The Commissary, I’m getting hooked on them and seek them out. I’ve always needed a personal connection to engage with something I like. And most recently, I’ve come to meet a few more people in the business with my small mobile knife sharpening business (BladesOfGlory.org). I’m enjoying that immensely. (ha, shameless plug).

Overlooked food find:
The Growl / Lavash combo is a blast. Fantastic selection of brews and a Lavash menu. It’s a favorite collaboration for me to enjoy.


And some status updates on other blogs.

Nothing Better To Do
Jared was the most post-lific of food bloggers in town and one of the earliest. He also focused on vegetarian cuisine. He has/had a knack for finding vegetarian options in the most unlikely of places. He moved to Chicago which has put his blog on hold but he may resume it in the Windy City later this year.

Pie Are Round
When two blogs collide! Pie are Round married the author of another blog out of commission, Tania Explores Columbus. And they followed a similar path as me (just a few months behind me) – get married, take a honeymoon, buy a house, get really busy and struggle to keep up with writing.

Breakfast Grub Guy
When I first became aware of this blog I thought “who is this um,…dude…. , have they not heard of Breakfast with Nick”. But then, I figured out he was a blogger who was transplanted to Columbus and just picked up here where he left off on the east coast. After a few years of Columbus adventures including one with me our attempt to eat a 30 inch pizza, James has headed back to to the greater Philly area. He writes posts of places I’d love to try out but will have to be content to read about from afar.

And last and not least because it is not a blog, but served an important function, RIP the Columbus Underground Messageboard which was a source of food news, discussion and was a primary research resources for the early days of Taco Trucks Columbus and Street Eats Columbus. I met a lot of friends through the message board and used it to create Pizza Grand Prix among other things. It also served as one of the primary referring sources to CMH Gourmand so I will miss that extra traffic and interest.

And now, so you know there are still people out there exploring and discovering new places for us, there is a blog that is crossing the two year threshold – still a whippersnapper compared to the rest of us, but I think blogging with the right spirit.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 9.34.13 PM

614ortyNiner tracks the discoveries of a California native transplanted to the capital city.

Specialty/focus/favorite subject:
I lean toward the Central Ohio food scene, but I’m excited by other aspects here like beer, music, arts. My spouse and I also love to travel, and I enjoy sharing our adventures.

1 to 2 sentence description of your blog

Long-time West Coaster learning (and still learning) about life in and around Ohio.

Day job
Administrative

Why you started
I’ve had other blogs before, but for very specific topics and audiences. The description above really explains why I continue to have a lot to write about.

Why you continue

The blog itself helps keep me mentally limber and document our experiences. Perhaps more importantly, I have met some wonderfully nice and talented people through my writing and travels – this blog really wouldn’t mean as much personally without that interaction.

What is the state of Columbus Food today.
The promise is undeniable, with lots of booming areas (craft beer and food trucks come quickly to mind) and plenty of energy and talent within the scene. However, there is the “safe” mindset that is still prevalent: there is a reason why this city is still considered prime testing ground for chain restaurants. The evolution away from that will take time, but it is happening slowly but surely and I am real excited to be here during this time.

A favorite place you think is overlooked by others.
I don’t think any of my favorites are necessarily overlooked by others. I think there are segments of the local restaurant scene (namely the African restaurants) that are just waiting to be uncovered by the public as a whole. I admit myself that they don’t immediately pop into mind when we’re thinking of places to eat, and that’s something that we need to change.


That is a taste of what is out there for you blog readers. If you know of a new (and good) food blog I have missed let me know.

And do keep in mind, every time you read a blog, an angel gets their wings….and we need a lot more angels in this world.

