Dinner at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing

{by alexis} I love when my parents come to town. There’s always a lot of toasting, hugs, laughter, and more than anything else, a ridiculous amount of food. Joe and I have enjoyed showing the spectacular Columbus food scene to my folks during each of their visits, and I don’t believe we disappoint too often. For their latest trip, I had booked a table at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing weeks in advance. It’s possible that this was their favorite restaurant to date.

Alicia has paid Wolf’s Ridge a visit for brunch, and had only good things to say — which, in Alicia’s native tongue, is a lot of nodding and emphatic one-word affirmatives. I hoped dinner would hold up.

If you haven’t been yet, you should go. The space has high-ceilings and an minimalist feel. And of course, they offer beer flights. You get five tasters for $8, and we were sold. Everyone picked their own and we went from there. We had an embarrassing amount of glasses on the table, but it was such fun. We had a great time reading the detailed descriptions and seeing if we could pick out the flavors.

 

wolf's ridge brewing | wander & whine

wolf's ridge brewing | wander & whine

wolf's ridge brewing | wander & whine

wolf's ridge brewing | wander & whine

Once we were nice and toasty (or as my mother would say, half in the bag), our food arrived. Joe went with the special of the evening, the lamb. I went with our other farmhouse favorites in the lamb and beef burger. My mother ordered root vegetable risotto, which doesn’t SOUND like the most interesting thing, but it was the BOMB, and my father ordered his beloved grits with shrimp. BEHOLD.

wolf's ridge brewing | wander & whine

wolf's ridge brewing | wander & whine

wolf's ridge brewing | wander & whine

The risotto (not pictured) had SO MUCH flavor. Sometimes, I feel like risotto is a success only because people love the texture, especially in the winter, but this dish outdid itself with each bite. Joe would hardly share his lamb. He said it was cooked to perfection, and the seasoning was stellar. My father’s grits were technically a small plate, but more than enough (especially when paired with a beer flight)! And my burger was beyond. I used to think I didn’t even like burgers, but I know now that I only like fancy ones made with bison or lamb, and this one fit the bill. Smooth, juicy and flavorful, it was a success. And let’s discuss the garlic fries, shall we? GARLIC FRIES. Stop reading. Go here now.

Actually, if you do, you’ll find they’ve recently put out a different menu. So if you go, call me. The new escargot and head cheese on the menu are CALLING MY NAME.

Wolf’s Ridge Brewing is located at 215 N 4th Street. Tu-Thu 10:30am-11pm; F 10:30am-12am; Sat 10am-12am; Sun 10am-10p; Mon closed.

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Helloween at Double Comfort

{by alexis}–I know Halloween is over, but let’s go back a bit. On October 24 and 25, Double Comfort Restaurant hosted Helloween — a five course dinner, each course featuring a dish spicier than the one that came before it. Spicy, they said. Take some pepto bismol, they told me. Well, folks, I’m here to say that MY MOUTH IS STILL ON FIRE.

My husband and a few brave family members crowded around a table in the restaurant Friday night after work. We started with Terrifying Russian Roulette Meatballs. One skewered meatball on the plate was filled with a disturbing amount of pequin chili peppers. I avoided that meatball, fortunately, and lived to see another round.

helloween at double comfortNext came the Double Comfort Hell Cakes, which are really corn cakes with jalepeños and habeñero cole slaw. This was THE BOMB. Not the spicy bomb, just the bomb. So good. I would order these up all the days of my life, if I had a chance.

helloween at double comfortNext came the round I was dreading: the Taunting Wings of Mass Destruction. Wings are hard for me in general (how am I supposed to get all this meat off this bone?).

helloween at double comfortBy the end, I was wearing most of the sauce and the heat had spread from my mouth and lips to my CHEEKS. That is a weird sensation, flaming skin.

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And now we move on to the Scarrrr-y Trinidad Ghost Chili & Habenero Mac & Cheese. This was a sleeper spicy. I got a few mouthfuls into this dish and I was like, no big deal. I could eat this all day, yo. And then my face melted off and my esophagus tried to self-destruct. THIS WAS SORCERY. My beer did little to quell the flames and I BARELY made it through this round, but conquer the mac and cheese I did.

helloween at double comfortThis brings us to the final flaming course: The Fire-Breathing Etouffee. This arrived and I was like, what soup? Queue up another bowl! And I saw the rice and I’m all, it has built-in extinguishing properties! But then I ate a spoonful. And then I ate another, and it was honestly like my gums were trying to flee my mouth. The burn was total and complete, and I was done. That was it. I had to tap out. I sat back in my chair, watched them whisk away the bowl of death, and welcomed a creamsicle. Who knew that creamsicles were instant relief?

helloween at double comfortFinally, we were served a chocolate cayenne ice cream. I was a big fan of the cookie shell it was served in, and, even though I didn’t earn it, Joe let me share his. Because of COURSE he finished. OF COURSE, the man with the steel belly passed with flying colors. Maybe he’ll let me share his tshirt, too!

double comfortDouble Comfort is located at 505 N High Street. T-Th, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30pm-9pm; Fri, 11am-11pm; Sat, 9am-11pm; Sun, 9am-2pm.

