Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Noon Time Travels - Banana Bean Café

L3 (the trained palate) and I (the pudgy gal) headed to the Banana Bean Café. She has been there several times before, but I never have. And I have been positively itching to try it!

The choice of location seems a little odd to me. It is on Greenlawn Avenue right across the street from Berliner Park. You really can’t miss it thanks to the palm trees. I’m pretty sure they’re the only ones around. We walked in and the place is just darn cute! I loved it the minute I walked through the doors. The main floor is where the bar is located and up about 5 or 6 steps is a small dining room with awesome wood high back booths and tables.

Arriving at eleven, we were the first patrons of the day. (I know it says “Noon Time Travels”. The “noon” is flexible.) We were seated in one of the wonderful booths upstairs. I knew even before we got our menus that I was ordering the plantains. I cannot get enough of those babies. And if you remember in a previous post here on Dishing It Up!, Laura mentioned the plantains with YaYa sauce. However she warned me that the YaYa sauce was way too hot for me. Good thing she knows I’m a wimp. That sure saved me some grief!

The menus came and I placed the order for the flash fried sweet plantains. I immediately decided that I would order the Wild Shrimp & Sweet Corn Chowder. It is served with "house-made potato chips, thyme, and corn cob smoked bacon". Laura said that every time she’s been here they are out of it. I was hoping that since we were the first customers of the day I would have a shot at it. No such luck. That was a real bummer.

The plantains were served and we dug in. The plantains are black on the outside and just gorgeous on the inside. So sweet and perfectly cooked. They were worth the wait. The YaYa sauce? Well you’ll have to ask Laura. I did not taste it!

Now what else were we going to have? Laura decided on the Cuban Black Bean soup, with a "tomato, scallion, sour cream, & manchego garnee". We apologize that she mixed it all up before I took the picture. She got happy and didn’t wait. We’ll try not to let it happen again. It really was a work of art. And it tasted pretty darn good, too.

I chose the Little Havana Cubano. This is a sandwich that is filled with "citrus kissed pork tenderloin, sweet bolo ham, emmenthaler swiss, dill slices, & dijon on pressed pan cubano". It was tasty, tasty, tasty! I highly recommend this sandwich! I’d order it again in a heartbeat.

L3 also got a sandwich. Hers was the Lump Blue Crab Cake with "lettuce, tomato & sherry – cayenne mayonnaise on an olive oil brioche roll". It was quite lovely. And since we always have to taste each others food, I can verify that this crab cake sandwich was way good!

The service at Banana Bean was great. When we finished our meal, we sat and visited with a cup of tea. There was no pressure to give up the table. In fact, our server and several others were very attentive making sure we had plenty to drink. Definitely a plus!

In my book, Banana Bean Café is a definite do-over. There are so many things I want to try. Especially that shrimp and corn chowder…if they ever have it!

Banana Bean Café, Brewery District
340 Greenlawn Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43223

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Almost Summer Dinner

Yesterday and today have been absolutely summer-like! Oh my gosh, can you believe we were wearing winter coats the beginning of the week? Just goes to show, ya never know :-)

Last night was a definite grill dinner night. Since I do happen to be married to “Grillman”, we planned dinner around what we could grill. Holy smoke was it awesome! God I love this time of year!!!

We started with a ginormous chicken breast that Bob pulled out of the freezer. I swear I get the most amazing skinless, boneless chicken breasts when Kroger has the Amick Farms chicken breasts on sale. I’m telling’ ya, these are the Mae West of chicken breasts! I chopped up a ton of garlic and Bob added one of his favorite marinades consisting of Mrs. Dash original and Newman’s Own dressing. (Only thing we didn’t have was fresh basil.) Mixed up the marinade, dropped in the chicken and popped that in the fridge to hang out for an hour or so.

We had stopped at Kroger and picked up corn-on-the-cob and a lovely butternut squash. I shucked the corn and put it in an oblong Pyrex dish with a couple of tablespoons of water; added about a teaspoon of sugar to that and covered it with Saran wrap. Then I microwaved it for 3 minutes. The squash was truly a "mack-daddy" squash. (That sucker cost me $7! Crazy! I suspect the kid charged me for organic. He had to ask me what it was, and I didn’t double check him. My bad.). Anyway, I had to have Bob cut it in half because the neck was so thick I couldn’t handle it! I peeled it and Bob sliced it into ½” thick slices. I rubbed those with olive oil and put them on a plate and precooked them in the microwave for 8 minutes. I was able to stick a toothpick in, but they were not so tender that they were falling apart. Set those aside for finishing on the grill.

