Birthday Celebration at the Chintz Room

{by: alicia} I’ve always had an affinity for the Lazarus department store. My great grandmother Esther was an employee, and loved the company, even long after retirement. It was where she selected our birthday and Christmas gifts, and where she obtained many of the items that decorated her house. So, it was bittersweet day when the brand was absorbed into Macy’s.

Since my father was in the military, and we bopped around so much, I never got a chance to eat at the original Chintz Room. I had heard about it, as a place where ladies lunched and families went for special occasions, and maybe because of the Lazarus connection, I felt a nostalgic connection to it.

When I heard the Columbus Food League was bringing it back (in the Lazarus building, no less!), I was excited to finally try it. They had a soft open in November, and the timing was perfect because my birthday was in December. So, I pulled rank with Alexis and (blog fave) Megan to have my birthday lunch there.

The picture-taking started the moment I approached that revolving door–a nod to the old department store. There were a lot of little details like that, which I appreciated.

The Chintz Room

This entrance is so clever. I can’t take it.

Once we got inside and settled in, we got started on the difficult process of selecting what to eat. Although we were given a brunch menu, we were feeling more “lunchy” (wow, I am so eloquent), and elected to pick from the regular menu.

Everything sounded so good that it was tough to make a decision. What wasn’t difficult was Alexis’ suggestion of toasting with a bottle of prosecco. Okay, twist our arms.

The Chintz Room Menu

While we waited for our bubbles, I took a moment to soak in my surroundings. Remember those little details I mentioned earlier? The restaurant was chock full of Lazarus memorabilia and nice touches:

The Chintz Room

The Chintz Room

Our drinks were out before we knew it, and we wasted no time in clinking glasses and yelling all sorts of cheers.

Toasting at The Chintz Room

It was lovely to sip drinks, open gifts, and linger. Since we no longer work together, there was much to catch up on, and all sorts of excellent gifts to exchange–LIKE DUVET SLIPPERS. WHAT?!

I have to thank our server for dealing with our shenanigans. There was wrapping paper and boxes everywhere, and once our food arrived, the table got even more chaotic.

The Chintz Room

Chaotic in the best way possible.

We ended up ordering the Midwest Poutine to share, twin chicken salad sandwiches for Alexis and Megan (house specialties), and a turkey club for the birthday girl. All of us felt obligated to get a side of the dressing (another famous dish from the hey day). I don’t know how this stacks up against the original, but I enjoyed my food, the space, and the company. I think it’s safe to say we had a great experience.

On our way out, I took a snapshot of the other dining room and bar area. Do you see the mannequin in the the corner with the jaunty Santa hat? So random. So excellent.

The Chintz Room

Ignore my box of presents in the foreground.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you about the dessert. I wanted to try the bourbon bread pudding (bookmarked for next time!), but I had a dessert of another kind waiting for me at home. Enter Golden Delight’s Fresh Strawberry Cake–the stuff of dreams, and my annual birthday cake.

Golden Light Fresh Strawberry Cake

Though my birthday isn’t an ideal date (the day after Christmas! How can I compete!), I feel blessed to have so many great people in my life who make the effort to separate the two occasions. As I mentioned before, I associated Lazarus with the holidays, and this birthday lunch brought things full circle for me. We can never go back in time, but for an afternoon, it was nice to pretend.

The Chintz Room is located at 121 S. High Street, Columbus, OH. Open from 11a-11p seven days a week. Parking is on street.

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A Wander & Whine Wedding

{by alexis}–I can’t believe it’s been two years. It’s been two years since Joe and I took the plunge and said I Do. To celebrate here on the blog, I thought I’d share a little bit of our day, and shine a light on some of the most amazing wedding-related vendors in our big little town of Columbus.

I’m so psyched to see all the October love all over social media! I was an original fan, and have always known it’s the most beautiful month — and that’s why we chose to get married in it!

I know what you’re thinking — doesn’t your husband worship at the altar of Buckeye Football? How did he deal with a fall wedding? At first we aimed for the bye week, but once it was clear that every other bride-to-be in a 100-mile radius had the same idea, we settled on a Friday. October 12.

