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20 Eat. Drink. (614).

You better cut the pizza in four pieces because i'm not hungy enough to eat six. – Yogi Berra

Spring 2019


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BIG PICTURE Haute Manhattan, Barrel Aged Old Fashioned, and Leaf Drop Martini from Service Bar. Read more about these cocktails on page 28. PHOTO BY BRIAN KAISER


GUEST EDITOR: CHRISTINA BASHAM 16

Bartender and cocktail guru Christina Basham shares her boozy expertise this month.

SMOKED COCKTAILS 22

No, your drink isn’t on fire. It’s just being smoked!

LIKE THIS? TRY THIS! 28

Switch up your drinking palate with these elevated spirits.

THE ART OF A BEER CAN 42

Local beer companies take a local approach to finding artists for their beer can labels.

A TASTE OF NOLA IN THE BUS 56 Gallo’s Kitchen and Bar serves up Creole flair and Italian cuisine.

THE WAFFLE TRIFECTA 62

With three different spots serving up chicken and waffles, the only question is where to start?

VEGGIN’ OUT 68

Indugle into plants with these vegetarian and vegan-friendly enetrées.

BREAKING THE CHAIN 74

For Brassica, Fox In The Snow Café, and Harvest Pizzeria, the focus is on quailty before quantity.

DREAM COLLABS 48

We’re dreaming of a world where Dirty Frank’s crosses over with Buckeye Donuts.

BIG FLAVORS IN LITTLE DINERS 50

Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, these restaurants have you covered.

THE POWER OF THE SOYBEAN 60 Eric Ma’s Tofu Louie keeps the vegan diet interesting with his plant-based cuisine.

NOT YOUR AVERAGE NUTS 94

The Krema Nut Factory brings freshness on the daily with their products.

FRESH FROM THE FARM 98

If it’s meat you’re after, look no further than Bluescreek Farm Meats & Market.

MOUNEH! MOUNEH! MOUNEH! 108

Chef Tyler Minnis envokes Middle Eastern techniques at The Crest Pantry

COVER PHOTO OF HARVEST PIZZA BY BRIAN KAISER

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CONTENTS

614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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FROM the EDITOR

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think the first alcoholic beverage I ordered was a cocktail. I won’t mention which one, but I recently ordered it again in an establishment known more for pizza than cocktails. I realized that I ordered it because I had absolutely no expectations for this drink anymore. I sipped it with a bittersweet feeling, remembering when it represented the ultimate in sophistication—those days when I was routinely horrifying wait staff by ordering the only slightly more cosmopolitan White Zinfandel, which I may have mixed with Sprite at one time to create my own wine cooler. All of these drinks were suggested by my friends, dear and intelligent people who were just as caught up and confused by this new and strange world of muddling and liqueurs and proofs and labels. None of us knew what we were doing, and none of us wanted to admit it. We were drinking martinis because we’d watched a James Bond film, or ordering a Tom Collins because we’d seen Meet the Parents, or trying a flaming Dr. Pepper because…science. Let’s face it. The world of booze can be intimidating, if not overwhelming. Your friend who got you in the habit of eating French fries with mayonnaise (Where had that been all my life?) is perhaps not the person who should be advising you on your drink order. This month I made a new friend, and since you’ve picked up this magazine, so have you. Her name is Christina Basham, a mixologist, entrepreneur, sales manager for Middle West Spirits, and our Guest Editor for this issue. She’s been in the service industry for over 15 years and if you’ve ordered a drink in this city, there’s a very good chance she knows the person who served it to you. She is that friend you need, the friend who will have that honest drink conversation with you. And her honest advice is to drink what you like. However, you probably don’t know everything that you like. It’s time to get adventurous, find that new favorite, and do something for you. If that sounds like fun, then this issue is for you. Try a flaming cocktail, or an orange wine, or dress up your standard cocktail. The basics are all in these pages. You’ll want some food to go with that new drink. We’re also paying tribute to three Columbus restaurants that are defying what it means to be a chain restaurant. Taking things slowly, these establishments are growing by maintaining their high quality, keeping their experience elevated, and working with their communities. Ordering a pizza, a pita, or a coffee and a cinnamon roll is simply a different experience in the hands of those who are intentional, and it seems to be a recipe for success. Part of that success is pride. We all know

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PUBLISHER Wayne T. Lewis MANAGING EDITOR Laura Dachenbach ASSISTANT EDITOR Mitch Hooper PHOTO EDITOR Brian Kaiser GUEST EDITOR Christina Basham COPY EDITOR Dan Sponseller 614NOW EDITOR Regina Fox STAFF WRITER Mike Thomas CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Stef Streb, Rebecca Tien, Julian Foglietti CONTRIBUTING WRITERS J.R. McMillan, Jaelani Turner-Williams, Regina Fox, Aaron Wetli, Jeni Ruisch, Steve Croyle, Adam King, Arianna Urban, John McLaughlin, Nathan Cotton, Linda Lee Baird

PHOTO BY B R IA N KA ISER

about Buckeye Pride, but it especially seems to shine in our food and drink scene. Not only are your fellow Cbusers making delicious food and drink creations for you, they are proud to do so. We’re also going to introduce you to one of Central Ohio’s oldest farms, the vegan pop-up that’s taking every festival by storm, and the Krema Nut Company, where perfection reigns supreme. The responsibility of being part of your food choices is one that each of these vendors takes quite seriously, and we at Stock and Barrel are beyond impressed with the results of their daily efforts and high standards. Seriously people. Get out and try something new. There’s no reason not to, and you have a host of people who are waiting to show you the way. But before you dig in, pause for a few seconds. Some of the best people gave all their best to create something just for you. You’re a pretty lucky person. Eat well,

Laura Dachenbach Managing Editor

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CREATIVE DESIGNERS Jess Wallace Sarah Moore GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Hugo Albornoz, Kalyn Schroer ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Meggin Weimerskirch SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Derek Landers, Liza Worthington ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Becky Hart, Nikki Harris MANAGER OF AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT Stephanie McFarland VP OF SALES AND MARKETING Lindsay Press

(614) MAGAZINE 458 E Main St., Columbus, OH 43215 Office: (614) 488-4400 Fax: (614) 488-4402 Email submissions to: editor@614columbus.com www.614columbus.com


C ALENDAR

BY STO CK & B ARREL STAFF

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Taste of Clintonville 2019

Moonlight Market

(614) Pizza and Beer Week

LOCATION: M  ozart’s

District

Cheese Making with Abbe Turner of Lucky Penny Farm

4784 N High St. TIME: 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. ADMISSION: $30

WEB: experienceclintonville.com In its sixth year of celebrating Clintonville, the Taste of Clintonville is back! This year will be showcasing all the places that have grown to be Clintonville favorites like the vegan Pattycake Bakery, the classic diner Nancy’s Home Cooking, and Lineage Brewing, as well as some new faces like Pat and Gracie’s. For $30, you’ll have access to tastings to participating restaurants, plus you’ll have the chance to walk home with some gift certificates if you win in the ticket raffle. The event is also kid-friendly and tickets for 12 and under are $10 which includes soft drinks.

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LOCATION: Gay Street TIME: 6 p.m. - 11 p.m. ADMISSION: Free Starting in April and running until October, the Moonlight Market will be up and open for business every second Saturday of the month. In addition to the local businesses already set up in the area, more than 100 vendors will be open for the evening on Gay St. for you to browse a variety of products ranging from baked goods to artisan products. Local businesses will be staying open later than usual if you’re looking to wine and dine during your night, and it’s totally free to stop by and window shop!

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LOCATION: Varies TIME: Varies ADMISSION: Free WEB: eat614.com It’s the simple things in life that bring you joy, and when it comes to pizza and beer, is there a better combo of joy? During our Pizza and Beer Week, you can enjoy those two together at participating restaurants serving everything from Chicago style deep dish pies to hand-tossed pizzas at a discounted price. It will surely be a week of gluttony, but life’s too short to not treat yourself every once in a while.

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LOCATION: 1400 Food Lab 1400 Dublin Rd. TIME: 6:00 p.m – 9:00 p.m. ADMISSION: $75

Join Abbe Turner, owner and cheesemaker of Lucky Penny Farm, as she shares her expertise through this handson cheesemaking class for beginners! Students will learn all of the skills needed to craft such favorites as mozzarella, ricotta and even a goat cheese ball. Stick around after the class for a complimentary wine pairing with your freshly-made cheese and check out a selection of Lucky Penny cheeses and products as well.


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Columbus Margarita Fest

ColumBEST Awards Party

LOCATION: John F. Wolfe

LOCATION: Express Live!

Columbus Commons | 160 S High St. TIME: 12 p.m. - 8 p.m. ADMISSION: $10-$25

Blended or on the rocks, strawberry or lime—whatever your style, the 2019 Columbus Margarita Fest is sure to please. Tickets to this outdoor event featuring taco trucks, live music, and everyone’s favorite salt-rimmed beverage are all-inclusive, netting you entrance plus five margaritas. Rain or shine, this year’s fest is expected to sell out early like last year’s, so be sure to act fast and grab your tickets before they’re gone!

405 Neil Ave. TIME: 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. ADMISSION: $25

WEB: 614now.com/shop Join (614) and 20+ of Columbus’ top establishments for the 2019 ColumBEST Awards party. Secure your ticket NOW and celebrate the best Columbus has to offer in a wide range of categories as voted on by our readers. Sample food and drink offerings from the nominees, and be there to cheer your favorites on to victory. Please note, you must be 21 years or older to attend. See you there, Columbus!

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P H OTO BY B RI AN KAI SER

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uest Ed G t ito ee r M

Christina Basham Y

ou may have met Christina Basham in January’s interview issue and been taken by her gregarious, outrageous personality and commanding knowledge of the hospitality and service industries. We certainly were, so we’re proud to have her return to our pages. Christina’s 15+ years of experience started with a job at Applebee’s in a pink and purple t-shirt, a proverbial fish out of water. She worked her way up in the industry until she was judging cocktail competitions, consulting on bar openings, working as a Sales Manager at Middle West Spirits, and starting Bubbles and Agave, your new go-to for event planning, bar and hospitality consulting, cocktail classes, and bar catering for private events. Christina’s advice has inspired the booze trends you’ll find in this issue, and we’re happy to pass that along to that along to you.

Advice from your bartender: When my friends come into town, where should I take them? What do you pour for yourself on the weekends? To be honest, I don’t drink much at home. It’s always been a social experience for me. When I do imbibe at home, I usually have a bottle of sparkling or rosé in the fridge. I’ll enjoy a glass of that with either agave or an amaro. And sometimes I mix the two. If I’m a little low on cash, where do I go for a good drink? I think taprooms are a great place for a good drink; I spend a fair amount of time at Seventh Son. Also, Local Bar features half off local spirits every Thursday, so that’s pretty amazing. If I just got a bonus, where should I blow it on a drink? Depending on the size of the bonus; I’d say it’s time for a booze adventure around the city. I’d start downtown at Citizens Trust or Denmark on High, bounce to Mouton, and Two Truths. If you’re heading south, check out Ambrose & Eve and Antiques on High. If you’re north, stop into Natalie’s and Light of the Seven. If you’re near Franklinton, bounce around the corner where Strongwater, Land Grant, Rehab, and BrewDog live.

The North Market, CMoA, Schiller or Goodale Parks, COSI. I’ve got a sweet tooth. Who’s got the best desserts? Bake Me Happy, Jeni’s. Pistacia Vera, Rime Time Pops. What’s up with Columbus nightlife? Do we even have one? I think we have some options for the young folks, but it’s much harder to find for someone over thirty (ish) if you want something more than a bar setting. Duecento is trying to change that in Italian Village. What’s the most creative thing you’re doing right now? Trying to plan my elopement in Maui!

Visit bubblesandagave.com


PINTS ON PARSONS

PARSONS NORTH BREWING COMPANY OPENS UP SHOP AND UNVEILS ITS NEWEST BREWS

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BY MITCH HOOPER PHOTOS BY STEF STREB

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n a city where so many different craft breweries seem to sprout roots and thrive, it’d be easy to think that a competition is looming in Columbus. If this were a Hollywood movie, it would be the big-dog craft distributors who have grown to fame against the fresh faces in the brewing world. But, in true Columbus fashion, it’s quite the opposite. The craft beer world here is something like a family, and the only rivalry seems to be local breweries against the corporate big dogs of Anheuser Busch and InBev. And that tightknit hoppy little family and the fight against generic beer just got a bit bigger with Parsons North Brewing Company landing at East Public on Parsons Ave.

“I HAD EXPRESSED SOME INTEREST INVESTING MONEY INTO A BREWERY AND AFTER TASTING ONE OF SETH’S BEERS, I WAS ALL IN.” From the business mind of Nathan Klein combined with the brewing brain of Seth Draeger, Parsons North Brewing Company is a place offering approachable beers for drinkers looking to expand their palates. The beer is brewed in house thanks to Draeger’s six years of expertise in home brewing as well as participating in competition brewing prior to opening Parsons. “I had expressed some interest investing money into a brewery and after tasting one of Seth’s beers, I was all in,” Klein recalled. “I figured I could run the [business] side of things and he could run his mad scientist side of things where he cooks up his concoctions.” •

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“WE’D PREFER TO NOT GET PEOPLE INTO THIS MENTALITY OF, ‘I LIKE IPAS, I’M ONLY GOING TO DRINK IPAS,’ ALL THESE BEERS ARE GOOD INTRODUCTIONS TO THOSE STYLES.” Nathan Klein (left) & Seth Draeger (right) •

While the initial launch of the brewery didn’t feature any Parsons’ original brews (they were still being finished), the hype around the beers was only more credible thanks to Draeger’s 2015 victory in Barley’s homebrewing competition with his Russian Imperial Stout, the Moscow Midnight. The beer eventually made it on tap inside Barley’s. Did I mention it was his first competition? If shooters shoot, brewers brew. The menu is adding more and more original beers, and brews like a grapefruit wheat are already a promising sign of the future. Klein explained that while the beer came out with a bit more grapefruit pulp in it than expected, it provides an even fruitier and juicer flavor the beer which is highly-coveted nowadays. The menu also offers more roasty and robust beers like the North American Stout which would make you swear it was brewed with coffee, however, that’s just a special German malt Draeger uses to provide that roasted flavor, the perks of being a brewer with more than 30 different recipes at his disposal. And these are the perks of participating in competition brewing. Draeger explained that while he was doing competition brews, he was able to really experiment with different styles. He once entered a sour pilsner into a pilsner competition which was met with plenty of praise, but also a few questions of if the brew met all the requirements of a pilsner. 20

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Now, without the restrictions of specific checkboxes to fill out, he’s free to really create some interesting and tasty beers. Currently, he has four different IPAs including a West Coast and a Session in process, and he’s biting at the bit for warmer days to roll around so he can unleash his perfect patio drinking sour. When it comes to brewing, patience is tested in a variety of directions. While there’s no kitchen at Parsons North, food trucks will frequent the brewery, and Comune is right next door for anyone hungry for some elevated plant-based dishes. And once warmer days do fully come, the excitement will hit an all-time high as the spacious west facing patio will be open. Until then, the taproom offers a more traditional bar take on one half and a lounge area on the other half for setting up shop for the night. There’s also a couple pinball machines if you’re feeling like a wizard with a supple wrist. The inspiration for these beers comes from many places for Klein and Draeger. Other local breweries around the city like Land-Grant Brewing Company and Sideswipe Brewing serve as great spots for idea curation, and these places are more than willing to share a recipe to help out. As Klein and Draeger agreed, the Columbus craft beer scene is a family, and Parsons North has been welcomed with open arms. “We’re not in competition against each other,” Draeger said. “Everybody wants everybody to do well. It’s not us against each other, it’s us against AB and InBev … When I first started doing home brewing, I was pretty surprised for the most part when I asked a brewer, ‘Hey, I like this beer. I really want to brew something like it, do you have any advice?’ They’d basically just give me the recipe like, ‘Yeah, this is everything I put into it.’ ” Draeger likened the craft brewing process to painting. Rembrandt (or Bob Ross) can tell you all the colors that go into a painting, but you have to have the skills to know how to recreate it. As it goes, recreation typically calls for variation and no two artists, or brewers, will have the exact same product in the end. These subtle changes offer a wide variation of brews for thirsty customers. And this variation is exactly what Klein and Draeger are trying to create. They want to make beers that not only please IPA lovers, but beers that can get a non-beer drinker to say, “I can get into this style of beer if it tastes like that.” “We’d prefer to not get people into this mentality of, ‘I like IPAs, I’m only going to drink IPAs,’ ” Klein said. “All these beers are good introductions to those styles, and we want people to get out of their comfort zone when it comes to learning about beer as they drink it.” •

Parsons North Brewing Company is located on 685 Parsons Ave. For hours, visit parsonsnorth.com.


