In re: Foodie cart spoted in Cbus

Food carts. They seem to be all the rage these days with taco trucks taking over the scene in Columbus and with all kinds of crazy carts getting attention in the ‘hipper’ cities. Despite that Columbus still had not yet got in on the crazier concepts or some really upscale food in a cart. That is starting to change. Not that its upscale, but the food at Foodie cart is pretty high quality and is pushing the Columbus food cart envelope.
So what is Foodie cart? Well the name sure doesn’t give it away, but its Japanese crepes. What you say again? well don’t fear that doesn’t mean its scary, actually it just means anything goes and goes it does. Jerk beef? Lemon pork belly? yes and yes and many more (both savory and sweet). Essentially a Japanese crepe is a thin, slightly crispy, crepe, which can be filled with essentially anything. Foodie cart can be found setting up shop around town and tweeting their location seems like a great idea. When I saw they were downtown I just had to check it out and was quite impressed. They face the slight problem of having only one setup for making crepes but its not a long wait.  It was worth it and since my first trip they seemed to have improved their work flow getting you a crepe without much wait even with a small line.  So find where they are and go grab a crepe.  For more on them and some photos see this post on alt.eats.columbus

Foodie Cart can be found at @freshstreet on Twitter or atFacebook.com/Foodie.Cart.

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In re: Barrio (Downtown Columbus)

Barrio gets the benefit of the doubt from me on many fronts.  One being that they opened up shop in what is not a thriving part of downtown, on the previously fairly desolate stretch of High Street between Nationwide and Broad (the Elevator Brewery is of course there but stood quite alone).  The other reasons it gets the benefit of the doubt is that its a tapas restaurant, or at least a fusion of Latin / South American and Spanish tapas.  That said and also saying I would happily go back I think without a special (2 for 1 tapas on Tuesdays for example) it might be a bit overpriced for what it is.  On one such 2 for 1 Tapas where the lower priced tapas are free (so really you kind of give away your discount if you do as we did and add some of the nice 5 dollar ones, like olives etc, but I like olives – these olives actually weren’t anything too special I thought, but still good).  We did have a nice array of things, the bacon wrapped dates w/ cabrales was very good, the crab and almond empanada was good not great and sources tell me that it was much better in the past (I don’t know if they regularly change the items, but many of the items had been scaled back since they first opened).  The steak with cabrales and mashed sweet potatoes was good, again not phenomenal, the ‘caramelized’ provolone w/ grilled bread was quite disappointing, I am not sure what I was thinking ordering it, but maybe I wanted the bread since they didn’t have any with the meal, but when only two tiny pieces of bread were put w/ tortilla chips for that dish I figured maybe they were running out and were rationing it?  I’ll never know as I didn’t ask them about bread.  Either way bread would have been good w/ our meat and cheese of serrano ham and manchego w/ some almonds, fig and chickpeas which were very good (I know hard to screw up but still good).  One last thing was the sangria that I remembered being nice in the pasted, but tasted watery and lacked a bit in flavor.  So while that probably sounds like quite a disappointing review (I guess it is, but I really like the idea of the place) I will still be going back on discount nights as with the windows open wide (they have great windows that completely open), the fact it was a closed Wendy’s before they gutted it (you’d never guess) and put in some real nice features including those great wall sized windows, a great wooden bar and a really spectacular full tree table (shaped like the tree, with nice grain etc.).  it still will get me.  Barcelona definitely is still doing better food I think, having just had their tapas menu (I am thrilled Barcelona has become more Spanish over the years) which was quite good.  Oh well, hopefully Barrio can improve and the area will grow with it.

In re: Dante Reviewed

Dante, a newly open restaurant in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland, OH isn’t actually a new restaurant.  A few years back Dante opened for a short time (not sure if it was a year or more) in what had been and would later become again the Lock keepers Tavern in Valley View, OH.  I went once to that incarnation of Dante and thought it very good, however like the Lock keepers the location plays against it (at least for me) the space is large and impressive but the exterior and the actual spot somehow don’t quite feel right for what Dante was.  Fast forward to 2010 and Dante is reborn in Tremont inside an old bank (those old banks that had stone and columns and look like what you think a bank should look like).  Anyway the space is perfect, its got a great ceiling, a wondeful bar, and of course the old vault.  You can walk into the kitchen where the candy cart they push around Mon-Thur is docked for the crowded weekends, its in the kitchen as well where the chefs table sits.