Posted in Columbus, culinary knowledge, FooderHero | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Buffet Battle: Indian

Posted by cmh gourmand on May 25, 2016

This is one of the tougher assignments I have given myself since the dawn of CMH Gourmand. There are over 40 Indian Restaurants in Columbus and at least 1/2 of them offer a regular weekly/daily buffet. The other challenge, I was pretty sure I found my winner at the beginning of my research but I did press on. So instead of listing all of the Indian Buffets sampled I’m opting to list a combination of the best, the best known and those that are off the beaten path or off your radar.

And to make things more manageable in my quest, I took vegetarian only buffets off the exploration list. The winner in that category is Udipi.

amul

Before we begin, a bit of cultural observation. The explosion of Indian restaurants in Columbus in the 21st century is a great thing and may be a surprise to a few people. Pre 2000, there was just a handful of Indian restaurants operating, with the most prominent located in the OSU campus area. Two things have fueled the growth of Indian cuisine – more adventuresome palettes grown by a more diverse citizenry and a large and growing population of Indians in our community (thank you OSU and IT consulting firms). If there was ever a cuisine that was meant to be in buffet format it is Indian food. There is some much to learn, so many flavors and styles, that for many, the buffet is the best introduction to the flavors of India.

Aab India
1470 Grandview Ave, Grandview

Value 3.5
Quality 4
Quantity 4
Highlight: Aggressive on refilling your water
Kid Friendly Quotient 1 (crowded space)

Aab is a well-known name in Ohio with other locations in the state. The price for the buffet is $12.35 including tax (I had water on each visit). Ten dishes are offered as well as a small condiment area with two chutneys and two desserts. The layout of the restaurant and the placement of the buffet area is not ideal for customer flow. The place is also very crowded which makes it very loud. I typically eat at the bar. This is the most expensive option for the least amount of variety. They are very good about keeping everything filled and do better than any other place at this task.


Amul India Restaurant
5871 Sawmill Rd, Dublin

Value 5
Quality 5
Quantity 4.5
Highlight: desserts, variety
Kid Friendly Quotient 4 (space to spread out, high chairs)

Amul impressed me on each visit. The price for the buffet is 8.99 ($9.66 including tax) Monday to Thursday. There are 14 entrée dishes in a line up that changes up frequently. The buffet also features soup, a variety of chaats, 3 to 4 desserts including a house made ice cream and some nice flourishes such as carrots cut into stars and artistic cucumbers. Service is attentive. All of the dishes are well labeled and list core ingredients. The menu is about 1/2 vegetarian and 1/2 carnivore. Ingredients, sauces, etc. taste fresh and flavorful.

The ambiance is good with a mix of booths and tables. There is light background music on which is neither intrusive or annoying. A few highlights. Amul has the best preparation of Tandoori chicken. It is always moist and tender to the bone not dry or over cooked like most buffet Tandoori chicken. I really enjoy the bhatura bread (which I do not find commonly at most places) it has a donut quality to it but is still very light.

The layout is well thought out and efficient which allows customers to flow through quickly by spreading out food in three different stations.


Dakshin Indian Bistro (Also a location in Cleveland)
Polaris
8631 Sancus Blvd (moving to (?): 8380 High Street Columbus

Value 3.5
Quality 4.5
Quantity 4
Highlight: Variety of dishes
Kid Friendly Quotient 2 (crowded, chaotic space)

It appears this location may be moving to High Street at some point in the future. Currently it is buried in a strip mall behind Tilted Kilt. The place is non descript on the outside. Walking inside it is a medium-sized space that is fairly chaotic. The host stand is a small podium that blends into the back area and there is such a swirling of staff that is difficult to determine who to connect with to get started with the buffet.

The quality and diversity of the food is good and the layout keeps guests from getting too bunched up. A few items seemed a bit out of place – vegetables with rice noodles, Baby Corn Manchuria and Jamaican Curry Chicken seemed a bit out of the wheelhouse. Also of note – an assortment of musical instruments mount the wall as decoration. A couple oddball notes about this place. They offer a Midnight Biryani on Friday and Saturday until 1 am. They seem to have a connection to Venky’s Spice House. The cost for the buffet was $11.76.


