Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Rigsby's Has Great Deviled Eggs!

Yesterday I finally had the pleasure of trying Rigsby's, and yes, they had great deviled eggs! But more on that later.

The first time I've tried Rigsby's was after that traumatic Zen sushi night. After the horrible sushi experience, we decided to get some dessert so the food wouldn't be all bad that night. And after learning that their dessert was catered by Pistachio, I was glad that we went there because the dessert made up for the bad sushi. So ever since we had the great dessert, I've always wanted to go back and try their real food for once. And yesterday was my day.

First, I ordered their deviled eggs with shallots and white truffle oil. It was just simply divine. The white truffle oil really glammed up the dish and the aroma of white truffle oil went well with the egg too. Then I had the smoked salmon carpaccio with citrus vinaigrette. Their salmon was house smoked, and it was seasoned perfectly and was not greasy at all! I rolled the watercress with citrus vinaigrette and smoked salmon together. the vinaigrette had just enough sourness to combat the salmon and the watercress gave a little crunch and bite to it. It was just delicious! My fiance tried their roasted red pepper soup with chipotle drizzles. It was also very good. But they put in more chipotle than expected so the soup had a kick.

For the main course I had their seared sea scallop with onion, fennel, and blood orange salad. The scallop was amazing because it was seared perfectly and very tender. I wasn't too crazy about the onion fennel and blood orange salad though because it was served warm and a bit too oily. but otherwise the dish was very nice. My fiance had the gnocchi with rabbit ragu, and it was great too. The dish was very southern Italian and the ragu was excellent. But the rabbit was a little gamey and tough for me. Overall both dishes are very good.

For dessert, we ordered a mocha tart with capuccino ice cream from Jeni, and it was just amazing. And I knew it would be amazing because the dessert was from Pistachio! the tart was made of premium chocolate and coffee, the tart shell was crispy and wafer like, which was delicious. along with Jeni's ice cream, it was definitely a masterpiece.

The overall experience was very good, and I would rank the food 3.75 out of 5. It's definitely a must try place if you are in that area. So if you like great food paired with excellent dessert, please go to Rigsby's on 698 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215-1582.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Bodega Presents New Urban Dining

This weekend I finally went to try Bodega. It's been open for a while, but I wasn't really in the mood to try it for a long time simply because it looked like it attracted more college crowd. Upon entering the restaurant, the decor was modern and a little on the funky side. And the crowd was younger and the waitress also looked like a college student. (There's nothing against college student, I was a student once, but I was also aware that college-student-food also emphasized on quantity, not quality.) So I was curious about how the menu would look like. As it turned out, the menu had a more fusion/urban/organic feeling than a regular sandwich shop. Later I found that Bodega was also a wine and coffee shop, so my first impression of the place was that it's an interesting combination restaurant.

The price was not bad, for $6-8 you could get a pretty good size panini with different fixings as funky as your liking plus a side of chips, and for $4-6 you could get some nice appetizers and salads that would start the meal right. I tried the Fresh mozzarella Bruchetta, which had fresh mozzarella, tomato, and pesto sauce on a crusty Italian bread. It was delicious! The fresh mozzarella was creamy and mild, and the pesto was seasoned just right and great with the tomato and mozzarella combination. I also tried the Italian panini, which had ham, salami, provolone cheese, tomato, lettuce, and banana peppers. It turned out to be pretty good. The ham and salami was piled pretty thick and combined with the melting provolone cheese, it fixed us right up after our long walk in the Pride Festival.

The experience was a pleasant surprise and I think I would definitely come back and try their other Panini and salad. The food ranked 3 out of 5 on my yummy scale, and it's worth the trip to come try something new for a change. If you would have some time to chill and would like to spend your afternoon with some hot yummy Panini, please go to Bodega on 1044 N. High Street Columbus, Ohio.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Blog from My Biggest Fan!

