CMH Gourmand

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

  • Recent Comments

    cmh gourmand on Mrs. Renison’s Donuts, M…
    Gina Bruce on Mrs. Renison’s Donuts, M…
    cmh gourmand on A Wistful Wendy’s Eulogy…
    The Reinvention of N… on The Chicken Corner of Columbus…
    thebreakfastgrubguy on A Wistful Wendy’s Eulogy…
    Gerald Martin on Lisska Bar and Grill: Crossed…
    cmh gourmand on Columbus Pizza History: A Slic…
  • Categories

  • Top Posts

  • Archives: August 2006 to Now

Carl’s Townhouse – Chillicothe

Posted by cmh gourmand on July 24, 2016

Carls

My previous Chillicothe visits included: seeing Tecumseh! the outdoor drama, writing about a restaurant for Ohio Magazine in 1998, visiting two donut spots and picking up the vanity at Lowe’s (the only one in inventory for the whole state). Back when I was a government drone my job often took me to the Chillicothe Veterans Administration Hospital (which has roots going back to World War I) but duty to fix problems and ethical responsibility did not allow me to take side trips to explore the area. I never really explored the city or the downtown. Considering Chillicothe was once a state capital and it is fun to say and more importantly considering all of the other places in the state I have explored on a whim, Chillicothe was overdue for an extended trip.

I’m not sure of the exact series of searches that popped Carl’s onto my laptop screen but it was probably related to doing a search related to Family Donut Shoppe. I’m glad I did pay attention to Carl’s and felt the pull to make this my reason to head south. I enjoyed driving the streets of downtown Chillicothe looking at many 1880’s era buildings and small local shops while searching for Carl’s.

I scouted out Carl’s on various review sites and found almost universal love for the place and in particular their burgers. I lured along one of my research assistants, the grumpy old man, with promises of a trip to Family Donut Shoppe afterwards as well as a recon trip to McArthur Ohio. Within moments of arrival to Carl’s the grumpy old man was also pleased. Carl’s is the kind of diner that every community needs. A simple place with straightforward food where regulars come to catch up with each other as well as the events of the day. More diners could help Make America great again.

Having a research assistant allowed me to do extensive food research. I’ll start with the hamburgers. The trademark menu item here are slider style hamburgers. The burgers were much bigger and thicker than a White Castle slider. Students of hamburger history (such as myself) would recognize this as the typical burger of the 1940’s – 1960’s. Neither too big nor too small with a lumpy instead of perfectly formed patty and when paired with fries, a very satisfying meal. The burgers are great and I highly suggest them. I ordered the double cheeseburger basket (two double cheeseburgers and fries).

Double cheeseburger basket

As a student of hot dog history as well as a staunch hot dog advocate, I ordered a chili dog to boot. I was pleased with the presentation here. The bun was lightly grilled, the hot dog was split in the middle to aid grilling as well as chili retention. The chili was definitely homemade with a distinct flavor to it. Overall it was better than average.

chili dog

The grumpy old man ordered the pork tenderloin sandwich. I was happy to see this on the menu. Many years ago I did extensive research on regional sandwiches around the USA for a book project. I spent a week traveling around the Midwest trying out the best pork tenderloin sandwiches in Iowa, Indiana and Illinois which is the heartland of this regional delicacy. I found this version true to style. It was properly breaded and sufficiently – as is the tradition – much bigger than the bun it was served on. More points for Carl’s.

tenderloin sandwich

My favorite item of the lot was also my biggest surprise. I saw apple strudel written on the specials board and ordered that out of curiosity. It turned out to be Apple Strudel Pie! Even the grumpy old man, with his girl-like appetite, found room to take a bite and found it pleasing to the palate as well.

apple strudel pie

One of the things that makes Carl’s a destination is the character of the place which comes from a long history in the community. When I work with clients, I often share with them how important sharing the history of a business is to customer loyalty. Carl’s does a great job in this category by sharing their history on the menu. As a local landmark, this is important, so I photographed that history to share with you below.

part 1

part 2

To wrap it all up. Carl’s is an iconic diner that dishes out breakfast, lunch, dinner and an extensive list of daily specials at affordable prices. If you find yourself in Chillicothe, this is well worth a visit. If you have a few extra minutes walk across the street to the antique shop and see if this trinket is still around. Even though it was $375 I was very tempted to take it home with me. If you are not familiar with the gentleman below, it is J. Wellington Wimpy. A personal hero of mine with an even greater affinity for hamburgers, he is best known for his insightful philosophy, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” If you fetch Wimpy for me today, I’ll gladly pay you back with a burger on Tuesday.