And it was glorious.

photography by Hunter Harrison

Our wedding was perfect and beautiful and more fun than I’d ever have thought. But I can’t take any credit for it. What I WILL take credit for is hand-picking a team of all-star vendors. Every single person we worked with was off-the-charts professional and exceptionally talented. This is really their story.

Let’s start with the most visible and arguably the most important: the photographer. We got real, REAL lucky, and booked Hunter Harrison, a photographer out of Cleveland. He traveled down for our wedding, and I was smitten with him from day one. At our engagement shoot, he suggested we stop for a drink to “loosen up.” Hunter, did I mention I love you? He was so important on the day of the wedding: I plagiarized his day-of schedule and distributed it to our bridal party and families as my own work. He kept us moving and on schedule. He delivered the photos quickly. Truly, Hunter was the picture of a professional (see what I did there?), and I was pretty impressed with myself for booking him. Please know that all of the photography on this post is his, and yes it’s proof you should run and book him right away.

The next most important piece of the puzzle was the venue. Joe and I hit it out of the park with our selection, for sure.

photo by Hunter Harrison

Right in the middle of downtown is the Athletic Club of Columbus. And inside, they have the best team of chefs, servers, and our unparalleled wedding coordinator Kelly Freeman. Kelly was with us from the very beginning, and all the way through the end. She guided us through everything, and when it was time for the big event, she organized everything for us: from the flower and cake drop-offs, to the set-up for the DJ and the cocktail hour pianist. We just dropped off all of our knick-knacks (you know, place cards, favors, all of the nine million tiny detail items that are impossible to keep straight), and I never thought of them again. It was all just…done. Joe and I showed up married and full of champagne, and everything was as perfect as it could possibly be. A shout out to the server who hovered around and made sure my champagne coupe was full all night.

In short, Kelly and the rest of the team at the Athletic Club are MAGICIANS, okay? And that’s who need on your team.

I have to say my favorite wedding detail was the flowers, done by the best florist in all the land, Flowers on Orchard Lane. Look at these beauties.

photography by Hunter Harrison

Look at all the cool non-flowers in there! My grandparents were florists, so this detail was really important to my mom and me. The flowers are so rich and interesting. I wanted seasonal and different, and good LORD they delivered. But this isn’t the best part. Check out the head table.

photography by hunter harrison photography by Hunter Harrison

Those hydrangeas are the stuff of dreams. During our first consultation, I sheepishly mentioned that my fantasy wedding involved a huge hydrangea runner. And guess what? they didn’t laugh! Jan fit it into the budget and seemed as enthusiastic about it as I was. And then they made it happen. These are some of my favorite pictures. I can’t believe this came true.

You’ll notice my head table is a little different than the traditional table up on risers. I hated the idea of putting my bridal party and ourselves on display, so when Kelly suggested a Tuscan table, where our bridal party and their dates could enjoy the dinner like any party, I was sold.

On those plates, you’ll see our menus. They were customized and part of our wedding invitation package, done by my friend Lynn, a ridiculously talented professional designer. She was able to design a unique suite based on a few other packages that I was drawn too, and we were especially inspired by the font that Lindey’s uses at their restaurant.

photography b Hunter Harrison

Thanks to Dan Woods for being our model here!

photography b Hunter Harrison photography b Hunter Harrison

I still want to keel over with joy looking at all these paper goods. Lynn is SUCH a talent, and I’ve happily used her work on several parties since.

Our awesome DJ was Byron from Buckeye Entertainment. He got all the details and names right, and kept the party moving and right on schedule.

Oh, and our favors! I know you know I’m from Michigan and since this was a pretty Ohio-heavy event, I wanted to bring some Michigan flavor to the proceedings. We ended up ordering a bajillion pounds of fudge from Joann’s Fudge on Mackinac Island.

photography b Hunter Harrison

And they went with the theme! I confess to ordering a smidge more than necessary, and gorging on them once I didn’t have a teeny-tiny dress to fit into. They were so easy to work with, and I think our guests enjoyed it, too!