Where There Is Smoke, There Is Fire

Smoked Old Fashioned from The Kitchen

BY AA R O N W E TL I | P H OTOS BY B R I A N KA I S E R

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ocktail purists beware, this article probably isn’t for you. Keep moving. Same goes for you, “Let the Bordeaux breathe for fifteen minutes before serving” wine drinker. This piece is for the adventurous and fun-loving Central Ohio booze fans who aren’t intimidated by a few pyrotechnics. If you are a fan of speakeasies, mixologists, and getting out of your comfort zone, you are probably familiar with “smoked” cocktails. If you are not, here is the scoop: smoke is added to drinks through a variety of methods, most noticeably an actual smoking gun. The smoke adds depth to the flavor of your cocktail, which can be a welcome addition to your drink in months when other ingredients are out of season, and it looks pretty cool. Here are some locations where you can get an awesome smoked cocktail and also a couple of places that will light them on fire.

The Kitchen | 231 E Livingston Ave. The Kitchen is an event space and a learning experience duo. If you are looking for a place to practice your culinary skills, enroll in a participatory dining experience where you can learn how to cook some delicious eats and make an awesome cocktail. The Kitchen’s Smoked Old Fashioned is made with brown sugar syrup, bitters, and topped off with a smoking cinnamon stick. You can do this at home and capture the smoke in an upside-down rocks glass, but you probably should see the pros do it first.

Cocktail from Grass Skirt Tiki Room

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Cocktail from Denmark on High

Denmark on High | 463 N High St. Do you remember what an Erlenmeyer flask is? I didn’t either until I talked to Gary White, owner of Denmark on High. Basically, an Erlenmeyer flask is a beaker that you used in middle school science class for pouring and storing solutions. The difference is that at Denmark, the cocktail is concocted, transferred into the flask, topped off with a shot from the smoking gun and then transferred into the glassware in which it will be served. Demark will be celebrating its fifth anniversary in March and is rolling out a greatest hits menu. The titles of the featured smoked cocktails are: Smoke Dat Tree (bourbon based), Put That In Your Pipe (rum based), and The Danker The Berry (Rye Based). The titles are worth coming for. The cocktails are worth staying for.

MOUTON | 954 N High St. One of Columbus’ oldest new wave cocktail bars, Mouton has been operating in the Short North since 2011. The inside is sleek and cozy and the perfect place for a date or an after dinner drink—especially if you want to share a drink with your closest friends and set that drink on fire. Currently, MOUTON has three Tiki Bowls that are each designed to serve three customers: The Rivah Mumma, Put The Lime In The Coconut (bonus points for the Harry Nilsson reference), and the Fernay-Nay Banay-Nay. If you are looking for something a little more subdued, you need look no further than the Johnny Apple Fashioned. Consisting of Old Forester 100 proof bourbon, gomme syrup, and cherry bitters, this cocktail is a “classic old fashioned that just happens to be served in a dome,” says General Manager Jillian Smith. This interactive experience allows the customer to determine the desired amount of smoke by choosing when to lift the glass dome away from the drink.

Grass Skirt Tiki Room | 105 N Grant Ave. Classic and timeless, Grass Skirt Tiki Room has been Central Ohio’s premiere Tiki Bar experience for the better part of a decade. (When I visit, the ambiance always reminds me of the “I’m funny how?” scene from the Tiki Bar in Goodfellas.) Starting with the Toasted Coconut Hot Buttered Rum, this classic Columbus cocktail is a coconut rum-based drink for one and contains Cruzan 151, allspice, butter and cinnamon. If you want to share a drink with a group of between two and four patrons and would like your drink either set on fire (cinnamon stick) OR smoked (dry ice and hot water), you can choose from three rum based drinks (Rum and Happiness, Bali Hai, Sneaky Tiki) or the red wine sangria-based Headhunters Sangria. If you can’t find something to get excited about at Grass Skirt, stop going so there is more room for the rest of us. So, there you have it: a list of some fun, funky, and delicious cocktails to bring some light into your life. Get out there and set Columbus on fire! •

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Don’t Overthink Your Drink

Simplified cocktails make mixing (and life) easier BY JO HN MCLAUGHLI N PH OTO BY BRIAN KAI SER

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sample recipe plucked from the depths of the internet advises readers how to craft what is known as a Spicy Pineapple Strawberry Moscow Mule. The litany of ingredients required include chipotle peppers, sugar, pineapple puree, strawberries, ginger beer, lime juice, and vodka. And while a cocktail like this might ultimately be tasty once it’s completed, does anybody really want to go through the time and expense of emptying out their entire refrigerator and spice cabinet to find out? Probably not. But don’t worry, because help is on the way. Christina Basham, an experienced mixologist, longtime bar manager, and current cocktail consultant believes that many craft cocktails—in the greater Columbus area and throughout the country alike—are purposefully becoming more simple, eschewing page-long ingredients sheets for elegant drinks made up of three to four components. “I’ve been traveling a lot and have seen this in major markets and right here in Columbus,” Basham said. “These ingredients lists used to reach halfway down the page, but recently I’ve been noticing that they’re scaled back.” One reason for the movement toward simpler cocktails, Basham contends, comes from a purely logistical standpoint: it’s difficult and time-consuming to source and prepare all of the ingredients for a complex mixed drink. O ​ ther causes, she believes, stem from a more-informed customer base. As the American craft beer revolution began with drinkers vying for the biggest, hoppiest brews only to eventually find equal value in the understated craftsmanship of lighter styles such as the pilsner or gose, the country’s love of craft cocktails appears to be following a similar trajectory. “I think a lot of this has to do with people just expanding their knowledge of balance and ingredients. It seems like people are appreciating simplicity now.” And more than just observing this phenomena, the Columbus mixologist and hospitality consultant has embraced it in her own mixological practice. Tasked with creating the specialty drink menu for Duecento IV, the recently opened Italian Village nightclub and cocktail bar, Basham followed her instincts en route to crafting a list of simple but elegant and eclectic offerings. “I didn’t want to overcomplicate anything. We started with only about six or eight cocktails—no more than that, because also thinking about it from a consumer side, if you give people 30 cocktails, how much longer does it take people to read every cocktail and order? Do you really want to Google all those just to figure out what the flavor profile is going to be like?” Basham asked, noting that like her overall menu, each drink was constructed without many of the superfluous adjuncts weighing down other menus. “A lot of my builds are built off of classics, and there really aren’t that many overcomplicated classics.” One of Duecento’s signature drinks crafted by Basham, a Negroni offered on draft, is composed of Vim and Petal gin, Campari, and sweet Vermouth. Similarly streamlined is their Old Fashioned, featuring Old Forester, demerara, a bitters trio, and orange. And lucky for you, Basham isn’t the only Columbus drinkmaker embracing this simplicity. Lauded Worthington basement speakeasy Light of the Seven Matchsticks, a cinema and literatureinspired spot nestled underneath Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza has crafted an entire menu off of the less-is-more philosophy, and all underneath the guidance of lauded young Cocktail Director PJ Ford. “Our last menu, we were having all these complicated cocktails where you to put things into a shaker, strain it, top it off with something else; it was like five or six steps, so we wanted to cut down on that. I found that we were kind of relying on using


“A lot of my builds are built off of classics, and there really aren’t that many overcomplicated classics.” additional ingredients as a crutch. To keep ourselves in check, I challenged the staff. I said, ‘Let’s do whatever goes into the mixer or the shaker, meaning four ingredients or less.’ So now there’s much more purity of flavor, and more clarity with the flavors you are getting,” Ford noted. And while many might think that a stripped-down cocktail, however balanced and intentional in terms of its flavor profile, borders on becoming too safe or even boring, the talented Ford believes just the opposite. ​“We try to make things adventurous. The bar is inspired by cinema and literature, specifically stuff that’s adventure-based. We try to make our cocktails to follow that; we want them to be as weird and out there as possible,” he said. And one of the tapster’s favorite new adventures from their updated menu is a seasonal mixed drink entitled Familiar Parts of Unfamiliar Plants. Billed as a “kind of woodsy, wintry manhattan,” the cocktail lets earthy notes shine, as rum infused with fennel pollen and cinnamon shares the stage with a dash of the herbal-forward Jaeger Manifest. For Ford, the trend of simplified cocktails allows for stronger flavors with greater clarity, a more approachable presentation for customer and cocktail newbies, and overall, just better service. “It’s pretty basic and approachable. This gets us back to being a bartender instead of a mixologist, which is great and all, but not when you have people waiting 20 minutes for a drink. With bartending we can do that: tend to our bar and take care of people.” •

To learn more about the cocktail program at The Light of the Seven Matchsticks, visit thelightofsevenmatchsticks.com. 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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Classics WITH A TWIST

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LOCAL BARS SHAKE UP POPULAR COCKTAILS BY ARIAN N A URBA N PH OTOS BY BRIAN KA I SER

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eople often get into daily routines, and that often extends to drinks as well. Most would say that once they find that preferred (or maybe “safe”) cocktail, whether that be an old fashioned, manhattan, or even a gin and tonic, they stick with it. MOUTON and Middle West Spirits, also known as Service Bar, have remixed several standard cocktails and taken them to the next level. So, if you like any of the above-mentioned drinks, try one of the following and support your local mixologists. MOUTON, located in the heart of the Short North on High Street, has done an amazing job of taking favorites and turning them into not only delicious, but beautiful drinks. • 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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Like a Gin and Tonic? Try... 1 Moutonic ($9) Hayman’s Royal Dock Gin, grapefruit and lavender bitters, Butterfly Pea Flower, and feverfree tonic Ingredients:

The grapefruit and lavender bitters add sweet and floral notes while the Butterfly Pea Flower from Thailand starts out blue in color but when mixed with acidity from the gin will turn purple. Why it’s different:

Like a Tom Collins? Try... Ango American Collins ($9) Old Forester 100 Proof Bourbon, Angostura bitters, lemon and soda Ingredients:

Presented with a dehydrated blood orange slice garnish, and it does not contain gin as a Tom Collins typically would. This has a slight cinnamon taste and is equal parts sweet and tart. Why it’s different:

Like a Last Word? Try... He Said - She Said ($9) Royal Dock Navy Gin, Sloe Gin, Luxardo, Lime, Orange Flower and Hopped Grapefruit Bitters. Ingredients:

Based on the Prohibition-era classic Last Word, the hopped grapefruit bitters and Orange Flower add a touch of citrus to bring the flavors of this drink together. Why it’s different:

To complement your drink I would highly recommend the cheese and charcuterie board. It comes with an assortment of cheeses, including goat, fig jam, brown mustard, dried tomatoes that magically tasted like pizza, olives, and two meats. Served with a generous side of sliced bread from Dan’s Bakery. Visit mouton954.com. Service Bar, a swanky joint neighboring Brothers Drake, has a few fancy concoctions up their sleeves. Sidle up to their golden bar to taste one of the following. Like a Vodka Martini? Try… 2 Leaf Drop Martini ($13) Ingredients: OYO Vodka and Mastiha

Mastiha is a greek liqueur from the Chios islands distilled from the resin of a Mastic tree. Best way to describe it? “This tastes how fall smells.” • Why it’s different:

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3 Like an Old Fashioned? Try… 3 Barrel Aged Old Fashioned ($13) MWS Straight Wheat Whiskey, Salerno Blood Orange, Old Fashioned Bitters Ingredients:

Served on the rocks with handcarved ice, the Salerno Blood Orange liqueur adds a zesty full flavor to the cocktail. This essentially takes the traditional citrus rind garnish up a notch to complement the wheat whiskey. Why it’s different:

Like a Manhattan? Try… 4 Haute Manhattan ($13) Ingredients: MWS Michelone Reserve, vermouth, bitters

Made with their own house bourbon whiskey, served up, it has a full flavor that’s really smooth, but equally as sweet. Why it’s different:

Take a break from your regularly-scheduled happy hour drinks and try one of these beautifully-crafted cocktails. Check out servicebarcolumbus.com. • 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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Raise a Glass

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Labels, labeling, trends and more with Columbus wine expert Collin Minnis


BY L AURA DACHEN BAC H PH OTOS BY BRIAN KA I SER

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hat’s better than a glass of good wine and good conversation? A glass of good wine and good conversation with a wine expert. Collin Minnis, the Beverage Director and Bar Creative for A&R Creative Group, knows wine. He’s part of the team at The Market Italian Village, and he’s out there on your behalf, finding unique wines that you won’t find on trip around the grocery store. As a demonstration, he pours me a glass of a Julien Sunier Morgon appellation (“a sommelier’s darling”) and we get started. I confess that I judge a bottle by its label. Fancy labels with calligraphy are boring and intimidating. Pretty wine labels are cool and adventurous. Minnis admits that some young winemakers are responding to that bias. “The label is part of the game,” he says. “That’s half the battle—getting you to pick up the bottle. There’s some really good, interesting wines that have cool labels.” He shows me a few. A gorgeous white with an abstract, postmodern label that looks like a mural. A fun red with a gnarly grapevine design. So how do I find out what I’m holding in my hand? Is it all kitsch, or an actual package deal? To get a better look behind the label, Minnis mentions the labelscanning Vivino app. But for the most personal advice, Minnis suggests shopping in smaller stores and wine boutiques. You’ll be able to ask more questions, and get answers from the experts. At The Market, you’re going to find intriguing descriptions in place of a point system, descriptions that will invite your questions, such as this word picture for a Concerto Lambrusco: I drink like a portly, blonde toddler lost in a blackberry patch. How many berries can I fit into my mouth before I choke and die in ecstasy? A frizzante Italian red, this dry Lambrusco is refreshing and vibrant with hits of strawberry, raspberry and blackberry.

