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Review: New tasting menu at Veritas offers uniquely special experience

Regina Fox

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On a warm and windy day in April, after bringing everyone in the (614) the 4-11, I had the immense pleasure of enjoying taste profiles, textures, and pairings unlike anything else I’ve experienced in all my 24 years.

The scene: Veritas.
The food: Josh Dalton’s new Chef’s Tasting Menu

As Columbus’ only exclusively tasting menu experience, Veritas takes all the guesswork out of ordering and puts all its confidence into a small, meticulously-crafted, multi-course menu. Never having experienced a tasting menu before, I didn’t know what to expect, but having read a great deal about Veritas prior to my visit, my expectations were high.

Boy, did they deliver.

My guest and I were seated front and center at a table with a view of the pristine kitchen. Hm, dinner and a show, I thought as I met eyes with a man wearing a white chefs coat through the glass. We both smiled. I was excitedly nervous! Veritas was tastefully decorated, lit lowly, and populated by middle aged people wearing mostly business formal attire who, I guessed, were fluent in the language and etiquette of tasting menus. I spun my nose ring nervously.

Then, our host Mitch approached us and put my nerves at ease. He delivered two Snapdragon cocktails (Junmai sake-based and gorgeous) and warmly welcomed us to Veritas.

Our snacks would be right out, Mitch said. But, the snacks we got weren’t like any Fritos or Rice Krispy treats I’d had before. Three bite-sized goodies spaced out evenly on a long white plate lay before me and my grumbling stomach.

Course 1 Snacks

First (left to right) was a small radish dipped in rendered A5 Waygy beef tallow and sprinkled with smoke sea salt—savory beyond belief. I finished the radish and impolitely dabbed up the salt remnants with my fingertip. Next was a walnut cheddar wine cracker topped with whipped smokey blue cheese roasted red grape, balsamic reduction—delectable. And the grand finale: New Zealand Deep-Sea Red Crab salad wrapped in daikon radish, topped with chive. I could’ve eaten a bale of this seafood concoction.

But alas, Veritas likes to keep you hungry as not to spoil any of the riches ahead.

Course 2 Celeriac + Frisee + Black Garlic

This delicacy is made from a molded goat cheese shell, filled with a beet-based foam, and garnished with compressed apples and tarragon. The cold and airy feel of the foam, sweet firmness of the shell, chewiness of the apples, and freshness of the tarragon all joined hands and sang “Kumbaya” as I consumed. Or, maybe that was me singing…

This was by far the best and most complex mix of flavors and textures I had ever had.

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Course 3 Celeriac + Frisee + Black Garlic

I was already juggling my cocktail, my mildly sweet and tart champagne flute from the snack course, and a glass of white wine from the last course when the knowledgable Veritas Sommelier delivered a glasses of “orange” wine to the table. I know what you’re thinking because I thought it, too: no, the wine is not made from oranges, but rather blends both the red and white style of winemaking to create a unique vino. Don’t mind if I do, I thought as I indulged.

As I wolfed down this obscure looking but totally delicious dish, I had absolutely no idea what Celeriac was and my only knowledge about croquet exists because of the movie Alice in Wonderland. Beneath the frisee salad and bursting beads of smoked trout roe was a black garlic sauce-soaked celery root lightly fried in bread crumbs. This was the first warm dish and I was officially in love with Celeriac. Still not sold on the game of croquet.

Course 4 Monkfish + Prosciutto + Hen of the Woods

Prosciutto wrapped anything is a delicacy. Prosciutto wrapped monkfish is a prize. And I was just straight up spoiled with the sautéed hen of the woods mushrooms.

Course 5 Way Flank + Sunflower + Pomegranate

Wagyu, come to mama. Twice pan-seared—once in garlic and butter—laying on a bed of pomegranate yuzukoshu black garlic reduction that I could see myself swimming in a vat of. This was my favorite course by a mile. My only complaint is that my affection for it far outweighed its actual weight.

Course 6 Gjegost + Lychee + Sumac

Full disclosure, the ingredients in this dish may as well have been written in another language, because I had never heard of gjetost foam, lychee sorbet, or sumac. But, it cooly calmed my palate and I was a happy little lychee.

Course 7 Butternut Squash “Tart”

Ah, the seventh and final course. Plated to perfection, the dessert entree was a modest one, bringing in savory profiles and unique textures. My favorite bites were those of the sponge cake and mole ice cream. Call me traditional.

Coming in at $75, the Chef’s Tasting isn’t going to be your Thursday Happy Hour Plans. But, that’s okay because what it does offer is a uniquely special experience that cannot be had anywhere else in the city. Everyone can can offer 1/2 off appetizers, only Veritas can delivery an exceptionally high level of service, quality, taste, character, and creativity each and every time.

Veritas is located at 11 West Gay Street and is open 5pm – 10pm Tuesday through Saturday. To learn more about Veritas and the Tasting Menus, visit Veritas.com.

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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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Food & Drink

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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Food & Drink

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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