To round out the meal I added a small plate of fresh veggies; carrots, cucumber and green onions. That would add color and crunch to the whole deal.

The coals were ready and Grillman set off to do his thing! And a thing of beauty it was. Oh my. He put the chicken on first and you could smell that wonderful aroma in the house. Grillman’s prowess on the Brinkmann is only one of the many reasons he makes me weak in the knees. When the chicken was about a third done, he put the vegetables on. Finishing the corn on the grill gives it that sweet, smokey flavor. The rounds of butternut squash come off with picture perfect grill marks. To serve those, I slap on a dollop of butter (the real thing, thank you very much) and sprinkle with a generous amount of cinnamon sugar.

Bob started into the house with the platter of grilled goodies. Then it happened. It happens every year at the start of grill season. And this year was no exception. Katharine Hepburn escaped! Our own little Houdini. She shot out of the open door like a streak of long haired calico lightning. I screamed at Bob to do something; he tossed the platter to me and took off with a speed I had forgotten the man could attain! He barked instructions to me like a drill sergeant, “Get the Greenies!” I lovingly, yet quite quickly, set the platter on top of the grill and ran into the house and grabbed the bag of Greenies. For those of you not of the feline caregiver set, Greenies are a treat for cats that seem to have a crack-like quality to them. Our cats will do just about anything for a Greenie. Apparently just about anything but come out from under the wet mulch ground beneath the deck. Kate had decided that the time had come for her to give the deck underground a good exploring. No amount of offered Greenies was going to make her give up her freedom. She didn’t try to run. No, she just wanted a good look around. This, at a time when my dinner was ready and waiting!

So I did what anyone would do. I took drastic measures. I went to the platter, took a deep breath, and tore off a strip of chicken from that gorgeous hunk o’ meat. That certainly did the trick. Bob offered that tender, succulent chicken to Kate and she waltzed right over and took it as if that is what she had in mind the entire time. Humpf! Greenies, indeed!

So with Kitty Kate safely ensconced back in the bosom of the family, we enjoyed our “almost summer dinner”.

p.s. Dessert was chocolate strawberry shortcake…sorely needed after such a stressful prelude to dinner!

Wyandotte Winery - check it out!

Greetings! Friday night we were delighted to become acquainted again with Wyandotte Winery -- just off Cherrybottom Road, north of Morse Road. We attended a surprise birthday party there which also included a wine tasting, appetizers, dinner, and the most fabulous chocolate port cake. It has been over 20 years since we had been there, and we have really missed out. My favorite of the evening was the cherry wine, but the cranberry is also an old favorite. Tim liked the Sweet William (red). We came home with bottles! They have many events planned, and have a wonderful patio. The owners are just so friendly. Check out their website and give them a try! I know we are going back ...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lac Viet Market

I love the North Market. I love to just wander around and look at everything that is being offered on any given day. I love to stop and talk to the vendors about what they have for sale. Some are quite happy to talk, others are way too busy to engage in idle chit-chat. I love the smells of the North Market. The clean smell of The Fish Guys. You know their fish is fresh! I love the smell when you walk around the corner of North Market Poultry and Game and you walk right into the aroma of the fried chicken and other prepared foods! I love Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, and sampling the exotic combinations of flavors in the ice creams. I love Pastaria; the prepared dishes and the sauces, not to mention the incredible pastas. I love to peruse the cheese offerings at Curds and Whey. Mike is always ready to answer questions and let you have a taste of a new cheese. I love Barry’s Deli. I love the bright color of his newly remodeled store, and I love the humongous sandwiches he prepares. Yep, I just love the North Market.

But there is one place that has hold of my heartstrings right now. Lac Viet Market. Located in the northwest corner of the Market between Better Earth and Better Earth’s Beyond Beads. Owner Thang Nguyen and his family preside over this little bit of heaven. Let me tell you how my current addiction began…”Noon Time Travels”.