Eating in Louisville

{by alexis}–You know by now that we spent our anniversary sipping bourbon and touring around Kentucky in the back of the limo. But you also know me well enough to know that no celebration in my house is complete without about fifty outrageous meals. While there, we ate at the Brown Hotel and 21c Museum Hotel, and both meals were memorable. Which is putting it mildly. Ready? Let’s go.

So, the Brown Hotel was, in a word, the bomb. The lobby was majestic, the service was impeccable and our room was enormous (shout out to my dad for nudging us into the upgrade!). Situated in the middle of downtown, the Brown is old-school elegance at its finest. While Joe was checking out, I crept up to the third floors to get a few stunning shots of the lobby.

the brown hotel lousiville the brown hotel louisville the brown hotel lousivilleI’m no architecture expert, but I can tell you with certainty that the space is truly beautiful. The ceiling was intricately carved, and the whole room was lined with enough arches to convince you that you’re standing in a European cathedral with a long history. Every inch of the wall was carefully considered, every detail executed with a precise perfection.

We had our first dinner (we’re hobbits) in the lobby bar space, and spent more than a few minutes silently, taking in the intricate room around us. There is a lot to see.

Do you wonder what we were eating in this first of two dinners. Behold: THE HOT BROWN.

the hot brown

believe it or not, this is a HALF portion

Their website has a whole PAGE dedicated to this holy grail of sandwiches. What you see here is Texas toast piled high with four slices of bacon, pecorino cheese, and FOURTEEN OUNCES of sliced turkey breast, so tender, I swear you could use a spoon. This recipe will be PERFECT for those Thanksgiving leftovers. The whole thing is smothered in a sauce made from spices in cream and butter. It is like bread and turkey soup and it was amazing. The hotel is credited with creating this masterpiece and it soon became a hit in all of Louisville, and on menus still you can find enough re-interpretations and homages to make your head spin. But this is the ORIGINAL sandwich. Worth a trip on its own.

So after a quick nap (digesting is hard work), we met my darling parents downstairs for our second and main dinner at 21c Museum Hotel. This place is bananas. The restaurant here is called Proof on Main (a nod to bourbon, of course), and caught my eye due to shout outs in national publications and an endless list of good reviews.

By the way, if you need a laugh, please check out the Louisville Yelp restaurant reviews. I spent more than a few days tormenting Alicia with excerpts and all-caps yelling via gchat. (Pro tip: your carbonara is SUPPOSED to come with egg).

Anyway, it was time for drinks. This time, we went for a round without bourbon, and mom and I chose classic prosecco. Because: bubbles. Joe went for a “smoky” cocktail that slowly grew on him.

proof on main louisville proof on main louisvilleForgive my photos: the lighting was very cozy, which means it was tough on the pictures. But that is a HOT PEPPER floating in that drink, not some delicate, sliced FRUIT. Peppers > fruit.

Next, we moved on to a beautifully presented charcuterie plate. We chose the tobacco duck, salami picante, the Mt. Tam, and the Kenny’s cheddar, along the country ham, which appears to no longer be on the menu. It was awesome, so sorry about that!

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The salami was the clear winner because spicy and salty are meant for each other. The duck was not our favorite due to it’s strong tobacco flavor, but surely it was prepared well. The bread was tough and chewy and a great match for the meats. We also loved the grainy mustard and the rich cheeses. When I die, please bury me with soft cheese in both hands, so that I may have a snack on my journey to wherever it is we all end up. WRITE THAT DOWN.

After more prosecco and beer, it was time for dinner. Mom chose the garganelle, which I insisted on calling Gargamel because I am mature. She was a little afraid of the hog neck reference in the menu description, but it ended up being tender, flavorful pieces of pork. It was light on sauce which we as a family prefer, and delicious.

proof on mainJoe went for the Hog Chop because how often do you get to order hog chop? Also, he likes pork. The shelling beans on the side were some of the best I ever had, and I gave him puppy dog eyes at every opportunity so he would share. He did!

proof on mainA beautifully presented dish, don’t you think?

My father and I ordered the same thing, which is usually STRICTLY AGAINST THE RULES at my tables, but I allowed it this time because it was a bison burger. And they’re famous for it, and I had to have it.