Kohinoor Indian Cuisine
76 Powell Rd, Lewis Center

Value 4.5
Quality 4.25
Quantity 4
Highlight: chutneys, tomato rice
Kid Friendly Quotient 3.5 (smaller spaces, loud music)

Kohinoor resides in a building that has been a graveyard for restaurants and I think this restaurant shares a similar future. The buffet was $9.56 or $9.66 (I could not see a price posted anywhere and I could not quite understand my host when he told me the price. There are a total of 15 dishes featured (including dessert) and a small chutney station/cart. The amount of each dish was fairly limited so if there were a lot of people dining at the same time I think there would be availability issues. There is a mix of meat and vegetarian entrees. The vegetarian dishes were all great – very fresh and flavorful with a few I had not encountered before. The meat based entrees were largely – meh, a bit bland and nothing exciting. The music was too loud but sounded like some type of Buddhist meditative chanting. On the flip side the six chutneys I tried were all superior and may be the best in the city for flavor and balance. I hope this restaurant makes it so drop in for the buffet to help keep this place afloat.


Layla’s Kitchen
4989 Cleveland Ave, Columbus

I heard this place had a buffet but when I visited there was no sign or indication of a buffet past, present or future. Based on the size of the space I do not see how they could do so even if they wanted to. Two things that are worth noting. They have a drive thru pick up window and an outdoor patio.

Buffet: 0


New India Restaurant
5226 Bethel Center Mall, Columbus (near Philville)

Value 5
Quality 3.99
Quantity 4
Highlight: buffet management, Chicken Korma
Kid Friendly Quotient 4 (booths are more kid friendly and I forgot to look for kids seats).

To my recollection, this may have been the second Indian Buffet I visited – ever – long, long ago. One claim to fame this restaurant has is placement in what I refer to as the Bethel Road International Food Court – a small area of two retail strips which houses two decent Chinese restaurants, a NY style Pizza by the Slice shop, a Turkish Restaurant, an Italian Restaurant (with a buffet I forgot about) a Gyro / Kabab shop and Los Guachos – all within about 1/4 mile radius. This clocked in as the cheapest of all of the Indian buffets sampled at $8.59. Twelve main dishes are offered so a little less quantity than the typical buffet but I will note that no location is as meticulous with dish management as New India – the staff are constantly monitoring, stirring, etc., each dish. Two dishes that they do very well are Chicken Korma (nice spice) and Chicken Pakora (which tastes like a good fried chicken tender and moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside). Also noted, I rarely see Indians dine here at lunch time but always see Koreans and Chinese I do not no the correlation or causation or meaning of this observation but it is a trend. New Delhi offers the buffet each day of the week which is a bonus.



Persis Karaikudi and Biryani Grill

195 E Campus View Blvd (Crosswoods)

Value 4.75
Quality 4.5
Quantity 4.75
Highlight: friendly service, chaat (station?) see photo below, Tandoori Chicken, Wings
Kid Friendly Quotient 3.75 (booths are more kid friendly and I forgot to look for kids seats).

This space has been home to at least three previous Indian Restaurants and probably even more owners. The sign for the previous restaurant – Chutney’s is still prominent on the building so the paper sign for Persis is easy to miss. Also, don’t try to walk through the door on the right – that is for large parties and special events. Yelp has been very kind to this place in 2016 and my visit supported the praise, this is the best restaurant to service this space in it’s history and I know because I have eaten at every restaurant that has called this address home. The buffet features 19 dishes (on the day I sampled this included three different rice preparations, American Style wings, and a mix of vegetarian and meat heavy dishes). This is also what I call a chaat / samosa station and a dessert/chutney/vegetable section. Altogether there is a lot of variety here. Spicy dishes – were very spicy so be warned if that is not your thing – are marked as such. The Tandoori chicken sampled here was perfect – tender, moist and flavorful. Total price (I had water) was $10.74 which is a good value for what is offered.

chaat

The winner of Buffet Battle India is Amul India!

