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Let the Good Times Roll: Jony’s brings sushi to German Village

Mike Thomas

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In the tried-and-true narrative of all once-foreign foodstuffs, sushi has gradually made the move from exotic curiosity to mainstream staple in the U.S. From fast casual joints to swank sit-down restaurants and even the cooler section at your local supermarket, the signature dish of Japan is all but inescapable.

Rightly or not, sushi is sometimes treated as a yardstick of civilization—a locale having no place to grab a roll is the mark of a backwater burg. Food deserts and one-horse towns aside, the absence of sushi in a bustling neighborhood almost feels like a glaring omission.

Luckily for diners in German Village, there are people out there who make it their business to spot these deficits—and correct them.

“I realized that there was a void for sushi in the neighborhood,” says George Tanchevski, serial restaurateur and owner of such establishments as Local Cantina. “I feel that I can basically create any type of restaurant concept. In fact, that’s how a lot of the stuff that I’ve done has come to fruition: I realize that there’s a void for that particular item in the market, and I just kind of create it. That’s always been my m.o.”

Tanchevski’s latest endeavor, Jony’s Sushi, brings a taste of the far-east to a neighborhood best known for burgers and beer halls. Situated on a bustling block of Thurman Avenue, Jony’s shares a wall with South Village Grill—one of Tanchevski’s other properties—where the sushi is also available for purchase.

For those who prefer their sushi on-the-go, Jony’s primary means of transmission comes via carry out orders from a walkup sushi bar. Here, tantalizing cuts of whole sh are laid out in orderly rows within a deli-style case.

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While viewing the sushi chefs at Jony’s in action is a spectacle in its own right—the cozy environs of the shop itself have been decorated with care to set the sushi eating vibes just right. Various Asian-themed knick- knacks adorn one wall, while a series of pieces from local artist Paul Giovus form a mural of anime characters, pagodas, and a sushi-dragon hybrid on another. Tying all of this together are the ultra-modern flat screen displays that feature the restaurant’s menu, as well as a rotating gallery of mouthwatering shots of the food therein.

Speaking of the menu, the dozen-or-so specialty rolls at Jony’s sport an impressive array of imaginative ingredients. Sushi purists will surely balk at the inclusion of items such as sliced lemons, strawberries, or cilantro in many of these rolls. For the rest, Jony’s offers new sensations that push the conceptual boundaries of the familiar dish into delicious new territory.

For a jumping-off point into this formidable offering of flavors new and old, try the Hot Jony Roll—named, like the restaurant itself, for head chef Jony Ventura. A veteran of the South-Florida dining scene, Ventura points to the influence of his grandmother, who was of Japanese descent, in helping to form his passion for sushi. That love is on full display in the roll that bears his name, which features spicy tuna, cream cheese, asparagus, and daikon, topped with seared tuna and a decadent combination of garlic butter, wasabi aioli and a spicy kimchi sauce.

Thanks to a separate menu of classic rolls in its repertoire, Jony’s is prepared to accommodate purists and less adventurous eaters alike. With familiar favorites such as the spicy tuna or California rolls on hand to soothe the less daring palate, diners can further take charge of their experience with a-la-carte pieces of nigiri and sashimi.

It’s not as though the perpetually hip and cultured German Village was in any danger of appearing “uncool” for lack of sushi. Still, Jony’s arrival on the scene is a welcome addition to the fabric of the neighborhood, filling a void for this culinary mainstay in the area—and in our stomachs.

Jony’s Sushi is located on 195 Thurman Ave. in German Village.

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Food & Drink

Strip Mall Surprise: A treasure trove of bourbons, pub food at McClellan’s

Aaron Wetli

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Welcome back to Strip Mall Surprise, where we highlight locally owned restaurants and bars that just happen to be located in a, wait for it, Strip Mall. Today’s installment is a little different as it focuses on a Irish pub with great food and one of the largest bourbon, scotch, and whiskey selections in Central, Ohio: McClellan's Pub.

Opened six years ago by Amy Schirtzinger and nestled off of Sawmill Road, McClellan’s is easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it. Upon arrival, patrons are greeted by a friendly and knowledgeable staff and offered seats at a large bar or medium sized dining area, where they can peruse a high-end pub food menu and get lost in the bottle selection.

Bourbon is uber popular right now and in Ohio, November is a big month for new releases. If you can’t locate that small batch release from a giant distillery or the single barrel offering from a smaller operation, odds are with their 500 bottle selection, McClellan’s Pub can pour a shot of what you are looking for.

And what a selection it is: Whistle Pig, Weller, Woodford Reserve, McKenna, Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace, Elmer T and Pappy Van Winkle (among others) for as far as the eye can see. When I asked Schritzinger how many of the notoriously hard-to-locate Pappys she had, her response was simple, "All of them."

So what made service industry veteran Schirtzinger decide to open a bourbon-centric Irish pub?

"I’m Irish and proud and love whiskey and pubs," she said. "Plus, I enjoy looking at all of the pretty bottles."

One of those pretty bottles that will soon (think Christmas time) be behind the bar is the W.L. Weller Full Proof. McClellan’s won’t be the only location in Central, Ohio to get this particular pour, but it may be the first, so make sure the bourbon nerd in your life is aware of this fact.

