RSS Feed

Category Archives: Lunch

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

Advertisements

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

Pita House – A Lunchtime Favorite of Mine

For a pasty girl of Danish & German decent, I crave Mediterranean food as though it is in my blood. Sometimes I get my fix at dinner, but most often it is at lunch time that I go out and track down what I’m jonesin’ for. For working where I do there are a couple of places that I commonly go for my fix – Firdous Express (Short North), Mad Greek (Whitehall) or the Pita House (Bexley). Of these places you are most likely to find me in Pita House. The price is right, the service is great and the food is delicious.

Now I have been here A LOT and when I say A LOT, I mean A LOT. The guys behind the counter are always very gracious & helpful; and always laugh whenever I order my usual Chicken Shawarma Platter. The platter comes with hummus, pita, chicken shawarma and your choice of two additional sides – and my usual consists of Jerusalem ‘salad’ and the cauliflower ‘salad’ sides. There are many things on the menu that I have tried and all of which are tasty to me, but this is my favorite and I like to tell myself that it is healthy since it’s chicken and not red meat… What? There is SOME truth to that! Anyhow, I have tried and would recommend any of the following, but not limited to:  Baba Ghanouj, Hummus, Jerusalem Salad, Eggplant, Coleslaw, Falafel, Gyros, Chicken Shawarma, Turkey Shawarma, Chicken Kabab, and/or the Lamb Kabab.

On this particular day I ordered the usual along with an order of falafel. (What? It may be fried, but it’s made of chickpeas & fava beans so it must be healthy too! 🙂 ) Let’s start with the falafel. It’s wonderfully crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle; and when dipped in the yogurt sauce that they give you they taste a little creamier, but without losing it’s lightness. Definitely in my top 3, only being surpassed by the Happy Greek (2nd) and My Big Fat Greek Kuzina (1st). So if you are on the hunt for a good falafel and not in the Short North or Upper Arlington, then I definitely recommend you stop by this place.

Then there is the chicken shawarma platter…ohhhh the chicken shawarma! Where to start? The chicken is perfectly seasoned, thin cuts of grilled chicken. I could, if necessary, just eat a helping of this without anything else – it’s just that good. The Pita House also makes an incredibly delicious garlic paste that I slather on when scooping up the chicken in the pita, the paste was mentioned in a previous post of mine on the Taverna (LINK). The hummus here is top-notch, deliciously rich & a smooth texture; and it is always topped with a couple garbanzo beans & fresh parsley. Then there is the Jerusalem salad, which I do not know exactly how they make this so damn good, but it is. Simple ingredients of cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onion make up this dish. The cauliflower side is another non-complex salad that mixes well together and pairs well with the other items on the platter. It consists of cauliflower, peppers, onions, olives, mushrooms and a touch of olive oil.

This is a great meal for any lunch or dinner, as is everything on the Pita House’s menu. So stop on by Bexley to give it a try. I give this spot TWO THUMBS UP!

Until Next Time,
Nikki

Pita House 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

Harvest Pizzeria: The Way Pizza Should Be!

I cannot say enough good things about this place. From their ingredients, to how they get them, and then what they create with them. I have yet to enjoy their patio, but that day is rapidly approaching…

The interior consists of a lot of neutral colors, natural lighting from windows, and a lot of wood – all things I am a big fan of! There isn’t a ton of seating, so get there fast, but business wise it was a smart decision on their part to start small & build up a clientele before expanding to a large place. Anyhow, the ingredients are fresh and a wide variety of Ohio grown products to choose from. The pizza creations are baked in a wood-burning oven in the small kitchen – which you can see right into and watch them go to town on the dough. I could go on and on about wood-burning ovens, but I’ll digress…I just wish I had one of my own at home!