In my two visits there have had great service which is useful because the menu is not traditional and I think some folks might not really know how to order based on the layout and the options (a lot of starches available in the middle column where you might not know what your supposed to do with them, polentas, pastas, risottos), and the servers reassure you there is no right way.  Also by non traditional (but very nice I think) is that can order various sizes of pasta (tasting, appetizer, main) you can order different sizes of risotto.  Both times I’ve been with large groups and have been able to try large chunks of the menu and think the tasting approach is the way to go.

Highlights:

House Cured meats that include some different things like salumi and proscutto is very very good, but the star of this is the liver mousse (the pattee or terine is very good as well).  Each time someone in my group wished they could have a whole bowl of the mousse, that apparently changes along w/ the rest of the daily selection but both times had hints of cognac among other tastes, very very nice.

Pasta: The linguine alla carbonara is very rich and heavy featuring house made pancetta and a poach egg, but a 4 dollar tasting size is perfect to get a few bites (enough for a few bites for a few people actually) which is truly enough.  The Pappardelle Bolognese was also great.  The pastas are all made in house and were fantastic

Polenta: Really simple is the three cheese polenta, with marsacpone, parmeseana nd grueye.  Like the pastas very rich and creamy, served both times we had it a some kind of middle course.  It comes on a wood plank essentially and is phenomonal. Also enjoyed the tomato stewed sausage and white beans version that pairs a mound of the beans and sausage next to a mound of polenta, also served on a board.

Main courses were all very good, their chicken w/ rosemary potatoes, meyer lemon and olives was very good, especially on a cold day when looking for something more comfort.  Duck was great w/ foie gras toasted gnocchi, the duck which is wrapped in pancetta really goes nicely with the cooked apples that accompany it.  Skirt steak was very nice as well and so was a special of the day a prepartion of Skate.

The desserts feature among other things some interesting ice creams available in flights.  People all seemed to like their desserts or tastes of desserts.

While a bit strange sounding the banana and butternut squash soup actually comes off (banana is just a hint of flavor).  So there you have it, highly recommended, while not a cheap place, the place is actually quite reasonable, the space is great and in a great neighborhood (right across the street from Lolita).

Their menu and other info on Dante (including a bio on their interesting owner/chef his blog and a little uproar over a blog review of their soft opening preview night) see  here.  All in all Cleveland is lucky to have a top flight restaurant opening and considering the economy its nice to see the place packed.

In re: Clever Crow Pizza

Hadn’t really heard anything about the place, but had seen it walking past with my dog a few weeks back so when given a chance to go jumped on it.  If you don’t know Clever Crow Pizza is inside the Circus bar on High St. just north of 5th Ave in Columbus.  The pizza seems like an afterthought to the bar, but it was the reason we went.  The crust is definitely different, and what people talk about, its cornbread – chemical leavened I assume rather than a yeast pizza dough, which adds a whole different flavor dimension as well as the different texture.  The crust I think is pre or par baked allowing them to dish up half pizzas as well as slices which is a great option.  The crust definitely gets well done with some char on the bottom that I thought worked well.  The toppings are interesting and they have many combinations listed that feature some nice options including house made sausage, as well as some other house cured options like canadian bacon that seem to change frequently along with these  you can get ‘non-traditional’ additions that round out something like the sausage with some veggies like marinated green peppers and caramelized onions.  Definitely a different vibe in the place and I thought good pizza, that and some good draft beers round it out.

In re: Bar Symon

Bar Symon (Avon Lake, OH)

Bar Symon sits in a strip wall west of Cleveland in Avon Lake, honestly I can’t say I have a great sense where it is since I wasn’t driving and wasn’t paying too close attention to it, but its definitely a ways out there for a former east sider who when visiting Cleveland stays on the east side, so that said I don’t think I will be regularly getting out to this place but I was still excited to try it.