“[Natural wine] gets a little bit of a bad rap because there are bad natural wines that people are making and kinda slapping that tag on there just to sell it.” The questions don’t stop there. Looking for a low-alcohol wine? Minnis recommends checking out the Matthiasson Winery, which produces a number of wines from Napa and Sonoma, all with moderate levels of alcohol. Beaujolais reds or Vinho Verdes are also good bets for those not looking to get too buzzed. The more-educated wine drinker has become a trend in itself, and many of them want to know the answer to one of the more recent controversies to hit the world of wine: Are natural wines a thing, or are they just bad wines? Natural, or organic wines, are produced using sustainable farming practices and minimal chemical intervention. They also receive a fair amount of criticism for sometimes having a cloudy appearance or “smelling like a barnyard” (or so I’ve read). What’s going on? • 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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“[Natural wine] gets a little bit of a bad rap because there are bad natural wines that people are making and kinda slapping that tag on there just to sell it,” said Minnis. “A lot of times they are going to be like wine you haven’t had before. They can be a little funkier, a little gamier.” But natural wines, which can be produced in many ways, shouldn’t all be lumped under the same umbrella. Minnis points to the glass in my hand, which is considered a natural wine. Absent of chemical manipulation, the genuine expression of the grape, many feel, is often captured in a natural wine. “The idea is basically a ‘less-is-more’ mentality,” says Minnis. “They’re using native yeasts, not inoculated yeasts. They’re unfined. They’re unfiltered. It’s a really good representation of how the grape should drink.” Wines are usually filtered through egg whites, so a natural (unfiltered) wine is also ideal for the vegan wine drinker. But the term “natural” is without a clear definition and therefore tends to lump wines of differing qualities together, so again, Minnis suggests looking past the label.

“I think sparkling wines are always fantastic. Any time of day, any occasion. It’s fun. It’s enjoyable. You can drink it with food or not. Literally, it goes with almost everything.” Minnis also shows me some examples of increasingly available orange wines—wines made from white wine grapes where the grape skins remain in contact with the juice, resulting in a distinctive amber color. What should be the go-to wine in your collection? “I think sparkling wines are always fantastic,” Minnis said. “Any time of day, any occasion. It’s fun. It’s enjoyable. You can drink it with food or not. Literally, it goes with almost everything.” Given the flexibility of sparkling wines, Minnis predicts that more than just your hipster wine friend will start to party with “petnats,” (petillant naturals) roughly the equivalent of natural wines in bubbling form. Besides quality and uniqueness, Minnis is always on the hunt for a wine with a good story. In fact, one of the wine-of-the-month clubs The Market runs is called “Story Time,” where subscribers will learn about the interesting people and processes behind the bottle. (One of his favorites involves a dirt-poor, yet eventually successful, young winemaker who was disowned after getting revenge on his family’s winemaking process by taking a chainsaw to some oak fouders.) A wine trend that Minnis thinks needs to die? Wine in a can. Although you’ll find better-grade wines being canned nowadays, it still reminds Minnis of the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode where “The Gang” fills their Diet Coke cans with wine and hits the streets. I agree. Give me the cork, the slow pour in the glass any day. That’s why I walk out of The Market with an appropriately-corked bottle of a lovely, straw-colored, fruit-forward, yet floral white that Minnis sells me on almost immediately after a tasting. What is it? Well, I didn’t even bother to look at the label. • Visit Collin Minnis at The Market Italian Village on 1022 Summit St.

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Final Draft Cocktails on tap offer consistency, quality, and speed BY STEVE C R OYL E P HOTOS BY BR I A N KA I SER

Barhoppers around town have been noticing a trend popping up in more and more venues. Bartenders are pouring cocktails from a tap. What is this wizardry? It’s not new, but after years of high-volume bars rigging up cocktails on draft systems originally meant for beer, manufacturers have started producing equipment specially designed to handle cocktails. The concept is quite simple. You have containers of premixed cocktails housed in a cooler, connected to pressurized lines that use carbon dioxide to push the booze through the taps. These systems don’t carbonate the cocktails. It’s just enough pressure to defy gravity and keep unwanted oxygen out of the equation. It’s not a cheap option, but depending on a bar’s needs the investment could pay for itself in short order.

“As long as you’re using the proper glassware and the proper ice, all you have to do is pull the handle.” There can be a few reasons to go this route. A high-volume bar that serves several hundred drinks a night can mix up large batches of complicated cocktails once or twice a week, and increase the productivity of the bar team. Large venues that do a high volume of business see a demonstrable increase in speed of service when these systems are deployed strategically. This concept is also ideal for a brewery that doesn’t really want a full bar, but sees the need to offer something different for their non • 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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beer-drinking guests who are dragged to the brewery by beer geek friends. The recently opened Antiques on High, Seventh Son’s sour spinoff adventure, understands these calls all too well. “[Antiques on High] comes from a foundation of beer,” said Travis Owens, Lead Consultant with Behind the Glass Consulting who heads up the cocktail program at Antiques on High. They wanted to be able to offer a little bit more of an elevated cocktail experience compared to most of the [...] other bars that you go to that are beer-driven. They wanted to focus a little bit more on their cocktails.” However, the challenge was to serve a quality cocktail in a beer-driven environment, and to do so efficiently. Cocktails on draft seemed to be the answer. “There’s just a lot more opportunity on the back of the house for it to be more controlled,” says Owens. “As long as you’re using the proper glassware and the proper ice, all you have to do is pull the handle.” The systems are user-friendly. Most use plastic jugs that have specialized fittings that connect to the draft system. Once they are set up, maintenance is minimal, but crucial. It’s easy to create batch recipes for cocktails, and drinks can be mixed directly inside the containers. Extra containers can be stored in coolers for “plug and play” replacements, or containers can be refilled from a larger batch as needed. There are some concerns, however. Cocktails need to be properly mixed. Gravity always wins. You know how orange juice tends to settle? Well, so do a lot of cocktails. Even if the shelf life of batched cocktail is a week, it will need to be shaken several times a shift to ensure that the proper balance is maintained. Antiques on High has incorporated the use of alternative acids, eliminating the use of fresh juice to keep the beverages homogenized and prevent settling, Owens explained. “It’s no different than putting a soda in a can and having on the shelf at the grocery store.” There are some cocktails that work better in this application than others. Clear liquors work best because they don’t have volatile compounds that change over time. A batch of Long Islands will taste as good after three days as they did when you first made them, assuming that the splash of cola is added just prior to serving. A batch of manhattans, in which the vermouth will partially oxidize over time, is not going to be an ideal draft cocktail. Should this be a large concern to the customer? Cocktails sitting in kegs for a prolonged period of time are cocktails that are not being sold, and the point of putting cocktails on draft in the first place is to sell them more quickly. A batched cocktail off of a draft system is still only as good as the person making it. If they stick to the recipe, and the system is properly cared for, any venue, regardless of size, can reap the rewards of consistency, efficiency, and increased speed of service without sacrificing quality. The benefits to the guest is getting good drinks faster. “I do think you need someone [...] in the back of the house that’s actually prepping these things. It’s not just throwing a bunch of booze into a keg and calling it a good craft cocktail,” Owens said. So, how do you know if those drinks are going to be good? Look around. Is the place clean? Do other customers look happy? Do the people working there seem like they care? The more boxes the place checks, the more likely their draft cocktail game is on point. In the end, it may all depend of the type of drink you’re looking for. “I understand that you definitely get blowback from people that say this process is kind of cutting corners, or isn’t genuine,” said Owens. “I think there is some legitimacy to that. If that’s what you’re looking for, you have the establishments that do that. •

Antiques on High is 714 S High St. Find a menu and hours at antiquesonhigh.com.

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PAINT, DRAW, THEN DRINK Columbus artists leave their creative mark on beer labels BY A DA M K I N G

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PHOTO BY BR I A N KA I SER •

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here’s nothing bourgeois about beer. Even craft beer shuns the hoity-toity set. So when you’re a local brewery trying to make a statement in a crowded market, you don’t aim for refined. You go eclectic. You go bold. You go for what-the-fuck. And you find a beer can artist who can match that vision. Sadly, there isn’t a Yellow Pages listing for that. So Seventh Son Brewing did the next best thing and phoned a friend—a bunch of them, in fact. It helps when coowners Jen Burton and Collin Castore and head brewer Colin Vent belong to a social circle overflowing with right-brainers. A graphic designer and illustrator, Will Fugman (long u, silent g) befriended Burton when they both lived in the Columbus College of Art and Design dorms. Fugman was tapped to do concept art for the company before the brewery opened in 2013 and has since designed about 22 cans and bottles, including all the new releases in 2018 and 2019. Vent went a less-formal artistic route and hired his tattoo artist. Mike Moses was finishing up a yearlong sleeve on Vent’s left arm when Vent convinced him to design a series of 750 ml bottle labels in 2015. Evan Wolff, who lived in Columbus for seven years before moving to Cincinnati, met Burton when they worked the Ace of Cups bar together. His lone can design two years ago turned out to be one of the more popular ones, Assistant Manager American golden ale. It features Wolff’s take on Old Horatio, Seventh Son’s “assistant manager” tabby cat, who has amassed a nearly 3,700-human Instagram following (@assistantmanagercat). Since the company anthropomorphizes the cat—he’s the director of pest control operations and customer satisfaction—Wolff thought he’d do the same on the can. Horatio is pictured taking a big swig of “Purrliferous” beer (a nod to Proliferous, a Seventh Son staple) while texting a review on “Yalp.” Known more for his concert fliers and album cover art, Wolff got the simple pen-and-ink drawing right on the first take. “The beer can is almost like an LP cover,” says Wolff, who returns to Columbus often with his band Vacation for Ace of Cups gigs. “That’s almost like the next, not logical thing, but in that same vein.” Castore got to know Meagan Alwood-Karĉić when she tended bar and watched his kid when he co-owned Short North bar Bodega. He asked her to do the Brother Jon Belgian ale can, homage to Jon Putnam, a local actor and friend who officiated Vent’s wedding. •


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“And we’ve always tried to work with artists who we felt were unique and talented and did not necessarily make art that fit on beer cans” The hardest part was trying to make the artwork fit the can. “I had to think three-dimensional, so it was a different realm,” said Alwood-Karĉić, who by day is a graphic designer in the Ohio Department of Commerce and is a self-taught painter. She never felt she got Putnam’s likeness quite right, but her can proved quite popular too. “I don’t ever know what I’m doing, and I’m lucky to have people who are interested in my work.” Seventh Son isn’t alone in supporting local talent. Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, at the corner of Fourth and East Hickory, hired design firm Space Junk to concept and design its labels. Also on that Fourth Street corridor, Hoof Hearted Brewing’s owners made their former elementary school classmate, Westerville native and nationally-renowned artist Thom Lessner, their art director. It’s some of the most audacious (and perhaps offensive?) work you’ll see on beer, including a centaur passing gas for the company’s logo (say Hoof Hearted three times quickly…you’ll get it), the outline of a beer bottle down a pair of shorts for Sidepipin’ ale and a crossbow-toting, baby-carrying, denim-clad woman of action for Mom Jeans double-milk stout. While those brewing companies aim for a consistent look, Seventh Son takes pride in having used a dozen artists with a clash of styles. “It’s important to trust artists and not overbearingly direct them. Otherwise what’s the point in them doing the work?” Burton said. “And we’ve always tried to work with artists who we felt were unique and talented and did not necessarily make art that fit on beer cans,” added Castore. Fugman appreciates the latitude and it’s led him to some of his favorite work. His steady income is being a fashion-forward clothing designer for major brands such as Levi’s, North Face and Old Navy. But the beer work truly jazzes his imagination. Fugman’s first release was on a can for tart IPA Goo Goo Muck, a song by the ’80s punk band The Cramps about a scuzzy dude who always finds trouble. The problem was, Fugman had already developed a 17th century scientific illustration motif for his label campaign, but with the can coming first, he had to make the ideas blend. •

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“The crow was my proof of concept, and that one went over so well it opened up the freedom for me to explore,”

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His crow gnawing on a sour grapefruit in colored pencil and watercolor was a huge hit. Some people bought the cans just for the artwork. Seventh Son plans to re-release it this year. “The crow was my proof of concept, and that one went over so well it opened up the freedom for me to explore,” Fugman said. Castore loved Fugman’s interpretation of Bibendum, the name for the Michelin Man and a nod to Seventh Son’s location in a former tire shop. To represent the chocolate stout with Ecuadorian cocoa nibs, Fugman drew a burning rubber plant, which grows abundantly in South America, with the smoke forming the Andes Mountains. “Will always has a great take on the concept of the beer,” Castore said. Not bad for a Bud and whiskey guy whose taste buds rarely touch the craft stuff. But his great respect for the brewing process shows through in his art. “I’m a beer moron,” Fugman admitted. “But I wanted to take the look somewhere different, be softer and richer and something you could look at more than once or derive things from it. The artists all have different stories we’re telling, but the idea is to have people respond to it.” •

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Dare To Dream Columbus food collaborations we’d love to see

BY R E G I N A F OX | I L LU STR ATI O N S BY SARAH M O O RE

The annual Hot Mikey’s Takeover pizza is the poster child of Columbus collaborations. Launched in 2016 as a way to play with their respective customer bases and to benefit the Columbus Diaper Bank, the Hot Chicken Takeover/Late Night Slice mashup has only continued to grow. (For every dollar spent on a slice or a pie, a diaper is donated to the bank.) Who would have thought that the Nashville Hot Chicken pizza with Mac and Cheese would be such a favorite? And yet...here we are. While we love this alliance, we can’t help but dream about all the untapped collab potential we have in this city. And so, we’ve put together a list of our dream collaborations between food authorities across the city. Food scene, this is your cue to get busy. Eat local, Columbus!

MOMO GHAR + RAY RAY’S HOG PIT BBQ beef brisket-stuffed momos: Pan-fried, bulging with beef, swimming in spicy Momo sauce. It comes with a side of BBQ sauce because we can’t have you leaving the table with a clean shirt.

YELLOW BRICK PIZZA + C. KRUEGER We want to get positively lost in a deep dish cookie pizza. Would you choose to pair your thick, doughy crust with a peanut butter, double chocolate, buttercream, or good old-fashioned chocolate chip cookie topping?

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BUCKEYE DONUTS + DIRTY FRANK’S Picture this: Charred Beef Dog topped Picnic Table-style (baked beans, cabbage & carrot mustard slaw, relish, & crushed potato chips) inside a Maple Bacon Long John. Mmmhmm, honey.

JENI’S SPLENDID ICE CREAMS + WENDY’S We all know how good the Columbus-based fast food chain’s fry + Frosty combo is. But, we could do you one better with a Wendy’s fry-flavored Jeni’s ice cream. Chocolate base, savory and greasy potato flavor, with plenty of sea salt mixed in. Hell, we’d even throw a few Wendy’s fries on top! Dip on, Columbus.