For the first time, the AAFC will post a review contributed by my biggest fan about a unique place called Cafe Bella. The food was very home-made and the chef/owner was a hoot. I would rank their food about 2.75 out of 5 on my yummy scale, but the experience was definitely worth for a revisit! So, without further adieu, here's the food critique from Tim J.

Some night when the two of you feel like an experience at the opposite end of the formality scale from Handke's, I recommend Cafe Bella. They're open, Carlo told us, every day except Sunday, and were open until 10 the night we were there, but other patrons (more about that below

My full account follows. I thought about posting it to the AAFC blog, but thought it was a bit unwieldy for the comments.

It's the kind of place I often dream about finding, and we found it through utter providence. After a stroll in the Park of Roses, capped by the sight of a party of people taking extremely short rides in a hot-air balloon, Michelle and I went in search of dinner.

Our intended target was closed, just minutes before we arrived. Racking our brains, we decided on a second place, but it, too, was closed--or anyway, not serving food. Then inspiration hit: someone had recommended a place to Michelle, years ago, a restaurant I'd almost never noticed and totally forgotten about. Glory of glories, it was open.

Or was it? When we walked in, we encountered a man dressing a little girl in a chef's jacket. It kind of looked like closing-time play to me. "Are you open for a while?" I asked.

In perhaps the most gravelly voice I've ever heard--Nick Nolte has nothing on this guy--he said, "What do you mean by 'a while'?" As I was fumbling around for something like, "Long enough for dinner," he helped me out: "We're open until ten."

He guided us to the patio out back, a tiny space walled off from a parking lot with a dark wood privacy fence and topped by a green canopy. Two people were already seated there, each at a separate table, but carrying on a lively conversation.

The girl, eight or nine years old, was pressed into service, and quickly and quietly set us a table and brought water. Then the gravelly voice came and sat down with us. There was, he said, no menu, but he laid out a number of ingredients, and he and Michelle and I quickly came to an agreement. A salad and garlic bread to start, some pasta with chicken, shrimp, and marinara, and I would run to the carryout across the street for wine, which he would happily uncork.

We couldn't believe our luck. What divine family-style hole-in-the-wall character! It got better, as our fellow diners turned out to be fascinating folks, one a reporter at OSU on a fellowship, who once interviewed Evo Morales; the other, a participator in cashless community exchanges and sometime catering staffer.

Our young waitress was well-trained, and carried out an impressive three-step dance with the back door as she brought us a gorgeous salad with greens, black olives, banana peppers, and a hearty vinaigrette. The garlic bread was super-crispy, cut in thin wedges, and well-treated with butter and herbs. (My wine selection was decent, given that it was seven bucks and change.)

The main course arrived, and we sighed at the mere sight of it. Penne pasta, sautéed shrimp, generous pieces of basil-coated chicken, a mild, slightly sweet marinara, and more strips of crispy garlic bread. We ate, and we talked about coca leaves and leaving slack for others to enjoy their wild moments. Our waitress and chef ("He's not my dad," she said matter-of-factly when asked whether she'd helped her father cook, "just my mom's boyfriend. But no, I don't help cook.") solicited our opinions, and got approval in spades.

Eventually, our fellow diners drifted away, she home, he to hang out with the staff inside. Night fell, Michelle and I cleaned the platter down to the last drops of sauce, sighed once more, and strolled out with swollen bellies and promises to return. And I mean to. I most certainly mean to.

Cafe Bella is at 2593 N High St,43202-2555, next to the Sunflower health-food store.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Some Food for Thought If You Are Going To Los Angeles

I've been contemplating on whether or not to blog my LA trip, since I didn't want to make anyone cry because of the lack of really great Asian food in Columbus. But I figured it would be a good comparison if people actually tried the stuff that I blog, so, here's my LA food trip for this passed weekend.