Speaking of all things chocolate, I know you’re curious about our cake! We ordered from Short North Piece of Cake. One of the perks of wedding planning is samples from all of the best bakeries in the area. Their cake was the bomb, and they were even willing to accommodate my crazy request for gold buttercream.

photography by Hunter Harrison

And there are those beautiful flowers again, too! We had Flowers on Orchard Lane use fresh dahlias as cake toppers. I’ll tell you this cake was even delicious a year later. We spent our first anniversary roaming around Italy, and when we were home and exhausted, we dug into that top tier. Still good!

I should talk a touch more about my dress. Dress shopping was my absolute favorite part of wedding planning — wedding dresses are works of art. They are so thoughtfully and well constructed, they make everyone look beautiful. I had a hard time choosing, but when I did, I ordered a Tara Keely from Girls in White Dresses. I picked up the belt from Etsy.

photography b Hunter Harrison

It was a perfect day. The fact that we were disaster-less had everything to do with the people I worked with. Every one of them delivered something beyond my expectations, and I was free to enjoy the evening with my newly-minted husband.

So, happy anniversary to my darling husband! We’re celebrating this year with a slightly less exotic trip to Kentucky, to toast each other with glasses full of bourbon. The past two years have flown, but I love taking this a moment to remember the day we committed ourselves to one another, and all the people that contributed to making it as picture-perfect as it was. That said, I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite photos from Hunter.

photography by Hunter Harrison

A pre-wedding toast at Tip Top!

photography by Hunter Harrison photography by Hunter Harrison photography by Hunter Harrison

Oh, and if your tastes are slightly less domestic, be sure to ask Alicia about her Costa Rican beach wedding!

Eating in Charleston

{by alicia}–Ohh, you guys. I had this carefully crafted post all written and ready to go, and then my computer decided to crash and ruin everything. So here we are, for the second time, to recap all of the glorious things I consumed in Charleston. Forgive me if I come across grumpy and/or concise, but my rage meter is beyond measure. SO LET’S GET STARTED.

Since we drove into Charleston bright and early, our first stop was at Black Tap Coffee. I couldn’t help but fall in love from the moment I walked in–the interior was all minimalistic with clean lines and full of natural light. Plus, my coffee was on point. This doesn’t strike me as the type of place that would franchise, but I wish they would.

Iced Coffee from Black Tap Charleston, SC

The simple syrup was genius. I hate the gritty residue sugar leaves behind, so it was amazing being able to seamlessly blend in this sweet, magical elixir. Such a simple (ha) concept, and it was all over Charleston. Why don’t I ever see this in Columbus? Am I going to the wrong coffee houses?

You know what else is genius: coffee + booze. There’s this great place off King Street called Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer, and though I can’t vouch for the beer (twas too early for me), I can recommend their other type of brew.

Kudu

While waiting for my drink, I noticed a little courtyard–isn’t this picturesque? And there’s that creeping fig again. I wish we had the time to sit back and enjoy the scene, but we had to hit the pavement to our next stop.

Kudu

A stop that happened to be Sugar Bakeshop. I guess I wasn’t too heartbroken.

Sugar Bake Shop

You know what goes well with coffee? Cupcakes.

Sugar Bake Shop

We walked away with caramel, coconut, and of course, vanilla (because that is the flavor I measure all bakeries against, plus I’m boring, shhh). But it’s okay! I made up for it when we went to Kaminsky’s. This dessert bar is a tourist hotspot–like lines wrapped around the building hotspot. I think we waited 30+ minutes for a table, but I assure you, it was BEYOND WORTH IT.

Kaminsky's menu, Charleston, SC

A shot of the menu. They have all sorts of drinks and ice cream treats on it.

There isn’t a printed bakery menu as the offerings depend on whatever is in the display case, and it’s ever changing. The case was jammed full of temptation–some of the cakes were massive. And though this was an insanely difficult decision, we ended up snagging the last slice of coconut cream cake and a massive hunk of chocolate brownie cake (with vanilla bean ice cream). This was the perfect night cap. It’s lucky we don’t live here, or our health and bank account would hate us.

