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Local restaurants channeling warmth with spring menus

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Ahh, spring. In Ohio, it’s damn near like entering a whole new world.

And it doesn’t just affect our how we entertain ourselves—but how we eat, too.

With the changing of the seasons comes new ingredients, literally unearthed, and utilized by the city’s most creative culinary commanders.

Here, is just a taste of who’s rolling out new dishes—and how they set their table. – Travis Hoewischer, (614) Magazine April 2018

Gallerie Bar & Bistro

Chef Bill Glover

Long before local was a buzzword lingering on every menu, Glover was boasting the benefits of dishing out Ohio’s best available crops, and he’s only expanded that vision running the massive operation at the Downtown Hilton. For him, spring isn’t about abundance, but focus.

“I like spring the most because of the ingredient availability is so narrow and special this time of year—especially wild edibles that I forage for my own home cooking. Spring offers the uniqueness of vegetables only available for a brief timeframe. I like to showcase the bounty of spring offerings that Ohio farming and wild foragers bring.”

He and his right-hand-man Josh Kayser have perfected their collaboration going all the way back to their Sage Bistro days, and after deciding on new dishes, will make each dish a few times to play with textures and flavor profile. After the plating process, it’ll get rolled out for managers. Then, it’s for us to enjoy.

For Glover, it’s about not only serving food that feels fresh and now, but finding a balance in not erasing current favorites.

“Variety is our job as chefs,” he said. “We have to have a few dishes that are safe and a few that push the boundaries. It is like this in every major market in American. I am never afraid to push people; I have been serving Pacu fish ribs for over 10 years with nothing but rave reviews after people get over the psychological hump.”

Be sure to tryCrispy fried confit frog legs, Ohio maple syrup brown butter glaze, chili, lemon, sage, spring onion, nasturtium.

Branch

Chef Rodelio Aglibot

After an extended rebrand, the folks at Branch are shifting towards a menu that isn’t just general comfort food—but items inspired by the nostalgia of its head chef and staff.

“It’s a seasonal menu inspired by our food memories,” said head chef Rodelio Aglibot. “Our grilled chicken dish is served with a cheesy broccoli rice similar to the casserole I ate as a kid.” 

Lighter and brighter, leaning toward fruits and vegetables in their dishes, like Glover, Aglibot thinks creativity—combined with execution—gets rewarded with covers.

“Customers want to try new things and chefs want to create—its a constant evolution,” he said. “If you get known for being innovative they will keep trying.”

Chef’s choice: Firecracker tempura tuna and salmon roll.

101 Beer Kitchen

Chef Thad Kittrell

As they continue to rewrite the (cook)book on what breaking bread can be in the ‘burbs, the team at 101 Beer Kitchen is also a model of collaboration, a top-down, all-voices-heard spirit encouraged by chef/owner Thad Kittrell.

“All of the chefs contribute to the many menus that we create however we have used ideas from other team members as well, like a line-cook who made an absolutely wonderful chicken tinga we incorporated into our tostadas,” he said.

Their elevated pub stables aren’t going anywhere—which is good, because we can eat ale and cheddar soup in any weather. The new menu reflects their mission of providing seasonal handcrafted products that “sound good at the time”—comfort food in the fall and winter and lighter options in the spring and summer.

Chef’s choice: Pan Seared Scallops over orzo pasta with roasted artichokes, grilled asparagus and shiitake mushrooms in a soy butter sauce, topped w/ pickled red onion and thinly sliced radishes.

Watershed Kitchen + Bar

Chef Jack Moore

Watershed has spent years building a venerable booze brand, but in very little time their restaurant has earned the praise of diners city and statewide.

One advantage, besides top talent in the kitchen and behind the bar:

Access to the state’s great farmers.

“When we have passionate farmers come in the back door excited about the product they raised, our job as chefs becomes a little easier,” chef Jack Moore said. “That food already tastes great, and that is the food that dictates my menu. It is my duty as a chef to showcase their product in a way that shows respect to all of the hard work the farmers put into it, and make that translate to our guest.  And with a team of passionate chefs, eager to play with fresh product, we have fun this time of year. Not only telling our story, but the farmer’s too.”

“It’s much more important to put out food we are proud of instead of something we feel is mediocre because we were in a hurry to hit the spring “deadline.” As the seasons change, you will see menu items fall off the menu as new ones come on.

Chef’s choice: Order the asparagus dish. “Last year, in the hustle bustle of being the hot new restaurant, we missed the short growing window for our local asparagus. We won’t let that happen again this year. Stay tuned!”

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Clintonville Brunch Crawl: We dare you to squeeze all 3 stops into 1 day

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Clintonville is lovely this time of year, especially when you make three separate stops for brunch. 

Whether the weather is gracing the charming little burgh with a healthy dose of vitamin D or giving it a couple spins around the Lazy Susan that is Ohio’s climate, a trifecta of morning food destinations is sure to keep your mood afloat.

BLunch  • 2973 N High St.

blunchcolumbus.com

Yes, we know that Columbus now is home to a Drunch AND a BLunch.

Snicker all ya want—if you do, you’d be missing out on one of the culinary scene’s welcome newcomers—a half-day cafe that carries the comforts of a First Watch, but with the sophisticated execution of Tasi or Katalina’s.