First, I went to a great Japanese restaurant called Restaurant Kiyosuzu that served great quality fish with a touch of home-made taste. The restaurant had delicious yellowtail and scallop sashimi. The best sushi restaurant in Columbus that I've tried was in Kooma and Kihachi. Even the yellowtail scallop sashimi in Kooma had a little watery taste to it due to defrost process. But this was something that couldn't be avoided because there's no ocean close to Columbus. There were also tons of "specialty items" that was posted on the cupboard. If you have not tried the Toro Steak, you have not tried great Japanese food! (The Toro Steak was marinated with miso and other seasoning and grilled to perfection. Served with white rice, oh my god, it's just heavenly!) Toro, for those unfamiliar, is the best part of the tuna, the very fatty section, and thereby the most flavorful. Their Grilled Yellowtail Collar was also fabulous. The meat was perfectly grilled, and unlike Yoshi's yellowtail collar, which can be fatty and greasy, Restaurant Kiyosuzu's yellowtail was tender and sweet. And it also serves original desserts (none of that green tea ice cream crap!) The pineapple sorbet contained pureed pineapple and tasted a little creamy, not from cream or milk, but from the texture of the ice freezed itself. It's served in a hollowed pineapple half shell and it was just devine. Sometimes the chef also made Strawberry Icy with Sake, and talk about a dessert that packs a punch! It's sweet and delicious with an aroma of floral sake. I really had no words for it, you just had to had to try it.

This trip we also tried a Korean BBQ restaurant called Han Yang. This time we ordered pure meat with no marinade. The meat was grilled perfectly and the quality of the meat was awesome. There's no seasoning needed because the natural marbling from the beef melted and turned the BBQ into a delicious, tender, and truly great feast! The BBQ also came with rice paper or cured daikon wrap that you can wrap the meat in, and the combination was just amazing! At the end of the meal, we also ordered a Korean cold buckweed noodle, which is a Korean summertime dish. The dish was served cold, with floating ice and pear in the soup. The cold noodle was so refreshing at the end of the meal, it worked even better than dessert!

Whenever I go back to LA, a trip to a Dim Sum restaurant was not to be skipped. This time my parents took us to a new place called Mission 261 Fine Dining & Banquet for their dim sum. The dim sum served there used great ingredients and the chef really understands the seasoning and essence of the Cantonese food. The vegetarian fried bean curd spring roll was perfectly fried, it's not even greasy! Their pan fried turnip cake was creamy and delicious as well. The chinese sausage inside the turnip cake provide a little extra smokiness to the dish. Their sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf was a definite must-try, because the sticky rice and fillings were infused with the fragrance of the lotus leaf, which has a little floral scent. Their steam spare rib with X.O. sauce were also great. You would not have tried any spare rib more sucullent than this. If you still had stomach for dessert, their sweeten tofu pudding was a must-try. The sweet syrup was infused with ginger, and the pudding just melted in your mouth. It's truly a great dish to round out the entire meal.

Lastly, we tried a Shabu restaurant called Wahoo. A shabu restaurant was sort of like Japanese fondue. What makes and breaks a shabu dish is the quality of meat and the soup seasoning. Wahoo had great quality meat, and also a great price. We had beef and lamb for the shabu, and both types of meat were tender and delicious. I've always been a big shabu fan, and I've always wanted to find a shabu restaurant in Columbus but have not succeeded yet. Since shabu was cooking next to a hot pot, it would make such a perfect winter meal too!

I realized that I have been cruel on sharing this restaurant information, but I just had to get these great restaurants out in the open and make all of you realize that you just need a food trip to LA! I have these restaurants' information below. There's nothing feels better than the true happiness of your tummy, and these restaurants would definitely fulfilled your happiness!

1. Restaurant Kiyosuzu, 921 S. Baldwin Ave. Suite B. Arcadia, CA 91007.
2. Han Yang Korean BBQ, 3423-3429 W. 8th St., Los Angeles, CA 90005.
3. Mission 261, 261 S. Mission Dr., San Gabriel, CA 91776. (they even have english version of their menu!)
4. Wahoo Shabu Shabu, 111 N. Atlantic Blvd. #248, Monterey Park, CA 91754.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Tea Zone Provide Alternative Zen

A couple weeks ago, my boyfriend found a new tea place opened next to the Micro Center on Bethel Rd., but due to electricity problems, they didn't officially open until the end of May. So when I found out that they were opened on Sunday, I just had to go in and gave it a try.