SCHMIDT’S SAUSAGE HAUS + CONDADO TACOS A sturdy Ju-Ju shell (soft flour shell +hard corn shell + queso + chorizo) will haus your potato salad, hickorysmoked Bahama Mama, and sauerkraut layers. It comes with a side of tortilla chips and potato pancakes so you can scoop up all the fallen goodies that spill out of your German taco. •

Want to help families in need meet their diapering needs? Go to columbusdiaperbank.org. 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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, E C A P S M U MINIM MAXIMUM TASTE diner” hangout Find your next favorite “tiny R OT OS BY IAN CR UM PLE BY J.R . MC MIL LA N | PH

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omewhere between East Coast delicatessens and West Coast cafés is the culinary intersection of utility and community. Though the Midwest didn’t exactly invent the diner, it has arguably perfected it. But defining a diner isn’t as easy as it seems. Tommy’s urban appeal and Nancy’s down-home feel are two sides of the same coin. Cap City and Starliner both push the envelope with avant-garde offerings, while Hang Over Easy and Chef-O-Nette certainly deserve a nod. But none really meet the standard for tiny diners, the neighborhood haunts only the locals seem to know. Despite our critically-acclaimed restaurant scene, the classic diner is working class by design. Most offer open kitchens and open seating without a sous chef or sommelier in sight. Better still if there’s 50

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a guy with a gallery of tattoos behind the grill and the coffee is strong enough to stand up a spoon. Breakfast hours are essential; breakfast anytime is understood. There’s an implicit social compact to rubbing elbows with strangers at tightly-grouped tables or a crowded counter. Enough original or inspired decor with knickknacks and nostalgia so that even regulars find something new every time combined with off-the-menu specials and predictable patrons the staff know by name are all part of the charm. Unfortunately, that social scene is also what may make these esoteric eateries intimidating for the uninitiated. So here’s an insider’s guide to some of the city’s best tiny diners and the plates that make them great.


Garbage Omelet from George’s Beechwold Diner

FOR BREAKFAST George’s Beechwold Diner 4408 Indianola Ave., North Clintonville Dinky diner meets neighborhood dive on the edge of Clintonville. The steak and eggs and biscuits and gravy are both solid. If you can’t decide, you can’t go wrong with the garbage omelet, which varies from visit to visit, but includes every meat, cheese, and veggie on the menu. Jack & Benny’s Barnstormer 2160 W Case Rd., Dublin Hidden gem is an understatement for a joint tucked away in the back of a hanger at the recently remodeled OSU Airport. Try the legendary Gut Buster at least once—layers of egg, cheese, sausage, bacon, ham, and hash browns with a potato pancake and peppered gravy for good measure. Stav’s Diner 2932 E. Broad St., Bexley Skip the standard French toast and substitute challah bread instead for something unexpected. Buttery pancakes with fresh blueberries are always in season. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Order the gyro omelet with feta, but add spinach and tomato for even more Mediterranean flavors. Louie’s Daybreak Diner 1168 E Weber Rd., Linden This Linden destination offers all the standard breakfast fare with some signature standouts, like their famous Panhandler, or a personal favorite, the Philly Omelet. Sliced roast beef and Swiss with mushrooms, peppers and onions is like a cheesesteak wrapped in an egg instead of a bun. •

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Patty Melt from German Village Coffee Shop

FOR LUNCH German Village Coffee Shop 193 Thurman Ave., German Village Don’t let the name fool you. The patty melt is superb, covered in grilled onions, Swiss and American cheese, and Thousand Island on rye—as is the Monte Christa, the comfort food cousin of the classic club sandwich with egg-battered bread stuffed with hot turkey, ham and cheese. Delaney’s Diner 5916 Westerville Rd., Westerville With a new name, more tables, and a few menu holdovers, you’ll still find the best corned beef hash in Columbus, carved into huge chunks, served with grilled red potatoes and onions, and eggs to order. Crispy country fried steak smothered in sausage gravy also remains a reliable staple. Jack’s Downtown Diner 52 E Lynn St., Downtown Hard to find, even in the heart of downtown, is a time capsule of the prototypical American diner. You could shoot a period picture at Jack’s and not have to change a thing. It’s already perfect. Order the meatloaf sandwich on sourdough with a side of hash browns, just to mix it up. Grill & Skillet 2924 E Main St., Bexley Nothing says nostalgia like grilled liver and onions with homemade mashed potatoes, or a thick-sliced, fried bologna sandwich—not even the checkerboard floors. But don’t overlook the weekend specials, like peanut butter and banana French toast, salmon patties with Hollandaise, or their killer kielbasa and eggs.

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3 Brothers Omelet from 3 Brothers

FOR DINNER 3 Brothers Diner 3090 Southwest Blvd., Grove City The three brothers from Oaxaca helped establish the style of another local diner before opening their own. Try their namesake omelet, with bacon, ham, plantains, and Monterey Jack covered in chili sauce and sour cream—or their signature scramble with poblanos, onions, corn, and zucchini, topped with Jack and queso fresco. Westerville Grill 59 S State St., Westerville On the south end of Uptown, evening hours are often the exception when it comes to diners. Don’t miss the smothered chicken, grilled with peppers, onions, mushrooms, and melted cheddar with a side of mashed potatoes, or the weekend-only prime rib, slow-roasted and served with au jus. Philco Diner + Bar 747 N High Street, Short North The only entry on the list where all-day breakfast meets beer and cocktails, this upscale Short North pit stop offers a modern twist on every recipe. Seriously consider the coffee-braised pot roast, served with butternut squash, red potatoes, poblanos, and goat cheese, with rosemary onion rings. Fitzy’s Old Fashioned Diner 1487 Schrock Rd., Worthington It’s never too late or too early at Fitzy’s, the only 24-hour diner on our list. Go for the breaded and fried, sliced pork tenderloin, served as an entrée, on a sandwich, or with your eggs—or keep it simple with the Fitzer: eggs your way, home fries, and a biscuit all covered in sausage gravy. • 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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Powered by plants Harnessing the power of the soybean, Eric Ma of Tofu Louie continues to surprise, challenge Columbus with unique vegan fare BY JA E L A N I TU R N E R -WI LLI AM S

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fter building a cult following of loyal foodies through social media, Eric Ma of Tofu Louie is returning the favor by attending a soft opening of Pierogi Mountain in German Village. “The vegan scene in Columbus is awesome. It seemed like it was gonna last for two, three years but it just blew up,” he says, just one week after his Ramen Pop-Up at & Juice Co in Clintonville. “Now people have a hard time deciding where they’re gonna go some weekends, but there’s enough of a demand where we’re not competing with each other.” Mentioning the NoTuna wrap at Portia’s Cafe and wild breakfast sandwich at & Juice Co. as local favorites, Ma reflects on a time before the vegan industry blossomed in Columbus, when the idea of Tofu Louie originated—just after his wedding. “At the time, I got married down at the courthouse,” he says. “After the courthouse, we went to the Food Truck Festival and we couldn’t find anything to eat, at all, really. We did, but it was like, ‘Yeah, you can have this taco with nothing on it’.” The disappointment of the lack of plant-based options prompted the concept of a vegan food truck, but was reconceptualized with a little help along the way. “It wasn’t like I was cooking for the idea of a business, but cooking for my wife and myself. I stumbled onto a lot of recipes, so we were spitballing a lot of ideas. We couldn’t afford a food truck, so we decided to go into the festival circuit,” he says. “Portia [Yiamouyiannis] from Portia’s Cafe, she kind of mentored me a little bit in the beginning. She kicked my butt in gear to do it, because there were a lot of fears. Like, ‘Oh, what if I fail? What if this, what if that?’ and she’s going ‘Yeah, you’re gonna fail, that’s how you learn. Nothing’s gonna fall into place perfectly for you to just walk down that road.” Following Tofu Louie’s first paid gig at the Columbus Asian Festival, the food stand continued to show at P H OTO BY B R I A N KA I S E R

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“I try to make everything almost from scratch, because I feel like I’m a gatekeeper for what goes into your body and I feel like I’m in control over that.”

bustling events such as the Doo-Dah Parade and Stonewall Pride, creating an influx of social media followers before taking off in late 2018. “When I did [my first] pop-up at Two Dollar Radio, a bunch of people showed up. When I did Sushi Night at Two Dollar Radio, a bunch of people showed up. So that was confirmation, like, things are happening now,” Ma says. Most recently, Tofu Louie held a “Vegan Hot Chicken Makeover,” complete with “Nochicken” and waffles, Angry Baker pop-tarts, and the Portia Louie BLT, a sweet and savory creation that sent customers hankering for more. While Ma is well-versed in partnering with vegan businesses in Columbus, he’s recently become invested in expanding his food palette through traveling. After his grandmother’s passing last year, he decided to visit countries in Asia. With an open mind and empty stomach, he was ready to savor anything that he could recreate once returning home. “Here in Columbus, some of the ethnic Asian foods are pretty watered down, they’re for the American palette. Going to [Singapore], it’s nice when I don’t have to go, ‘Hey, make it extra spicy,’ because it’s already spicy, it’s already there,” he says. “These people, they’ve perfected these recipes through generations of family-owned food stands [...] and sometimes they only have three things on the menu, but it’s well-perfected and that’s what people go for.” During his visit, Ma was lead to a wholesale grocery market where he decided to make his own version of Laska, a shrimp-based noodle bowl. Instead Ma used bean sprouts, tofu puffs, cucumber, fried shallots and chili paste. “At one point, I was smashing lemongrass with a rock, trying to grind it down. It didn’t work at all, so I just hand mixed it, which was a pain in the ass to do,” he says. Back home, the imaginativeness of Tofu Louie is still flowing, as Ma has yet to run out of ideas for future pop-ups. While he’s enjoying the fruits of his labor, he doesn’t yet want to establish his own brick and mortar, as he’s still perfecting his craft. “It’s not like I don’t want to work hard in a restaurant. But right now, if I have the opportunity to bounce all over the place and really get these experiences, I can really contribute more to the vegan scene,” he says. “I want to contribute what I grew up with. I still have my western food, my mac and cheese, my reuben sandwiches, but I want [customers] to eat it and fill up their soul, essentially.” Next, Ma wants to introduce vegan mavens to the mouth-numbing intensity of Szechuan peppercorn. “I try to make everything almost from scratch, because I feel like I’m a gatekeeper for what goes into your body and I feel like I’m in control over that,” he says. “I kind of want to cultivate this thing where, essentially I don’t want to be tied down. I have this creative energy going right now and I want to keep running with it.” • To keep up with Tofu Louie, follow it at @tofulouie.

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Geauxing Off The Beaten Path Creole and Italian cuisines come together at Gallo’s Kitchen and Bar

BY MIKE THOMAS PH OTOS BY JULIA N F OG L I ET T I

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olumbus has no shortage of neighborhood favorites or local watering holes. All the hip locations such as Italian Village, Grandview, German Village, and Clintonville are full of their own local flavor. However, one neighborhood nook is as unique as it is hidden, and it just so happens to serve up flavors that are hard to find anywhere else in town. Nestled just east of Riverside Drive in Upper Arlington, Gallo’s Kitchen and Bar is a friendly neighborhood joint that aims to please a diverse crowd. “I wanted to open a place where everyone is welcome and everyone feels at home,” explains head chef and owner, Tommy Gallo. While the inviting atmosphere has won Gallo’s a loyal base of return customers, the restaurant’s menu is perhaps a little eyebrow-raising for first time patrons. “This restaurant is quite a niche,” says general manager Jamie Hodder. “How many places are doing Creole, and how many are doing Italian as well? I don’t think anybody anywhere is doing that.” The choice to offer cuisine from two separate traditions is a reflection 56

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of Gallo’s own path through the culinary arts. At the beginning of his career, Gallo trained under chef David Russo at Akron’s Liberty Street Restaurant. For a time, Russo was Emeril Lagasse’s right hand man at the celebrity chef’s New Orleans restaurant, NOLA, and passed his expertise from that experience on to Gallo. “Tommy can execute as well as a lot of restaurants in New Orleans,” Hodder boasts. “I’ve been fortunate enough to go down there a few times, and it has really made me appreciate the food that comes out of our kitchen. It’s as good as a lot of places in New Orleans.” In addition to Russo’s invaluable guidance, Gallo’s cooking was influenced by his family from an early age. He recalls spending time in the kitchen with his parents and grandparents growing up, and inherited his marinara recipe from his father. Whether it’s his Italian heritage or the influence of his mentor, the desire to pay homage to his roots is the driving force behind Gallo’s approach to his restaurant’s menu. An entrée that manages to combine his two main sources of inspiration is the Pasta Russo, a classic Italian dish


“I take the quality and freshness of my seafood very seriously. In fact, the fish you are eating today was more than likely swimming yesterday.” named for the chef who gave Gallo his start. “I started at the bottom of the line and worked my way up,” Gallo reminisces of his early days working under Russo. “Dave gave me a lot of freedom and that experience helped shape my culinary style and philosophy.” Pasta Russo consists of a flavorful and hearty Bolognese sauce, combining veal, beef, and pork, served over cavatelli pasta. “This one took me a long time to master,” says Gallo. “If I named it after Dave, it had to be perfect.” Given the menu’s Louisiana leanings, it’s no surprise that one of Gallo’s own favorite entrées is the Seafood Creole: a gluten-free dish that consists of assorted sauteed seafood served over rice and finished in a rich tomato Creole sauce. “I take the quality and freshness of my seafood very seriously. In fact, the fish you are eating today was more than likely swimming yesterday,” he explains. The emphasis on freshness extends to every ingredient at Gallo’s, from wing to filet. Other classic Creole entrées worthy of consideration is the jambalaya. With Gallo’s own tasso ham, andouille sausage, and chicken, it’s the kitchen’s spiciest dish, and the perfect comfort food for colder days. A bit more complex, the Chicken Etouffée features chunks of chicken served in a ham shank roux-based gravy. Quality and variety keeps the neighborhood regulars coming to Gallos’s. That, and snowstorms. In 2013 during a particularly bad storm, Nottingham Road, on which the restaurant is located, became the only accessible roadway because of a COTA bus stop which had to be cleared. “That snow storm really boomed our business and turned a lot of neighbors into regulars,” says Gallo. “Thank God for the snow.” Gallo’s people-pleasing approach to dining is also reflected in the restaurant’s drink offerings. Craft beer on draft? Check. Hand crafted martinis? Done. Reds, whites, and sparkling? Accounted for. Domestic light bottles? Eight to choose from. The classic wooden bar offers plenty of space to share appetizers with friends during the game (polenta and arancini recommended) or to feast on a sandwich. If the sports bar vibe isn’t your thing, make reservations in the dining area for an intimate date night or drinks and dinner with friends from the office. While the Creole-Italian mashup at Gallo’s may seem odd at first glance, the passion and exceptional skill behind the cuisine is sure to win over any skeptic. With the warm, welcoming environment that Gallo has cultivated, it’s easy to see why the establishment is growing as one of the city’s favorite hidden gems. •

Gallo’s Kitchen and Bar is located on 2820 Nottingham Dr. For more details on hours, visit galloskitchen.com. 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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SOUP, SALAD, AND ENTREE FROM FARE N’ SQUARE

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P H OTOS BY B R I A N KAI SER


Ready, Set, Eat! Pre-prepped meal kits take guesswork out of the kitchen BY MIKE THOMAS

