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Appetite for Adventure

Kids are hardwired to try new things. From the day they are born until apprehension and self-doubt browbeat them into social submission, they are really open to anything. They’re growing up in a world that is always on and always connected. Their friends and interests are far more diverse than ours were because they aren’t [...]
J.R. McMillan

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Kids are hardwired to try new things. From the day they are born until apprehension and self-doubt browbeat them into social submission, they are really open to anything. They’re growing up in a world that is always on and always connected. Their friends and interests are far more diverse than ours were because they aren’t limited to a few square blocks and whatever adventure they can find before the sun goes down.

As parents, we often fail to feed that willingness to try new things, especially when it comes to new foods. And most restaurants don’t make it any easier on us. Sadly, there is nothing savvy or sophisticated about the average kids menu. Next time, just skip it entirely and try these tips to satisfy your child’s appetite for adventure.


Small Plates and Daily Specials

tora

Da Levee – 765 n High St.
Small plates are the right size and right price to blow off uninspiring kids menus elsewhere. This perennial favorite creole hole in the wall is famous for them. Their rotating lineup and lunch hours at both locations offer endless possibilities. The black bean and corn Maque Choux, Cheesy Craw Etouffee, or hearty Gumbo, each served with a slab of slightly spicy “Magic Bread,” are just $5. Add a side of Andouille sausage, “Kickin’ Chikin” or extra rice for just a little more, or go with a “half-and-half” plate at only $8 for your eager eater.

Tora – 1330 N Hamilton Rd.
Suburban sushi joints may not be an obvious option for kid-friendly fare, but they should be. Tora’s deep and descriptive menu (with helpful English translations) make their Tuesday specials a great half-price pick for your half-pints. Start simple with a Tora California roll of snow crab, cucumber and avocado, then work up to a more daring Black Spider roll, featuring fried soft shell crab, spicy mayo, and black sesame seeds. Even their eel sauce goes down easy. Weekday specials often include Tako Yaki, or batter-fried balls of chopped octopus.


Dine Family Style

erawan

Erawan Thai – 3589 Refugee Rd.
Skip the PB&J and try the Chicken Satay, skewered and served with both peanut and cucumber sauces for kids who like to dip their dinner. Erawan excels as an authentic family style dining destination. The menu is impressive, exhaustive, and the portions are huge. Order a mix of appetizers and entrees and enough plates to go around. The Pad Thai is a sweet and spicy serving of fried egg, sprouts, and scallions with wide rice noodles. Pick your meat and enjoy the heat, or cool it down with the Num Tok, or grilled beef salad served over rice.

SuperChefs – 199 E Broad St
Every kid loves breakfast anytime, and SuperChef’s ups the hero factor with giant-sized, comic book inspired décor to match their oversized menu. There are ample options for over-the-top pancake confections, but don’t let sweet triumph over savory without a fight. Try “The Hulk,” two green waffle sandwiches with eggs, American cheese, sausage, candied bacon, and maple syrup. Or try his evil alternative “The Juggernaut,” two red waffle sandwiches with fried chicken, eggs over medium, and Pepper Jack instead. Both are big enough to share.


Kid Favorites with Adult Attitude

bono

Bono Pizza – 1412 Presidential Dr.
For those who don’t know Bono, they used to operate out of the short end of a Grandview carryout, baking their pizzas in the parking lot. They now occupy a townhouse-turned-restaurant a few blocks away, but offer the same quirky combinations as always. Don’t let the dimly lit diner vibe dissuade you. Stay safe with the San Rolando of pepperoni, crumbled sausage, and mozzarella, or be bold with the Waikiki “Jamie Style,” their regular Hawaiian pie of imported ham and pineapple, plus cinnamon, sliced almonds, and shredded coconut.

El Pollo Perucho – 727 Georgesville Rd.
Forget the chicken nuggets and tired fries. Go for the Pollo a la Brasa, marinated in garlic, cumin, and paprika, then spit-roasted over charcoal until the skin is as crispy as the meat is succulent. Peruvian chicken is ordered by the quarter, half, or you can buy the whole bird. Upgrade your fries to Yuca Fritas, or deep-fried cassava, for something decidedly different. Kick Kool-Aid to the curb and wash it all down with a tall, cold Chicha Morada, a sweet treat made from purple corn and pineapple juice, seasoned with cinnamon and cloves.


