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7 local dishes, restaurants praised by national media

614now Staff

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You’re all here because you already know Columbus is a great place to live. Only recently have people across the nation begun to realize it, too.

Here are seven Columbus food shoutouts from major publications all over the U.S. Eat up!

Momo Ghar | 59 Spruce Street, Columbus

National publication Food & Wine featured the dumpling temple back in early 2018, calling it “One of the Best Restaurants in Columbus, Ohio.” The article explored owner Phuntso Lama’s journey to success including an early retirement, love, ambitions of becoming a bus driver, a “For Lease” sign, and eventually owning two very successful Nepalese restaurant locations.

The combination of the highly-flavorful dumplings, the hefty helpings, and the low price point make the choice of where to dine an easy one for many Cbusers and make Momo the center of many outsiders’ envies.

“This dish is a terrific thing to eat anytime—in the dead of winter, even more so,” writes David Landsel of Food & Wine. “A generous plate of eight plump momos costs just shy of ten dollars. There is house made hot sauce on the side, a fragrant blend of Indian and Mexican peppers. Once you try this food, you will never have any problem finding your way back here.”

Service Bar | 1230 Courtland Ave, Columbus

Avishar Barua is the Executive Chef at Service Bar in the Short North and is making national headlines for his upscale rendition of his favorite childhood treat: Taco Bell.

Food & Wine spent some ink praising Barua for his menu of “pure, elevated fun,” but called special attention to the Cheesy Brisket Crunch, a homage to Taco Bell’s Cheesy Gordita Crunch.

Served two to an order, these tacos are built out of a paratha, a Bengali fry bread sprinkled with Kashmiri chili powder and turmeric. Inside of that is a crispy-fried corn tortilla shell filled with a generous portion of brisket that’s been oak-smoked for 18 hours

“One of the most fascinating dishes, however, tucked away at the bottom of the menu, is something that sounds very much like something you might scarf down at Taco Bell, after a reckless night out,” wrote David Landsel.

The Cheesy Brisket Crunch also got a nod from New York Times.

Watershed Kitchen & Bar | 1145 Chesapeake Ave, STE D Columbus

In a piece highlighting the efforts of Watershed chef de cuisine Jack Moore and Service Bar executive chef Barua, Food & Wine’s Andrew Parks (dang, Food & Wine just adores Columbus!) discusses how the Columbus distilleries have earned a place among the city’s top dining destinations.

“In a lot of ways, Watershed’s success is a reflection of how Columbus has reimagined itself in recent years, with the city’s immigrant-powered restaurants getting the attention they deserve…and more chefs taking bigger risks,” says Parks.

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VASO | 6540 Riverside Dr, Dublin

Popcorn and Halibut Ceviche? In a wine glass? Coming right up!

You may think that combo is quite bizarre, but Esquire thinks Executive Chef David Belknap of VASO at AC Hotel Columbus Dublin and the mastermind behind the dish can change your mind.

Writer Justin Kirkland says Belknap’s experimental pairings are a challenges he likes to take on.

“It’s how he developed some of his most off the wall creations, including this one: a popcorn and ceviche dish that is somehow perfectly spicy, sweet, savory, and a little sour.”

Belle’s Bread | 1168 Kenny Centre Mall

Tucked back in an unsuspecting shopping center in a northern Columbus suburb is what Food & Wine calls “one of America’s best Japanese bakeries.”

Belle’s Bread thoroughly impressed writer David Landsel with its house-made “cream-filled brioche and curry donuts, melon rolls, spectacular-looking danish filled artfully with seasonal fruits, and some of the most perfect-looking loaves of sliced white bread you have ever seen.”

“This isn’t just a place to stop by for a bun and a coffee—this is cultural immersion, not just Japan, but modern-day Columbus, too,” wrote Landsel.

Marcella’s | 615 N High St, Columbus

This Short North favorite stole the appetite of New York Times writer Sebastian Modak. He couldn’t sing the spaghetti carbonara’s praises loud enough.

“I had a very good, if not exactly revelatory, spaghetti carbonara at Mr. Mitchell’s Marcella’s,” he wrote.

FUSIAN | Multiple locations

QSR Magazine has its eye on Ohio-based fast-casual sushi restaurant, FUSIAN. They slapped the establishment on their Summer 2017 40/40 list that names what they think are the best 40 fast-casual concepts with fewer than 40 units.

“We’d like to offer our stamp of approval for those brands we think stand the best shot at becoming the next big thing,” wrote QSR.

FUSIAN is right in the middle of the second tier out of four. They call tier two “On the cusp of greatness.” QSR Mag liked FUSIAN’s DIY sushi concept that allows customers to customize their sushi. They also complimented their chef-driven, signature menu items.

Did we forget your favorite local nationally-recognized dish or restaurant? Let us know in the comments below!

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Food & Drink

Too Good to Eat: Hubbard Grille’s Short Rib and Shrimp shareable

@findyourfork

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If looks could krill, you would be on the floor. Literally.