L3 (Laura, the trained palate) and I (the pudgy gal) met at the North Market one cold and rainy afternoon. The weather basically sucked. It was just nasty outside and it made you wish you’d stayed home in bed. We walked around the market trying to decide what we were going to have for lunch. When we planned our meeting, I had visions of us getting something to eat and going out to the picnic tables to eat in the sunshine and warming breezes. Ha! Joke was on me. So when you have an idea like that in your mind and you’re faced with a crappy day like ours turned out to be, you just can’t make up your mind on anything!

We wandered around the market for a while, making about 2 or 3 trips around the place. We stopped at Sarefino’s Pizzeria; we stopped at Curds and Whey; we stopped at Nida’s Sushi; we stopped at CaJohn’s; we stopped at Firdous; and we stopped at Barry’s Deli. All looked good, but none looked right. Then Laura made the decision that she was having pho. Off to Lac Viet we went.

While Laura ordered her pho, a beef noodle soup, I checked out the menu. I had eaten here once a long time ago but couldn’t even remember what I’d had then. So as I checked out the menu, I saw a dish that looked really good. It is called Com/bun thit ga and is broken rice, rice noodles, grilled chicken, cucumber, carrot, tomato and cilantro. I decided to order this, minus the cilantro. We were eating on the premises so they put our lunches in their big bowls. We grabbed something to drink and off we went. Thus my addiction began.

Since that day, I’ve grabbed take out for Bob and me to eat at home and I’ve stopped to get it for dinner when Bob has been out of town. On my latest trip, I ordered the Com/bun thit ga and asked for half to be substituted with Com/bun Tom (grilled shrimp). I also ordered a Bahn mi thit, a sandwich with ham, chicken roll, mayo, pate, cucumber, carrot, radish and cilantro (minus pate & cilantro). I’ve recently read so much about the Bahn mi and the quest for the best in several cities that I needed to see what the fuss was all about!

I took my treasures home and with a growling tummy I commenced to chow down! With the Com/bun thit ga, I mix it all together and dig in. The dressing is refreshing and packs a bit of a bite unless you avoid the tiny pieces of red peppers. As you can guess, I do. Oh my gosh how I love this dish! It is just so refreshing and yummy. The broken rice adds a nice little crunch and the rice noodles are just wonderful. The grilled chicken is perfectly cooked with a great flavor. The vegetables are crisp and fresh. Again, this dish just rocks!!!

Now for the Bahn mi thit. I’ve never had this before but it really looked and smelled awesome. Biting in you experience the crunch of the toasted French bread. Then you taste the meat combined with the fresh veggies and it is soooo good.

What to do? Sitting there with two delicious dishes I did what any sane person would do. I split them in half and ate some of each!

Check out Lac Viet Market in the North Market! But prepare to be addicted!

Lac Viet Market
59 Spruce St.
Columbus, OH 43215

Monday, April 20, 2009

Kookoo for Cuco's

I don't know about anyone else, but certain types of foods just feel like they are a part of me. Of course I have a fondness for Southern things (Wilbur's BBQ anyone?) and for Korean. (Mmm, kimchee) But, somewhere there is a chromosome in my food DNA that makes me feel so happy when I have great Mexican food... Of course living in Phoenix for a year spoiled me rotten so when I moved home to Ohio I didn't think I would find anything as good as the local taco joints or the food cooked by my co-workers.
Boy was I wrong.
Once upon a time when I used to work in an office downtown Columbus, a co worker and I walked down to the riverfront to visit festival Latino for lunch. Hellbent on getting tamales, we walked around until we passed this tiny little stand with three guys crammed into it. There we watched in what was first shock and then wonder as they crammed a Mexican style roll with juicy glistening carnitas, brilliant guacamole and proceeded to DIP THE ENTIRE SANDWICH IN HOT SAUCE.
Well, it was love at first bite, and after I finished weeping with joy and the fire of the hot sauce I found out these guys had a restaurant. Tucked into a little strip mall on Henderson road, Cuco's sits, a still hidden gem despite raving reviews by the Dispatch and the Other Paper.

It has been three years now since I first started going to Cuco's and when I found out my dear friend Jean had not had the pleasure of the experience, it was time for a visit.

