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Review: “Worth it” for carnivores to ditch meat for Not Chicken Takeover

Mitch Hooper

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Hail seitan!

No, this isn’t a religious cry—it’s a plant-based one. And the newest addition to the ever popular Hot Chicken Takeover will soon have everyone from carnivores to vegans saying the same thing.

Hot Chicken Takeover is a solidified Columbus staple. The lines for lunch at the North Market prove that, and expanding to Clintonville as well as Easton Town Center further show that the hype for HCT is real. And as a vegetarian, my jealousy was at an all time high. But now I can officially confirm: Hot Chicken Takeover is certified good. Look out Impossible Burger, you’ve got some competition.

The menu option at HCT is created out of the aforementioned seitan. Basically, as Wikipedia so eloquently describes it, it is: “Wheat gluten is a food made from gluten, the main protein of wheat. It is made by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch granules have been removed, leaving the sticky insoluble gluten as an elastic mass which is then cooked before being eaten.” I know what you’re thinking: yummy!

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But before you stick up your nose, this isn’t just your run-of-the-mill tofu knock-off. Compared to tofu which can become squishy and sponge-like, seitan holds it’s consistency where it stays more firm similarly to what happens to fried chicken. And this holds true at Hot Chicken Takeover. Whether you have yours served on a sandwich or atop two slices of white bread, the seitan never loses it’s texture and consistency. It goes to show that nine months of hard work pays off (shout out to Craig Morin!).

Speaking of texture and consistency, the exterior of the seitan brings all the flavor and heat you’d imagine from the regular menu options. It’s crispy and soaks up that house-made ranch dressing, plus little fried bits fall off throughout the eating process. It’s the simple things like crispy and spicy bits of the “skin” that give you the full experience.

Eating this “Not” Chicken Takeover really reminded me of my first experience of trying the Impossible Burger. As a vegetarian, you almost feel guilty eating something that resembles what it’s trying to replicate so well. Though the Impossible Burger takes the crown for appearance (it freakin’ bleeds, ya’ll), HCT is a close rival. And the seitan at HCT isn’t nearly as a flavor diva like the Impossible Burger. The flavor is similar to chicken, but it also allows the other flavors to shine like the sauce. Meanwhile, the Impossible Burger sometimes feels like it’s just trying too hard. Chill out, ya know?

It’s a big ask for meat-eaters to ditch the delicious chicken at HCT for a meal, but it’s worth it. As I brought back leftovers to my predominately carnivorous office, the only complaint they had was they wanted more. As for my vegan and vegetarian friends, save some house made ranch for me.

millennial | writer | human

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Food & Drink

Brand new concept opening today in former CBC Restaurant

Regina Fox

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The CBC Restaurant successor will finally take the helm today. Matt & Tony's Wood Fired Kitchen is open now at 525 Short St.

Matt & Tony’s Wood Fired Kitchen will focus on contemporary American cuisine and craft cocktails in an eclectic space, according to a release. This is a spinoff concept from Pat & Gracie's Downtown co-owners Matt Rootes and Tony Wildman.

"We believe that there is a need downtown for prime steaks and great seafood at a reasonable price,” said Rootes. “We’re committing to excellent food and service in a relaxed and fun atmosphere with plenty of free parking available.”

Since the CBC Restaurant closed back in July 2018, the space has undergone extensive renovation to better suit the contemporary Matt & Tony's brand.

After announcing the closure, CBC Restaurant planned to rebrand as Oxbow on Short. However, severe health issues rendered one owner, Doug Griggs, incapable of continuing.

Mat & Tony’s is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week with most menu items under $20. Hours are 11am- 10pm Sunday through Thursday and 11am- 11pm Friday and Saturday.

More information can be found at mattandtonys.com.

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Food & Drink

Dick’s Dive will be your new favorite hole-in-the-wall bar

Regina Fox

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Columbus has plenty to offer for fans of smoked cocktails and rooftop views, but today, I've got something for the mediocre brown liquor and dive bar enthusiasts. Dick's Dive is now open directly below Zeno's at 384 W. Third Ave., serving "beers your dad would drink" in the perfect basement bar atmosphere.

Dick's Dive is a tribute to Owner Quinn Allen's late father and local business legend Dick Allen. He is immortalized through family photos that line the walls of the dive, neon signs that once hung in the family basement and garage, and through the "Dick Allen," the bar's signature beverage made of Double Paramount run, soda, and a splash of sugar-free Red Bull.

The bar is furnished with a shuffleboard table, a Touch Tunes machine, a soft leather sofa, a few TVs that will show football games, and several wooden round tables that look to have been scored at an old estate sale. Allen opted for round tables as opposed to smaller two-tops or long bench-style seating to encourage intermingling between small groups of bar-goers.

"We expect the crowd to be as mismatched as the furniture," Allen said.

The black and white checkered floors are scuffed from years of fun when the basement was used as a private events space, and though newly-renovated, the corner bar has a built in authenticity—I'm sure it could tell a story or two.

The ceilings hang low and the lights are even lower, creating the perfect windowless well to forget your problem and the time.

Typically, it requires a great deal of time for a new bar to be dubbed a "dive," but Dick's is different. Through its colorful history, storied decor, and organic hole-in-the-wall vibe, I can confidently lump it in with my favorite dives around the city like Meister's, Mike's Grill, and Byrne's Pub.

Cheers, Columbus, we can now drink cheap beer in a basement and not have to hide it from our parents.

The bar is open from 6pm- 2am. Tuesday through Friday, times vary Saturdays based on Buckeye kickoff, and Sunday from 11am- 2am.

In case you haven't already painted a picture in your mind, take a virtual stroll through Dick's Dive with our 360° photos below.

Note: use the left/right arrows in the upper-left corner to navigate between images.

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Food & Drink

I had a Baja Blast at High St’s recently-opened Taco Bell Cantina

Asa Herron

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Once again, Taco Bell has surprised us all by adding alcohol to their drink menu. Upon hearing that the Taco Bell Cantina at 1525 N. High St. obtained its liquor license, my expectations were very ambivalent. Am I going to walk in and see a full bar with a separate area to order food, a la Plaza? Or are they going for something like Chipotle with bottles of beer and fresh margaritas available to order at the register?

Taco Bell’s drink menu turns out to be a similar, cheaper version of Chipotle’s drink menu. Instead of bottled Coronas and Patron margaritas, Taco Bell offers beers on tap and the option to add rum, vodka, or tequila to your freeze. All of the freeze flavors are available to make alcoholic––including the holy grail of Taco Bell beverages, the Baja Blast.

Photos: Amal Saeed

In keeping with Taco Bell tradition, the prices for the drinks are fairly cheap. You can get a 16-ounce Bud Light for $3, Corona for $4, and Thirsty Dog or Lost Coast for $5. However, the real treat here is the alcoholic freeze, which is only $5. The key to enjoying one of these boozy Baja Blast freezes is to keep mixing it and drink it fast. Otherwise, the alcohol you have mixed in will all go to the bottom.

The numerous televisions on the wall and high-top tables with stools to sit at create an atmosphere that could loosely pass as a casual bar. The real potential of this Taco Bell drink menu lies in its ability to transform your pre- gaming on your way to Short North bars. It’s a great quick stop before the rest of the night, or a way to bring it to a close with one last drink.

I’m not so confident that this new drink menu will go well in hours just before the south campus hotspot closes at 4am, but I can only imagine the level of intoxication that will be reached by some individuals. It’s no secret that Taco Bell is caviar to anyone under the influence. As long as the one security guard on duty can handle his own, you can bet we’ll be back for drinks at Taco Bell Cantina.

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