Hubbard Grille's Short Rib and Shrimp shareable dish will knock you right out of your seat because it will hit you hard and fast with flavor and more.

Photo by Angela Lee of @findyourfork

Imagine this: the most tender and delicious pulled beef short rib layered on a bed of the creamiest and cheesiest white cheddar grits with tomato jus. Top the bite-sized goodness off with a perfectly tender and seasoned prawn, add some color and texture with delicately placed microgreens and take that first bite.

With that first bite, you’ve just experienced one of the most delicious flavor profiles that the Columbus food scene has to offer. Second bite and your taste buds are just begging, pleading, and crying for more. Third bite and you are already shamelessly scraping off every last drop, speck, and flavor from the dish with your spoon.

You might actually even pick up the dish with your own two hands and unashamedly lick the plate clean. You might also start bargaining with your fellow table mates to negotiate the remaining pieces on the plate.

No judgement here. We have all done it at one point. You gotta do what you gotta do, am I right?

Hubbard Grille is located at 793 N. High St. in the Short North. To learn more + view the menu, visit hubbardgrille.com.

@findyourfork your average noodle connoisseur, taco devourer, and mimosa lover. When she's not busy snapping pictures of her latest yummy foodie adventures, you'll find her at your local coffee shop casually relaxing with a pastry in hand and a latte in the other.

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Food & Drink

Beloved burger joint opening in Hilliard next week

614now Staff

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Swensons Drive-In is expanding their central Ohio footprint in just a few days. The Hilliard stand will open at 4810 Cemetery Rd. on Monday, September 23.

Hilliard will be the third stand in Columbus with a locations in Dublin and Polaris.

The Akron-based burger chain prepares their burgers, including the signature Galley Boy, using premium cuts of beef ground fresh daily and made to order. The buttered and toasted buns only add to the juiciness of the meat.

https://twitter.com/SwensonsDriveIn/status/1175043808268099585

Apart from the greasy goodness that is Swensons food, one of the other reasons to patronize the stand is its car-side service. From the comfort of your pajama pants, Swensons Curb Servers will be at your window, eager to take your order and sprint, literally sprint, it back to the kitchen for preparation. Just be sure to not drop a single Potato Teezer between your seat because we all know that is the land of no return.

Visit www.swensonsdriveins.com for more information.

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Food & Drink

Review: Matt & Tony’s dishes out classic comfort food in downtown

Regina Fox

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I've gotten to try a lot of interesting cuisine with this job, but it's rare that I get the opportunity to sample a mother's spaghetti recipe outside of my childhood home. This is the type of experience that Matt & Tony's Wood Fired Kitchen, which recently opened inside the former CBC Restaurant space, offers its guests.

At Matt & Tony's, you don't have to sneak off to the bathroom to Google what a menu item is so you don't look ignorant in front of your date, and that's what makes it so great.

The menu bodes familiar comforts like fried chicken, fish & chips, veal parmesan, and burgers. There's no proprietary flare or fancy sauce smears around your plate—it's all just damn good food.

I sampled Madeline's Spaghetti & Meatballs, which is straight from the cookbook of co-owner Matt Rootes' mother. The sauce was sweet and plentiful while the meatballs were hearty and succulent. I didn't want to gorge myself on the first entree, but I couldn't seem to stop twirling those perfectly-boiled noodles around my fork...

Next up was a Wood Grilled Steak with mashed potatoes and broccoli. I heard once that butter wasn't a carb, so I spread it on thick and cut myself a piece with a crispy fat edge—juicy, tender, and lean. I didn't eat all 12 oz., but I very easily could have.

The Fork N' Knife BBQ Ribs at Matt & Tony's are straight out of a BBQ fairy tale. This healthy helping of slow-cooked, fall-off-the-bone meat is smothered in sauce and almost impossible to put down. You may not be excusing yourself to Google what you just nervously and unknowingly ordered, but you'll probably require a bathroom mirror to make sure you've wiped all the sauce off your mug after devouring these racks.

Feeling like Thanksgiving? Have a little alternative celebration for yourself with Matt & Tony's Half Roasted Chicken with crushed herbs and lemon butter. Slip into a food coma with the sides of potatoes and seasonal vegetable. Dream a little dream of country gravy (which can be found drowning the fried chicken dinner entree).

Rootes says he and his partner Tony Wildman chose to open Matt & Tony's to give the people of downtown an option for high-quality steaks and seafood at a reasonable price without all the "frou-frou." I, for one, think that's exactly what downtown needs.

While so many other restaurants are reaching for globally-inspired dishes made with ingredients you can pronounce, Matt & Tony's is executing classic comfort dishes you grew up on in a warm, inviting atmosphere—it's like a little slice of home on Short St.

Matt & Tony's is located at 525 Short Street and is open 11am- 10pm Sunday through Thursday and 11am- 11pm Friday and Saturday. Visit mattandtonys.com for more information.

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