IMG_4817

Carl's Town House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Diners, hamburgers, hot dogs, Ohio, Road Trip | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Leones Pizza: It’s a Toss Up

Posted by cmh gourmand on July 3, 2016

Leones signJPG

Leone’s Pizza opened in March of 2016 and on its first day of business proved it was 100% better that it’s predecessor (Pizza Mart) which was best known as being a home for 20-30 stray cats. While the sign does provide a prompt, to make sure you are on the right page, Leone means Lion in Italian. Owner Ryan LaRose comes to the business with a lot of pizza kitchen experience and as a (former) member of the US Pizza team is a past award winner in dough tossing. He is such a good showman he won awards for his talents and made appearances on local and national television. So now you know why the tagline is “There’s a show in the dough.”

Excitement in Clintonville and Worthington trended high in the first week of business and has remained so because Leone’s offers what the area has been sorely lacking: New York Style Pizza. In my hierarchy of doughy needs my excitement was about the pizza rolls (rarely seen in our “fare” city), Pinwheels – which I can not describe but can attest to be superior based on a few I tried and (authentic) cannoli which is also a rare thing on our “fare city”. Another layer of excitement comes from the ability to get a “slice” during lunch.

The problem with my hierarchy is that the pinwheels and pizza rolls rarely seem to be available.

Moving into the pizza department, I have sampled quite a few pies and find that while I am a fan of the place and the staff, the pizza suffers from consistency issues.

The Stuffed Pizza is basically one pizza on top of another with toppings in between. This is available as a 16 inch pizza only (medium). The version I tried was good, but cooked several minutes too long (there was some char) and for what I received was overpriced at $28. It would have been a much better pizza at $22 minus the char.

The standard New York Style Pizza is true to technique although it trends a bit more greasy than my favorites in the Big Apple. The cheese used is exceptional. On the pepperoni side, I would prefer locally made Ezzo’s for flavor and mouth feel.

Pep

My favorite and the best executed pizza to date has been the Bianco which blends mozzarella, ricotta, garlic, olive oil and fresh Basil. This is a superior pie.

White pizza

In the non pizza area, I have only tried one sandwich….kind of. I ordered the Sausage Parmigiano. I was excited about this because they make their bread in-house and the sandwich features fresh marinara, mozzarella and sausage. When I brought the sandwich home and unwrapped it I found the bread to be very dark brown with some streaks of black scorch in it. The inside of the bun/roll still seemed fresh and a big doughy so I gave the less charred section a bite….and stopped. My tongue was fairly sure it connected directly with a salt shaker.

I called the shop and explained my experience. They apologized for not hitting their mark. They also told me my order was now on their wall of shame and that next time I came in I would have that same sandwich for free so I could experience how it was meant to be enjoyed. I was satisfied with the response and will look forward to trying it some time…..with a Bianco as a back up just in case.

There is a lot more for me to explore on the menu and I would encourage each of you to give this place a try. As a new business in an off the beaten path location, they can use some community support. For those of you that have tried Leone’s, please comment on this post to add your experiences to mine.

Leone's other sign

Leone’s Pizza
5413 Sinclair Road
614-547-7678
leonespizza.com

Leone's Pizza  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in pizza | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Finlandia Butter and Cheese? Oh, Yes Please

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 29, 2016

The story begins with (in part) this e-mail:

Happy National Dairy Month! I’m writing with a delicious opportunity for you to taste some of the best cheese and butter on Earth, and show off your baking and cooking skills.

Finlandia Cheese—a company that has been crafting great-tasting cheese and butter for more than a century—is a fan of your blog and asked me to reach out with a special Dairy Delight Kit for you, featuring yummy cheese, the best butter you’ve ever tasted, and some handy kitchen items.

IMG_4836

I did not receive the handy kitchen items but I did receive plenty of butter (salted and unsalted) and some Swiss Cheese. I discussed options with CMH Wife and we decided some of the butter and cheese would be a great opportunity to show off a new serving tray we received from a friend and introduce CMH Griffin to a simple summer meal of Swiss Cheese (his first Swiss) and a bit of salted and unsalted butter in a head to head taste off.

IMG_4870

IMG_4871

IMG_4873

The verdict, just like his dad, CMH Griffin is a huge fan of cheese. As for butter no indication was made as to if salted or unsalted was preferred.

Finlandia on Facebook

Finlandia Cheese Locator

Posted in cheese, Gastronomic Stimulus | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

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 »