The White Family has decades of hospitality under their belt—the family owned Galena’s Mudflats until recently, and dad Jeff has been running the OSU Faculty Club for the past 20 years.

Those two were training grounds for son Jeff, once a young, eager dishwasher and now head chef for the White’s new “daylight eatery and bar.” Mom Jane, despite her own admission that in the family’s tavern-running days breakfast didn’t get served until halfway through afternoon, now relishes an intimate spot where people can maintain their own balance between booze and breakfast.

A full-bar at brunch is a rarity in the peculiar little burg, and positioned near Lineage, Old Skool, and Condado, BLunch could be the perfect starting point for a casual Clintonville crawl.

Then again, you may not have another stop after Chef Jeff gets done with ya. He and the White family have concepted a bennies-and-batter focused menu, where you’ll be sure to come back after a healthy amount of indecision. Me? I’ve been dreaming about the Bananas Foster pancakes (topped with ice cream) and the huevos rancheros over masa cake for weeks. – Travis Hoewischer

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Dough Mama • 3335 N High St.

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Dough Mama is the top of my list for my favorite breakfast joint. I love so much about this place.

The atmosphere is super chill, laid back, and inviting. The food is so so good. I would call it comfort food with an extra sprinkle of love and thought.

From pie to salad, it’s all good.

They use a variety of local and seasonal ingredients and support some of my favorite local delicacies with Dan the Baker bread and Thunderkiss coffee … YUM! They also have a variety of vegan and gluten-free options.

I am smitten with the Gluten-Free Lemon Poppy muffin. This place is my go to for a yummy drippy egg, roasted potatoes, salad, a sweet treat and a perfect cup of coffee.

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My husband loves Grammie’s Sammie and a piece of Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie. I somehow manage to splurge here and feel really really good about it.

Their menu has some great staples but they also always have specials that look and are amazing.

Right now they serve both lunch and breakfast during the day and I’ve heard it through the grapevine that they will soon be open in the evening and serving dinner. I cannot wait to see what delicious dishes they create for that menu. – Jana Rock

Baba’s • 2515 Summit St.

babascolumbus.com

Baba’s is my go-to breakfast spot in Columbus. You can grab a breakfast sandwich on their homemade griddle muffins (aka little pillows of heaven), order a rack of ribs, or in the spirit of Alabama Worley, have a slice of perfect pie and a cup of Thunderkiss coffee.

Their delicious baked goods are made in house, they smoke all of their own meats and their produce and coffee are all sourced locally, though their espresso will send you to the moon.

The service is fast, their team is super-friendly and there are never any pretentious vibes in the super chill atmosphere they have created on the corner of Hudson and Summit.

They’ve made a beautiful impact in their short existence in the SoHud neighborhood, fostering local artistic connections and bringing beautiful new mural art that rotates different artist from the community throughout the year. Don’t forget to grab one of their perfect cinnamon rolls for later. — Vanessa Jean Speckman

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Harvest Pizzeria sowing last seeds in German Village

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Eight years ago, Harvest Pizzeria cropped up in a small space in German Village. Today, the local pizza chain announced the closure of its flagship location.

Harvest Pizzeria German Village will open its doors for the final time on Saturday, April 27th.

“Despite the success of Harvest in German Village and our strong ties to the neighborhood, the owner of the property will not honor our renewal of the lease,” wrote founder Chris Crader in an email. “…the landlord’s demands for a new lease at a higher rate would not allow our little pizzeria to remain viable.

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Crader added that he is proud of the strides Harvest German Village has made over the years, and thankful for the community that’s supported it. He hopes they can return to the neighborhood when the right spot presents itself.

As far as the employees go, Crader wrote that with the success of the other locations, the German Village workers will be able to join a team at another restaurant.

“Harvest sincerely thanks all of its loyal supporters and we hope to see you at our other locations soon,” wrote Crader.

This news follows the announcement of the Grandview Harvest closing back in February. Read more here.

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Crawfish boils claw their way into Columbus Saturday

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What’s the deal with crawfish boils? Sure, they’re delicious, but as a true land-lubbing midwesterner, my knowledge of this particular culinary phenomenon is fairly lacking.

That said, I definitely can’t tell you why there are multiple crawfish boils going down this Saturday. Best not to overthink it—just enjoy the experience!

Pecan Penny’s |113 East Main Street
Saturday at 4 PM – 7 PM

Sponsored by Brewdog, downtown BBQ joint Pecan Penny’s is kicking off patio season with an all-you-can-eat Crawfish boil, complete with giveaways and a DJ.

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Rehab Tavern | 456 W Town St
2 PM – 6 PM

Rehab’s own 4/20 crawfish boil kicks off at 2:00. Your $15.75 entrance fee will net you a pint of beer in addition to all-you-can-eat crawfish and fixins’!

Can’t make either of these, or want to try the boil experience before committing to a large-scale event? Check out Kai’s Crab Boil or Boiling Seafood Crawfish—both on Bethel Road —for first-rate seafood experiences you won’t soon forget.

Why are there two crawfish boils on the same day? Why are there two crawfish restaurants on the same road? We may never know, and honestly, who cares? Crawfish is the bomb! Just put on your bib and get crackin’!

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