Coconut Cream Cake from Kaminsky'sChocolate Brownie Cake from Kaminsky'sBesides top notch coffee and sweets, the general food scene was impressive. Our first meal was at S.N.O.B. (Slightly North of Broad), which I highly recommend. The food is bistro-style lowcountry fare, and everything we ate was so delicious. Thom’s burger and chips were some of the best I’ve ever had–the house made chips were tossed in cayenne, sugar, and maybe paprika? Oh man, so good.
SNOB, Charleston, SC

In contrast, our last meal was at The Rarebit (also eclectic comfort food. I detect a theme). He had the hot chicken, and I went all out on country-fried steak with the most delicious (aka carby) sides.

Rarebit

I was all over my plate, but not so much husband’s food. I have to say I was disappointed by the lack of hot in the “hot” chicken. It wasn’t that long ago I tried the real deal in Nashville (and burned my face off in the process), so perhaps my standards were too high? At any rate, he liked it.

We’ve covered food, coffee, and dessert, so let’s talk about booze–namely the two bars that really did it for me. The first is The Blind Tiger. It’s old, historic (the building was erected in 1803), and I just loved the vibe. Plus they had cider on tap (it is the summer of cider after all), so it wasn’t that difficult to win me over.

The Blind Tiger

“Where did you pinch the hooch rummy? Is some blind tiger jerking suds on the side?”

The second place is the Rooftop at the Vendue. Um, guys, I wish I knew this hotel existed when I was booking our room. The concept is “experiencing art out of the frame,” so the interior was just beautiful and jammed with sculptures, painting, and modern art. We were entranced by everything during the short walk from the entrance to the rooftop elevator. I don’t know about the rooms, but it’s in a great area, is beautiful, and has a rooftop bar–stay here!

IMG_1414The rooftop bar was a lot of fun, and would be perfect if you have a big crowd. There are all sorts of nooks and crannies to hang out in.IMG_1483 IMG_1482The drinks are a tad pricy, but it’s vacation, right? 
Rooftop

We only had two days to cram all sorts of amazing things into our faces, but I think we did okay, considering there are only three meals in a day (a travesty).

Other places you should try:
Hominy Grill: You WILL need a reservation at dinner (as I learned the hard way), but if all else fails, grab some carryout from the window.
Husk: This establishment has won all sorts of awards for their amazing cuisine. Make sure to get a reservation here as well.
Poe’s Tavern: It’s Poe-themed (I’m already sold) and the menu is nothing but booze and burgers (still sold). Only catch is that it’s on Sullivan Island (20 minute drive). Plan a beach day and grab some lunch here.

Dewey’s Dublin

{alicia}

This week, the kind folks at Dewey’s invited me to a sneak preview lunch at their newest location in Dublin. I was excited for a multitude of reasons: 1) A Dewey’s is opening down the street from me. Enough said. 2) Getting out of the office for lunch? What is this sorcery. My lunch usually consists of eating at my desk and wistfully staring out a window. 3) Dewey’s is delicious.

The Dublin location is on Perimeter Drive, right off of Avery-Muirfield. Now, I know this part of town pretty well. I’m a frequent visitor to the Five Guys and Baskin Robbins right across the way. So, I cannot explain why I lost my sense of direction upon getting there–maybe I was overcome at the thought of amazing pizza? It happens.

Dewey's Dublin

After parking, I wandered to the wrong side of the building and stood there, mystified. Thom, who is Lexi’s proxy while she is out of town, watched as I moseyed away, blissfully unaware of him calling for me. After a bout of text tag, I bumbled back to the actual storefront. Whoops. Trust me, you will not make this mistake. The parking lot and building are straightforward. I’m just slipping in my old age.

No matter! There was pizza to be had! We walked into a lively crowd and took a seat at the bar.

Dewey's Bar

Then came the daunting task of making decisions. Not an easy feat when I want the entire menu.

photo 4 copy

Our server promptly greeted us and rattled off their seasonal items: a strawberry macadamia nut salad (um, yes, give to me), and The Tito Santana: a pizza with taco sauce, chihuahua cheese, cheddar cheese, taco meat, red onions and corn chips with shredded lettuce. A chipotle ranch drizzle and diced tomatoes are added after the bake. Is this real life?

