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Category Archives: Cocktails/Drinks

Pies & Pints…GET SOME!

If you haven’t read many of my past reviews, I’m kind of a pizza junkie and this place doesn’t disappoint- it’s one of the best! Luckily, this place isn’t far from my home. It’s located in the old Worthington Shopping Plaza on High Street, which is coming back to life with a stream of new businesses. The only downside to this is that I doubt pizza will be on my new post-election diet and with the proximity I’m sure I’ll keep coming back. Once you go inside it has a very lively atmosphere; even on a Thursday it was throughly jumping with patrons. Once you start eating the food and enjoying their vast beer collection, you’ll understand why.

They have quite a selection of speciality pizzas but you can also make your own combinations with a laundry list of ingredients. The best part is that the dough for the pizza is made in house daily and comes from a family, New York style, recipe. The crust on this pizza is addictive! They brush it with a garlic infused olive oil and then sprinkle it with kosher salt before adding on their base of a mixture of mozzarella and provolone. So back to that crust, it’s literally so good that I wish they sold baked strips of it to just consume as an appetizer or as a to go item. It’s like eating a good crusty bread that crunches under the weight of your teeth or at the slice of a knife. It’s not a thick crust, but it’s fluffier than a thin crust pizza too. Basically, it’s AMAZING!

Ok, so they had more than crust so I’ll move on… I started off the meal with some of their Char-Grilled Hot Wings. Now they’re not actually spicy at all, but they are still delicious. They have a dry rub on them of cumin with some cilantro, and they have a good smoky flavor and the meat was tasty and moist. To me this would be a great meal in itself if you were looking to eat something healthier than pizza but didn’t just want to eat a salad- who wants to be that guy?!? Anyhow, they’re served with a creamy, house-made Gorgonzola dipping sauce which you’re bound to love. While it has a similar taste to Blue Cheese Dressing that is usually served with hot wings it has a lighter texture, most similar to a tzatziki sauce.

Another great thing about Pies & Pints is their obvious appreciation for Gorgonzola; and as a fellow Gorgonzola lover, I love them for it. The first slice of pizza I tried was their Red Grape Pizza. Now if you’re like me your initial reaction is, “Fruit on pizza? No thanks.” BUT you’d be wrong like me. The grapes were perfectly suited for this pizza with Gorgonzola cheese on top of their standard blend which causes it to not be so pungent for those who dislike it for that reason. If I wasn’t trying to sample as much as possible I would have likely stuck to this pie all night long. This was my favorite by far, and is one of their most popular pies too.

I ordered some samples of their draft beers, of which they have MANY, but got a Golden Belgium named Victory Golden Monkey and Elevator’s Dark Horse. They tasted great with the pizza, and of the waiters/waitresses have a great understanding of all their beers on site. Pies & Pints actually has a beer man, Ryan, for their multiple locations who makes their selections and trains the staff too- so don’t be afraid to ask questions, in fact I recommend it.

Once I had some beer in front of me I was ready to move forward with more pizza. I tried four more speciality pizza slices. The first was their Mushroom Garlic Pie, consisting of :  roasted mushrooms, feta cheese, caramelized onions, fresh roasted garlic and herbs. This was my second piece of pie and my second favorite pizza. Feta cheese is so good on pizza and when mixed with all of these deeply flavorful ingredients it’s PERFECTION. The garlic was never overwhelming and they obviously know a lot about their ingredients what combinations work sublimely together. Next I tried their Classic Pie (Pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, banana peppers and tomato sauce) which for meat lovers is perfect and is understandably a classic pizza. The banana peppers add the perfect amount of heat to meld the flavors of this pie together.

