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.

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.

Cravings Carryout

{by: alicia} Every weekend, I try to find an excuse to go to Italian Village. I can’t help it. It’s where my favorite coffee shop lives, and it’s the only place in town you can find a bronut.

No, it’s not some douchey pastry. It’s brioche + donut, and the geniuses at Cravings Carryout serve them up the second Saturday of each month.

Cravings Carryout Bronut

A glazed bronut with gingerbread coffee. To live for. Also, that polar bear. I can’t.

Cravings Carryout is about the size of a shoebox, but if you’re lucky, you can snag one of the few seats indoors. Otherwise, do as the name suggests and take your food to go.

Cravings Carryout

Though it’s small inside, it’s big on personality.

Cravings Carryout

Cravings Carryout

Did Ron Swanson build this table? GIVE.

I went to the last Bronut Takeover with a friend, which is always a bonus because that means I can sample multiple flavors. Maria got the blackberry, which was so delicious, that I forced her to trade me. Sorry friend. I didn’t even KNOW I liked blackberry that much until this happened.

Blackberry Bronut from Cravings Carryout Columbus, Ohio

At this point, you’re probably wondering what a bronut tastes like–it’s more about the consistency, really. I’m not a baker, but from what I can tell, the brioche dough lends a rich and tender crumb. I like airier donuts as opposed to dense/cakey, but this was something in between. Just try one.

Since my motto is “eat all the things,” we ordered breakfast to round things out. I am a sucker for burritos, which is fortunate because this was one of the tastiest breakfast burritos to ever hit my palette. It’s so ridiculously simple: scrambled eggs, cheese, peppers, scallions, salsa, potatoes, and avocado, but it’s executed so well.

Breakfast burrito from Cravings Carryout

Maria was beyond happy with her choice of a breakfast roll. I mean, there’s bacon, so it’s already going to be good, and it positively oozed cheddar cheese all over the place. Since I’m a good friend, I allowed her to eat this without my cries of “tradesies!” (It’s okay, she has a child, she’s use to it.)

Breakfast sandwich from Cravings Carryout

STOP TAUNTING ME.

So, you see what I’m dealing with here? Since you’re obviously amped on going, I must insist you plan your first visit around Bronut Takeover. If you’re already an aficionado, let’s have a moment and stare at these photos together. Oh, and I’ll see you in January.

Cravings Carryout is located at 227 East 3rd Avenue, Columbus, OH 43201. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10a-5p, Saturday and Sunday 9a-3p, and closed on Mondays. Bronuts are only available the second Saturday of the month–put it on your calendar.

Fox in the Snow Cafe

{by: alicia} The next time you’re in Italian Village, and in the mood for a pick me up, do yourself a favor and check out Fox in the Snow Cafe.

Since opening its doors in October, this cafe has amassed quite a following (myself included) thanks to its amazing atmosphere (so much natural light! so open and modern!) and wondrous drinks and pastries (HOMEMADE POP TARTS–hand pies if we’re being literal). It makes me curse my decision to live up north.

When I first heard about Fox in the Snow in late summer/early fall, my interest was immediate. THE NAME ALONE. I mean, have you SEEN a fox in the snow? It looks something like this.

Courtesy of zastavki.com

Courtesy of zastavki.com

Did you hear that? I apologize for shattering your eardrums. It was me making this loud “eeeeee” sound I do when something too adorable for words. Then I saw the official logo and knew I had found something special.

BEST LOGO.

BEST LOGO.

There is nothing better than a pouncing, hoppy fox. NOTHING. Exhibit A:

Sometimes, I overhype things in my head and end up being disappointed. In this case, my first visit confirmed my suspicions: THIS PLACE IS BOMB.

Pastries from Fox in the Snow Cafe Columbus

Fox in the Snow Cafe

IMG_2816

On my last visit, we made sure to get a variety of pastries and unanimously declared everything amazing. Cinnamon rolls? AMAZING. So soft, perfectly spiced with cinnamon, and the icing wasn’t cloying in the slightest. Also. The lattes (AMAZING) were beautiful and a perfect complement to our baked goods.

Fox in the Snow Cafe drinks

Also amazing were the egg sandwich and hand pie (aka the homemade Pop Tart). There were rave reviews on these, my friends. Look at the flaking crust on that pie. I can hardly contain myself.

Fox in the Snow Cafe Hand pie and egg sandwich

Now let’s take a gander at the doughnut, plump with various fillings and dusted with sugar. I know. By now you are filled with longing and don’t know what to do with yourself. I understand. Scroll on down to get the details to plan your own visit!

Fox in the Snow cafe doughnut
To experience the wonder that is Fox in the Snow, head down to 1031 N. 4th St. Tuesday through Friday from 7a-5p and the weekend from 8a-6p. Parking is available in the lot and on the street.