Like Yellow Brick, the menu has a few specialty pizzas for you to pick from or they also allow you to create your own. On this day Jason & I split a pepperoni, tomato sauce, mozzarella & provolone mix of cheese, jalapenos and mushroom pizza. DE-LI-CIOUS! If you aren’t starving when you get there, you will be as you sit down and smell the pizzas cooking. Now we did not get any appetizers while we were there but from the choices they have on the menu and the smiles on people’s faces sitting around us, as they ate them – it would be well WORTH IT to try them next time.

With that said, it was a strategic plan to not order apps so as to save room for dessert. And eat dessert we did. They have the BEST BLUEBERRY PIE I have EVER had (and for those of you who know me, you know just how much I LOVE ALL things BLUEBERRY!) and with ice cream on the side…it was the perfect end to a perfect meal. Seriously though, you should try the pie. Apparently, the owner’s mother makes them all herself. TWO THUMBS UP to yet another fantastic German Village restaurant!!

Until Next Time!

Nikki

Harvest Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

YELLOW BRICK Will Take You to THE Wizard of Pizza

Posted on

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

The expression is ‘cook with love’, not ‘bake with anger’… The Angry Baker misses the mark!

I believe the expression is to ‘cook with love’, but there is nothing about baking with anger and I can only think that this is why…the results are NOT good. This is a new kind of post for me, a post of disapproval.

My father instilled in me a loyalty to small business or mom & pop spots and I have carried that with me as I moved out on my own. I think I pay a lot of attention to where I’m purchasing from, what I’m purchasing and making sure that I’m not supporting places that do not share my values. (It’s why you’ll never hear me saying I wish I could shop at Walmart or that I miss shopping at Whole Foods, Target or Best Buy- cheaper doesn’t mean better and there is always a cost to another for that couple bucks you are saving.) I try not to eat at large chain restaurants (I did say try, NOT that I NEVER do…) and I really love the work that Ohio Proud (www.ohioproud.org) is doing so that I can support Ohioans like myself and small businesses as much as possible. So it is with a heavy heart that I blog about one such place that just does not seem to have it together and whose staff do not seem to care.

My first trip there was to pick up some sweets after lunch for later that day. Not knowing what their menu/specialty really was yet, I figured that a safe bet would be that they have baked goods @ a spot called Angry Baker. However, after my experience there, I learned that there is no such thing as a safe bet. Don’t get me wrong, they did actually have baked goods- what they didn’t have was good baked goods. Whenever I go to new locations I like to ask the staff what they recommend or what they sell the most of and at this visit I was pointed in the direction of their Dr. Pepper cake. If this is their specialty then there really isn’t anything special here…

Now with all of that said, I did WANT to like it. Hell, I even wanted to LOVE it! So I decided to give it a second chance, I don’t believe in the screw up once & you’re out rule for small businesses. This time, now knowing that they serve breakfast and lunch items, I decided to grab some lunch from here for the road. Their lunch menu is written on a chalk board & the turkey sandwich (w/mustard, lettuce, tomato & swiss) sounded perfect. You did get to pick a choice of soup, salad or chips and I went with the Zesty Jalapeno chips. I ordered & found it interesting that the sandwich artisan when asked to make the sandwich moved closer to the chalk board & stared at it and then looked at me as if he was unaware that was an option and made a face as if I was troubling him by ordering. After AWHILE, I got the sandwich from the lady who took my order- with no smile, ‘thanks for coming’, ‘have a nice day’ or even a ‘come again!’

But that’s neither here nor there on a food blog, the food is the actual important part. The sandwich did have delicious tomatoes on it and the bread was fantastic as well, but from there it all went downhill… Sadly, the bread slices were thicker than the whole rest of the sandwich, there was barely any turkey or cheese but there was a good inch of whole grain mustard on it (enough for a good 10 sandwiches at least & nearly impossible to scrape enough off- and I really like mustard too).

For eight dollars I expect a little more. Especially when you have Black Creek Bistro down the street or such sandwich options in the city as Brown Bag or Danny’s Deli… So today I give my first two thumbs down, but with the hope to one day write that I was wrong and that there is a reason to stop by and patronage the Angry Baker.

Until next time,

Nikki

The Angry Baker on Urbanspoon