Then there was the Thai Pie. This is definitely a pizza for folks not looking for the classic and looking to mix it up a bit and try something new. This pie has shrimp, toasted coconut, Thai curry sauce, and topped with fresh basil and cilantro. First, I gotta admit that I LOVE toasted coconut, but you don’t really notice it just the hint of sweetness that hits your tongue after you taste and pick up on the curry sauce first. If they added more coconut I think it would just enhance the sweet & savoriness that they’re going for in this pizza. Lastly, was the Chicken Gouda Pie and it was a great way to end my array of pizzas. Anything, especially any pizza, with bacon on it is good bye me…and when the bacon is cooked to mouth watering crisp like this, it’s somehow even better! Besides chicken, gouda and bacon this pizza also has some red onion and a really tasty chipotle crema drizzled on top of it. This pizza has a wonderful balance of grilled chicken cheese and spiciness and I loved it!

Although I could barely breathe I did also take two bites of their Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Terrine, which is made in-house. It’s layers of thin chocolate brownie and a crunchy peanut butter filling that is topped with chocolate ganache. It’s incredibly rich, but it’s a wonderful way to end a salty and savory meal.

Would I come back? DEFINITELY. Over and over again? Yes! I would place this on top of my list for a good pizza in Columbus. The pizza here was so good, as served, that I never even had to add crushed red pepper or sprinkle/parmesan cheese- which is unheard of for me. I have to give it two thumbs up and would recommend it to anyone, whether you live in Worthington or not, to try this pizza. If you can stop by for lunch, they sell their pizza by the slice too for a reasonable price. Go GET SOME!

Until Next Time,
Nikki

Pies and Pints on Urbanspoon

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Landlocked in CBus, but You’d Never Know After a Trip to Rivage Atlantique

I loved this place from the moment I walked in the door. From the outside it just looks like a small place with tinted windows with not much going on, but this is exactly why you never judge a book by it’s cover.

As soon as you open the door you are struck by the brightness and then the hustle and bustle of the kitchen. People laughing and enjoying themselves can be heard all around; it’s infectious. We were sat immediately in the middle room, there are three total. The more ‘bar scene’ is in the back with good live music on Friday nights, the middle room’s focal point is giant fireplace and the main room is where the large groups tend to be enjoying the views of the kitchen and tasty seafood coming from it.

We started with cocktails, because there is no better way to start a night after a long week and an even busier weekend ahead. Jason stuck to his favorite gin & tonic, and I tried their Atlantique Martini with a delightful combination of vodka and citrus…it was so very yummy!

Martini

From there our wonderful waiter went into the specials, of which caused us to change our plans a little to try their Bottleneck Clams in a white wine sauce. However, we still started with an array of raw oysters so we could sample some different kinds (we really have begun to LOVE raw oysters). That night they had three different kinds on their menu and we each got 2 of each kind:  P.E.I. Malpeque Oyster, Wellfleet Oyster, and Apalachicola Oyster. Turns out they are ALL delicious!

Oysters

From there we moved into our second course, which was both the special of clams but also an order of their Maine Mussels. It was all served with crusty bread. You literally could NOT eat just one, we hoovered them all down. We got to the point of forcing the last few down, but they were so good that you didn’t want to waste even one of them. Also, as good as the oil and probably the best olive tapenade I’ve ever had  was, you couldn’t help but soak up the sauce with the bread and love every soggy bite!

When we sat down we had grande illusions of ordering soup and salad after these mussels and clams too, but the reality was…we ate a TON of really good food already. Now Jason being Jason, still left some room for dessert just because he’s tall and thin and can…so he ordered a slice of their Buckeye Cheesecake. WOW, one bite of this incredibly rich and decadent cheesecake is really all you need to get through a rough day and get your chocolate/peanut butter fix. It was very good, but even Jason couldn’t finish this.

Everything about this place was fantastic. I loved the ambiance, feel and energy of this restaurant. The staff were superb! The food was worth coming back for over and over and over again. We will definitely return, most likely on a Thursday night to capitalize on their weekly Oyster Special. I would give this place three thumbs up, if I had them, but I’ll settle for just the two that I have- TWO THUMBS UP!