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market

{by alicia} Now that the dust has settled from Fresh Thyme’s grand opening, I want to talk about my new favorite haunt. I hear some of you–Alicia, are you seriously devoting a blog post to a grocery store? Yes, but it’s too awesome for me to ignore.

Fresh Thyme Farmers' Market Columbus

Imagine a more affordable Whole Foods on a much smaller and local scale. That’s what you get with Fresh Thyme. The closest thing I can compare it to would be Lucky’s, which I also love, but Fresh Thyme wins because of proximity (holler to new development in Dublin). My only complaint is that the parking lot can get insane, but don’t let that stop you.

When you first walk in, it’s all bakery and deli goods–a good place to start.

French baguettes galore

French baguettes galore

The Hungry Monkey Baking Company iced cakes

The Hungry Monkey Baking Company iced cakes

SO MUCH PRETZEL BREAD

SO MUCH PRETZEL BREAD

Decently priced salad bar

Decently priced salad bar

Fresh Thyme Market prepared foods

Ready made deliciousness

Ready made deliciousness

I’m especially into the prepared foods section. I picked up a rotisserie chicken with house made sides and was very happy with the quality. They sell meat sans hormones, and there’s a noticeable difference.

Fresh Thyme

Seeing that this is supposed to emulate a farmers’ market, there is plenty of produce. Does anyone else frequent like 10 different grocery stores for specific needs? Fresh Thyme is quickly becoming my go-to meat, produce, and random goodie stop. Some of the produce prices are out of control (in a good way), and again, the quality is great.

Fresh Thyme

Fresh Thyme Fruit

Fresh Thyme vegetables

There’s also a spot where you can grind your own nut butter. Win.

Fresh Thyme Nut Butter Fresh Thyme Nut Butter

Or, if you’d rather buy the jarred version, there’s plenty of variety in the nut butter aisle. Pro tip: they have the cheapest jars of Justin’s almond butters here!

I'm a fan of these squeeze packs.

I’m a fan of these squeeze packs.

Along with Justin’s, you’ll find the usual “natural food” brands here: Hansen’s, Sabra, Lara, Applegate Farms, Organic Girl, Morningstar, and a bunch I have never even heard of–which is awesome.

Before I get carried away and literally take you aisle by aisle, I should try to calm myself and refrain from that. At this point, you probably have gotten the gist. For now, the Dublin location is the only store in Columbus–however, word on the street is Worthington will have one in 2016. In the meanwhile, you should definitely check it out if you’re in the neighborhood. I haven’t even touched on the coffee, bulk goods, or health/beauty supplies, but I’ve got to preserve some mystery.

Fresh Thyme

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market is located at 6670 Sawmill Road, Columbus, OH 43235. The store is open daily from 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.

A Visit to Hilton Head

{alicia}

To coincide with Throwback Thursday, let’s continue the tale of my Southern vacation. After a quick stay in Savannah, Thom and I drove 45 minutes to our next destination–some call it Hilton Head Island; I call it Ohio Jr.

Hilton Head Island Beach

Okay, fine. Ohio doesn’t look like this.

If you’ve never been to HHI, you might be unaware that it’s the official vacation spot of the Buckeye state. I’m not sure why, exactly. The only reason Thom and I went is because we were the only people in the entire state who had never been.

I mean, I’m not complaining. It was a lovely place with great weather, and we subsisted on a diet of iced coffee and Miami Vices by the pool. Life was grand.

Drinks at the Omni Hilton HeadWe stayed in an area called Palmetto Dunes which was chock-full of golf courses, hotels, the beach, and a handful of restaurants. I would highly recommend renting a bike (Hilton Head Outfitters had them for $10 an hour and so forth) and exploring the scenic nooks and crannies.

Hilton Head isn’t exactly offbeat. It’s chain restaurants and commercialism at its finest, so I was thrilled when I came across the wondrous, yet random, Palmetto Dunes General Store. We were here every single day. Sometimes, twice a day. I MISS IT.

Palmetto Dunes General Store

They had EVERYTHING. Soft-serve ice cream reminiscent of my childhood? Check. A deli with the most delicious fried chicken in the back? CHECK! A crazy candy section? YES. Fanta in the most batshit flavors like peach and pineapple? SO MUCH YES.

I wasn’t the only one in love with the General Store. People would congregate outside eating popsicles, ice cream, and that amazing fried chicken at all hours of the day. Pro tip: the fried chicken sells out fast, so call in advance for large orders or show up before peak lunchtime to get a combo (get the mac and cheese).