The thing that is so great about Cuco's is the way it has evolved. It has gone from a Mexican grocery with eight tables where local Mexican restaurant owners go for a dinner out to 20 tables with a single isle of groceries and a crowded table of soccer moms and children. The things that haven't changed: The homemade salsas for succulent tacos, the infamous hot sauce dipped Torta Ahogada and the family atmosphere amongst the staff.
We started off the meal by adding a large order of the lovely guacamole and the nippy, but not to nippy queso dip to the complementary fresh corn tortilla chips and salsa.

Next came the Torta Ahogada for me, Tamales for Ms Jean, and tacos for Mom. Now Cuco's tacos are soft, white corn tortillas with chopped red onions and cilantro on your choice of asada steak, carnitas, chorizo sausage, pork al pastor chicken, barbacoa, mushrooms, shrimp. (Whew! That's a list!) There are also Baja style fish tacos, fingers of freshly battered fish, shredded cabbage and mayonnaise dressing. Topped the way you like with salsas, and escoviche (pickled vegetables) from the salsa bar, three innocent little tacos become a serious meal.

However, no meal is so serious that there isn't room for dessert. More specifically, flan, churros and tres leches cake for us, but if you like fried ice cream or sopapillas they have those as well.

Open at 8 am (yes, they have breakfast and it is goood!) until 10pm, Monday through Saturday.
2162 Henderson Road (614) 538 8601. They have a full bar with killer Margaritas if you feel like getting a little crazy.

"Noon Time Travels"

Once upon a time there were two friends. One was a trained chef, educated at the Art Institute of Phoenix with an AAS degree, graduating with highest honors. A trained palate, if you will. The other was just a pudgy gal who loved good food. The two met and became fast friends. Somewhere in the beginning of the friendship cookies were involved. That segment of the friendship remains a mystery in this part of the story.

The two friends were adventurous eaters. The trained chef had much knowledge. The pudgy gal hungered for more. They joined forces and began a sort of “Noon Time Travels”.

“Noon Time Travels” took the two friends to different destinations every time they got together for lunch. It became their mission to find restaurants that were “blog worthy”. Be it good or bad, the choice of venue needed to be something that they wanted to blog about and that they thought their readers would want to read about. So out were the big chains and franchises! The two friends looked for unique and distinctly different eateries.

Thus the adventures of the “Noon Time Travels” began. You will be hearing from the friends. The will be blogging on their visits to restaurants new and old, in and around our fair city. Be on the lookout for the posts from the chef and the pudgy gal. Regardless if the food is good or bad, it will be fun!

Each and every one of you is invited to join us in posting about your own “Noon Time Travels”. All of you can be part of our quest for new and exciting places to dine. Or it can even be an old favorite of yours that you think needs to be reviewed so the rest of us can go and enjoy it. Everyone get involved in the “Noon Time Travels”! What fun that will be!!!

Happy eating!
Jean Bugs (the “pudgy gal”) :-)

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Melting Pot

Don't you just love fondue? We've discussed this previously and you know I love it. So here's the deal: Bob went to Amsterdam and Germany last month. And every time he goes out of the country, Jenny (my oldest and bestest friend in the whole entire world that I've known since I was one year old and that I've gotten into more trouble with than anyone can even imagine and...whew! If that isn't a run-on sentence,I don't know what is! Oh wasn't even a complete sentence.) and I always say she's going to come over and spend the night. Well this time we did it! We had a "sleep-over!"

Jen came over on Sunday afternoon and we decided it was only right for us to be really good to ourselves. We thought we should treat ourselves to a special dinner. Who deserves it more than we do? Right? So we have both always wanted to go to The Melting Pot. Here was our chance! We made reservations and when she got here on Sunday afternoon we were off to do all things fondue!

We went to The Melting Pot, located in Easton. You look around and are like, "okay, where's the restaurant?" We stepped through the doors and started down the steps. We entered a different world. At the bottom of the steps is the hostess station. A really nice young lady greeted us and confirmed our reservation. She then led us through a maze of aisles and tables in this underground land. We stopped at a booth and were instructed that our server would be with us in a few moments. (I am thinking to myself, "Whatever you do, don't get drunk. You'll never find your way out of here and will spend the rest of your life wandering around the aisles looking for the end of the maze, asking diners for handouts so you can sustain your energy.")