Until Next Time,

Nikki

Rivage Atlantique on Urbanspoon

Element Pizza: Every Component is Exquisite

I have to say that I wish I would have tried this place sooner. From the pictures that I had seen and write ups that I had read, I knew this place was a must try. With all of that said, I still had no idea that I would like it this much. Probably the best crust on a pizza that I have ever had. While they do try to make everything in-house with Ohio ingredients they do splurge on one key ingredient- special blend of flour from Italy…but they do purchase it from Columbus’ own Carfagna’s. The flour is needed for this superior crust- a crunchy outer coating around a soft & spongy interior.This dough is made fresh daily for their pies.

The ingredients atop the crust can be either of your own creation of combinations or you can pick from one of their thoughtfully put together 14 selections. The two that we ordered were their Americano pizza and their Arugula pizza. Of the two, it was the Americano that we enjoyed devouring the most. The amazing local pepperoni (that’s right, from right here in Columbus) to the fresh mozzarella and homemade tomato sauce; and then it is all dusted with some crushed red pepper. It’s the perfect amount of spice and DEFINITELY delicious. The second pizza, the Arugula, we both enjoyed. However, where Jason could have used less Arugula I tend to like my bacon more CRISPY (even a little burnt is fine by me)- but it was still a tasty spring pizza.

I got so excited to talk about the dough, that I skipped the beginning of our meal. We did start out with some great draft beers in mason jars and with an appetizer. If you come to Element’s and you like calamari then please do not leave without trying their Semolina Crusted Calamari. The calamari is superbly cooked and seasoned & they also serve it with an oil based sauce for dipping and some of their homemade marinara sauce. Personally, I couldn’t decide on which dipping sauce I liked more but Jason though the oil was the ultimate pairing.

Whether you drop by for lunch to grab one of their paninis or salads or decide to make a dinner out of Element Pizza you can not go wrong. The prices are very cheap, but the quality is a godsend. Also, if you live close by they will deliver to you if they aren’t too busy so call ahead and make a plan for some Element Pizza. I give this downtown Columbus restaurant TWO THUMBS UP!

Until Next Time,
Nikki

Element Pizza Bar on Urbanspoon

Explorer’s Club: A Brunch Adventure WELL Worth the Trip!

I have always been a big fan of breakfast. In fact, I think it’s a family thing, as I can remember my mom making a BIG breakfast for dinner some nights. My love for it only grew once I became of legal drinking age – mimosas, bellinis, bloody marys, spiked coffee…YUM!

Anyhow, as much as I love to daydream of fruity alcohol concoctions sometimes…back to the food! When it comes to breakfast it is the Explorer’s Club that I have CRAVED over the past couple of months, and more specifically it is their Cuban french toast w/fresh fruit that I really cannot stop thinking about (you know it must be love then). It’s a dish of these amazingly sweet and a little, crunchy french toast cubes, dusted with powered sugar and topped off with fresh fruit – pineapple, banana, strawberries and melon. This is the best way to spend a late morning on a weekend. Especially when you order a side of their bacon, a coffee, a water and any drink with some alcohol in it. Add in someone to spend the morning with for a good hour and a half or more to slowly drink, talk and eat your way to enjoyment. I’m not going to lie, these tasty, little bits kind of remind me of Burger King’s french toast sticks that I couldn’t get enough of as a kid. Now, for those of you who just read what I typed and are turned off – DON’T BE!!

You will not regret this or any other breakfast item you select here at Explorer’s Club. They really specialize in good Latin flavors with their dishes and while you can pick the fiery burritos or chilequiles dishes…I’d also recommend this special they have: eggs in verde sauce & mozzarella. Jason ordered this amazing dish, it comes with toast and breakfast potatoes, with some of their house made hot sauce (fire breathing hot) and one of their BIG Cinnamon Rolls (SOOO good, even the next morning with all of the sweet icing and a little spice with all that cinnamon) and he LOVED every bite of his breakfast too.