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hen it comes to making healthy food choices, breaking bad habits can be a challenge. Though the latest fad diets may take the guesswork out of counting calories, the convenience promised at the end of the golden arches might still win out, especially for those of us who tend toward subsisting on junk food. Enter a new generation of companies that make healthy eating easier than ever with ready-to-eat meals delivered right to your door. Unlike their meal-kit counterparts such as Blue Apron or Home Chef, no culinary savvy whatsoever is required—aside from the ability to preheat the oven or punch in a few numbers on a microwave. With robust stable offerings, Fresh N’ Lean is a Chino, California-based meal delivery service that promises to put your food prep on autopilot. Fresh N’ Lean’s internationallyinspired dishes are prepared by their chefs using organic ingredients. Meal plans from Fresh N’ Lean deliver a week’s worth of ready-to-eat food to your door at a time, with a cost per meal of around $10 each. Meal plans are customized based on dietary preference, with “performance protein,” plant-based, or low-carb options available to serve everyone from paleo purists to die hard veg-heads. Fresh N’ Lean meals come vacuum-packed in plastic trays that leave something to be desired from an aesthetic standpoint. As the saying goes, you eat first with your eyes. Laying eyes on these things for the first time, my eyes were feasting on a week’s worth of soylent green-esque foodstuffs. • 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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Thankfully, the meals were much more recognizable as actual food once freed from their suctioned-plastic freshness prisons. Meals such as spinach white bean quinoa with steak or cumin bell peppers with shredded chicken are plenty filling, but pack little in the flavor department to offset their initially startling visual presentation. While far from an amazing culinary experience, Fresh N’ Lean’s meals provide balanced nutrition at a very diet-friendly 500 calories (give or take) each. For those whose diet needs are a little less stringent, but who still need some help staying on the right track, comes Columbus’s local answer to meal prep, Fare and Square. While Fare and Square’s meals are crafted with healthiness in mind, the main consideration is providing wholesome, scratch-made food options. Fare and Square’s menus are updated weekly, and include familiar favorites like spaghetti carbonara, chicken noodle soup and broccoli casserole. Customers place their orders for individual or bundled meals each friday, and the food is delivered the following Sunday. Packed in simple plastic carryout containers with clear plastic lids, Fare N’ Square’s meal offerings live up to their scratch-made reputation, which combined with the convenience of delivery, make for a solid alternative to fast food. Priced at between $7 and $10 dollars per entree, the cost of Columbus’ own meal prep venture is in line with national competitors. Though the food is familiar and convenient, Fare N’ Square’s menu is targeted to a decidedly less hardcore diet crowd. The wholesome food and reasonable portions are sure to please the health-minded, but listings of nutritional guidelines are nowhere to be found. Still, those seeking the comfort of a scratch-made meal with none of the time investment or hassle, this service may be just the thing. Striking a balance between freshness and health, Clean Eatz is a regional chain of meal prep kitchens with locations throughout the midwest and south. Featuring new meals each week, Clean Eatz aims to provide customers with properlyportioned, balanced meals at an affordable price, eliminating the guesswork of meal prep and the temptation to seek out less-healthy options. Like Fresh N’ Lean, meal plans are designed to meet the specific dietary needs of a wide range of customers. Those looking to add muscle or drop weight will find meals catered to their needs, as well as keto and paleospecific offerings. 60

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ROASTED CAULIFLOWER CHERRY TOMATO WITH SHRIMP BY FRESH N’ LEAN

Meal plans for the week go live on Clean Eatz website each Thursday, with breaks in price per meal commensurate with the quantity ordered. The five-meal plan yielding the highest cost per meal comes in at $7.60 per plate, making Clean Eatz one of the more affordable options in this niche market. While Clean Eatz offers the convenience of home delivery, their prepped meals are also available to purchase a-la-carte from cafe locations. This option may be better for those who aren’t ready to commit to a bulk plan, or for those just curious about trying what prepped meals have to offer. In an ideal world, everyone would have the time to prep a week’s worth of nutritious and filling meals ahead of time while avoiding all food-based temptations in their many forms. In reality, eating right is a constant struggle for most. While eating right means different things to different people, a helping hand in the form of a pre-planned, ready to eat meal just might be a step in the right direction. •

Find your next meal at freshnlean.com, fareandsquare.com, or cleaneatz.com.


WHAT ARE YOU WAFFLING FOR? A TRIFECTA OF WAFFLES TO SUIT ANY TIME, ANY TASTE


BY REGINA FOX

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reakfast is supposed to be a simple meal. And yet, the quest for the pure, golden, perfect-texture waffle still eludes so many of us as we sadly scrape the burnt remains of our lumpy batter off the Cuisinart. This is no way to spend your Saturday morning. And so, we at (614) present to you three worthy candidates to reign over the waffles in Columbus.

BELGIAN IRON WAFFLE COMPANY 19 W Russell St. Welcome to a world where waffles are wafels and sugar pearls are king. Belgian Iron opened in the Short North this winter on a mission to redefine the way we enjoy the syrupy carb. They started with their name. “We get people in here all the time telling us we spelled ‘waffle’ wrong,” said Aimee Harper laughingly. Aimee owns the business with her husband, Brandon. But, of course, it’s no mistake—Belgian Iron’s Leige-style wafels have a spelling and recipe all their own. Rather than the liquidy batter and granular sugar you grew up with, Leige-style wafels are made from a proprietary dough recipe and Belgian sugar pearls. The dough allows the wafels to mature into impressively dense, yet fluffy and flaky members of the breakfast community. The sugar pearls, which are the size, shape, and color of nickel-sized hail, give the wafels an unbelievably sweet and crunchy crust. After the sugar pearls are carefully folded into the dough along with the other meticulously measured ingredients (amounts and temps determined with help from a real chemist for the gluten-free recipe!) it is pressed between nearly 100 pounds of beautiful Belgian cast iron. Then, it’s Executive Chef Tom Brown’s time to shine. The wafels are elevated even higher with uniquely sophisticated, yet approachable toppings. Belgian Mushroom, which Aimee believes will be adored by even non-mushroom lovers, comes with herb ricotta, sautéed crimini mushroom and onion, zesty adobo demi glace, and aged cheese. The Balsamic Chicken Sriracha with smoked chicken, roasted red pepper, melted mozzarella, sliced avocado, and spiraled beets, is Brown’s homage to the classic chicken and waffles combination. On the sweet side, Belgian Iron offers the carrot cake (chef’s choice) which comes with bourbon-infused genieten, maple carrot cream cheese, spiral carrot. There are also three gluten-free and vegan options on the menu, both sweet and savory.

Check out: belgianiron.com. 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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FORTY’S CHICKEN & WAFFLES 2593 N High St. Next time you’re throwing a right hook on Street Fighter, or keeping Ms. Pac-Man away from killer ghosts at Olde North Arcade, the sweet, sweet smell of fresh waffles may interrupt your gamer gaze. Forty’s Chicken & Waffles is now the official feedery of the North High Street barcade. Ben Morgan has seen food from all kinds of neighboring establishments come into his bar—Mikey’s Late Night Slice, Hounddogs, Ray Ray’s Hog Pit—and after four years, he decided he’d had enough of that. “We wanted to engineer something that would be the ultimate late-night munchies type of comfort food that would accentuate our existing nightlife venue,” said Morgan. “Something that would be hot, crunchy, salty, fatty, and instantly gratifying.” Chicken was the obvious choice, particularly because Morgan was already in the business of chicken with his Forty’s Bird & Brew food truck. And so, the truck was parked and the chicken and waffles flew indoors. Described by Morgan as “comically unhealthy,” Forty’s menu items are what guilty pleasure dreams are made of. The waffles are made from “lots of gluten, butter, sugar, and eggs,” and provide the ideal anchor for the gluttonous goodies held inside, like the buttermilk fried chicken that marinates overnight with hot sauce and spices to create a “ridiculously juicy and flavorful chunk of meat,” says Morgan. The Cone comes with tenders, mac, slaw, and maple syrup all stuffed inside a waffle cone shell. (This was the most popular item out of the food truck.) There’s also the Slider, a piece of fried chicken hugged by two belgian waffles with slaw and BBQ sauce. The waffle stuffed with mac and cheese and topped with bacon and maple syrup has my vote, though. However, I’d be positively giddy to spend a week’s worth of calories on the Donut—Glazed Donut Bun w/ Fried Tenders + Slaw + Maple Syrup. You can get all of these unbelievably delicious items with sides of 40 ounces of freedom (Budweiser - Bud Lite - King Cobra - Colt 45 - Mickey’s - Olde English), root beer floats, ice cream cones, and/or fries—waffle fries, that is.

Check out: fortyschickenandwaffles.com. 64

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P H OTOS BY J.R. M CM I LLAN


DOUBLE HAPPY 1280 Brown Rd. You’re familiar with waffles, and you’re familiar with potatoes, but have you ever heard of Poffles? This new-fangled edible invention comes to us from Double Happy, a quaint ice cream shop heading into its third year of business on the southwest side of Columbus. The Poffles, which are among the most unique and popular items on Double Happy’s exceptionally diverse menu, include the Golden Poffle (gold potato waffle), a Bacon and Cheddar Poffle, and a Sweet Potato Poffle that can be likened to the taste of sweet potato pie. Owner Ryan Troup says that since the Poffles were introduced this past fall, the Muenster Mac & Cheese Poffle (lightly breaded to give it a crust similar to baked mac), topped with Memphis BBQ pork, baked beans (“Mom’s recipe,” said Troup), and coleslaw has been the crowd favorite. Got a sweet tooth? Troup suggests turning the Sweet Potato Poffle into an ice cream sundae smothered in pure maple syrup. However, the Chocolate Brownie Belgian waffle is designed specifically for sundaes. The plain Belgian Pearl Sugar waffles act as a blank slate for customer creativity, too. Belgian waffle + chicken + peanut butter sauce + honey + peanuts may just be the adventurous culinary combo you need! To wash down your Poffle or waffle, Double Happy offers a bevy of beverages designed to taste good and make you feel good. “Our fair trade, organic coffee beans for both hot and cold drinks are roasted by Stauf’s and come from a cooperative in Peru run entirely by women,” said Troup. Coffee is the core of several Double Happy drinks, including the mochaccino milkshake which boasts a chocolate base plus some zips of espresso syrup. The most popular iced drink is the freddo—pure maple syrup over ice with fair trade, organic espresso and cold whisked milk. On the non-caf side, Troup implores guests to give Double Happy’s handblended milkshakes a try, like the Brown and Hopkin made with chocolate, Ghirardelli hot fudge, and their own, all-natural peanut butter sauce. “We enjoy making products for people who find something on the menu they haven’t had before,” said Troup. “But rather than an ultimate order, what makes our day is when a customer feels better for having stopped at Double Happy.”

Check out: Double Happy on Facebook. 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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Breweries thriving in more remote areas of town

TECHNOLOGY Sideswipe’s clubhouse feel is fueled by the brewery’s origins. It all started in one commercial garage bay in an industrial park off of Scioto Harper Road. The drive up to Sideswipe is disconcerting, as you pass salvage yards on McKinley, duck under the 670 overpass on Harper Road, and pass by businesses that aren’t meant to take customers on site. There’s the legend of the Uber driver who stopped his car two thirds of the way up the dead end road, to kick his passenger out because he thought a robbery was afoot, but despite all of this, Sideswipe has grown and developed a very nice customer base that fills the taproom Wednesday through Sunday each week. How did that happen? A business pattern that Columbus establishments are increasingly taking advantage of: the unexpected location.

BY STE V E C R OY L E I L LU STR ATI O N BY SA R A H M O O RE

Sideswipe’s success instills a sense of great confidence in Geiger as he sets out to take Arcade Super Awesome in a new direction. There’s no worry when it comes to attracting customers. Geiger said his regulars were already checking out the new digs, and Sideswipe’s regulars kept poking their heads in to see how the arcade was coming along. Despite being tucked away in an unlikely area, Sideswipe’s proximity to Grandview, Downtown, Grove City, Hilliard and Westgate provides a great opportunity to draw even more people. Moreover, the lack of frontage ensures that those who find the place, really want to be there. And maybe that’s why Sideswipe’s taproom has the “clubhouse” vibe. They don’t get a lot of random drive-by traffic. In fact, it’s impossible to casually pass by them on your way to something else. You’re there because you want to be, or because your sense of direction is horrible and you’re lost. What Sideswipe’s location lacks in terms of traditional business value, gives it character, and that character fits Arcade Super Awesome like a comfortable pair of sweatpants.

Arcade Super Awesome and Sideswipe Brewery John Geiger was ready to take a break when he got the news that his rent for the Arcade Super Awesome Space in Old Town East was going up. He’s got a family, and a business. The games are an extension of a hobby gone wild. During the day, he’s working with clients developing software, but on the nights and weekends he’s working on vintage arcade games and pinball machines that get a lot of abuse. “We put a lot into that space,” he said of the arcade above Yellow Brick, “and we loved working with them, but I was looking forward to taking a break.” That wasn’t meant to be. As he was making arrangements to move his machines, he got a call from Craig O’Herron over at Sideswipe. The bay adjacent to Sideswipe’s taproom was coming available, and O’Herron wondered if John might be interested. Geiger quickly said yes. “I’ve had some machines in their taproom for a while, and I really like it. Everybody at Sideswipe is really cool, and it’s a great social atmosphere. It’s like a clubhouse, which is kind of like my warehouse over in Grandview, but there’s a taproom.” 66

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Watershed Kitchen and Bar Sweatpants would not be the prefered attire for the shabby chic vibe at Watershed’s Kitchen and Bar, even though it’s off the beaten track in a Grandview area industrial park. “We were adamant that we did not want to get into the restaurant business,” Watershed’s co-founding partner, Greg Lehman said. “Then we saw how many people were coming in for tours, and realized that offered cocktails and some appetizers could enhance that experience.” After careful consideration, Watershed decided to build out the kitchen and bar right there at the distillery. Despite not having high visibility, the location is fantastic in terms of the number of people living and working nearby. The only issue to overcome is getting people to the door, and that’s hardly a problem when everybody has mapping software on their phones. Ask Siri to guide you to Watershed, and don’t second guess that turn up Virginia Avenue.


Ill Mannered Brewing Watershed’s success speaks for itself. The kitchen has been open for a couple of years and they’ve had to add more seating. Seating was always a big problem for Ill Mannered Brewing Company in Powell. The tiny brewery opened in a space that only afforded them a few seats in their taproom. That didn’t stop people from packing in to enjoy the beers. “We wanted a bigger space, Ill Mannered’s Tom Ayers said, “but we wanted to stay in Powell, so that was a challenge.” The Village of Powell is quaint, but the area around it has grown and commercial space fills up quickly. It can also be expensive. Ill Mannered opened up shop in a commercial strip off the main drag in Powell. It’s within walking distance of the bustling commercial strip, and a traffic management plan diverts a considerable number of cars down the street Ill Mannered calls home. We say “calls” in the present tense because Ill Mannered doubled down on the original location when their landlord mentioned the prospect of a new build on a lot right next door. It was an ideal situation. The brewery had a hand in the build, they signed an agreeable lease, and there would be no confusion over where to find them. In fact, the new building affords Ill Mannered better signage, a spectacular patio, and a large seating area in the taproom. Tom doesn’t really think the location is off the beaten track, and he bristles if you say it’s not conducive to walk by traffic. “It’s very walkable,” he insists. “People walk up and down High Street in the Short North all the time. It’s a shorter walk to the center of the Village.” Nevertheless, Ill Mannered has taken advantage of a location that was not originally intended to feature such a forward-facing business concept and doing so has allowed the brewery to distinguish itself without compromising their desire to be an important part of Powell. It’s no surprise that these three businesses share the connection of producing craft libations. Competing with beverage conglomerates is difficult. To be profitable you have to run lean, and have a lot of creativity, but that doesn’t mean the success they’ve achieved by eschewing expensive locations with high profile frontage can’t work for other businesses. Leveraging social media to drive customers directly to your door, rather than counting on walk-in customers provides an opportunity to increase revenue. It also increases the customer experience because they come to you with realistic expectations. “I have more space,” Geiger said, now that’s he’s settled in his new digs. “It’s a more open concept, so we can evolve. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect.” • 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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FRIED, SMOTHERED, & LOADED A guide to indulgence for the plant-based eater BY M I TC H H O O PER

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henever the words “vegetarian” or “vegan” are thrown around, people’s defense walls go up as they instantly imagine bland salads or unseasoned tofu. Since both diets have become wildly popular trends in the world of eating, they are often associated with exclusive, healthy, clean, natural, raw, whatever...eating. As a vegetarian, I’m here to tell you that’s bullshit. Sure, we vegetarians eat our share of salads, and occasionally tofu is substituted for chicken on our health-conscious dishes, but that’s not the full picture of our plates. Whether it’s loading up on carbheavy sides, covering things in cheese (or vegan “cheese”), or living off the appetizer menu; living a plant-based diet can be just as much fun and games as any other fare.