First impression, wow this isn’t the location I would have picked, but they do a nice job of taking the strip mall setting and making the rectangular shaped room have some vibe, including hanging some tin ceiling tiles dropped down from the tall industrial ceiling way up high. No reservations for less than 6 people so spent about 40 minutes grabbing a beer at the bar up front, nice selection of beers on tap, didn’t look at their drinks or wine.

To eat:
mint & lamb spicy sausage
duck confit slider
double cooked chicken wings
symon fried chicken
polenta (side dish)

the lamb & mint sausage was good, not phenomenal, probably would have chosen a different sausage myself, my friends choice and I think the reason I would have gone w another was the accompaniments were 3 mustards (including stadium mustard I think) and pickled veggies & toast rounds. I think this sausage would have worked well w/ some more greek or turkish type accompaniments, some yogurt sauce or something, it was fine but didn’t stand out to me. Nice presentation similar to the way they handle cured meats at his other places.

the duck confit slider was a favorite, small, good simple flavors, a bit of spiced mayo, cilantro and shredded carrot gave a nice asian angle, still nice duck flavor. I probably wouldn’t want more than one so its nice to order by the each as its rich.

the chicken wings sounded nice, but the top portion didn’t have the citrus & peppers on them as it seems to have settled, and overall these didn’t live up to my possibly unreasonably high expectations. I wish I hadn’t done two chicken dishes, I knew what I was getting into and did it anyway.

I ordered the fried chicken that comes with a honey drizzle of some sort was recommended by the waitress over some other things, since it was cheaper than the other options I suggested I was impressed she wasn’t up selling, it was without a doubt very good fried chicken, I could have gone for more of the honey drizzle or whatever it was, perfect texture, but still its fried chicken and I probably would go for other things in the future.
The side of polenta was good, maybe it stood out as the only non-meat dish, was simple, rich and had a nice flavor and texture.

Way too much food, the chicken serving is half a chicken. Overall the place is really affordable which is nice, and I may be the first to complain that they could use smaller servings (I know I could use some restraint) and that the place is trying to have homestyle food for what its worth.

I really like Lolita probably the most of Symon’s restaurants and visiting Bar Symon didn’t change that, still it was good, I just worry if Symon will follow Wolfgang Puck type expansion and lose control of his operations, that said if he can continue to do good places its good for Cleveland and Ohio to have him creating high quality options, even in strip malls.

In re: Safari 4 Beta

Being into all things new I installed the beta of Safari 4 on my Mac, I had know of some of the changes, including massive improvements with Safari’s Java performance, among other under the improvements.  The UI also had some tweaks, probably most notably is the addition of Top Sites, a thumbnail view of your most visited sites, kinda like the quick dial some other browsers have had.  Also Apple has added cover flow for history and bookmarks, kinda useful, but I probably won’t be using it much, but lastly and at least for me the biggest adjustment comes from moving the tabs to the top of the screen.  If your using IE 6 or under a rock you don’t use tabs, but tabs were a huge improvement over the method of multiple windows.  The top of the screen is strange at first, and seems kinda inefficient going up to the top (unless your using keyboard tab switching) but I will admit I came across a good use of the tabs when I had a second window open in front I could still see my tabs behind in the second window and jump straight to the tab I clicked on when switching back.

I’ll be curious to see if all the negative press on the new tabs continues, I’ll give it sometime to see if I like it.  Other than those I’ve run into some problems with Safari, including problems loading HTTPS pages, including most importantly Gmail.  Of course those will be fixed before a release, but if your thinking of checking it out keep that in mind.

In re: Pikes place

Just on the way back from a brief visit to Seattle. While there I was able to make it over to one of my favorite spots , Pikes Place Public Market. While it is packed with crowds of tourists, it is also packed with all kinds of great food, from fruit and fish stalls to prepared foods to sit down spots. Yesterday for lunch I stopped by in one of the many alleys at Pikes Place Chowder and grabbed a cup of their chowder of the day, which was Crab and Oyster along with some other flavors such as chorizo and sweet corn. The chowder was great, with a little kick from the chorizo and the sweetness off corn and crab. Gotta give it a recommendation as a worthwhile lunch spot when in Seattle.

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