But maybe brunch isn’t your thing, then Explorer’s Club is still your place. Their dinner is an experience too with amazing Latin flavors and even plenty for the vegetarians or vegans in your group (a.k.a. DORSEY). We started out with drinks and I tried one of their Strawberry Love Margaritas, which was refreshing and addicting! We opted to start with an appetizer even though we knew it may not have left us any room for dessert after our dinners… But who could resist nachos with black beans, jack cheese and their own chiptole sauce. (The perfect amount of spicy. They use this in a lot of their brunch, lunch and dinner meals and after one bite you’ll know why!) From there I got their Half Roasted Chicken with brown rice, jalapeno slaw and a side of plantains. As you’ll notice from the picture below, as soon as it landed on the table I had to try the chicken and didn’t make it to a photo first. The skin on the chicken is perfectly crispy and the meat inside is tender and juicy. Everything about this dish and trip to the Explorer’s Club was divine.

I give the Explorer’s Club, located in the Merion Village area of Columbus, TWO THUMBS up for brunch and another TWO THUMBS up for dinner. The location may not be ideal for all diners, but come on out and get adventurous. As Lucas in Empire Records said, ‘I do not regret the things that I have done, but those I did not do.’

Until Next Time,
Nikki


Explorers Club on Urbanspoon

YELLOW BRICK Will Take You to THE Wizard of Pizza

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Lately, I feel as though I have really picked up my love for pizza again and ran with it. Luckily, it keeps me coming back to Yellow Brick – along with my new friend Abbey! 🙂 I really feel that it could be her true love for the food that has triggered me back into seeking good pizza in Columbus. THANK YOU ABBEY for bringing me back to pizza AND for showing me the light via. Yellow Brick.

First, I love that Yellow Brick is located in Olde Towne East, it’s so close to work that I could walk here and such a treasure to top it off. You walk inside the place and you’re glad that someone knows how to properly utilize all of their window fronts. It also has gorgeous exposed brick, a bar that extends the length of the restaurant and plenty of seating. Next you will be delighted, if you are like me, at the first menu they hand you – pages & pages, upon pages of craft beers from around the U.S. on draft or bottled. However, if you are like Abbey and love a good Coke from Mexico, you’ll be set here too.

The menu allows you to select one of their artisan pizza favorites or get creative and design your own. I like using classic ingredients to design my own. So I ordered a small cheese pizza with their Rhode Island sauce (a classic tomato pizza sauce with tasty olive oil drizzled in – can’t go wrong here with this sauce), pepperoni, green olives and then topped with shaved Parmesan cheese. Now Abbey loves feta cheese on her pizza from Yellow Brick, so she gets the small cheese pizza, the Rhode Island sauce (her favorite, which I copied off of) and then topped off with feta.

Everything is so good that before you are even aware you have hoovered down half of your piping hot pizza. I’ve only been twice, in March, but I’m sure that I will be one of their regulars in no time! This definitely gets TWO THUMBS UP!!

Until Next Time,

Nikki

Yellow Brick Pizza on Urbanspoon

Sidebar 122 is Like Hotel Dining…

All the techniques are right, the plated food looks fabulous, but when it comes to taste it doesn’t blow your mind or seem very original either. To be fair, it is hotel food @ it’s BEST!

The experience wasn’t too great from the moment we told them we had reservations. Being the conscientious diners that we are, Jason booked us reservations at Sidebar 122 through Open Table (a service we use often) and did have a special request for a window seat – we are both fans of people watching and natural lighting. This apparently annoyed the host, who told us when we got there that he felt that this was like paint telling Picasso what color it is and where to put it on his painting…dramatic to say the least!

So after the very warm welcoming, the nice hostess took us to our table, by a window. Our waitress seemed a little scattered but was dear and very helpful to us as new diners at the restaurant. To start, they bring everyone a delicious serving of hummus and fried pita (and you all know by now how much I love hummus). This was by far the best thing that I ate here and it was damn good.

Next we ordered cocktails – me a Jack & Ginger and Jason got a Negroni. He thought his was a bit strong, but wasn’t complaining. I thought my drink was a little watered down (possibly because our waitress apparently forgot to come back to ask me if I wanted ginger ale or their ginger syrup, which they didn’t recommend, in my drink – so who knows how long those ice cubes sat in that whiskey) and the ale had no fizz to it.