A few moments after we were seated our server arrived. A very nice young lady that I am sorry to say whose name I have forgotten. (Give me a break, guys. I'm old and this was a month ago!) Moving away from my shortcomings, (and don't even start with me about the quality of the pictures to come. It's dark in that cave!) Naturally we began our meal with girlie drinks. I will spare you the details. Let me just say I only had one 'cause I wanted to see the light of day again.

Did I say we had decided to treat ourselves? Well that we did! We went all out. We threw caution to the wind. We ordered just about the most expensive thing on the menu! Woohoo! We were divas looking to be catered to! It was awesome! There are some pretty darn good things to be said about wild abandon. But then again, there is that moment when it comes time to pay the bill. Ouch. It should be noted that a dinner at The Melting Pot is not for the faint of pocketbook. But it is fun for a splurge. And you are talking about a dining experience, as well as a meal.

That said, let's continue. We began our meal with the Cheddar Cheese Fondue. This is aged, medium-sharp Cheddar and Emmenthaler with Swiss cheeses, lager beer, garlic and seasonings. Each cheese fondue includes fresh breads, vegetables and apples for dipping. Our vegetables were fresh carrots, cauliflower and celery.

Sidenote: There is a pad in the middle of the table that your server turns on to heat when she brings the fondue to your table. This baby heats up instantly and it is hot, hot, hot! Do not touch or you will be making the acquaintance of your local medics.

So back to the fondue. The Cheddar fondue was just delicious. Jenny and I were digging in like they were going to take it away from us! The apples were especially good with this fondue. Plus, I had the pink fork so it tasted even better! Our server was very attentive and asked if she could bring more bread, apples or veggies.

Next came our salad. We had a Southwest salad, which was the special at that time. Oh my gosh was it good. And I don't generally rave about salads. But this was just so fresh and crisp and yummy. A really good choice!

We chose the seasoned broth fondue for our main course. Here is our splurge. We ordered the Surf and Turf, which was twin lobster tails, filet mignon and portobello mushrooms. The vegetables with this were fresh broccoli, mushrooms, onions and chunks of parboiled potatoes. It was served with a trio of dipping sauces; teriyaki, curry and a gravy-like sauce.

As you can see, it looks gorgeous. After a few tries, we nailed the potatoes. You really need to cook those longer than the 2 minutes that they tell you. The vegetables were fresh and really good. I will say this about the surf and turf. It is pre-seasoned by the kitchen staff. Both Jenny and I found it way too salty. If/when we return, we will definitely request our main course dippers be served unseasoned. This was unfortunate because the three (yes, 3) lobster tails were lovely. If they had not been covered in the seasoned salt mixture, they would have rocked the house. The portobello mushrooms looked to have been just recently sliced, and the chunks of filet made your mouth water just to look at them. But again, they were seasoned way too heavily. That part was a disappointment to us. And as we cooked them in the seasoned broth, of course the broth gets saltier and saltier. A major drawback for this otherwise lovely dinner.

The above mentioned dipping sauces were a pleasant surprise. The teriyaki was quite good. I'm not a big curry fan, but this wasn't bad. And the gravy-like sauce (I wish I could remember what the details were on this because it had some kind of a reduction) was my favorite. It complemented the steak and mushrooms beautifully.

If you are a believer that the best part of dinner is dessert, well you will not be disappointed by the dessert offerings here. What we chose was just the basic milk chocolate fondue. And we were so not disappointed here! The dippers themselves would have been a great dessert. We had sliced strawberries, marshmallows, sliced bananas, brownie bites, cubes of pound cake, squares of rice krispie treats, and a piece of cheesecake topped with a cherry. It is suggested that the cheesecake, poundcake and brownie bites be placed on your plate and the fondue drizzled over them because they tend to break up when dipped in the hot chocolate. All of the others were dippable.

After Jenny and I duked it out over the rice krispie treats, we commenced with the dipping. Okay, I have to stop here and admit to you that we actually swooned. Webster defines "swooned" as: to enter a state of hysterical rapture or ecstasy. Yep, that's pretty much what we did. Suffice it to say we ended the meal on a high note!

I am sorry to say that this picture is lousy; but it will give you an idea of the ecstacy of the dessert known as milk chocolate fondue. I think I was food drunk when I took it ;-)

The Melting Pot
4014 Townsfair Way
Columbus, OH 43219
614) 476-5500
Fax: (614) 476-5511
Hours of Operation:
Sunday-Thursday Noon-10pm
Friday-Saturday Noon-11pm

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Zesty wear"

Check out this website! is a food blog that I subscribe to and really enjoy. He has launched a line of t-shirts, sweatshirts, aprons, etc that are really quite cool. And the great thing is that the profits go to the food bank!

