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New/Old school in Old North: Trillium dinner, Dick’s nightcap

Aaron Wetli

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Something old and something new; who can complain about that pairing?

Definitely not us which is why we’re introducing you to Old School/New School where we guide you through a night of nostalgia and new beginnings.

Both destinations have to be within walking distance of each other and the first stop will be for dinner and the second stop for a nightcap.

Park once, drink twice, support local. Get it?

For this edition, we will spend the evening in the Old North neighborhood. If you haven’t heard of the Old North, don’t worry…it is just a term that self-important know-it-alls (such as myself) use to refer to the culturally rich neighborhood that connects north campus and south Clintonville.

We are going to plan the perfect summer date night with a trip to Trillium for diner and a nightcap with local music at Dick’s Den.

Trillium

2333 N High St. •  trilliumkitchen.com

Who among us has not gotten nervous about filling big shoes? Maybe you were nervous when you took over for the beloved and experienced boss? I know you were nervous when that first child came along.

Two guys that had big shoes to fill are chef Bradley Balch and managing partner Michael Kulikowski. What did they have to be nervous about? Nothing … except for filling the shoes of famed Columbus restaurateur Alana Shock and revamping the Columbus culinary institution she ran for 18 years, Alana’s Food & Wine.

No pressure there.

In fact the only thing Balch and Kulikowski seem anxious about is becoming a part of their new neighborhood. Fitting in in the Old North is so important that when they opened Trillium less than a year ago, they chose the name because the Trillium flower, native in Ohio forests, becomes an irreplaceable part of the habitat in which it roots.

Well played.

When it comes to food, Balch, who was a former co-owner and executive chef at The Sycamore, puts an emphasis on quality food and working with local merchants in the community.

His menu changes seasonally, but his commitment to quality does not. Balch likes to work in different disciplines and enjoys serving Asian, Classic French and South & Central American Cuisine.

When pressed with the question of what to order from the menu, his answer was quick and simple: seafood.

Balch, though not boastful, is proud of the fact that the seafood he serves is usually swimming in the Atlantic Ocean only 36 hours before it is served.

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Kulikowski, the former general manager of Tucci’s (where Balch once worked in the kitchen), was more than happy to show me around the front of the house.

Much has changed and much is improved as Trillium pulls off the rare combination of staying true to its roots (get it) while branching out (If you have the time, I have the dad jokes) into the new community.

First things first: the patio—tis the season, after all—remained the same size, but needed a full ground revamp, which Kulikowski and Balch did basically by themselves.

Uprooting trees and laying bricks on July weekends is not easy work, but when you own a restaurant, you wear a lot of hats.

The hard work paid off and the spacious and open patio provides a comfortable setting to eat dinner, relax with a drink or people watch. Which, if you have spent any time in the Old North, you know is prime people watching real estate.

The inside of the restaurant is classy, cool and comfortable. A long bar runs across the northern side of the building and behind that long bar is a selection of Ohio drafts (I partook in the Four String Hilltop Heritage Lager), top shelf whiskey, bourbon, and scotch and an impressive wine collection.

If you can’t find something to drink at Trillium, maybe you shouldn’t try and be a part of the neighborhood.

Trillium also sports a wine room that is great for larger reservations and a large but intimate dining area that comes equipped with a beautiful original fireplace. Need to host a party of 20 or so solidify your baller status? Trillium has you covered there too, just give them a call.

Now that you finished your locally sourced dinner, chose a beverage from the high quality drink selection and basked in chic dining comfort, let’s switch gears for our nightcap and walk a block to the north

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Dick’s Den

2417 N High St. • whynotcolumbus.com

Frankly, far too few Columbusites I speak to haven’t been to Dick’s Den.

However, those who have visited become regulars and those regulars become lifers. Why? I think the question you should be answering is “Why Not?”

Don’t get it? Look at the neon sign in the front window.

Dick’s has been keeping it low key for the last 53 years. There’s no taps. It’s not the place where you get a Manhattan or a martini (although I’m sure you could) and when I am there, my drink of choice is a bottle of Stroh’s. When in Rome, do as the German Pilsners do…that’s my motto.

Walking in, it’s impossible not to see, listen to, and experience the history of the Old North. The walls are lined with generations of photos of neighborhood locals, families, and regulars.

My favorite photos? Those would be the photos of people celebrating at Dick’s after the end of a now defunct Old North marathon.

People sure were better looking and much cooler in the 1970s.

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This is also HQ for Columbus jazz, blues, and bluegrass performers. Any musician who plays these genres and is worth their salt has played at Dick’s. Most nights you can watch a local or a touring band do their thing on the intimate stage in the middle of the building.