Amul India Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Buffet Battle | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Ohio Donut Trail: Amy’s Donuts (Columbus, West Side)

Posted by cmh gourmand on May 18, 2016

Amy's Sign

There has been a lot of buzz about the new donutery in town, Amy’s Donuts so I felt obligated to check out the place. When I determined the location, I was a bit puzzled. The type of donuts offered and the pedigree of the brand might seem initially like a better fit for the Short North or OSU campus. And looking at some of the neighbors, this repurposed (Taco Bell, or Tim Horton’s or similar fast food building shell) is a colorful anomaly in a sea of downtrodden buildings and brands. Case in point, neighboring M & S Pizza (which features a sign on top of a large propane tank) has as a tag line beginning with – Best Chicken…..

Amy's Building

However on further reflection as well as looking at the later hours of operation and the proximity to the casino, this business model makes perfect sense. People down on their luck or low on cash need a low-cost, high carb and sugar option to keep them going. Based on the crowd and demographic mix at Amy’s, they are serving the masses exactly what they need. Also, most of the restaurants nearby are taco trucks and other exotic “non-merican” eateries so this offers the tour bus set a safe snack for the ride back to the retirement home.

On my first look at the offerings, I was overwhelmed. There are over 150 possible donut types available in one form or another including specialty donuts with cereal, candies and sugar glazes. I became glazed over with indecision. This gave me more time to observe the operation of the place. This is clearly a new business. I counted no fewer than 14 employees (that I could see rambling around ). The employees are clearly new to this game and several seemed new to employment with confusion evident and some conversations that would not be confidence building on either side of the counter. After a little more observation, I figured out who the most skilled employee was and made eye contact with her for ordering. I did not try anything too complicated or fancy but in the middle of my order – her eyes glazed over and she disappeared mid box fill to listen to another employee that seemed miffed by a series of misplaced donuts and misplaced pronouns. My donut ambassador eventually came back to finish my order. For $10 I received 12 donuts and was on my way.

Amy's display

As I got to my car, I felt a bit out of sorts. I knew I could partially fix that with a donut but I surmised my real problem lied deeper than that. Internally, I found myself debating on whether this is really an Ohio Donut Trail spot or not. Although the building showed some wear and tear the business was new. And while the donuts sampled were good, a few elements seemed missing. The first was character. While this is an independently owned business (a critical component for the unstated rules of the donut trail) Amy’s is an expanding donut chain. The place seemed to lack a little bit of soul. Almost all Ohio Donut Trail spots offer a mixed of grizzled and old “donuteers” who have plied the doughy trade for decades as well as a few hard-core regulars to guard a seat on a prized stool or to whom one could set their watch by their daily pick up of something or other. The place also reminded me of Voodoo Donuts which in turn reminded my of one of only two (the other was having food poisoning upon arrival to New Orleans) of my epic travel adventures that sucked (were in not for the company – or lack there of – of my companion I would have had the time of my life). Which made me wonder, does the donut trail reward repetition or does it lean to old quirky styles lost to the ages.

donuts

Ultimately what matters is that the donuts are good, the variety is exceptional and this is worth a visit. However, to balance my credo and conscience, I will place this place on Donut Trail probation for several years to give it a chance to build up the character and characters it has not had an opportunity to acquire. I only sampled the cake donuts and can report the Blueberry and Red Velvet are worth every cent.