So if you have a few minutes, check out the link above. He's also doing a giveaway. Enter...and if you win, let me know and we'll post it on Dishing-It-Up!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Wine Guy Wine Shop Wine Bar & Bistro

Last Saturday night we had dinner at The Wine Guy Wine Shop Wine Bar & Bistro. Whew! That's a lot of "wine" in one name. And since I have been accused on more than one occasion for "whining" too much, from here on I will call it "The Wine Guy". Much better. Now I must say this before I continue with my review. I apologize for the quality of the pictures. :-( I have never claimed to be a food photographer. Sometimes I get lucky and get some really good pictures. However, the lighting was not conducive for photography (go figure) and I did not want to disrupt a busy Saturday dinner crowd by taking flash pictures. So I did my best. I'm sure you'll get the gist of it all.

So last week the Padovas, Bob and I dined at The Wine Guy at Creekside in Gahanna. What fun! I cannot wait to go back! We had an absolute blast. First of all, my dear husband enjoys wine sooo much. I am not a huge fan. A glass of sweet wine every great once in a while satisfies me just fine. I'm more an umbrella drink girl myself. So when he has the opportunity to have dinner with friends who appreciate the grape as much as he does, well he's all over it! And Donald and Kathy fit that bill.

When we were seated, our server greeted us and filled our goblets with ice water...and left the pitcher! (I think I love this gal!) That alone won my heart. Then she set down a platter with pita squares and what I believe was a sun dried tomato cheese spread. I am totally liking this place already. Plus I have to mention right now that I most definitely had the BEST seat in the house! I had an unobstructed view of the kitchen doorway! Oh yeah, I watched plate after plate coming out of the kitchen. It rocked! Every once in a while I got a glimpse of what was going on back there. I so enjoyed this! I think the others were jealous.

So back to the table. (psst...see the doorway over Donald's left shoulder? The kitchen. I'm tellin' ya, great view.) So on the menu they have a list of wine flight options. You can order a four glass wine flight by wine type. Awesome! Each of us could pick our very own wine flight and not have someone else complain about the choice! This could be just the ticket to a happy marriage. I, of course, chose the sweet wines. Bob and Kathy got reds, and Donald got Italians. I am here to tell you this was so great. We were tasting and looking at the menu and following along with the wine descriptions. The pitas and cheese were the perfect accompaniments.

The menu offers the choice of tapas, or small plates, so that you can share with one another or as a small plate for one. Some of the heartier items are offered as a tapas portion or dinner plate. We opted to go for tapas selections so that we could all taste and share different choices. This was a terrific way to go. But there were so many options that sounded good that it was really difficult to decide. (Oh that I should have such difficult choices to make like that every day!)

The first to arrive was a choice of Donald's. "Hummus & Olive Tapenade – Olive tapenade served with a black bean, roasted garlic and sun-dried tomato hummus, plated with two grilled flatbreads. Tapas Portion $7.99". Okay, I absolutely love tapenade. Hummus, not so much. Actually, hummas not at all. But I will try anything. This black bean hummus was the bomb! Oh my gosh I loved it! Me eating hummus? Well, yeah; if it tastes like this I am on it! And the tapenade was just delicious. Every single one of us was lovving it. This hit a home-run with us. That is going to be a definite "do-over".

Next out was one of my choices, the "Beer Cheese Soup – A three cheese blend of Provolone, Colby and Mozzarella blended with our Rogue Dead Guy Ale, served with a slice of Pretzel Bread. $5.99" All I can say about this one is that after asking for three additional spoons, we were practically clanking silverware. It was so incredibly delicious. And the pretzel, actually I think I have to come clean here and tell you that I pretty much hogged it for myself. What's not to like...pretzel?...bread? Bob did get a few crumbs, but only because he was sitting beside me and it would have caused an ugly scene if I had wrestled it from him. At home he might not have been so lucky. So needless to say this one was out of the park! I would come back just for this alone. (And the wine, too of course!)