As for the food I mentioned earlier, my go-to selections are the spicy and rich Sriracha Bourbon wings (70 cents each on Wednesday) or the crispy and robust Fish and Chips ($6 on Tuesday). You can also can’t go wrong with Guinness BBQ Pork Sandwich, Prime Rib Sliders (love the horseradish and caramelized onions) or the Irish Nachos; a concoction of sliced potatoes topped with pulled pork, beer cheese, sour cream and jalapenos all smothered in the Guinness BBQ sauce.

What are you waiting for? Get out there, drink some brown, and support local.

McClellan’s Pub is located at 6694 Sawmill Rd. Visit mcclellanspub.com for more info.

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Downtown deli merger means more meats on the menu

614now Staff

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Who says all good things must come to an end? While Danny’s Deli will be closing its brick-and-mortar location at 37 W Broad St., all of your favorites from the Columbus institution are now available at Lexi’s on Third at 100 E Broad St.

Customers can be sure they’re still getting the true Danny’s staples because the owner of Lexi’s on Third, Dan Georges, is the not only the namesake—he’s the same man behind the original Danny’s Deli on Broad and Front Street.

When Dan was offered an opportunity to build his own dream kitchen in 2011, he sold Danny’s Deli to his uncle and opened Lexi’s on Third, named after his daughter, Alexiana. When his uncle retired earlier this year, Dan closed the Columbus location of Danny’s Deli and brought all of the most-loved items to Lexi’s on Third.

“I am honored to continue the family legacy of a quality dining experience. Thank you for your loyalty and patronage,” said Dan Georges in a statement.

The Danny’s Deli originals now offered at Lexi’s on Third include breakfast specials, omelettes, sandwiches and wraps, salads, burgers, melts, and more. To see the whole menu, visit lexisonthird.com.

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VASO Arctic Adventure: Win an igloo dining experience

Regina Fox

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You know that first warm-ish day in March or April when a sliver of sun breaks through the grey winter sky, warming the dry, pasty faces of overzealous people packing every patio known to man? The General Manager of the AC Hotel by Marriott Columbus Dublin Orcun Turkay wanted to give those people an outdoor dining experience they didn’t have to wait until spring to enjoy.

Scroll down to win $200 towards an arctic adventure of your own!

On a windy, rainy day in mid-winter, my trusty (614) confidants and I crowded into the elevator at the AC Hotel Columbus Dublin and selected the top floor. It was the first time visiting for many of us and we were excited to finally experience it. When the elevator finally stopped, the doors glided open to reveal an inviting hostess. She welcomed us to VASO. 

The rooftop bar and tapas restaurant is absolutely gorgeous. All its features are round—orb lights, half circle bench seating, circular rugs, curved bar—and the natural lighting made the happy faces of happy hour-goers at the bar look even happier. The panoramic view of the Scioto River and downtown Dublin is one of the best in Central Ohio. But, for the next few months, the view will be slightly obscured for folks dining in. 

The hostess led us out onto the patio where three geometric-looking igloos sat, poised for hospitality. Made of plastic and PVC pipes anchored by sandbags, these see-through huts are simple and wildly attractive. They’re unique, cozy, and, most importantly, warm. I couldn’t wait to get inside out of the cold and actually have an enjoyable patio experience in the dead of Ohio winter.

The hostess unzipped the doorway and we filed in across the oriental rug. The inside was surprisingly spacious, even with six chairs, a few side tables, and one communal table in the middle. I took a seat in one of the faux fur-covered chairs (which I later found out cost $1,200 each), covered my legs with a soft blanket, and switched on the heater. I was perfectly comfortable without the extra accommodations, but I was in an upscale igloo and, dammit, I was going to act like it.

We were all quick to draw our phones to begin snapping photos. We could see rush hour traffic inching down Riverside Drive, but being in the igloo felt like we were our own little Instagrammable world. 

After putting in orders of hot chocolate and the Ohio spiked cider from the exclusive VASO Igloo shareable menu and the popcorn and Halibut Ceviche (which landed itself on the [web]pages of Esquire Magazine), Turkay humbly explained how his establishment became one of the first in the Midwest to introduce igloo dining as a light rain pinged the top of the plastic igloo.

He told us about how strongly central Ohioans have embraced the new eating and drinking adventure. Turkay knew he’d have to hire more people this winter to staff the igloos, but what he didn’t count on was the manpower it would require to simply manage the influx of calls.

“They answer the phone, take a reservation, hang up, answer the phone, take a reservation, hang up,” Turkay said of the three hostesses he brings in at 10 a.m. every day just to man the phones. I laughed in disbelief, choking a bit on my popcorn ceviche (delicious, by the way). I washed away the kernels with a swig of boozy hot chocolate (also delicious). 

Suffice it to say, the VASO igloos are a raging success, so much so that you won’t be getting in on a weekend this winter. The tiny ecosystems are booked up through March, which is when they’ll be retired for the season. Turkay promises to have them back up in November.

After everything from cheese-filled churros to seafood paella (which were ordered by hailing our server with a remote that buzzed her wrist piece), the sun set and was replaced by LED light beams illuminating our cozy clubhouse; it was our time to go. I took one last look around and felt thankful to be on the inside looking out, even just for the evening. •

VASO is located at 6540 Riverside Dr, Dublin. The igloos can be reserved for a minimum of $100 per hour Sundays-Wednesdays and $200 per hour Thursdays-Saturdays. Visit vasodublin.com for more information. 

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