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Four Star Farm Stand: Blystone Farms cultivates quality and community

J.R. McMillan

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Have you ever ordered a steak that was so spectacular, you wished you could ask the chef to carve off a couple more and wrap them up for the road?

That probably wasn’t what Joe and Jane Blystone had in mind when their fourth-generation farm started processing their own meat on-site more than a decade ago. But that’s kind of how it worked out. Their butcher shop and bakery soon led to a taproom, which inspired a bona fide farm-to- table restaurant. With a crafted collection of better beers and an enviable selection of elevated fare, Blystone Farm in Canal Winchester has evolved from a destination into a gathering place that lures more than just the locals.

Photos: Zane Osler

Despite the burgeoning business, Blystone is still small where it matters most, treating guests and staff more like family, and attracting top talent like Tyler Toles as executive chef.

“We’re not very big on titles around here. Joe is just good at putting the right people in the right position,” admitted Toles, whose experience in better-known kitchens in Columbus didn’t dissuade him from stepping outside his culinary school comfort zone to run a four-star farm stand. “We talked as we walked around the farm, and I admired what Joe was trying to do at Blystone. So he invited me to become part of the family.”

What once was a commercial sheep farm has become a passion project. Joe’s hands-on approach to operations combined with Jane’s coffee shop and bakery background also made the couple perfect business partners.

“He’s so much more than a boss. Joe is everyone’s dad, but he still feeds the cows everyday,” Toles chided. “Jane is a pastry chef and beer connoisseur, but if we’re short-staffed, she’s out in front waiting on customers. It’s just part of the culture here at Blystone.”

Lunch and dinner daily with breakfast on the weekend sounds pretty typical, until you take your first bite. Even something as simple as a sandwich seems entirely original when it’s hand-pressed Wagyu beef smothered in fried onions and gooey Gouda—or a house blend patty topped with four strips of bacon, two slices of cheddar, and a fried egg, rightly called “The Whole Dang Farm.”

“A lot of people love our pasta, especially our mac and cheese. We start with semolina and durum our and eggs; every shell is hand cut. The sauce is heavy cream and shredded cheddar,” he noted. “I’m from a fine dining background, so coming to Blystone was a bit of a culture shock— somewhere people appreciate real mac and cheese more than I’ve ever had guests appreciate foie gras or beluga caviar.”

Vanilla pancakes, scratch-made biscuits and gravy, and breakfast hash made from bacon ends instead of corned beef are surely standouts. But the star of the menu is still the steak.

“We dry-age our steaks in-house so we’re able to o er them at a price point where a 20-ounce ribeye will cost you $45. If you order that same steak in some locations in Columbus, you’re going to pay at least $170,” explained Toles. “American Wagyu is also hard to find at our prices. We work with farms like ours to meet our demand, so we don’t really have a middleman.”

As tempting as every confection is on the bakery side, the butcher shop offers an equally enticing case for carnivores. From at irons and lets to short ribs and sliders, all the way up to a whole Wagyu brisket for $158. Those stocking up for a backyard soiree will find plenty of entry-level options as well, from those same hand-pressed patties to buck- a-brat specials.

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“We don’t raise chickens here, but we work with four local farms because every chicken tastes different and we only want the best,” he revealed, preferring to feature local purveyors and products that make more sense to source instead. “We can’t supply everything ourselves, so we find folks who do it better than we could. Quality determines our partnerships, not price.”

The livestock and crops aren’t the only offerings from Blystone Farm that are organic. So is the marketing—limited to word of mouth, Facebook posts with preparation suggestions from their butcher shop, and Hank, one of their cattle dogs, whose popular pic wearing a cowboy hat earned him his own Instagram account.

Asked about the exact inspiration of each expansion, Toles explained it was the butcher shop that unexpectedly led to the taproom, then the restaurant, because customers wanted to stay, sit out on the patio, and have a beer and a bite to eat.

“Our taps are more seasonal. Right now, we have a lot of pilsners and goses, but during the cooler months Jane features more porters and stouts,” he noted. “Exclusivity also brings folks in. Kinda Fuzzy by Jackie O’s is kind of hard to get in this market, 3 Floyds is rare to find and we feature them regularly.”

One of the first events Toles undertook was a beer dinner in collaboration with Jackie O’s. The event sold out and everyone raved about it. Joe told Toles, “We should really do more of this. We’re pretty good at it.” Not long after, Toles pulled into work one day and noticed Joe clearing ground, so he walked up and asked what was going on.

“ ‘I’m building an event center,’ said Joe. It was that simple,” Toles recalled. “Joe built it personally in less than a year. He had some help with the brick and the electrical, but other than that, it was all him. The design, the details, down to the staining of the concrete.”

The Barn, a nearly 4,000 square-foot event space, is key to their expanding scope. A petting zoo is in the works and fundraising for the new Blystone Agricultural Community is underway, a nonprofit with an emphasis on education and experiences for future farmers. “Beards & Brews” and a “Wagyu Cookout” are already scheduled for this summer to get the program started.

“Columbus is urban, and Canal Winchester is definitely growing. But we’re still a farming community,” Toles explained. “Joe wants to encourage the next generation of family farms by giving city kids who may not consider farming the opportunity to raise livestock. We have almost a hundred acres out here. If I know one thing for certain, as long as Joe has land and can keep building, Blystone is going to keep growing.”

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Food & Drink

Italian Lebanese hybrid restaurant coming to German Village

Regina Fox

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What do you get when you cross Italian food with Lebanese fare? Bistrolino.