Looking for a game of pool after dinner? (This always seems to be a good idea, until one spouse gets too serious.) If so, Dick’s has a pool table in the back of the building that is great for making new friends as well as giving patrons a secluded environment to have a good time.

Dick’s certainly can lay a claim for the most super-secret pool table in town. Well Dick’s, The Library and Mac’s.

If your nightcap plans include chilling at a bar and talking, Dick’s has you covered there as well. Friendly and veteran bartenders, such as Krista and Barb, are always good for pointing you in the right direction for your nightcap, filling you in about Dick’s history, or telling you about other great establishments in the neighborhood.

Dick’s is the kind of bar where a reputation is earned and not purchased, where neighborhood retirees drink in the early afternoon and where other neighborhood regulars drink after work.

Dick’s is also the type of bar that is disappearing from this country and the kind of bar you need to support. Be a patriot, support America and go to Dick’s.

If you follow through for this date night plan, and you should, you have two different, yet completely compatible and complementary Old North experiences. Get your fancy pants on and have dinner on Trillium’s patio and then go enjoy the air conditioning, pool, bar, and music at Dick’s.

Columbus really has a lot to offer and if you don’t agree, you simply aren’t looking in the right places.

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Food & Drink

Eat Like a Kid: 6 childhood favorite foods, all grown up

Madi Task

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Sometimes I think back on the food I ate as a kid and wonder how the heck I was able to go back outside and continue playing with surely fewer nutrients than the human body needs to work with. Pop a quick Little Debbie Fudge Round or inhale a bowl of Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese and go. I don’t know how I did it, but I know that today I definitely value food existing as an experience all on its own. With this list, I give you memory-making foods that will either flash you back to a simpler time, or feel like a true upgrade from the fast-meal nature you used to adore but sadly outgrew. Stay gold!

Boozy Milkshakes| HADLEY’S BAR + KITCHEN | 260 S FOURTH ST.

The shortcut to turning any kid treat into an adult favorite is simple: add booze. And at Hadley’s, they are all too familiar with this formula. The menu here features sophisticated flavors like Oreo Bonanza with Smirno Vanilla, Key Lime Pie with Absolut Lime, and a Bacon Bourbon Maple with Bulleit Bourbon. Of course, we all have a vegan friend who avoids dairy, and Hadley’s made sure they were covered with a vegan Coco Coffee Shake with Watershed Vodka. Usually, I’d say grab a few straws and share with your friends, but these are best enjoyed separately.

The Octodog | DIRTY FRANK’S | 248 S FOURTH ST.

Some of those disgusting combinations you crafted as a child have potential in the eyes of the chefs over at Dirty Frank’s. Forget cut-up hot dogs mixed into mac ‘n’ cheese, you completely neglected to consider the presentation of the dish. (Classic kid move.) Order The Octodog, an octopus-shaped hot dog sitting happily on top of a pile of mac ‘n’ cheese from Dirty Frank’s. This could also be seen as the adult-equivalent to dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets. Since when was the last time you ate something shaped like an animal? Probably before junior high. Feel young again by stuffing your face with creamy mac ‘n’ cheese and an octopus hot dog cooked to adult standards, but visually appealing to the five-year-old at heart.

Ramen Noodles | FUKURYU | 1600 W LANE AVE.

Photo: Kyle Tracey

Here we transition into adulthood and arguably the first meal you ever learned how to cook: ramen noodles. Your standards have surely upgraded since the last time you made a $0.98 meal from home, so prove it at Fukuryu, where you can eat actual, authentic Japanese ramen. This quick-and-easy, Costco-style dinner has been given a bad rep for far too long, because one trip to Fukuryu will show you how ramen is supposed to taste. Piled with chicken, pork belly, soft shell crab, or tofu, and a mountain of toppings you pick like sweet corn, chili pork, naruto, leeks, chili oil, toasted garlic oil, and more, their flavors are more expansive than your under-developed child taste buds could probably take. Now, they’re right up your alley. Get slurpin’.

Edible Cookie Dough | COOKIE DOUGH CREAMERY | 7227 N HIGH ST.

Butter, flour, sugar, and a secret ingredient...don’t worry, it’s not eggs. No one’s getting hit with a spoon for eating raw cookie dough around here, they’re just getting tips at Cookie Dough Creamery. Fill a cup with one of six cookie dough flavors and pile it high with ice cream and toppings the way you always over-did as a kid. They have five main flavors of cookie dough: chocolate chip, sugar cookie, Oreo, peanut butter, and brownie batter. Plus, every few months they offer one to three seasonal flavors to try. (This summer it’s lemon!) As far as making your own cookie dough at home goes, quit the risk and trust whisk at Cookie Dough Creamery. I can tell you from experience it’s just like Mom’s, minus the lecture for eating it.