For dinner, I ordered the Roasted Beet & Blue Cheese Salad and the Grilled Beef Tenderloin Skewers (although there is only 1); and Jason got the House Salad and the Pork Filet Mignon. He found his salad to be good and better than expected when he wasn’t sure what a pecan dressing would taste like. I thought the beets were delightful in the salad, but the salad didn’t need to be so bathed in heavy Blue Cheese dressing…even though I do LOVE blue cheese. Jason’s Pork Filet Mignon, which was served with mixed veggies, purple cabbage and mashed potatoes, he found to be good but not amazing…however, good enough to eat all of it before offering me a taste…  The Grilled Beef Tenderloin was served with a Parmesan risotto and mixed veggies. I actually really liked the skewered meat – very tender and the melted blue cheese on it was tasty. As for the sides, I could live without.


At the end of the meal we decided to skip dessert here and high-tail it over to Jeni’s for some real original flavor. (Man, I’m glad that the German Village location opened back up last Friday!) Is the food bad at Sidebar 122? No. But is it original, competitive or even well representative of the cuisine that C-BUS has to offer? The answer to that question is NO as well. I will say, however, that I do plan on going back sometime just to sit and drink at the bar…word on the street is that they give you BACON instead of peanuts to snack on! Just like at a hotel that I am staying at when traveling – I’d rather grab some drinks there than eat there, any day of the week.

Until Next Time,

Nikki
Sidebar 122 on Urbanspoon

Tasty Middle Eastern Food in Woodley Park

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As I often do when I travel to cities outside of Ohio (or even to help cure my indecisiveness on picking a location in town), I like to play around with Urbanspoon to help me find a tasty location. I find that when I’m out-of-town I enjoy finding a couple spots close to where I’m staying, site-seeing and city must-goes through Urbanspoon and internet research and then deciding as my hunger hits as to where to go vs. creating any kind of an itinerary, which my anal/love for planning natural inclination would normally cause me to do.

While we were staying in the Woodley Park neighborhood a few weeks ago in DC, I found  a restaurant across the street from my hotel through Urbanspoon called Lebanese Taverna. It was ranked at 88%, reasonably priced, and served Middle Eastern cuisine (my favorite)…so I knew I’d end up there one day. Finally, on the last day we made this our choice for an early dinner. We also did my new favorite thing of not ordering two entrees, but doing an appetizer & entrée combo (or even just ordering multiple appetizers) and sharing everything. I love to sample and this helps me avoid over eating by way of trying everything.

Today we were both in the mood for a good cocktail, which we often are, but when out-of-town I find it a MUST. So I ordered the pomegranate martini and Jason ordered the raspberry mojito. Now, Jason felt the mint in his mojito to be too overwhelming, but mine was perfectly DELICIOUS! To fulfill my need to regularly consume yummy hommos, I ordered the ‘Trio of Hommos’. It was a lot and it was mouth-watering good! It included:  a traditional hommos that was topped w/ a mixture of ground beef & lamb, a garlic hommos w/ chicken shawarma on top of it, a spicy hommos w/ diced tomatoes & feta sprinkled on top; and was served with both white and wheat pita & fresh veggies. Jason ordered the chicken shawarma entrée, which came with the most amazing rice, tahini sauce and garlic puree.

The hommos trio was so damn good that even Jason couldn’t stop himself from eating it…although, since he’s a man I believe he’s prone to like anything that has meat on top of it or is spicy! It was so creamy and each hommos was paired flawlessly with the appropriate toppings. The chicken shawarma was only okay (still think that somehow the Pita House on Broad Street in Columbus has the best chicken shawarma & garlic puree that I have ever tried), but the rice was fabulous. It was cooked to perfection and had to be simmered in some stock for that kind of flavor.

I can not say enough great things about our waiter- he was impeccable! He checked in on us just enough to make sure we always had what we needed but not so much that we felt bombarded. He even brought us fresh, complimentary coffee after we paid, as we sat and talked. Loved him!

I was a little disappointed to later find out that this place is a chain, but even knowing that wouldn’t stop me from going back again. All in all, I give Lebanese Taverna two thumbs up!

Until next time,

Nikki

Lebanese Taverna on Urbanspoon