The owners were Koreans and there were Korean bakery items in the store. The tea menu were simple, mostly were all loose tea with some coffee, different types of smoothies, and Korean dessert items. The seating area were nice, one side of the store even had the cool cut-out floor seatings! We ordered the chrysanthemum tea and a green tea Bingsoo (Korean shaved ice) and began our experiment.

The chrysanthemum tea was great. The tea flavor was from top quality tea, and the quality of tea was much better than Zen Cha's. (That's right, you've read it correctly, the tea quality at Tea Zone was better than Zen Cha!) The hot water came with tea and was in perfect temperature so the water was not too hot to destroy the tea and turned the tea bitter, but hot enough to release all the great flavor from the chrysanthemum. The coaster and tea tool that they used in Tea Zone was also very delicate. The green tea Bingsoo was great because I have never been able to find a place that had good shaved ice. I've tried one when I went to Silla, (please refer to previously posting) but the shaved ice there was not good. So I was very excited to find a place in Columbus to have good shaved ice. The shaved ice had sweet red beans, green tea, mochi (Asian sticky rice snack), and with green tea ice cream on top. It was very good but not overly sweet. This was a great food experiment!

The overall experience was great. And even though Zen Cha had more tea selection, but Tea Zone's tea quality was much better. I would rank the place 4.25 out of 5 on my yummy scale, and it's definitely a great alternative to Zen Cha if you didn't want to drive all the way to downtown. If you would like to enjoy good quality Asian tea without distraction, please go to Tea Zone on 5025 Olentangy River Rd., Columbus OH 43214 (b/t K-Mart & Micro Center on Bethel Rd.)

Tapas in Burgundy Room

In celebration of the 250th Gallery Hop and the Art Festival, a bunch of my friends and I decided to devote half of Saturday to join the busy streets of downtown Columbus. After few hours of art booth hopping, we decided to go over to Short North and find some dinner before starting the second half of our evening. The restaurant of choice was the Burgundy Room, which served wine and tapas. And on a busy day such as last Saturday, we were lucky enough to walk right into the restaurant and found seating for 7!

Burgundy Room didn't serve traditional Spanish tapas, instead it served different origin and some fusion dishes but in small portions. We ordered a beef carpaccio and a melon Prosciutto salad. The beef carpaccio was served with classic aioli, capers, shaved Parmagiano cheese, and some flatbread. The dish was pretty well presented. The brimy caper with subtle herb flavor from the aioli complemented the raw beef but didn't overpower the beef. The crunchy texture from the flatbread was an interesting combination against the soft tender beef. The shaved Parmagiano, however, was a little too strong for the dish. If eaten together, the Parmagiano flavor will overpower the beef flavor. The melon salad had Prosciutto and mint to flavor the salad, and it was a pleasant and refreshing dish for the hot summer day. The melon was sweet and paired with a little bits of Prosciutto ham and mint, and the summer heat simply just melted away! I've also tried OOK's* fried veal ravioli with portabello mushroom and fennel cream sauce. The soft and fragrant fennel lightened up the cream sauce, which made the dish not so heavy for summer time. The veal ravioli was seasoned nicely and the cream sauce emphasized the sweetness of the veal. It was very tasty indeed.

I've been to Burgundy Room several times and each time it had presented great dishes and great wine. And plus the seating that we had was next to a window, which was great for people watching! (That's if I could take a break from enjoying all the great food and actually raise my head.) The food ranked 4 out of 5 on my yummy scale. So if you would like to try great small dishes and wine paring, definitely go to Burgundy Room on 641 N. High St., Columbus, Ohio 43215 or 6725 Avery-Muirfield Drive, Dublin, Ohio 43017.

*Note: The name appeared in this blog had been changed due to privacy reasons.