Monday, September 8, 2014

26 in 26 update: Local eats

I made a list of 26 things I want to do/see/make/experience in my 26th year. Read more on that here.

So one of the things I am really loving on my 26 in 26 is the commitment to try one new (to me) local bar or restaurant each month. Columbus has such an amazing local food scene, and in the four years since I moved here, I've tried an embarrassingly small percentage of what the city has to offer. Sure, I've hit up amazing places like Northstar Cafe, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, Dirty Frank's and the Blue Danube more than I care to admit. But in the interest of documenting only new experiences (and to avoid boring you guys with the same old over and over), here's what I've tasted so far:

The Pearl.
Columbus-ites will recognize this as one of Cameron Mitchell's newest endeavors. Nestled in the south end of the Short North, this seafood restaurant-slash-oyster bar has a wonderfully hipster aesthetic that is trendy without being overpowering or distracting.

I chose this for my birthday dinner, and was definitely not disappointed. Matt and I got drinks (the Kentucky Mule was phenom and served in the traditional copper mug, of course) and appetizers (jalapeńo corn spoon bread for Matt and I honestly don't remember what I had...the spinach salad maybe?) to start, then split the Shellfish Tower (pictured). That tower was...well, a tower. It was sooo much food--a dozen each of raw oysters and broiled clams, half a pound of chilled peel-and-eat shrimp and chilled crab meat. It. Was. Incredible.

This place opened up in the alley next to my building downtown, and I knew the second I saw the tagline — burgers. steaks. bourbon. — that I'd have to try it. Probably more than once. On my first visit, I had the mac & cheese burger and garlic fries, because I'm basically unable to resist mac & cheese. I had the actual dish itself, sans burger, on a return visit. I actually think I got a bad batch on that second time; the cheese was kind of clumpy, like the sauce had boiled when it wasn't supposed to. But the mac on that first burger was spot-on!

I also tried the bourbon, because duh. They infuse their own bourbon in-house, and they have more than a dozen flavors. I tried the vanilla-fig one, which was superb, and it's my goal to get through all of them. Even the tobacco one, which I've been told is actually quite good.

Little Rock/Jailhouse : ROCK.
My friend Kathryn insisted that the hot dogs served up at Paddy Wagon, the food truck that partners with Little Rock bar in Italian Village, were better than the aforementioned Dirty Franks. Now, anyone who knows me knows that dem's fightin' words, so I took her to task. The hot dogs were quite good, but smaller than Dirty Frank's and slightly more expensive. Still, my Lunch on the LAWn dog (crushed kettle chips, baked beans and cheddar, plus potato salad that I chose to get on the side because I'm picky) and loaded baked potato pierogi were very, very tasty. I don't remember the name of the drink Little Rock served up — I think it had "Elvis" in it — but it was, yet again, a Kentucky Mule. And it was delish.

Cray Eatery & Drinkery.
Kate suggested this place when I insisted she and Chasity and I meet up for the first time in way too long. She warned me that I'd hate the website (she was right...Papyrus font? Seriously??) but that the menu looked good. I saw "chicken and waffle slider" and was immediately on board. I was totally going to order another Kentucky Mule here, but had had a rough night prior and stuck with water. Chas and Kate got Moscow Mules, though, and let me try a sip. It was refreshing, but overall I was pretty glad I didn't imbibe. My poor head/stomach were pretty glad, too.

The food, while tasty, was a bit of a let-down. I felt that the portions were just a bit too small for the price. Each slider (which is 95% of the menu) is individually priced. So I got the chicken and waffle slider, of course ($4.50) and a grilled cheese one ($3). For those prices, I expected more than a reheated frozen waffle (that wasn't even toasted) on the former and on the latter, a bun that you'd find in the grocery store, packaged in 12-to-a-tray for a few bucks. You know, the kind that's sold in a plastic bag, and you have to pull the rolls apart by hand? The chicken was really good, but the grilled cheese concoction was wholly unsatisfying. It wasn't grilled; I'm pretty sure they just popped the bottom bun in the oven for a second to melt the cheese. Or maybe they microwaved it. I don't want to complain too much, but I wouldn't go back again for food. The cocktails, possibly. There were a lot of interesting choices.

Soooo that's it! I have a few places picked out for the next few months, and in fact I find myself having to hold back so I don't go overboard and hit all the places on my list in one month :)

So far, this is the most successful multiple-task item on my list; I've been doing so-so on the photo a day project, and quite horribly on the house projects. But I'll have updates on those too, as update-able things happen :)

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