Gourmet Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches | KREMA NUT COMPANY | 1000 GOODALE BLVD.

Photo: Julian Foglietti

The picky eater in all of us died at age 12 when we quickly became aware of how good food combinations foreign to us actually taste. In other words, we aren’t as stuck to only strawberry or grape jelly as we used to be. We’re not as hard on our friends who were scared to try peanut butter and fluff as a kid. Today, we go gourmet. Krema’s has a wide variety of PB&Js, all with an unconventional twist. Strawberry preserves are used instead of strawberry jelly, and fresh slices of strawberries sit in the sandwich with it. Other combos include The Kicker, or peanut butter and spicy raspberry preserves for the kid who made sure everyone knew it was his rock, not the neighborhood rock. Plus other game-changers like PB Apple Cheesecake, and almond or cashew butter instead of peanut butter are up for grabs at this one-of-a-kind nut company serving classic American favorites with a twist.

Cotton Candy Cocktail | FORNO | 721 N HIGH ST.

The days of begging your parents for overpriced u at baseball games are over, but the days of making our everyday cocktails more Instagrammable are coming quickly. As a result, Forno is now serving a new cotton candy cocktail served in two glasses: one for the drink, and the other to hold a cloud of pink cotton candy, set aside for you to dissolve when your iPhone ash is ready. Sip one and you’ll start acting like those sugar-high cartoon characters who were actually acting drunk to get a laugh from the parent viewers helicoptering over their kid’s TV shows. Grow up and spike your cotton candy this summer!

Cover photo by Brian Kaiser.

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Food & Drink

Survival Guide: Columbus Summer Beerfest

614now

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Every year, beer enthusiasts flock to Express LIVE! to sip, sample, and savor brews from 90+ of the best breweries this country has to offer. That's right, lushes, Columbus Summer Beerfest is back this weekend with food, entertainment, and, of course, lots of great craft beer.

Some of you may be first-timers, others have had their pretzel + string cheese + beef jerky necklaces on lock for years. No matter, there are always ways to improve the way you experience this celebration of beer.

Welcome to the 614NOW Summer Beerfest Surivival Guide. As always, drink responsibly.

It is not a race, seriously

Sometimes, kegs do kick, but it's not going to happen within the first hour of doors opening. Relax, there is more than enough beer to go around. I'm talking to you, Kevin, who feels the need to elbow throw the queue and sprint inside the venue every year.

There's truly no need to pregame

The Beerfest-issued plastic mugs may be small, but those samples add up fast. You're gonna wish you hadn't shotgunned that mango White Claw before you left your apartment, we promise.

Hydrate

You're not going to miss anything if you take a five minute hydration hiatus. It'll most likely be hot and the only thing that will quench your thirst from all those salty pretzels is a cup of cold agua. Do yourself a favorite and spend some time near the water stations throughout the night.

Don't wait to use the restroom

The lines are going to be long—real long—all night long. Rather than waiting until the absolute last minute to visit the restroom, grab a sample and head that way before your bladder deems necessary. That way, when the agony sets in, you'll already be next up for a stall.

No really, it's not a race

Slow. Down. This is your chance to try tons of new exciting brews and decide which ones you'd like to add to your normal drinking roster. Brewers from all over the U.S. worked tirelessly to perfect their beers—don't disrespect them by chugging.

Feed your face

Don't let the excitement of the festival distract you from your growling stomach. There will be plenty of food trucks present to tide over even the most specific craving, though everyone knows the best options are always deep friend and covered in cheese.

Walk, bike, rideshare

Most people exiting the Express LIVE! gate at the end of the night are in no shape to drive and neither should you. Not only would you have to deal with parking if you drove yourself, but walking, biking, or ridesharing to and from the festival is the only way to ensure safety.

Tickets to the Columbus Summer Beerfest are still available. Visit columbusbeerfest.com for more information.

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Food & Drink

Olde Towne East’s first brewery is now open

614now

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Late is always better than never, especially in the case of a new local brewery. After setbacks, Gemut Biergarten is officially open at 734 Oak St. Prost!

The brewery was supposed to open to the public on August 16, but ran into a "little bump with the state."

Guests can expect European and German-style lagers and pilsners brewed by former Four String Brewing Co. employees Kyle Hofmeister, Rob Camstra, and Nick Guyton. Gemut Biergarten is owned by Camstra, Guyton, Hofmeister, and his wife Chelsea Rennie.

In addition to brews, the venture will serve wine, cocktails, and traditional German and European fare.

Click here for the food and beer menus.

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