Bison is so wonderful as a burger. It is velvet-y and smooth, like the cashmere of ground meats. Find one now and order it. It was accented by giant slices of bacon and a delightful strong cheddar. The chef recommends you order the burger cooked medium-rare, so both my father and I followed directions. I know a lot, you guys, but I certainly don’t know more than this chef.

proof on mainPamela (you know my mother is Pamela, right?) said that these were some of the best fries she’s ever had, which just goes to show that most folks are suckers for truffle sauce.

As we got ready to pay our bill, we got such a fun surprise!

proof on mainThis picture is tough, but THAT IS COTTON CANDY! That’s the dessert they bring along with your check! What pink fun! It was sweet and not too sticky, and made me positively giddy.

After we left, we wandered out into the hotel to take a look at the art on display. The hotel is literally a modern art museum.

The first piece was, at first glance, charming pastoral textiles mounted on the wall, though they’re actually made from a combination of fabric, thread, and paint. The artist is Gina Phillips, a Kentucky native, though she now makes her home in New Orleans.

21c museum hotelNeat right? LOOK CLOSER. What seems cozy and country is actually quite violent and more than a little scary.

21c muesum hotelOh, you know, eagles just swooping away with human limbs in their talons. THE USUAL. I do love the way the size of the textiles gives them a little perspective though. Very interesting.

Down the hall was a neat installation. You stand before a wall that has a projection of raining letters and, somehow, the screen knows you’re there, and the letters fall all around you. They spell out sentences, but we didn’t stay long enough to know what the whole piece meant to say.

21c museum hotel

Also, these charming guys were all around the hotel.

1011142123a_edited-1 1011142121_edited-1And don’t forget to stop and take a look at this man on your way out, who is SURE to give you nightmares. Tis the season!

21c museum hotelI kind of like his cloak, what with all the beading but…Yes, he’s scary.

The next day, we checked out of the hotel and headed out of Louisville a bit to brunch with some old friends who have recently moved to Kentucky. They suggested we meet at the Village Anchor, and GOOD LORD am I glad they did. This place was all kinds of adorable. Even the neighboring little town!

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1012141312_edited-1Once inside we got to the business of brunch, and, after a late night of prosecco and cotton candy, the first thing on the agenda was coffee.

the village anchor louisvilleNo, your eyes do not deceive you: My coffee is served with a BOWL OF CHOCOLATE CHIPS. I enthusiastically dumped half the bowl in my mug and snacked on the rest throughout the meal. But I forgot all about that when our meals arrived. Camille went with the California Benedict. And as Alicia and I have yelled a thousand times before: You can’t. Go wrong. With Hollandaise. AND avocados!

the village anchor louisvilleBoth men ordered the grilled filet mignon with bleu cheese biscuits. This was by far the winner in my opinion. The biscuits were moist and flaky, the steak was cooked properly, and the bleu cheese sauce was rich and held it all together. IT WAS DIVINE. I basically tried to steal Joe’s plate, but he wasn’t having it.

the village anchor louisvilleI went with the Village Anchor French Toast. If it has the restaurant’s name in it, it HAS to be good, right? Well, it was! I ordered mine sans bananas because, honestly, bananas are from hell, but the strawberries, blueberries, and pecans were divine. The toast was sweet and a bit crispy around the corners, which was just how I like it. Go ahead and order this, yo.

the village anchor louisvilleWe wandered a bit around the little town, and then ran up to our friend’s new house to gawk at its loveliness and cry because we haven’t found one like it. Kentucky is beautiful this time of year.

1012141313a_edited-1And then we got on the road, to return to fair Columbus. It was another pretty drive, thanks to the leaves and the lovely views of Cincinnati. This will be our next weekend trip, but for now I’m dying to spend a weekend enjoying the city on my doorstep.

cincinnati

Sunday Brunch at Ethyl & Tank

{by: alicia} It has come to my attention that we’re running out of new places to have brunch–we like long, lingering breakfasts, okay? Recently, Alexis and I had to get together to figure out some tech stuff (which meant it was going to be awhile), so deciding to do it over food was easy. The real issue was where and what food. After much thought, it occurred to me that we had talked about trying Ethyl & Tank once or twice, but never actually did it. Decision made, we gathered our laptops and met on campus for a long meal. But first, coffee.

Mocha for me, coffee for her.

Enormous mocha for me, thimble of coffee for her.

I think there was originally some foam art in my cup, so it was a little disappointing not to actually see it. No matter, the mocha was delicious. But if you’re looking for something a tad stronger, there is a Bloody Mary bar to cure what ails you.

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While warming up with our beverages, we glanced over the menu and had the usual argument over who was ordering what (we get food envy quite often).

Ethyl & Tank MenuEver since our taco truck adventure, I have been having a love affair with anything that sort of resembles what we ate, so I immediately claimed the breakfast tacos.

Ethyl & Tank Breakfast Tacos

Egg, chorizo, avocado, lettuce, cheese, and cilantro sour cream on the side.