Eat with your Hands

addis

Addis Restaurant – 3750 Cleveland Ave.
Channel your own inner child and eat with your hands. Injera is about as kid-friendly as food gets. The spongy buckwheat crepes serve as both a staple and a utensil. “Addis” actually means “new” in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia—so let the owners know if you’re new too, and they’ll prepare you a platter with a bit of everything. The Mahbarawi, stewed lean beef with onions, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic, or the Doro Tibs, simmered cuts of chicken, might require less lobbying than the legumes, beets, and unique vegetable dishes.

Banana Leaf – 816 Bethel Rd.
Dare to go dumpling at Banana Leaf. Sneak in some green things with Pakoda, dumplings made from a South Indian mix of chickpea flour and fresh veggies, or some Kachori, spicy green pea hush puppies. Samosas sell themselves. What kid doesn’t love little fried triangles stuffed with mashed potatoes? Keep it simple and order something from the Chaats menu, street foods that are sweet, spicy, tangy, and crispy. Once your little one graduates to a fork, consider the Grand Buffet. If your kid really digs it, they even offer cooking classes for grownups. •

 

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VegHeads Unite! A vegetarian guide to Restaurant Week

Mitch Hooper

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As a vegetarian, it can be tough watching a week of deals on meals in the city and know that you can’t get in on the action. Since most Restaurant Week menus are meat-forward, it’s hard to find a spot that can satisfy your plant-based diet. But the office of 614NOW holds not one, not two, but three people who have ditched the carnivore lifestyle for strictly veggies. Here’s our tips for a fellow VegHead in need.

Fukuryu Ramen (Dublin and Upper Arlington) | $15 per dinner

Try and find a three course meal in the city for $15… We’ll wait! Fukuryo Ramen offers edamame with shiitake mushroom salt, nori fries, or a Fukuryo salad to start your dinner and your miso ramen bowl can be made vegetarian or vegan upon request. Just make sure you get the the matcha soft serve as your dessert.

Mazah Mediterranean Eatery | $15 per dinner

If there’s one cuisine that understands the plight of a plant-eater, it’s Mediterranean food. Whether it’s simply hummus and pita to start with za’atar bread with labaneh as your entree, or trying the falafel with house pickles, nearly everything on this RWC menu is vegetarian/vegan friendly. Well, almost everything. The third-course features more meats, but the spinach fatayer with banadora salad can save you.

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Bareburger (Clintonville and Short North) | $20 per dinner

Whether you choose to start your meal with a kale Caesar salad or pair your Impossible Burger with a side of fries or onion rings, the first two courses at Bareburger are absolutely vegetarian-friendly. You can specify ahead of time if you’re vegan for cheese options and other salad dressings. Finish it all off with a vegan carrot cake, or s’mmmmores (not a typo) if you don’t mind dairy products.

Lineage Brewing Company | $20 per dinner

Lineage is breaking out all the vegetarian and vegan options for RWC as their vegan sloppy joe as well as “grilled” cheese hand pies find themselves as two of the three entrees offered. You can start your meal with deviled eggs, or a trio of dips—Chipotle Hummus, Colombian Aji and Tex-Mex Tomato Salsa—with tortillas chips. Round out your veggie adventure with some spiked desserts—coconut stout chocolate custard or Berliner Weisse Italian Ice—and maybe stick around for a few extra beers.

Basil Thai (Brewery District and Upper Arlington) | $20 per dinner

Basil Thai is a test of eating endurance during RWC as they roll out an all-you-can-eat buffet for just $20 a person. The Panang is a vegan dish featuring red curry with bell peppers, tofu, and a spicy creamy sauce while the lo mein noodles still stand a go-to favorite for vegetarians every where. The best part? You can have as much as you want of both.

Haveli Bistro | $20 per dinner

Haveli is going above and beyond for RWC as their menu features four-courses! The battered and fried vegetables in veg pakora are a solid starter and following it up with some veg manchow soup ensures you’ll still have room for the third and fourth course. Finish off with some mixed veggie curry with garlic naan and you’ve somehow ate your weight without spending all your cash.