AM Philly Angry Baker Olde Towne East | 891 Oak St. Angry Baker has found a way to cover things in cheese and still please the vegans. The AM Philly comes loaded with sauteed mushrooms, onions, and peppers with tofu scramble atop a fresh and soft hoagie bun. To keep it in true “cheese/steak” form, they top the entire masterpiece with vegan cheddar cheese and a little vegan mayo. The sandwich is every bit as flavorful as a regular Philly, plus it’s just as messy to eat. I recommend a few squirts of Sriracha on it, but then again, I recommend that on everything.

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P HOTO BY B RI A N KA I SER

Buffalo Mac Woodhouse Vegan Pop-up | 1038 N High St. Keeping it cheesy, but plant-based, comes from the vegan popup at Oddfellows with the Buffalo Mac. The entree is relatively simple, but that just means more chances to really focus on flavor. The Beyond Meat “chicken” strips are marinated in buffalo sauce to really pack a punch and then is topped with more buffalo sauce and dairy-free ranch dressing with a bed of dairy-free mac and “cheese” to dig into. It’s finished off with some raw red onion and scallions to fully recreate that buffalostyle experience. Keep an eye out for Woodhouse’s first brickand-mortar location setting up shop in the Italian Village.

Fried Cauliflower Hadley’s Bar + Kitchen | 260 S Fourth St. Cauliflower is the new favorite vegetable amongst dieters for being low-carb. It’s inviting to a variety of flavors, and it can be used in many creative ways. At Hadley’s, the fried cauliflower resembles the bar-style boneless wings you might be craving since ditching meat. It’s the little things you miss as a plant-eater (like dipping sauces). So finding a place that offers three different sauce options—Dr. Pepper barbeque, house hot, and General Tso’s—is quite a gratifying moment. Dunk these addicting suckers into Hadley’s house-made ranch or bleu cheese and you’ll be fighting your carnivorous friends off as they ask to try a bite. 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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Parma, Italy Melt | 4206 Worth Ave. & 840 N High St. Usually Melt’s sheer amount of dairy usage is enough to scare off any vegan within a 10-mile radius, but that all changed once Melt added an entire menu dedicated to vegan options. There are tons of options to choose from, but the Parma, Italy might take the caloric crown when it comes to plant-based indulgence. The sandwich features vegan chicken (or fried tofu) smothered in basil marinara with roasted garlic and vegan mozzarella cheese all in between two crusty pieces of garlic toast. It might not hurt to park a little further away from Melt just to burn a few extra calories on the way to and from devouring way too much food.

Vegan Barbeque Jackfruit Alchemy | 625 Parsons Ave. & 1439 Grandview Ave. Jackfruit is a delicate fruit that tastes almost nothing like fruit. It’s a great vessel for sauces and flavorings, but if it’s not cooked properly, it can turn into a mushy mess. Thankfully, Alchemy has perfected this process with their vegan take on a classic barbeque pulled pork sandwich. The jackfruit is tender, but stays in form on the roll. For added texture and taste, the sandwich is served on a crunchy ciabatta roll with carrot cabbage slaw in an herbed cashew cream.

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The Joe Vegan Sloppy Sandwich Lineage Brewing | 2971 N High St. “Have some more sloppy joes! I made ‘em extra sloppy for you!” If that scene from Billy Madison still haunts you any time you go to break out some Manwich from the cupboard, put that canned sauce down and go to Lineage. Immediately order a beer to wash away the memory of the lunch lady, and then snag the Joe Vegan sloppy sandwich off the menu. It’s a hearty combination of lentils and kidney beans in the iconic sloppy joe sauce, and it’s topped with raw onion and your choice of vegan cheese sauce or cheddar cheese. Throw in a side of potato chips and it’s like being a teenager all over again except this time you didn’t have to steal your dad’s beer.

Brussel Sprouts Barrel On High | 1120 N High St. Don’t turn your nose up on Brussel sprouts, these green brain-looking vegetables are great for absorbing flavor and they have that “meaty” taste. At Barrel on High, these Brussels are oven-roasted and tossed into a Thai chili sauce making them potentially your new favorite thing. While the Thai chili brussel sprouts are worth tripling up on and calling it a dinner, might I point you in the direction of the Impossible Burger as well. The Impossible Burger has grown to fame because it resembles every aspect of meat while remaining plantbased, and Barrel’s straight-up approach of making an American classic go vegan will have you double checking the menu to make sure it’s not actually beef.

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findohiowines.com

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The description “chain restaurant� almost invariably evokes images of a large, corporatized, less-than-personal conglomerate serving once-frozen fare. But how accurate is that description? What happens when well-thoughtout local restaurants, deliberate in their restaurant design, careful in their menu planning, and finicky about the sourcing of their ingredients, expand their concepts throughout Columbus and perhaps beyond, individualizing their stores to their communities? There may not be a word for that yet, but we can certainly recognize the phenomenon. Stock & Barrel takes a peek at the some of the restaurateurs who are measuring their success in quality and brining that vision to your plate. P H OTO BY B RI AN KAI SER


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Brassica Raising the bar by keeping it simple

BY N ATHAN COT TON | P HOTOS BY BR I A N KA I S E R

Worthwhile creative endeavors require energy and inspiration. Restaurants (even though technically businesses) are no exception. Entering its fourth year, Brassica deserves high praise for using an abundance of these two forces to create a restaurant where the food’s precision and character is rivaled only by its guiding principles. The Middle Eastern chain is a passion project that pays homage to the ancestry of Kevin and Darren Malhame, who, along with Kevin’s wife Katy, founded the Northstar Hospitality group. “My father’s family: his sisters, his parents, my aunts and uncles— they’re all Lebanese through and through. So with one half of our family growing up we always were eating this Middle Eastern food,” recalls Kevin. The menu is simple and sleek: diners choose between a pita sandwich or lentil and rice salad, and fill with falafel (made with organic chickpeas), chicken shawarma, braised brisket, house-cured lamb bacon, or house pickled vegetables. Hummus plates—topped by any of the aforementioned fillers—are a favorite, as are sides of Brassica fries, hummus, baba ganoush, or veggies.

“At an anniversary, or a birthday party, it was platters of Middle Eastern food—you grab a pita, you build yourself a plate.” “For Kevin and Darren, from the family side of things, eating food at Brassica is the way they ate at all their family get-togethers. At an anniversary, or a birthday party, it was platters of Middle Eastern food—you grab a pita you build yourself a plate, you build yourself a salad, you build yourself a sandwich,” explains Sean Jones, a longtime Northstar manager who opened the first Brassica location in the Short North in 2015. “To them it just feels like the way they ate when they were kids celebrating.” •

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“As long as we don’t compromise on those fundamentals and we still think that we can do those things well, we’re comfortable continuing to open restaurants.” For years, the idea to expand from the cozy confines of their successful Northstar Cafés was more company daydream than serious plan, and hinged on the discovery of both a desirable location and the leap of faith necessary to pull the trigger. But opportunity knocked in 2013 when Kevin Malhame was contacted about a shop location at the corner of Brickel and High in the Short North. “[Kevin] called me when I was at Easton one day,” remembers Jones. “And that conversation became, ‘Hey, we’ve been offered this particular space in the Short North. Do you remember that falafel sandwich shop idea we’ve had?... If this is something that you feel is exciting, and a project that you’d like to be in charge of, then we might really take it seriously.’ ” Fortunately, Jones was a kindred spirit. The longtime proponent of “the falafel opportunity” and pickled vegetables (the origins of the name Brassica), he understood the food. More importantly, Jones understood that Brassica’s success would depend on the creation of an identity distinct from their thriving Cafés. This mentality is key to understanding what drives the Northstar group. “In part, it feels easier to measure your success,” adds Malhame. “If you’re busy without leaning on marketing or the reputation of your other restaurants, then you know what you’re doing is worthwhile.” Traditional business executives might not herald the approach, but it’s hard to argue with the result. There are now five Northstar Cafés in Ohio, and a fourth Brassica will open next month in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights. The Northstar group understands the value of their human resources, of establishing relationships with the community in which they’re based, and of creating an environment free from pretension or unnecessary complexity. Such attention to detail pervades every aspect of their restaurants. And ultimately, despite Malhame and Jones’ best efforts to separate their flagship and emerging brands, they’ve found their restaurant culture to be indispensably transcendent. • 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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“As a team, we’re very effective at transferring what is special and worthwhile about our service culture: knowing how to take care of guests, our approach to cooking good, simple food made from scratch, even the experience we had designing and building restaurants.” By luck, or perhaps by careful design, Central Ohio has returned their affinity for authenticity. “We would like to think that no matter what neighborhoods you go to in Central Ohio, people are really excited about being in fun, energetic environments where people are smiling and serving them delicious food,” explains Jones. “It sounds simple and we realize that in execution it’s difficult.” Context is everything. Malhame quickly points out Brassica has forsaken “destination” restaurants in contrived communities in the search for more purposeful locales “in neighborhoods that are really going to appreciate having a unique, special restaurant.” The balance between convenience for guests and the overall experience has been carefully calibrated and refined over time. “In many ways, it’s more challenging for guests. It’s more challenging to park; it’s more challenging to get there. But once you’re there it’s definitely a more worthwhile place to be,” he continues. “Each neighborhood around town is a little bit different and you can’t always meet all of those standards. I guess charm and character really matter to us.” One can imagine how executives in Malhame’s position might be painstakingly concerned about next steps, consumed by a desire for growth without setbacks. And yet the group’s calm self-awareness has made such decisions look methodical and well-planned, if never completely risk-free. Through careful preparation and a clear definition of their goals and values, they hope to avoid the obstacles that inevitably follow bold expansion. “There aren’t too many subjects we discuss more exhaustively,” Malhame explains. “A lot of special restaurants start to struggle when there’s a lot more going on. At the same time, I guess we’re pretty focused on keeping it simple and just doing the simple things that we know that we can do: like buying great ingredients, preparing simple recipes from scratch, hiring friendly people, building pretty restaurants that are worth sitting in.” Yet he acknowledges the formula varies. “There are of course lots of restaurant companies that have grown much, much faster than us—some impressively and some less impressively. And then of course there are plenty of really outstanding restaurants that never open a second location and I admire those places too.” In a way, their answers are hiding in plain sight. “As long as we don’t compromise on those fundamentals and we still think that we can do those things well, we’re comfortable continuing to open restaurants.” It’s awfully relaxed for a manifesto. So plainly articulated, the philosophy seems obvious. But for Brassica, grounded in the basics, simple is just the way they like it. •

Visit Brassica in Bexley, Upper Arlington, and the Short North. For details, see brassicas.com. 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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Fox In The Snow

Treat them well, and they will come

BY MITCH HOOPER | P HOTOS BY BR I A N KA I S E R

Whether it’s the interior decor of the restaurant, or the offerings that go beyond the safety nets of food, there are places in Columbus where you feel a change in pace, a step away from the norm by just walking through the doors. These places have created an atmosphere, an element of uniqueness, and an elevated experience when it comes to dining. These attributes aren’t exclusive to fine dining either—honing in on quality is something that can happen anywhere, and at Fox In The Snow Cafe, as owners Jeff Excell and Lauren Culley can testify, honing in on quality is everywhere. “We had, in our original business plans, really small numbers for projections in terms of how much pastry we were going to sell every day, how much money we were going to make every day, and how many employees we were going to have,” Culley explained. “Within the first three months of opening, we had to greatly surpass those numbers just to keep up with demand. Within the first six months, we realized this wasn’t just a flash in the pan.” Interestingly enough, these mass waves of customers haven’t translated into a boom of Fox In The Snow Cafes popping up around the city. The call for more cafes has been answered with only two more locations—one in German Village, and the recently-established New Albany location. But Excell said he wants to make sure the experience isn’t cheapened by overgrowth. “There’s a really quick way to expansion,” Excell explained. “You could just hammer everything out and just Chipotle it with some aluminum siding and call it a cafe, but you get to a point where it becomes this really replicated thing that’s not really well thought out.” The cafe’s minimal menu design invites guests to ask baristas and bakers more questions about menu items, creating a more personal connection while ordering. The fresh baked goods are displayed without tags, family style, creating an “eat with your eyes” effect. (You don’t just want a cinnamon roll, you want that cinnamon roll.) Natural light, the working garage doors combined with plants and greenery explain why the cafe is popping up in your Instagram feed every weekend. • 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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“We basically had to write a whole manual on how to give that experience to people and that’s actually challenging. When you live it, it’s easy. Don’t upsell people, ask people how they’re doing, and be genuine.” “When people started posing out front with the fox [design] outside the building, that’s when I thought this was maybe becoming something bigger than we had originally thought,” Culley said. “I think people really started to latch on to the logo, the spaces; not just the food and the drink. And that’s when I think we tapped into something really special.” When the original store started, Excell said training was relatively easy: 84

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he just showed the new employees what he was doing and how to do it. But with great growth comes great responsibility. Due to the desire to keep quality at the highest, the transition to managing multiple restaurants became a separate task to handle. “As we got bigger, that’s where the challenge came in,” Excell said. “We basically had to write a whole manual on how to give that experience to people and that’s actually challenging. When you live it, it’s easy. Don’t upsell people; ask people how they’re doing, and be genuine.” But maintaining a positive energy is especially difficult to do when it’s Saturday morning and there’s a line out the door. Excell and Culley echoed the same sentiments when it came to what it’s like working at a Fox In The Snow on a busy day: stressful and difficult. “Every single morning I wake up, I think about the bakers who have been there since 3:30 in the morning,” Culley said. “When I see a line out the door, all I think about is the person making sandwiches for all those people. I think it’s something you have to be mindful of.” Excell said that keeping the people happy who have helped Fox In The Snow get where it is today is something he can’t overstate enough. And that’s another huge factor when considering expansion: Can he and Culley keep up with the needs of their employees while stretched across multiple restaurants? The short answer to that question is yes, but it’s a lot to unpack. Each cafe has 25 employees to handle the crowds of people that come in from day-in to day-out. The focus has been shifted less on their menu, and more on the presentation. Excell explained that much of the training process for new employees boils down to creating a more personable experience which calls for someone with the proper chops to retain information to answer any questions, and have the personality (some might say patience) to handle a high-stress situation without sacrificing customer experience. • 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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“Every single morning I wake up, I think about the bakers who have been there since 3:30 in the morning. When I see a line out the door, all I think about is the person making sandwiches for all those people. I think it’s something you have to be mindful of.” The cafe’s aesthetic is inspired by places both Excell and Culley lived like San Francisco and New York where cafes, bakeries, and small shops reign supreme. These places hold more than just a hip vibe as well. They offer a chance to get away from a more “corporate” feeling where employees feel less like an asset, and more like a cog in the wheel. Excell said he wants his employees to feel like they have something special here—something to be proud of. He doesn’t want to sacrifice caring for employees just to fit in a trendy spot that comes with large financial costs. Mass producing Fox In The Snows across Columbus, or any city for that matter, that are filled with bodies, but not with people who genuinely care about Fox In The Snow and are equally cared for by management, is just something neither of the owners is going to do. “For me, it’s all about: Does this make sense enough, financially, where I can reward the people who are with us? We’re a growing company that can offer new opportunities for people who are just baristas, which is usually a pass-through job. We want to build something where people can stay here for a long time because we keep offering new opportunities, but I can’t do that if I’m paying [for places] like Short North prices for rent .… I can’t run a business that is kind to my employees, and pay this rent.” This might be all read as reluctancy, but the desire to grow is still there. Excell and Culley talked about expanding in the future with the potential to perhaps one day move outside of Ohio—nothing concrete—but they hear everyone’s voices calling for more cafes. “It’s very flattering that some of the community chases us,” Excell said. “They’ll send in emails like, ‘I live in Dublin and this building is up for grabs.’ People will email us all the time and most of the time it doesn’t work out, but sometimes we’re just like ‘Wow, we should look into that.’ ” Just like the bakers who show up every day at 3:30 a.m. to start the process of creating all the pastries that have driven the city mad, good things take time, effort, and a lot of love. •

Fox In The Snow Cafe’s newest location is shop in New Albany on 160 W Main St. For its other two locations, visit foxinthesnow.com.