Amy’s Donuts Columbus (on Facebook)
Address: 650 Georgesville Rd, Columbus, OH 43228
Phone:(614) 641-7721

Monday to Thursday 5AM–8PM
Friday to Sunday 5AM–10PM

Amy's Donuts  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in donuts, Ohio Donut Trail | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Barbeque (BBQ) Shack

Posted by cmh gourmand on May 16, 2016

An underlying fiduciary responsibility I have as the caretaker of this blog is to seek out and discover new BBQ and boldy go, outside the city center. In the case of the Barbeque Shack I did the equivalent of a blind blog date. I saw a photo of some of their food on social media that looked interesting. I was surprised I had not heard of the place before and since it is not too far from CMH Griffin’s school year daycare I opted to give it a try without any significant research other than the address. This being said, I would not typically write a post about such a place based on one trip but since it shows great promise but more importantly because it is in suburban sprawl, I’m asking you, my core handful of loyal followers to give this place a try as well and then add your comments to this post so we have a definitive analysis of this place.

Taking a quick look at the menu online, I place a carry out order for the following: Lunch Special – 2 Brisket sliders with mac and cheese and green beans, 1/2 rack of St. Louis style ribs, side of cole slaw, side of baked beans and bourbon bread pudding. They gave me a pick up time 30 minutes in the future which is great because that is drive time with a few minutes factored in to load a car seat. This place is hard to find. It is buried between a Home Depot and a Wendy’s that has at least two if not three drive thru lanes. When I finally figured out where I was and where it might be this is what I saw.

BBq 1

The shack is indeed a shack. It may have been a Rallys or a coffee to go business at some point. If you are old enough to recall Fotomat, it is not much bigger than one of those. The building is partially obscured by a small tree. It is drive thru / window ordering only but it does have a small shed nearby and several picnic tables on the periphery for dining. While I was waiting a few cars deep in the drive thru queue, I spied a woman wandering the parking lot with a bewildered look on her face but the determination of an Old Testament Jew in the desert. She approached me in my car and asked if one could order without a ca? I told her it looked like drive thru only but good luck. She then approached a window, placed an order and was gone before I became the second card in line.

When I did arrive to the window I was pleasantly surprised to find that my order was 10% less in price than I was quoted because they we too busy when taking my order to explain the discount process to me. I was then asked if I wanted sweet potatoes. I replied that I had not ordered any and they said that was fine, did I still want them. Since is was a family sized looking serving and free I said YES. After I paid they pointed out on my receipt that the next order is 10% off if over $20 if I bring my receipt back with me. So far, all good. Upon arrival back home my research began.

BBQ 2

The first to be sampled was the lunch special. The brisket sliders were good and unexpectedly on French style bread which helped the sandwich hold up to the sauce and the meat. The mac and cheese was better than average. The green beans were above average too (the best green beans in town can be found at Smokehouse Brewing in case you were wondering). So far a promising place but I was not blown away yet.

BBQ 3

Next the ribs. I’m not sure they meet all of the requirements for St. Louis style ribs but they were good. They were sauced properly (neither too little nor too much sauce – the Goldilocks zone). The meat was tender pulling easily from the bone. I wonder if I received the (on the menu) Ohio style ribs instead – which is a term I have never encountered. So still promising but not yet giving up on Ray Ray’s.

I tried the cole slaw. Also good but a bit too creamy than I prefer.

BBQ 4

Next, I decided to take one small bite of the Bourbon Bread Pudding. The moment the first morsel connected with a taste bud I was exceedingly pleased. Most BBQ places have easy deserts as an afterthought. This bread pudding tasted like someone’s great, great grand-mammy made it. It is true perfection mixing great flavor with moistness but not over saturated with any one flavor. At $4, the large serving is a bargain and well worth trip for that alone.

BBQ 5

I then back tracked to my previous foods, sampling each again and still having good thoughts about the items when I recalled I still had some untasted baked beans. Baked beans are almost always a horrible disappointment at any place I encounter them. Most places add a bunch of unneeded junk to them or try to fancy them up so that the other ingredients take away for the core ingredient – the lowly bean. My baseline for baked beans can be found in a can, Bush’s Vegetarian Baked Beans are my go to. They are good by themselves but with just a touch of gourmanding, they can be out of this world tasty. The BBQ shack baked beans exceeded my wildest dreams. While not impressive looking enough to warrant a photograph they were nonetheless great. The sauce was pleasant, neither over or under favored and the only additives were some slow cooked meats – some small bits of shredded brisket and perhaps a few bits of bacon. These are now the local gold standard for baked beans.