When it comes to customization, Dewey’s philosophy is anything goes (as long as it’s on the menu). This means you can personalize halves, even if the sauces on both sides are different. We ended up picking two specialty pie halves (the Meatball and the Killer Veggie), and I started with the aforementioned seasonal salad.

Dewey's Strawberry Macadamia Nut Salad

Field greens with strawberries, toasted macadamia nuts, and Maytag bleu cheese (I omitted), tossed with raspberry poppy seed vinaigrette.

Thom went with the House salad (minus the goat cheese), and we got into a big debate over whose salad was better. Mine was clearly the winner. I want vats of the raspberry poppyseed vinagrette to douse on everything.

Dewey's House Salad

Field greens with toasted pine nuts, sun-dried cranberries and goat cheese tossed with balsamic vinaigrette.

Although the pies are cooked to order (no frozen ingredients allowed), it didn’t take very long for our piping hot pizza to make an appearance.

Dewey's Meatball and Killer Veggie Pizza

Here’s a word to the wise. A small, 11-inch pizza is the perfect size for two people (and a few bucks cheaper!). We ordered the medium (13-inch), and couldn’t finish it. I know, we were ashamed of ourselves. Don’t judge us too harshly, we were saving room for dessert.

Dewey's Chocolate Kahlua Cake

Chocolate Kahlua Cake.

This cake was the stuff of dreams–a rich, enormous slab of confectionary delight filled with a ganachey/truffley filling (you can tell I’m not a baker). The other dessert option was a banana cream cheesecake. My only regret is that we didn’t spring for both, but with Dewey’s now conveniently in my backyard, I know I’ll be back soon.

Dewey’s Dublin opens Monday, May 26 and is located at 6540 Perimeter Drive. Hours are Monday through Thursday 11:00 am – 10:00 pm, Friday and Saturday from 11:00 am – 11:00 pm, and Sunday from 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm.

A Mental Detox

{alicia}

Happy Monday! (I know, that’s a bit of an oxymoron. Just go with it). With Alexis in San Diego this week, I’m holding down the fort. I have quite a bit of material from the past couple weeks, so this post is going to be a bit of a mishmash.

Lately, life has been chaotic. You know how they say things happen in threes? I’m starting to buy it. In the past month, my husband has shattered an iPhone screen, my washing machine has died, and the contractors who installed the new washing machine caused a slow leak that flooded my bedroom. Blah.

I’ve been surprising zen about the matter (after a meltdown or two), and we are still living in a state of disarray while we wait for the company to process our claim and fix what they’ve ruined. My current mantra is “it could be worse,” and it’s helping me put things in perspective. We’re all healthy, with a roof over our heads, and lot of life to look forward to, like delightful dinners with family.

The Black Orchid at Ocean Club. Made from St. Germain Elderflower Liquor.

My favorite cocktail ever.

Can someone help a girl out and tell me where I can acquire St. Germain Elderflower Liquor in Ohio? The Black Orchid at Ocean Club is my jam, but at $12 a pop, I’d rather consume glasses of this on my patio for a fraction of the price. Though, in order to have drinks on my porch, it needs to warm up again. This spring has been such a tease, hasn’t it?

Work has also been kicking my ass, but I’ve been able to work from home here and there. It’s made for long, but super productive days, and I’ve managed to knock  some big projects off my to-do list. Lunching at home is another bonus.

Piada cannoli gelato

The epitome of a mouthgasm.

Oh, and when I say lunching I mean eating desserts. I saw that Piada added gelato to the menu, and all of my good intentions went right out the window. Worth it though. The chocolate cannoli marble gelato was out of control. Now I need to go back and try the strawberry marble version (vanilla bean gelato spun with strawberries, granola, and strawberry syrup), but there’s a salty caramel version as well–ahh, the struggle.

What they need is a gelato sampler, so that gluttons like me can have it all. Sort of like this awesome bento box lunch I ordered from Akai Hana this past weekend:

Akai Hana Bento Box LunchThis was the bento box of the day ($11) and almost way too much food for me (I said almost). Unpictured is the miso soup and salad that comes with the meal. Thom went with something a bit less compartamentalized.