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Harvest Pizzeria Farm-to-pizza sourced locally, growing locally BY LINDA LEE BA I R D | P HOTOS BY BR I A N KA I S E R

“H

ead Harvester,” Chris Crader, founder of Grow Restaurants, tells me confidently when I ask him his title. It’s a play on the name of his popular franchise—Harvest Pizzeria—and he’s amused by the double entendre. “Some people read it as like, head harvester, like in a tribal sense,” he says with a laugh. A few minutes of conversation with Crader quickly dispel any notions of the macabre; he’s a husband and father of two, a farmer who cares for several animals, and the only reaping he engages in involves the season’s crops. •

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On top of all this, Crader runs a small-but-mighty chain of upscale restaurants, famous for their pizza, meticulous with their ingredients and consistent in quality. Since opening the first Harvest in German Village in 2011, the chain has expanded to Clintonville, Bexley, Dublin, and Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood (Grow Restaurants also operates Cosecha Cocina and The Sycamore). When Crader started conceptualizing Harvest almost a decade ago, Columbus had a markedly different pizza scene than it does today. “At that time pizza was pretty monothematic in Ohio, or at least Central Ohio […] thin crust, crackery, or Pizza Hut,” he said. On a trip to Los Angeles, he tried a pizza that didn’t fall into any of those categories. Boom. The idea for the indie-style Harvest Pizza was born. Like vegetables picked at peak season, each Harvest Pizzeria is fresh and unique in its offerings—products of their locations and the people who tend to them. Crader’s plan from the beginning was to take advantage of the region’s produce by partnering with farmers. “One of the things we’re fortunate of in Central Ohio is you can drive 30 minutes in any direction and pass so many farms. To apply that level of care and commitment to the local economy was something that nobody had really done with pizza before,” he said. “Farm to table wasn’t on everybody’s menu at that point.” Despite the careful planning process, Crader was prepared for anything when the first Harvest opened. After 90

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“To apply that level of care and commitment to the local economy was something that nobody had really done with pizza before. Farm to table wasn’t on everybody’s menu at that point.” working in the restaurant industry for years, he knew that what matters most is patrons coming through the door, and that the customers would ultimately decide whether Harvest would expand as envisioned. “We were happy with just one, and then we were happy to grow, too. You know growing has its challenges and its pitfalls as well,” he said. “More is not always more” is a lesson Crader has learned over the years—sometimes the hard way. He mentions Salt & Pine, an ambitious Grow restaurant that shuttered in 2017 after only 15 months on the scene. But the upside is that Crader has developed a clear vision for his restaurants. He has a knack for identifying communities that will support Harvest restaurants without over-saturating the market. “We use the best ingredients we can find, so we can’t be the cheapest,” he said. “You have to be in communities that are kinda willing to take that ride with us and invest their hardearned money in what they hope to be a better experience.” Eight years into the venture, Harvest has established itself as a well-known brand, with room for improvisation at each site. “We have a core. Basically pizza and [a] salad program and some core small plates that travel everywhere,” Crader said. Beyond that, patrons will notice that menu options may differ based on location. While Crader acknowledges that in some ways a standard menu would make planning and prep easier, that model comes with potential downsides for Harvest’s chefs and staff. “We want the people that want • 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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to create,” he said, explaining that a “rubber stamp” process for the menu would limit the experience for staff and restaurantgoers alike. Instead, Crader is focused on leading his restaurants through navigating the seasonal changes that influence the menu. “Our spring menu is just coming out, which means like next week we’re starting to plan our summer menu,” he said. That means he’s currently serving as a go-between for his chefs and farmers, talking with the former about what they’d like to do, and the latter about what they can supply. He’s developed a relationship with his farmers where he’s comfortable making requests for specific varieties of produce: “Like a supermarket, but it’s in the dirt.” A few years ago, the Grow brand grew in a different way—into the frozen section of select grocery stores. Harvest makes three varieties of pizza for customers to bake at home, including plain cheese, mushroom and vegetable, and a vegan sausage primavera that Crader is particularly proud of. “Prior to rolling these out, I bought every vegan pizza I can get my hands on, and it is brutal in the freezer section,” he said. Harvest sought to correct this problem with a pizza that has a ricotta-like vegan cheese and fennel “sausage” made in-house. With Harvest now comfortably fulfilling the expectations set in its original business plan, and with the lessons of Salt

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& Pine behind them, Crader is contemplative when asked about further expanding his business. He mentions talks with a close friend about opening a “satellite” location in Asheville, NC. Similarly, the Cincinnati Harvest was started by a longtime employee. It’s perhaps a testament to his leadership that the people with whom he’s built relationships in Columbus are now interested in taking Harvest with them when they leave town. As a resident of Granville, he mentions that it might be nice to open in that area, although “when and where, I don’t know.” Whatever the future may hold, customers can rest assured that local ingredients, served with care, will always be on the Harvest menu. Crader lists the things that matter most to him: responsible sourcing, quality ingredients, and high standards for both the food that is served and the people who make and serve it. And the key to making this all come together? “We just never let up.” •

Visit Harvest Pizzeria in German Village, Clintonville, Dublin, and Bexley, or online at harvestpizzeria.com.

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KREMA THE CROP Freshness, friendliness, and quality come first at Columbus’ Krema Nut Company BY L AURA DAC HEN BACH PH OTOS BY JUL IAN FOGLIETTI


I remember the smell of Wonder Bread being voted one of the best aromas in Columbus in some sort of poll. Obviously, these responders had never been to the Krema Nut Company. When I enter the Krema retail space and headquarters on West Goodale in Grandview Heights, the irresistible aroma of roasted nuts and popcorn hits me like a circus and movie theater rolled into one. I know I’m not going to leave here without something in my hand. The Krema Nut Company was founded in 1898 by Benton Black. The building was located at Second and High Streets, and primarily ground spices. However, Black also discovered the practicality and marketability of grinding peanuts into a paste, creating a protein supplement for people who were unable to chew other types of food. (Adequate dentistry was still in development.) The company moved to its present location in the mid 1920s, and while it started roasting the peanut butter, the product is still decidedly “old-school.”

“I CAME ON IN 2000, AND SO I STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM AND WORKED MY WAY UP. EVERY SINGLE JOB IN THIS PLACE, I’VE DONE.” “We do it all natural, so there’s no sugar, no salt, no hydrogenated oils. We use the number one fancy-grade Spanish peanut, dry roast it, take the skin off, take the heart out [the bitter part of the nut] and grind it. So it’s real simple,” explains Brian Giunta, Krema’s Senior Vice President. Roasted nuts led to candies in the 1990s. Krema’s signature confections include Cashew Crunch, a handmade toffee; Buckeye Crunch, a caramel corn coated in peanut butter and chocolate; and Pecan Turtles—as well as chocolate-coated nuts, pretzels, and raisins. Giunta’s family bought Krema Nut in 1991, when he was a teenager. He knew he enjoyed business, but didn’t know where to channel that interest, and began discussing his plans with with his parents and others. “That was right when the internet was starting to really kind of pop.” Guinta recalls his father being interviewed by Business First about the company’s website, one of the first in Columbus. “There’s a picture of my dad holding a big scoop of nuts out front talking about the internet, if it was going to take off.” •

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Inspired, Giunta joined the Krema team after college, and has played a role in preserving its traditions, but also carrying the company forward as his parents work towards full retirement. “I came on in 2000, and so I started from the bottom and worked my way up. Every single job in this place, I’ve done,” Giunta says. “[Taking over the company] is awesome, but it’s a lot of weight on the shoulders.” As he moves around the space, it doesn’t seem there isn’t a job that Giunta can’t or won’t do, from taking calls to running equipment to helping behind the register. Today’s task is to make Hot and Spicy Peanut Butter, a natural peanut butter with a bit of cayenne pepper, a perfect addition to a cheese and cracker platter. (Giunta especially enjoys this treat with saltines.) Giunta takes me back into Krema’s production area, occupied by old but well-built machinery, and the simplicity of the process becomes clear. “Our grinder is very small. It’s low output. We do small batches. We make peanut butter every week. It would probably make much more sense to do a month’s worth, put it on a skid and put it in a warehouse and let it be. But that’s not us. We want it to always be fresh. Same thing with the oil roasting. We do it every week. So again, it would make more sense to just roast for a couple days and fill up all of our inventory. But that’s not us. So it’s like Groundhog Day every week.”

“I JUST WANT EVERYTHING TO BE PERFECT.” And there’s no fooling around. After master roaster Doug Vorhies loads the spicy peanuts (yes, just peanuts) into the grinder, he sits down to collect the thick, smooth butter in pre-labeled glass jars and hands it off to to be immediately (yes, immediately) sealed, locking in the freshness as promised. “I can burn 300 pounds in a matter of seconds if I don’t pay attention to what I’m doing,” said Vorhies, who has been roasting and grinding peanuts at Krema for a decade. “When I get the peanuts in, I look at the lot number and see if that’s changed. Or you feel the weight of the bag and sometimes they’re a little bit looser because the moisture has evaporated out so the nut would tend to shrink down.” Although visitors aren’t allowed in the production area, much of the process is still visible through the retail store windows. Krema’s retail space is split between its store, which carries its nut, popcorn, and candy products, and its cafe, which offers a dozen gourmet nut butter sandwiches. The Krema Special, an upgraded PB and J, is a top favorite. The Classic Old Timer, a sandwich of crunchy peanut butter, strawberry preserves, and sliced strawberries, is a close second. Ice cream and milkshakes are available, care of Johnson’s Old-Fashioned Ice Cream in Bexley. “We have a nice relationship with them where they’ll use our peanut butter […] and we’ll use their ice cream for our milkshakes and sundaes,” said Giunta. “They do a great job over there.” I give into the sensory overload and my undeniable hunger and try a Peanut Butter Apple Cheesecake sandwich, an absolute tribute to the comfort childhood with a grown-up taste. There’s hardly a way to not get sticky eating this treat, but I don’t really mind. Peanut butter always seems to hit the spot. As I’m leaving, Giunta notices a stray nut on the floor. It would be easy to leave it and let it be swept up later during a dedicated cleaning time. But instead, Giunta picks it up and discards it, lest it be crushed underfoot. It seems to be exemplary of his sense of pride and drive for quality and customer satisfaction that’s summed up in a simple mantra. “I just want everything to be perfect.” •

The Krema Nut Company is located at 1000 W Goodale Ave. For product information and to order online, visit krema.com.

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FROM FARM TO FAMILY


Bluescreek Farm Meats embraces the good life BY J E N I RUI SC H | P H OTOS BY B R I AN KA IS E R

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butchery, cafe, bakery, grocery, and food truck rolled into one, Bluescreek Farm Meats is one of Central Ohio’s oldest family-owned farms. Once a single stand in Columbus’ North Market, Bluescreek Farm Meats Market now occupies a thriving space on US Rt. 42 just north of Plain City. The farm itself, just north of Marysville, raises 200 acres of hay, wheat, rye, soybeans, and 200 to 300 head of livestock. Cheryl and David Smith, co-owners of Bluescreek Farms, had have been farming their whole lives, but they had to weather some difficult financial times during the 1980s when their farm was sold back to the lending institution. They stripped the property of anything of value to help with the down payment. They began to work with a new breed of cattle, the Belgian Blue, and selling it as freezer meat. In the process, the Smiths found out not only about a consumer demand for fresh cuts of raw meat, but also about the North Market, which had a vacant meat store spot available. “The process of getting into the North Market—being interviewed by the merchant board—was a very intense and intimidating process. They had us second guessing and questioning our capabilities, if we were good enough to be in there,” said David. Undaunted, Cheryl and David passed inspection and literally set up shop for an adventure that would see them through the next quarter of a century. Although Bluescreek has since left their North Market location, they’ve found retail freedom in their Plain City location and even jumped on the food truck trend with the addition of their B’raisin Beasts Food Truck. Stock & Barrel checked in at Bluescreek Farm with Manager Jamie SmithJohnson, Cheryl and David’s daughter, for a more pastoral, yet just as busy, view of Central Ohio. • 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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“Others have told us that our meat tastes like meat used to taste when they were a kid.”