The "Chicken Marsala – Tender chicken breast dusted with seasoned flour, pan seared and finished with a Mushroom Marsala reduction. Plated with sliced baby red potatoes in a thyme butter sauce and plated with asparagus garnish. Tapas Portion $9.99" was my choice as well. The chicken medallions were perfectly cooked, tender and moist. The Marsala reduction was wonderful, and I just loved the unusual joice of slices of baby red potatoes in the butter sauce. Wow! This was just spot on. I am used to seeing Chicken Marsala served with some kind of mashed/whipped potato. The baby reds were an inspired choice!

Lucky me, this was Bob's choice and he was right beside me! Woohoo! That meant sharing! Well, his fork visited my Chicken Marsala more than once. And besides, we agreed we'd share. The "Cajun Scallops – Spicy sautéed scallops served with candied walnuts and crumbled bleu cheese, then finished with a raspberry sweet and sour reduction. Tapas Portion $10.99". These were just so darn good I don't even know how to put it into words. Perfectly cooked scallops; candied walnuts, well let's just say I could have filled my pockets with these delightful morsels; and bleu cheese and the raspberry reduction. These just defied description. I'm just so very glad that Bob was sitting by me!

Bob and Kathy had also ordered the "Mushroom Risotto Cake at $1.99". A big dollop of creamy mushroomy risotto made into a patty and then sauted for a crispness on top and bottom. To me this was just downright comfort food. It was so creamy and lucious. Can't say it was exactly pretty, but my opinion is that once you cook a mushroom, well just eat it and enjoy the taste. Don't go lookin' at it and expecting it to be pretty. It is not going to be. But boy do they taste good!

Kathy's choice was the "Ginger Sesame Crusted Tuna–Pan seared ginger and sesame crusted tuna steak served with a wasabi cream sauce and plated with a cucumber salad with a blackberry vinaigrette dressing. Tapas Portion $8.99". I must say that the plating of all of our dishes was just lovely. It was apparent that much care had been taken when putting the presentations together. The tuna was no exception. Now I didn't taste this so I will relay Kathy's opinion. She liked the dish a lot, however she felt that the tuna was a bit over-cooked. Tuna should be seared on the edges and retain a bright beautiful color in the middle. Unfortunately tuna isn't all that pretty cooked. (Hmm, kind of like the mushrooms.) It is kind of a whitish gray. Had I been a better photographer you could probably see exactly what I mean. Despite the tuna being a bit over-done, she still enjoyed the dish.

Donald had the "Pan Seared Duck Breast – Pan seared orange tea marinated duck breast, served with a pan fried white cheddar cheese grit cakes and finished with a blackberry coulis. Tapas Portion $8.99". Again, I didn't taste this so I am relaying Donald's comments. The flavor of the duck was very good, and the cheese grit cakes were greatly enjoyed (mostly by Kathy;-). That being said, he thought the duck was a bit chewy. But he did like the dish a lot. There certainly wasn't anything left on the plate!

Now believe it or not, we weren't done! Donald requested another wine flight, Bob and Kathy split one, I ordered coffee and Donald asked for a "Margherita Pizza – 12” Margherita pizza prepared with mozzarella, whole pealed tomatoes, garlic, and chiffonade of basil, finished with grated Romano Cheese and an olive oil drizzle. $9.99 Each". When that baby came all four of us dug in like we hadn't just finished eating! It was so incredibly good! The crust was just right, the garlic and tomatoes were perfect, the cheeses were not overpowering and the drizzle of olive oil was the magical finishing touch. This pizza is another definite do-over!

The Wine Guy is a place I am anxious to return to. On a busy Saturday night the service was very good. At no time did we feel rushed or feel like we were being hurried along. The dishes came out from the kitchen in a timely fashion, allowing us to enjoy each dish to the fullest. Chef Dave stopped at our table and spent a considerable amount of time chatting with us. He seemed genuinely concerned when Kathy mentioned the tuna and agreed with her on how it should have been cooked. I am always favorably impressed when the chef circulates the dining room and talks with the restaurant's patrons. Chef Dave is as likeable as his food! Now that's a compliment worth savoring! I can't wait to go back!

Visit The Wine Guy Wine Shop Wine Bar & Bistro at:

Gahanna Creekside
500 Creekside Plaza
Gahanna, OH 43230
(614) 536-0411