Spicy shrimp roll and eel cucumber roll.

Spicy shrimp roll and eel cucumber roll.

Afterwards, we went next door to Belle’s Bread where I almost had a panic attack over the sheer amount of goodness. I WANTED ALL THE THINGS. I have more to say about this place, but I’m going to save it for a separate post.

My spoils.

To the victors go the spoils.

We walked away with a cream puff, chocolate croissant, and a slice of strawberry cake. All were demolished in less then five minutes.

After the wonder at Belle’s, we stopped by another wonder. Samba FRESH, a relatively new pressed juice bar that I have been curious about.

SambaFRESH pressed juice

Full disclosure: I know nothing about juicing, but it turned out to be a non-issue. The proprietors were extremely knowledgeable, and we were offered endless samples once it was clear we were newbies. We started with fruity juices before moving onto green juice and finishing with a protein version. The Proteina Plus was actually one of my favorites–it legit tasted like Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal milk.

Thom’s favorites were of the fruit juice persuasion, and after deliberating between Hidrate and Sol, he went with the brighter option.

Thom's juice.

Thom’s juice.

Despite my affinity for the protein drink, I looked towards a compromise between fruits and vegetables, and found it in Belo. I recommend this one for those who aren’t huge fans of “green” tasting drinks.

My juice.

My juice.

After the weeks we’ve had, a detox is sorely needed, not just in diet but mentally as well. This is why my sister and I are going to take a road trip to Nashville next weekend. I can’t wait to skip around the different neighborhoods, drink coffee, stalk Jack White, and eat all the things. First, I need to get through this week. Let’s make it a positive one!

Lately

{alicia}

If you’ve read our introductory post, you know this blog is run by me and my coauthor Alexis. Here we are hard at work:

Image

I’m not ashamed to admit we called this a “business brunch.” Never mind that we forgot to bring pen, paper, lap tops—you know, things conducive to having a meeting. Instead, we consumed everything in sight and took terrible notes on our cell phones.

Let’s talk about this brunch. It was at a quaint, newish place called Chez du Bon. When you walk in, it’s somewhat baffling as there’s bistro seating, an upstairs dining area, a large bar set off to the side, and a market. So, depending on your mood, you can choose your dining experience. After taking a lap, we opted to sit in the downstairs dining area where we ordered brunch.

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Oh, you know, that’s just fried chicken in a MAPLE SRIRACHA glaze with crepes. Incidentally, this wasn’t my entrée. I had ordered a  plate of chicken, gravy, and biscuits, and it was all well and good until Alexis gave me a bite of her food. Then the food envy kicked in. If you ever go for brunch, trust me on this, you want what she ordered.

CdB is a little on a the pricy side, but we got wind of a decent happy hour (M-F from 3-6pm with small plates, half price beers, and $6 wine and cocktail du jour). Give them a try after work and tell me how the lobster beignets taste.

When we went our separate ways, we were full of good intentions and excitement about blogging, but then she had work to do, and I ended up here:

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The Columbus Flea holds court once a season, and it’s always a good time. Think vintage goods, independent merchants, and handmade crafts/paintings/jewelry by local artisans. It’s like Etsy meets your favorite vintage store. There won’t be another flea until the spring, so store this under your hat until then.

In other news, I celebrated my one year wedding anniversary this past weekend. The weather was hideous, so I compensated with tropical drinks and seafood at Ocean Club.

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We also had enormous plates of steak and crab cakes, but those pictures didn’t turn out very well. What did turn out well was the comped dessert of 10-layer carrot cake:

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No joke, this cake is 10 layers, stands a foot tall (this may be a lie, I’m terrible at math), and comes plated with an amazing pineapple sauce. Do yourself a favor and eat here, right now. I don’t care where you live—buy a plane ticket.

This is the part where I warn you that I’m going to talk about food all the time. If that’s fine, then we’re going to be great friends, and if you have recommendations for me on things to eat, I am all ears. I’m actually going to New Orleans for the first time, so I’d love any suggestions on what to eat beside all the beignets in the world—though, let’s not kid, I’m okay with that.