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Food & Drink

614NOW Fried Chicken Trail: Forty’s Chicken and Waffles

Mike Thomas

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First came the 614NOW Donut Trail. Then, there was the Mac & Cheese Trail. Now, 614NOW is on the hunt for the best fried chicken this city has to offer. Welcome to the 614NOW Fried Chicken Trail!

Forty’s Chicken and Waffles

2593 N High St

They say life is one big question when you’re staring at the clock, and the answer’s always waiting at the [chicken] store. Sorry, the name of this particular fried chicken establishment is giving me major Sublime vibes.

Forty’s Chicken and Waffles is a rad food counter situated in the back of Old North Arcade on High Street. While chicken grease and arcade game joysticks are a match made in hell, the combination of sweet, pillowy waffles and succulent fried chicken is one for the ages.

Forty’s “tendies” basket before I drowned the whole affair in the pictured syrup

The chicken at Forty’s comes in strips referred to as “tendies,” but this is not the stuff of chain restaurant kids meal baskets. Forty’s generous strips of tender, all-white meat chicken are obviously cut from whole breast pieces, which takes the chore of deboning out of the equation. This means you can spend more time blasting through Dig Dug or Tron, and less time dealing with pesky chicken carcass!

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If I were to compare the Chicken at Forty’s to anything, it perhaps most resembles the strips from a certain chain that rhymes with “Blazing Mains.” The pieces found here, however, are so much larger and more juicy than anything you’ll find at that familiar sauce+garlic toast joint.

Nerd out AND eat fried chicken? I’m sold.

If you’re not yet a believer in the sweet-meets-savory mashup of syrup-soaked waffles and fried chicken, you’d best get down to Forty’s stat. Syrup, and plentiful sauces (chipotle ranch, of I’m not mistaken?) help this chicken shine in spite of it being a little light in the seasoning department for my taste.

Ratings:
Aroma:🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗 (5/5 drumsticks)
Flavor: 🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗 (5/5)
Seasoning: 🍗🍗🍗🍗 (4/5)
Crispiness: 🍗🍗🍗🍗 (4/5)
Overall Experience: 🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗 (5/5)

Forty’s Chicken and Waffles total: 23/25

Large doses of sugar-coated protein are just the thing to fuel your late night Q*bert rampage at the adjoining arcade. Just remember to wash the grease off your hands before diving back in!

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Food & Drink

Restaurant Week Preview: Smith and Wollensky’s classic steakhouse experience

Mike Thomas

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Restaurant Week here! Enjoy 3-course meals at 120+ of Columbus’ best restaurants for a fraction of the cost during Restaurant Week Columbus, July 15-20, presented by (614) Magazine & Marathon Petroleum Corporation.

With deals from some of the area’s top eateries coming in at a mere $40, Restaurant Week is the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to a taste of the good life.

Check out this preview of America’s classic steakhouse, Smith and Wollensky, to see just how far $40 will take you!

First Course

For fans of blue cheese, Smith and Wollensky’s mini iceburg wedge salad is a must (bacon lardons, anyone?) For everyone else, grilled bacon in a burnt orange bourbon gastrique should do nicely.

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Second Course

The second course is where you’ll have a difficult decision to make. Between Smith and Wollensky’s signature filet mignon, tenderloin tips with African spices, and some first-rate chicken and fish preparations, there should be something to suit any taste. But let’s get real—this is a steakhouse. Go for the gusto with the dry-aged, prime boneless New York strip, served au poivre.

Third Course

If you have any room left, you’ll have your choice of a slice of Chocolate cake with Baileys Irish cream, chocolate mousse, and ganache, or coconut cake with whipped cream, Malibu rum syrup, crisp tuile, and shaved coconut. These are supposedly smaller-scale versions of these dessert offerings, but after all the great food that proceeds them, I’m seeing a doggy bag in your future.

Chocolate cake

Smith & Wollensky is located in Easton, at 4145 The Strand W. in Columbus. The Restaurant Week menu will be offered Monday-Saturday from 11:30a-10p, and Friday-Saturday from 11:30a-11p.

Click here to make a reservation

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