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Strip Mall Surprise: Eclectic Mediterranean eats in Hilliard

Aaron Wetli

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Welcome back to Strip Mall Surprise, where we highlight locally owned restaurants that just happen to be located in a, wait for it, Strip Mall. Today’s installment takes us to Hilliard for some mouthwatering and eclectic Mediterranean eats.

Opened in 2009, The Olive Tree Mediterranean Café has been serving Greek, Turkish, Lebanese, Egyptian, Moroccan, and Spanish fare to the good people of Hilliard for almost a decade. Cozy and quaint with some of the best wait staff in town, The Olive Tree is a treasure trove of international/regional food that one doesn’t come across easily in the 614.

For starters, it is hard to beat the amazing array of appetizers. While you can’t go wrong with the hummus trio or the tzatziki, you should definitely try the Spanikopita; a warm and spicy dumpling like concoction of spinach with feta, asiago, and parmesan cheeses. A table of five or more would be well served by ordering all three appetizers.

For your dinner entree, try the Moussaka, a baked eggplant, zucchini, and potatoes dish with seasoned ground beef and béchamel crème that just happened to be topped with marinara sauce and parmesan cheese. A two top could easily split the Moussaka, but ultimately will be upset that they decided to share.

The Olive Tree also offers options for the less adventurous eater in your house such as succulent Gyros, which are served both in sandwich and platter form, with fries that are second to none. If this is you, please also try the Spicy Chicken; a seasoned chicken tenderloin served over rice with a spicy gyro sauce.

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Are you ready for the real scoop about the Olive Tree? They have one of the best Sunday brunches (10am – 2pm) in central Ohio. Bloody Marys? Check. Mimosas? Done. Isreali, Lebanese, Greek, Italian, and Spanish beers? Look no further. Oh yeah, the Sunday brunch food is incredible.

The Shakshuka, a Northern African/Isreali breakfast dish consisting of poached eggs in a tomato, pepper, and garlic sauce is true comfort food for the soul and in the very short conversation for my favorite entrée in Central Ohio. Bursting with flavor and different textures, this entrée is a game changer, especially when ordered spicy sausage and topped with feta cheese.

Lox and Bagels and Challah French Toast are other worthy Sunday brunch options. The smoked salmon and bagels are always fresh and to say Challah French Toast is fluffy, rich, and decadent. Seriously, what are you waiting for?

So there you have it, another Strip Mall Surprise that has a little bit of something for everyone. Get out there, try something new, and support local.

The Olive Tree Mediterranean Café is located at 3185 Hilliard Rome Rd, Hilliard. Visit olivetreecolumbus.com.

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Food & Drink

Rye In July

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Rye in July featuring the Algonquin! We teamed up with Brown-Forman, Woodford Reserve, and local bartender Ben Griest from Giuseppe’s Ritrovo for this tasty Rye, perfect for July! Today's Rye is featuring the Algonquin, with notes of spice, tobacco, and fruit balanced throughout this cocktail - it's sure to please!

The Algonquin

**SPONSORED**

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Milestone 229 overcomes 2020 challenges, to reopen soon

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Every industry has taken a hit this year. It’s cliche to generalize it. With that being said, some businesses have taken more damage than others.

Milestone 229, located on the river’s Scioto Mile, was forced to closed in March along with all the other restaurants across Ohio, as the restaurant industry took a hit despite the uptick in carryout orders.

Just as things seemed to be coming back to normal, as restaurants and bars were allowed to reopen, the protests demanding change during the Black Lives Matter movement brought an unexpected rioting component that had devastating effects for Milestone 229.

The downtown, upscale eatery with the playful fountain for kids and adults alike, took an extra hit when rioting, looting, and vandalism broke down the windows of the restaurant on Thursday, May 29. Milestone 229 was supposed to reopen the upcoming Monday.

Photo by Julian Foglietti.

Griggs has tried his best to stay positive through it all, finding some valuable and much-needed help along the way.

“A good friend of the restaurant, Cathy King, executive vice president of Wasserstrom, started a GoFundMe page for Milestone 229. We are using that money to help relaunch the restaurant.  We also had many friends and family come down the morning after the riots to help clean up the broken glass.”

Doug Griggs, co-owner of Milestone 229


Now, recovering once again, Milestone 229 is set to open back up on Wednesday, July 8. The fine-dining establishment will offer patio and dining room seating, as well as a new curbside pickup. Co-owner Doug Griggs said in an email that the restaurant was able to keep the majority of its patio seating and over half of its dining room seating. 

Milestone 229 has a new venue revamped for the summer as well. You can view it here.

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And the winner of the (614) National Ice Cream Month poll is…

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Columbus has been a culinary hotspot for pretty much the entire 21st century. But what if we told you that you, Columbus, were just as obsessed with fine dining as you are with devouring ice cream?

Jeni’s. Whit’s. Greater’s. The list goes on. But out of the everlasting, Willy Wonka-esque fountain of ice cream stores that exist in Columbus, which one is the favorite of (614) readers?

In reverse order, here are the top seven ice cream choices in Columbus!

7. Cream & Sugar – 2185 Sullivant Ave.

6. Velvet Ice Cream – Your favorite grocer

5. United Dairy Farmers – EVERYWHERE

4. Johnson’s Real Ice Cream – 2728 E. Main St.; 55 W. Bridge St., Dublin; 160 W. Main St., New Albany

3. Whit’s Frozen Custard – Find Ohio locations here

2. Jeni’s Ice Cream – Find Columbus locations here

And after 12 rounds, the winner of the (614) ice cream championship belt is…

1. Graeter’s Ice Cream – Find Ohio locations here.

Photo by Julian Foglietti.

And it just so happens that Graeter’s is celebrating its 150th birthday this month! Celebrate in style with them by buying this specialty birthday cake ice cream. In addition to selling the ice cream online and at a Graeter’s near you, you’ll also be able to pick some up at Kroger, Giant Eagle, The Fresh Market, Dorothy Lane Market, or Jungle Jim’s.

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