They weren’t quite as authentic (obvs), but they did the trick. While I’m a sucker for tacos, Alexis can never say no to corned beef and hash. Our server told us the corned beef is made in-house, plus it came in an iron skillet, so I think she made a good choice.

Corned Beef & HashWe stayed for awhile to solve our technology woes (still not solved), and I liked that though we were checked on often, we didn’t feel like we had to rush out. After a hilarious live chat with tech support (holler at Braxton C.), we decided to call it a day, but first we went upstairs to check out the second level.

Birdseye view.

Birdseye view.

There’s plenty of seating on the second level if you want to get away from the hubbub, plus there’s the added benefit of an arcade.

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Real talk: I hate Rampage, but Street Fighter II is my jam–I was always Dhalsim. Those long limbs were unstoppable.

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As you can see, there’s a lot going on here. I’d call it a coffee shop/pub/choose your own adventure. It’s really whatever you want it to be. Want to have a latte and do some work? You do you. Would you rather watch the game and have a brew? Go for it. A quick meal? They’ve got you. Need a stress break in the arcade? I think you know where I’m going with this, so I’ll stop and give you the details.

Ethyl & Tank is located at 19 E. 13th Avenue, Columbus, Ohio. Hours are Monday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Dinner and Several Drinks at the Jury Room

{alexis}

Last Friday was beautiful, wasn’t it? After traipsing around in the mud with Indy at the Scioto Audobon park, we were hungry and required a Friday cocktail or three. Since we live in German Village, we’ve had take out from the Jury Room several times, but I had never actually been inside. This, I decided, had to be remedied immediately. We grabbed our light jackets and wandered our way downtown.

After settling in and selecting our first drafts, husband read my mind and ordered a bucket of fried pickles. I’m a fan of both pickles and fried foods, so this is always a winning combination for me, but these are exceptional. The breading is substantial, but not tough, and so it stands up well to the tartness of the pickle. As always, I’m “watching what I eat” (read: watching fried pickle after fried pickle find its way to my belly), so I swore I’d only eat one, but alas, that was not to be.

Next, we put in our orders for dinner: I ordered the steak and horseradish sandwich (because HORSERADISH), and husband went for the bar classic, fish and chips. The entrees came out piping hot. Husband kept offering bites of his fish, but for a while, I was committed only to this sandwich (again, HORSERADISH). Finally, I gave into his demands that I MUST try this fish.

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Guess what. ALSO DELICIOUS. I think I’m just a sucker for the Jury Room’s fryer because it might be the best fish and chips I’ve had in Columbus. His french fries were also obnoxiously tasty (as difficult to limit as those divine pickles). Between the two of us, we had enough food for probably an actual jury. But I don’t do well with sharing.

Am I not talking about the drinks? After our first beers, I decided to try the house drink, Jury Juice. Adorable, yes? Also $3. A delicious concoction of rum, lime juice, and 7-Up, I can see why a shady lawyer would try to pump this stuff into vulnerable jurors.

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isn’t that can adorable?

My seat was facing the bar and I couldn’t stop staring at this giant jug of pepper- and bacon-infused vodka. Husband and I are big lovers of spicy foods, and are always challenging ourselves to try the hottest thing on the menu. Now, it was my turn to insist we try the vodka. I bashfully asked our waitress for a shot (I am too old for shots), assuring her that we just wanted to sample, not shoot the stuff and get rowdy. She was very kind, nodded her head, and said, “great, but I’m going to bring you water as well, because it’s spicier than people think.” We nodded as she left and thought, come on. It’s vodka, not a ghost chili. She quickly brought us our shot (in a respectable tumbler) along with a GIANT MUG OF WATER. See?

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the size of this water is not an over-reaction

I sampled first. You guys. YOU GUYS. It was spicy. Any decent liquor will burn on its way down, but this stuck around, and the heat built as we continued to sip. This is not to say it wasn’t good — nay! it was excellent! — but it was spicier than your average “spicy drink.” In other words, ALWAYS TRUST YOUR WAITRESS.

Since I demanded we go home and watch “King of Nerds” (what, just me?), this was easily the most exciting thing that happened to us that evening. Truly, the Jury Room is not to be missed. The food is wonderful. The drinks are inventive, and equally wonderful. The service was great, and basically that waitress saved my life.

It’s absolutely worth mentioning that the Jury Room is a very old establishment, with a very rich history. Thoughtfully, this history is printed on their menu. Lucky for you, the owner, Liz Lessner, recently posted a history of the building on her own blog, and it is a fascinating read.

But really, do remember. TRUST YOUR WAITRESS.

Jury Room is located at 22 E. Mound Street. Sun-Thu, 11am-11pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-1am; Sat-Sun, 11am-4pm.