The new hybrid restaurant will take over the spot formerly occupied by Harvest Pizzeria at 495 S 4th St. in German Village. A December open date is expected.

Columbus Business First reports Bistrolino is owned by Samer Chedid and Francesco Todisco, who worked together at Aladdin's Eatery. As immigrants, Chedid will bring is Lebanon roots to the concept, while Todisco will contribute his Italian influence.

Todisco told Columbus Business First the menu will be small, offering single-serving baking dishes including zucchini parmesan, braciola, and a Lebanese flatbread called man'oushe.

Keep an eye on Bistrolino's Facebook for updates.

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Food & Drink

Taft’s on Draft: Cinci Brewporium opens first Columbus location in Franklinton

Linda Lee Baird

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After hearing all the hype about Cincinnati’s up-and-coming Over the Rhine neighborhood a few years back, I went to see it for myself. The first stop was Taft’s Ale House, a gigantic brewery inside of a church originally built in 1850, fully renovated for guests’ reveling pleasure. After spending the next few hours sampling beverages and snacking on beer cheese pretzels, I was inclined to believe the neighborhood hype. Did I fully explore OTR that night? I don’t actually remember. But I’m certain that I had a great time at Taft’s. So when I found out that Taft’s was coming to Columbus, the news sounded even sweeter than their Maverick Chocolate Porter.

Taft’s Brewpourium Columbus spans nearly 6,000 square feet in the Gravity development, including over 2,000 square feet of patio space. Like the development itself, Taft’s is building an artistic theme into its new offering. “Our actual design is going to be kind of focused on ‘80s/‘90s pop art,” said David Kassling, Managing Partner for Taft’s Brewing Company. “Being that Franklinton definitely has its art roots, we think that’s a great way to ingrain ourself in the community.”

Kassling said that the word brewpourium literally means the place where the brew is poured. That they’ve chosen to make “brewpourium” part of their name tells you everything you need to know about what Taft’s wants to be known for: its carefully crafted suds. The brewpourium will have at least 10 taps serving Taft’s original varieties, including its signature Gavel Banger IPA, which was voted best beer in Cincinnati last March by the city’s residents.

Taft’s will offer a full food menu as well. Kassling is particularly proud to introduce New Haven-style pizza to Columbus. “We’re recreating a style that doesn’t exist anywhere else in Ohio,” he said. (The style is also known as apizza, which is pronounced "a piece," as in, I’d like a piece of that crisp coal-red cheesy goodness right now, please.) Kassling describes it as a cross between New York and Neapolitan style. Taft’s version features our and tomatoes imported from Italy.

Rounding out the menu is another ‘90s-inspired treat, this time in dessert form. Remember Dunkaroos, those cookies that came in a package with icing designed for dipping, perhaps consumed while you watched episodes of Saved By the Bell? Taft’s will serve up Taftaroos, its unique take on the snack.

Kassling plans to use the brewpourium’s large space to offer patrons activities beyond food and drink. The stage will be open for games of darts when not in use for performances. On the floor, guests will find shufflepuck and Killer Queen, an arcade game utilizing 8-bit graphics in line with the old-school theme. Video game fans will also find gaming stations inlaid in the bar, with several retro options to choose from.

With three Cincinnati locations in operation, Kassling is not new to the business. Even so, expanding to Columbus marks a milestone, and one he wasn’t always seeking to meet. “We didn’t necessarily look at this as we needed to expand to a new city or we needed to expand to Columbus,” he said.

But when the opportunity to join the Gravity Project presented itself, Kassling said it proved too good to pass up. “We’re really excited, not only because of the nature of the building being so modern and unique, not just to Columbus, but to anywhere. But also the shape of our space is funky, and that led to different ideas in what we wanted to do with our build out.”

Kassling acknowledged that in coming to Columbus, Taft’s is joining a few of our communities: the community of Franklinton, to be sure, but also the well-established community of independent breweries operating across the city. An installation built into Taft’s countertop will pay homage to this fact, incorporating crushed cans and packaging from breweries like Seventh Son, Land-Grant, and North High. “It’s gonna be totally an art piece,” he said.

Rather than focusing on the potentially competitive aspect of the brewing scene, Kassling emphasized the camaraderie and common goals within the industry. “At the end of the day, craft beer is a great way to bring people together,” he said. “And at the end of the day, we’re all preaching community and good times.”

While Taft’s new location may not be in a church, Kassling’s words are the type of preaching that I can get behind.

Taft’s Brewpourium Columbus is located at 440 W Broad St. in the Gravity project. For more details about Taft’s, visit taftsalehouse.com.

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New “relaxed” wine house now open in Dublin

614now Staff

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Next time you're in Dublin, make sure to stop and smell the rosé at the city's newest wine bar. Coast Wine House recently opened at 75 S High St., offering a contemporary wine bar + bottle shop inspired by a blend of the spirit of coastal California and traditional wine country cafés, markets, and bodegas, according to the website.

Coast assures they don't take themselves too seriously "in contrast to the conventional wine world," describes the website.

"The mood is decidedly relaxed. The wine is pleasantly chilled," Coast says.

The wine bar is run by Dustin Snow, who his wife, Molly, believes brings a "warm and relaxed" feel to Coast.

"A visit to our house is by no means fancy, but Dustin makes it special, because he genuinely wants to make you feel at home," she wrote on Instagram. "And since Coast is an extension of our home you will have this same warm and relaxed experience."

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2r1Q5OgbAT/

Coast is open Wednesday and Thursday from 12pm- 9pm, Friday and Saturday from 12pm- 10pm, and closed Sunday through Tuesday. To learn more visit coastwinehouse.com.

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