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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

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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

CURE!

The name says it all. It’s incredible and refreshing to find a place where high quality ingredients are either bought locally or even made at the establishment…that’s right, they CURE their own meats. I do not have enough tantalizing words in my vocabulary to do this place justice, but I will try. In the end the pictures will save me some, but you will truly never know unless you go and experience it for yourself!

Jason and I went to see our brothers, both live in Pittsburgh, for a weekend and that is where we discovered this place. With my bro being a chef and having lived in P-burgh for the past nine years, we left it up to him to pick a spot for us to dine at AND boy, oh boy I am glad that we did. To start with this place is in a renovated, old building. The amount of natural light and wood mixed with steel makes the place look fresh, modern and super clean. The staff are amazingly inviting, with no pompous, hipster attitudes like the neighborhood might suggest. To top it off this place is also BYOB – which is crazy for Ohio but apparently more common in PA. So my brother brought us a selection of some of his favorite craft beers and the Sam Adam’s Infinium. It was great to get to drink alcohol at a reasonable rate, which never happens at a nice restaurant.


My brother’s recommendation was that if you can swing it ($60 a person) go for the chef’s tasting! So we all did and it rocked all of our worlds… It was five courses of HEAVEN & enough amazing meat that it should have been enough to last me until the next time I go. Here’s the breakdown:

Course 1: A platter of meats and sides… Whipped Pork Fat on crostinis (BETTER than BUTTER), 3 types of terrines- head cheese, duck and beef, duck spec (who knew, but it was delicious), salami with fennel (addicting), whole seed mustard, Cornish pickles (that tasted like snapping into a Salt & Vinegar chip – YUMM-O!), with pickled onions & beets.

Course 2: Smoked mackerel with goat cheese & chives dip, beet puree dip, Dijon sauce, watercress and beet & olive tapenade sprinkled over top…AMAZING!

Course 3: Cilantro mousse with pickled, crispy onions in the center and then swirled around it was a carmelized shallot puree and then poured over top (in front of you) was THE most savory creamed mushroom soup I have ever had. I could have eaten three bowls of this it was so wonderful and I’m sure that when cold weather hits again, I’ll be craving it!

Course 4: Gnocchi that was topped with pork belly pancetta & it’s juices and then a few shavings of fresh pecorino romano cheese. I’m not a pork belly fan, but even I liked this & gnocchi has been a long-standing weakness of mine since I discovered it in an amazing dish at Alberini’s in Niles, OH.

Course 5:  Two types of sausage – blood & vino en blanc, served with leeks, a zing-y mustard sauce and a date that was dehydrated and then re-hydrated with the juice of the sausages.

After all this food it was likely that I would explode or die from meat sweats, but I didn’t regret even one bite and have been craving it ever since. Literally, just talking about it or typing this right now makes me salivate for it. So needless to say this gets TWO THUMBS UP!! If you are ever in the Strip District or East Liberty area of Pittsburgh please, PLEASE do not pass up this opportunity…they take reservations!

Until Next Time,

Nikki

Cure on Urbanspoon

Easton is no Eden, but I do LOVE Cafe Istanbul!

One of the GREAT things about starting this food blog is that it offers me a wonderful excuse to revisit all of my favorite places. Why not go to the places I love & eat all of my favorite meals, snacks and/or desserts that have brought my taste buds and tummy such joy?!? A recent trip took me back to Cafe Istanbul in the Easton shopping complex in Columbus & it is, believed by me, to be the best restaurant in there.

After all the chaos of trying to even get to Easton, yet alone park, it is always a delight to just step into this restaurant it’s like stepping into another world & always brings me such elation. You’ll find areas that almost act like little seating cubbies vs. separate rooms, off to the sides of the main seating area. The tables look bistro style, they have the most spectacular chandelier hanging in the main hall, and fantastic Turkish decor displayed throughout. But while I love the atmosphere @ Cafe Istanbul, it’s the staff and especially the food that keeps me coming back for more.

The moment that you sit down you will be served the most amazing Turkish bread, called pide, and a dipping sauce, is kind of like tomato & spice mixed with oil, that will knock your socks off (not because it’s spicy, it’s actually kind of sweet & savory at the same time…but the taste is phenomenal). Once this hits the table I find it hard to stop eating it until it’s ALL gone and if even one other person is with me for a meal here, then we will certainly need second helpings of both. With that said, the pide also disappears quickly because I always order hummus here and enjoy soaking it up with the bread.

Traditionally, I always get the chicken kebab for my entrée, but on this day I decided to mix it up a little and try the Kebab Combination. With the kebab combo you get to pick two kebabs from the menu and get a half portion of each, so I chose the chicken and dÖner kebabs. The dÖner is like gyro meat, hand-carved marinated lamb and beef that is grilled on a large, vertical rotisserie. The chicken was good, as it always is – NEVER over-cooked, just juicy and delicious. Now the dÖner was even more AMAZING. The marinade they used was incredible and every bite of this meat combo was more flavorful than the last. I will never pass up the chance for more dÖner at Cafe Istanbul again. The kebabs also come with rice and grilled veggies; and there is enough food for two people (if you are interested in sharing or taking some home for another meal).

I will definitely be coming back to Cafe Istanbul many more times –  I promise you that you will not regret doing the same thing. I give Cafe Istanbul TWO thumbs up!

Until next time,

Nikki

Café Istanbul 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

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