S&B: What is the main driving philosophy of Bluescreek Farm? JSJ: I think our biggest driving philosophy in the beginning was about providing humanelyraised, quality meats that were grown hormoneand antibiotic-free. And focusing on quality and customer service are still very important to us. We still have [that] same driving force, but it’s much bigger than that now. Now it’s also about the individual families that we see on a weekly or monthly basis that rely on us the way we couldn’t have imagined when we first opened up. Some of them have food sensitivities and have a very difficult time finding food that doesn’t make them sick. Others have told us that our meat tastes like meat “used to taste when they were a kid.” What animals do you have? What products do you make? We have cattle, lambs, goats and hogs. We have also raised turkeys but, we love the turkey we get from Bowman and Landes. We like having the turkeys as guard animals for fun more than anything. We make a wide variety of products. Not just your basic cuts of meat. [Smith-Johnson proceeds to list off a laundry list of menu items such as meatballs, burgers, and sausages.] Oh the list could go on forever I feel like. With our location here in Plain City we also have the flexibility to create more than we ever did at our previous location. With our baker making crust from scratch (with lard) we make a Classic Apple Pie, Apple Bacon Bourbon Pie and Peach Pie. We have also started making Pot Pies that have been keeping us VERY busy. We now do Beef, Lamb, Turkey and Chicken Pot Pies (regular 9” size and individual size). Our baker also makes things like Sausage Gravy (regular or gluten-free), a variety of cookies, muffins, bread, buns and cheesecakes! •


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Walk me through what a typical day or week looks like on the farm. Dealing with the weather is the number one factor that decides what is going to be taking place on any given day. On a farm, you’re ALWAYS on call, 24 hours a day. You never know when or what is going to happen. Cody, my brother, works on the farm full time and is there basically every day. My dad is our main butcher here at the store and is also on the farm. My Aunt Mary Ellen also helps out on the farm daily and helps us out in the evenings at the market. She didn’t realize that when she retired she would be working so much! Working with plants and animals means you often deal with unpredictability. What were some times when things went totally sideways? How did you recover? Yes, working with mother nature; plants and animals, can absolutely have some unpredictability. When I was growing up it was like clock work that if there was a major holiday we had animals being born. It was like they watched the calendar and waited sometimes. We try not to put all of our eggs in one basket. And if we do put all of our eggs in one basket we have always been fighters about it. Opening up here in Plain City was the largest investment that had the potential to go sideways that we have ever taken. Getting things ready to open here was very stressful for us as a family because we knew how important it was for this location to be a success. The first few weeks here in Plain City we were all putting in 100 hour weeks. We had to make several changes quickly to ensure that we didn’t kill ourselves. 102

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What do you think about urban farming? I think urban farming is fantastic! The more people who know and understand where food comes from the better! Many people, especially those who are not around it all of the time, don’t make the connection that carrots are grown in the ground or on that same note that meat comes from an animal. It’s not made in a factory. Understanding and respecting where your food comes from, be it from the ground or from an animal, is important. •

Bluescreek Farm Meats is located at 8120 US 42, Plain City, Ohio or visit bluescreekfarmmeats.com. 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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Seasoned Supper Club

Recreational cooking classes inspire culinary confidence BY J.R . MC MI L L A N | P H OTOS BY R E B E CC A TI E N

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M

ost dinner parties start in the kitchen, and the better ones tend to end there. But some of the best in Columbus actually start in a dentist office—or what used to be one. Tricia Wheeler, founder of The Seasoned Farmhouse, describes her passion project simply as a recreational cooking school. She arguably sells herself short. The dated dental office in Clintonville that once sat empty has evolved into a rustic, yet refined, community kitchen for ambitious home chefs or anyone seeking to hone their culinary credibility. It was more than just a second act for the former home, restored to its original residential charm with raised beds of herbs and produce for a rotating slate of chefs. It was Wheeler’s second act as well. Following a short and unsatisfying stint in corporate security after graduating from Ohio State, she found herself at a fork in the road. “I called my dad and said I was going to start a new business, either a catering company, or a background screening company,” she revealed. Her father played practical and asked which one would cost less to get going, and how much money she had on hand. “I told him the background screening company, and $400. He said, ‘That’s great, because the hungrier you are, the harder you’re going to work’.” The fledgling screening company she started a decade earlier grew and was eventually acquired by an investor for a comfortable sum. Wheeler suddenly found herself out of work, but with an enviable second chance. So she relocated to New York to fulfill her long-deferred dream of going to culinary school—with her mother in tow to tend to her two-year-old, while her husband made the long commute back to Columbus. “I figured out early on that as much as I loved cooking, I really wanted to share what I was learning with my friends,” she recalled. “They didn’t find cooking joyful as much as tedious, so I was the only one throwing dinner parties.” The idea that would become The Seasoned Farmhouse started small— not even as a school, but as a series of classes Wheeler initially taught at the M/I Homes Design Center kitchen showroom. The concept was solid, but the space proved restrictive. And what started as nine tiny dental offices was reconfigured into an oversized kitchen and intimate dining room dynamic enough to accommodate several classroom formats. “We have students who are straight out of college and love to cook, retirees who love to cook and are looking for something to do, and couples who love to cook and want to do something together,” she noted. “We don’t repeat a lot. I’ll teach my sauce class every other year, and we might do our knife skills twice a year. My curiosity has always been in trying things that are new.” The Seasoned Farmhouse offers 42 classes, four times a year—an impressive schedule by even traditional culinary school standards. Yet there remains an unexpected mix of luxury and utility, with fundamentals flanked by classes in niche cuisines as well as options like sheet tray dinners, for those looking for creative ways to get a delicious meal on the table fast without the fuss. •

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“I figured out early on that as much as I loved cooking, I really wanted to share what I was learning with my friends.” One course that remains a perennial favorite is Wheeler’s kitchen fundamentals class, a two-night course taught over two weeks that teaches everything from sweet and savory crepes to how to make a pasta sauce from scratch with what you probably have in your cupboard. “I like giving students that foundation, that confidence,” she added. “I teach how to make a chicken piccata, it’s the perfect date meal. It’s what I used to make for every date I’ve ever had,” Wheeler confessed. “I started as the main instructor, but our growth has been organic. If someone comes to us, and we like what they do, we’ll give them the opportunity to see how their talents fit.” This evening’s guest chef for “Thai Date Night” is no exception. Damian Ettish hails originally from South Africa. But his relocation to London, and extended adventures in India and Thailand before immigrating to Columbus, epitomize the unique expertise students have come to expect. He’s used to working solo, but tonight he’ll have more than a dozen sous chefs—some seasoned, some as green as the curry—but all eager to learn something new. “Cooking for a dozen people is obviously different than cooking on the truck, when you never know how many people are going to show up. So when I teach people to cook, it gives me time to share tips,” Ettish explained. “No one is coming here to learn to slice an onion. But I’ll teach them how to cut one the way I learned to on the streets of Thailand.” His renowned local food truck, “Fetty’s Street Food” and restaurant chops seamlessly pivot between tricks, like how to cut that onion into tiny boat-shaped slices that better hold the sauce, and his intriguing travelogue, peppered with wry humor and hands-on encouragement. “I really love these intimate settings. It’s more my style, and you can focus more on the food and flavors,” he noted. “It’s a lot like a food truck versus a restaurant. If I can teach people how to do something on a smaller scale, as a couple, then they learn how to do it on a larger scale, like a dinner party.” Among tonight’s students are Michael and Emily Berlin, who moved here from Chicago five years ago. Emily gave Michael a gift certificate for The Seasoned Farmhouse their first Christmas in Columbus, and they’ve been coming ever since. “Watching how everything goes together as a home chef is different than just following directions,” Michael observed. “Columbus has an up and coming food scene, so this is what a lot of people are looking for.” Technique is tough to teach on a recipe card, or even YouTube. Ettish imparts insights more than instructions, like how to cut a bell pepper upside down to leave the seeds behind, slicing a chicken breast for even cooking in a curry, or holding a knife properly to ensure the pungent peanut and cucumber dip for the corn cakes ends up with more pickles than knuckles. “We’ve done more of the dinners than the classes, but we always pick up a new tip,” noted Emily. “It’s the small things you don’t know unless you’ve been trained in a restaurant or gone to culinary school.” That first gift came full circle with a birthday party at The Seasoned Farmhouse with family and friends Michael planned as a surprise for his wife. Though Wheeler’s better known sister company, Flowers & Bread, also hosts events, the breadth and depth offered by The Seasoned Farmhouse draws a line between the two as distinct as the difference between a café and a restaurant. “We’re a gift couples give each other. Then they invite their friends to come with them next time,” Wheeler explained. “It’s why I love being in the experience business. It feels like I’m always throwing a dinner party.” • For more details and a schedule of upcoming classes, visit theseasonedfarmhouse.com.

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Show Me the Mouneh

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Crest Pantry preserves Ohio’s harvests with traditional Middle Eastern techniques


BY MIKE THOM AS P HOTOS BY BR I A N KA I SER

In a small village in the rocky foothills of Lebanon, Chef Tyler Minnis watched as the community came together for the annual pressing of the olive harvest at A&R Creative co-owner Ali Alshahal’s family farm. “Half the village was sitting there, eating and drinking, watching this old press,” explained Minnis, the executive chef of A&R Creative Group. “You could taste [the oil] in the air. They would dip bread in the unfiltered oil, and it would burn the throat, stinging—but a good sting.” Minnis and his culinary team from A&R’s stable of restaurants, which includes The Crest Gastropubs and Hoof Hearted Brewing, among others, were traveling in search of inspiration. Their journey began in the culinary capital of the world, Paris, and continued on through parts of northern Africa and Spain. It was in Lebanon, immersed in the culture of the region’s peasant food, where Minnis and his team found what they had been searching for. During their group’s ten-day visit to Lebanon, Minnis spent time among townspeople, learning the traditional methods of food preservation known as “mouneh.”

“You could taste [the oil] in the air. They would dip bread in the unfiltered oil, and it would burn the throat, stinging—but a good sting.” Like the pressing of perishable olives to gather the long-lasting oil contained within, the practices of mouneh stem from the essential need to make harvests last throughout the year in a region where resources can sometimes be scarce. Combining aspects of pickling, jamming, dehydration and preservation with spices, the practices of mouneh are central to the rural Lebanese lifestyle. “They take a lot of pride in mouneh,” explains Minnis. “They have rooms devoted to it. The bigger the room, the more you preserve, the bigger the bragging rights. Almost everyone has their own garden there, whether it’s small or large. They preserve everything from the season.” Through The Crest Pantry, an offering of pickled and preserved goods available at The Crest Gastropubs and The Market Italian Village, chef Minnis gives the mouneh treatment to Ohio’s seasonal fare. Partnering with local farmers, The Crest Pantry’s offerings seek to preserve our region’s unique harvests so that they can be enjoyed year-round. So far, the line of Crest Pantry products has included various seasonal jams and jellies, condiments such as tomato chutney, and pickled cucumbers in both hot and sweet varieties. • 614COLUMBUS.COM SPRING 2019

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In spite of the mission to preserve and showcase Ohio’s own seasonally available produce, Minnis couldn’t resist importing the olive oil he watched being pressed during his trip to Lebanon, paying homage to the origins of the pantry concept through the inclusion of the pleasantly bitter and fruity oil. Minnis has also partnered with The Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware, Ohio, whose bees produce the pantry’s “stolen honey.” The pantry’s apple butter doubles down on the local goodness, utilizing Granny Smith apples from Hershberger Farms, with local maple syrup from Bonhomie Acres added for sweetener. For adventurous eaters looking for the lesser-known fruits of Ohio’s bounty, The Crest Pantry features preserved goods that would be hard to find anywhere else. Ramps from urban farmer Joel Harris’ Heirloom Farms are served up as a year-round snack. From Three Creeks Produce and Fornof Farms come short-lived summer garlic scapes, which are pickled in a house-made brine with serrano chilies and peppercorns. All of The Pantry’s offerings come packed with a tag with information about the product, including the date that it was preserved and details about partnerships with local growers. With a positive public response to their line of Ohio-centric preserved goods, chef Minnis looks forward to exploring the everchanging flavors of the seasons for years to come. Future plans include bourbon-barrel dill pickles aged in barrels formerly used to store Watershed bourbon, blackberry preserves, and a line of cocktail ingredients including preserved cherries, onions, and bloody mary mix. Bringing fresh, Ohio-grown produce to tables throughout the state and beyond is hard work. By utilizing traditional techniques, chef Minnis and The Crest Pantry honor the efforts of food growers in the state by preserving the fruits of their labor in a form that can be enjoyed in any season. •

Items from The Crest Pantry can be found at The Crest Gastropubs in Clintonville and on Parsons and The Market Italian Village. See thecrestgastropub.com for more information.

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FOOD WIRE LAST CALL • Oats & Barley sows final seeds

The Short North lost a natural food oasis in late January when Oats & Barley Market closed its doors. Home to local, all-natural, and organic foods, no reason was given for the closure of the grocery that had served the Short North neighborhood for over two years. While it’s sad to see one of the only grocery stores in the area close shop, all is not lost. Simply Rolled Ice Cream, the Thai rolled ice cream spot located inside the market, will remain open at 970 N High St.

• S  oup’s off for Minya Ramen

Fans of authentic Japanese fare in Dublin were forced to get their fix elsewhere when established ramen restaurant Minya closed on January 13. Known for their authentic, umami-packed noodle dishes, no reason was given for the closure of the Bridge Street restaurant.

• O  ut with the old, Inn with the new

Time’s endless march has claimed another slice of Central Ohio History. Franklin country’s oldest operating restaurant, The Worthington Inn, closed permanently on January 1. The High Street mainstay restaurant and event space is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was announced on the company’s website that the space will be redeveloped into offices, retail space, with a smaller restaurant of some kind also planned.

SECOND HELPINGS • M  ichael’s Even Better Boy

Short North landmark Michael’s Goody Boy Diner may be best known for its eye-catching vintage sign, but there’s plenty in the works inside the restaurant, too. Goody Boy closed to the public in early January, but will be back better than ever under new owners Corso Ventures (Pint House, Standard Hall, Forno). With an opening of the revamped Michael’s planned for March 14, fans of classic American fare won’t have to wait long to experience this new and improved classic.

ON A ROLL • N  ew Albany gets foxy

A third Central Ohio location of the popular coffee shop and bakery Fox in the Snow opened on January 12 in New Albany from business partners Lauren Culley and Jeff Excell. The ample new location, with 50 seats inside and 20 on an outdoor patio, sports plenty of room for laptop warriors to hammer out that screenplay while guzzling copious amounts of craft-roasted java.

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BY MI K E TH O M AS

•F  orty ounces to freedom

As if you needed another reason to hang out at the awesomely retro Old North Arcade, Forty’s Chicken & Waffles has opened in the back of the popular gaming bar. Launched as a food truck in 2017, Forty’s menu is packed with comfort food favorites aimed at the the late-night crowd. As the name suggests, forty ounce beers are available to top off your dining experience in classic style.

• G  alley Boy gaining ground

Joining the Sawmill Road location that opened in 2018, the Polaris location of Akron-based burger chain Swensons Drive-In opened in early February. Known for the Galley Boy, a double cheeseburger topped with two signature sauces, Swensons is also targeting the launch of a Hilliard location on Cemetery Road.

OPENING SOON •T  aco-tastic

Popular build-your-own taco chain Condado has announced plans to open their sixth central Ohio location in Dublin’s Bridge Park. Along with Condado, a new location of The Pearl and fast casual concept Rebowl round out the latest class of newcomers to Bridge Park’s already stacked lineup of food and beverage offerings.

•M  o’ Momos?

Unique international grocery store Saraga will be getting a sister location later this year, occupying a 100,000-square-foot former Kohl’s store near Whitehall, across from Eastland Mall. The first Saraga location on Morse Road opened in 2013, and quickly gained notoriety as the home of Momo Ghar, a Tibetan restaurant that has been featured in Food & Wine Magazine and the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Whether or not a second Momo location is in the works for the new market has yet to be announced.

• R  amen on a roll

Perhaps filling the void left by Minya’s closure, Satori Ramen Bar plans to open this spring in the North Market. Occupying the space most recently held by Katzinger’s Deli, Satori’s menu will feature house-made broths crafted by Tokyo native chef Seigo Nishimura, who is a veteran of New York Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant, Cagen. In addition to ramen, Satori’s menu will also feature such favorites from Asian cuisine as edamame and steamed pork buns. •

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Profile for 614mediagroup

Stock & Barrel: Spring 2019  

We welcome our first ever Guest Editor Christina Basham to help us peak behind every nook and cranny of the hospitality scene. If you see he...

Stock & Barrel: Spring 2019  

We welcome our first ever Guest Editor Christina Basham to help us peak behind every nook and cranny of the hospitality scene. If you see he...

Profile for 614media