And then on to my free sweet potatoes. I had even lower expectations for these but again, I was surprised beyond comprehension. I might rename these holiday style sweet potatoes. Think about the best Thanksgiving sweet potatoes you have ever had – these are better. I can’t fully articulate how, other than saying the consistently is perfect and the taste has just enough sweetness to it to aid digestion.

The BBQ warrants additional investigation which will not happen for me until Fall 2016 at the earliest. But in the meantime as you call all help me out with your own research so add your comments to this post. And when you get your order, please drop off the following at my house: the largest serving of baked beans they will pass through the window and the same for the sweet potatoes and the bourbon bread pudding

Barbeque (BBQ) Shack
5755 Maxtown Rd, Westerville, OH 43082
(614) 899-9227

Barbeque Shack Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Ohio Donut Trail: Golden Donuts and Diner, Columbus..Southside

Posted by cmh gourmand on May 7, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 4.02.12 PM

I’ve been making a list and checking it twice to make sure I have not overlooked any critical donuteries in Central and Southern Ohio. While I still have a handful to complete before I turn my primary focus to the north, one place in Columbus was absolutely unknown to me. I found a reference to Golden Donuts and Diner buried in a discussion thread about good donut shops. From there I found unprecedented love of the place in Yelp. This prompted even more research as I was convinced that I was going where no bog had gone before until I found a post from James, The Breakfast Grub Guy (who has moved back to the east coast). The post from BGG seemed to indicate the donut were promising and since I have been on a quest to make sure that Mrs. Gourmand has access to the best blueberry donuts money can buy, it became imperative to investigate since this variety had a lot of mentions in the praise for the business.

As a life long resident of Columbus, I had never traveled on Lockbourne Road….ever. As a side note – this area has has lot of history including an air force base, the Tuskegee Airmen, The Monypenny Distillery and canals. I found The business just north of SR 104 in what looks like a former Jolly Pirate building.

Surveying the space, there was a brisk breakfast business going on. From what I could see and smell there are some promising breakfast items here if breakfast is your thing. The display counter indicated about 25 to 30 types of donuts are available at any time but at my arrival there were about 15 different choices. All looked promising so I ordered a baker’s dozen of donuts including blueberry cake, Cherry cake, Blackberry (filling) with vanilla icing, German Chocolate (which I would call an everything donut), peanut, and a “special” which was a donut cooked a little longer than a typical donut and available in both stick and round form. Over a dozen donut knocked me back less than $10 so there is a good value for these sugar bombs.

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 4.01.22 PM

The special intrigued me. When I asked about it, the woman at the counter stared at me (English is not her first language, but people staring at me after I ask elaborate food based questions is not an uncommon experience) but within seconds of hearing my question (and surveying my interest in his work), the donut maker came out to fill me in on how he makes the donuts known as special). Mark a point for this place for having people who are proud of their craft.

The donuts I sampled were good. The most noteworthy were the German Chocolate and the Blue Berry and other Fruit based cake donuts. The base of the German Chocolate donut seemed to be a German Chocolate cake base with a hint of Devil’s Food consistency to it. It was encased bits of peanut and shreds of both “white” coconut and toasted coconut.

As for the Blueberry and Cherry cake donuts, these were intriguing. These do not have holes in the middle and instead look like the tops of muffins, see the top view example below.

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 4.01.52 PM

Overall – a good basic donut shop with a large variety and the bonus of full breakfast, lunch and dinner service.

Golden Donuts & Diner
1928 Lockbourne Rd, Columbus, OH 43207
Monday – Saturday, 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sunday 7:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Golden Donuts & Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in breakfast, Columbus, Diners, donuts, Ohio Donut Trail | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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