I wouldn’t consider HHI a “foodie” place, but there were definitely some gems that could make me eat my words. The Porch (located in the Beach House Resort at Coligny Beach), was one of the more interesting restaurants we visited. The food was great (I had the catch of the day and Thom had more fried chicken) and it had the best ambience. The restaurant was decked out in wood, vintage decor, and there was a lovely breeze coming in from the ocean. Plus, we could easily park at the resort, a HUGE perk. Parking at Coligny Plaza is a nightmare at dinnertime.

The Porch, Hilton Head IslandThom had a birthday during our stay, and he chose Alexander’s for the celebratory dinner. The minute they plonked down the basket of warm, chewy bread, I knew this was going to be a successful meal.

Bread at Alexander's

Have I mentioned that I like a good bargain? Well, I do. Here’s a secret about a lot of restaurants in Hilton Head–they have Early Bird Menus. Alexander’s, for example, has a pretty sweet deal for $15.99. This includes a soup or salad, entree, and includes a complimentary glass of iced tea or lemonade. You can also snag Vella Chardonnay, Blush or Merlot wine for $4 a glass. The catch? You must be dining between 5:00p-5:45p.

Alexander's Crab Cakes Hilton HeadWhat is a birthday without a sinful dessert? I’ll tell you: the worst birthday ever. I owed Thom a birthday cake upon our return home (it was blue velvet cake–long story), so he took the pie route. Peanut butter pie, that is.

Peanut Butter Pie at Alexander's Hilton Head Island

“Too much pie, that’s your problem.”

Another cool spot was A Lowcountry Backyard Restaurant. The food was pure comfort, the patio awesome, and the inside was friendly. Plus, there was banana pudding in huge mason jars.

A Low Country Backyard Restaurant Hilton Head Island

As with Savannah, we didn’t do a whole lot of planning. Our days revolved around lounging at the pool/beach, eating and drinking delicious things, and going to the General Store a hundred times a day. We also did a lot of exploring and aimless wandering. My only complaint? We had to drive so much. My travels usually take me to places with a metro system or the ability to walk everywhere, but this was not the case on the island. Not a big deal, but I wasn’t expecting it.

Sea Pines Hilton Head Island

Sea Pines was worth the drive.

After four relaxing days, we packed up the car for the last (and my favorite) leg of the trip: Charleston. To be continued!

Pie’s Gourmet Pizza Bistro

{alicia}

Though Thom and I grew up on the East Side, we rarely find ourselves in that neck of the woods–which is terrible, because his parents still live there, and now I feel super guilty. Anyway, we found ourselves in Reynoldsburg a few weeks back, on one of our rare pilgrimages, to visit some friends.

Heather was nice enough to let me pick the evening’s meal, and based on what I’ve read, it had to be Pie’s Gourmet Pizza Bistro. The restaurant is housed in a renovated, century-old colonial style house with multiple dining areas and a pub on the upper level. I eat that kind of thing up (har har, unintentional pun), so I was even more enchanted by  the concept. Since it was a beautiful, summer night, we took advantage of the patio.

Pies Reynoldsburg Patio

From my focal point, I was obsessing over the fire pit area. If you’re just coming out for drinks, it would be the perfect spot to hunker down with a big group and some cocktails.

Pie's Reynoldsburg PatioFirst things first, we ordered refreshments. I didn’t get the memo about it being summer, and clung to my trusty hard cider which I enjoy any season.

Pie's Gourment Pizza Bistro Reynoldsburg

Once revived, I scanned through the menu and hyperfocused on the Margherita, though the pizza of the night (BBQ Chicken) was also kind of tempting. Right behind us was the smoker where the scent of roasting chicken was sputtering out in little puffs of smoke. Don’t punch me guys, I had to pass. Chicken on pizza confuses my tastebuds. Now if we were talking chicken separate from the pizza? That would be very nice.

Pie's Reynoldsburg Menu

While we waited, Heather was kind enough to share her Crispy Fried Brussels Sprouts ($7)–these were ridiculous, and if I wasn’t so polite, I would have shoved her over and stolen the plate. I mean, LOOK AT THIS:

Brussels Sprouts at Pie's Reynoldsburg

I was able to keep my food jealousy in check because the pizzas came out quickly (you got lucky this time, Heather).
Margherita Pizza at Pie's Reynoldsburg

The tomato and sweet basil tasted very fresh, and I was a happy with my night’s decision. My husband got a custom pie of sausage and mushroom–they weren’t messing around with the toppings:

Pizza at Pie's Reynoldsburg

Somewhere under that mass of fungi is a pizza.

All in all, a very successful night out east. Perhaps this is just the kick in the pants I needed to go out there more often? Oh yes, and guilt over in-laws, can’t forget about that.

Pie’s Gourmet Pizza Bistro is located at 7601 East Main Street, Reynoldsburg, OH. Restaurant hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 5pm to 10pm, and the pub is open Tuesday through Saturday, 5pm to 11pm.