Eating 2013: Year in Review
The voting public has had its day in the sun for picking the plums in 2013′s eating scene. Now it’s my turn.
From an analytical nerd’s point of view, there are several ways to skin this cat: pick the greatest restaurants of the year, pick the greatest restaurants officially reviewed this year, or pick the great new(ish) restaurants.
Given the fickle nature of diners and restaurants both, this year’s list is limited to the great newbies; the ones that opened in 2013, or thereabouts. We’ll call it Five Flavor Faves (heh heh).
The Table is a comfy place for people with fancy taste. Located in the Short North, guests sit in mismatched dining chairs and enjoy options that range from charcuterie to a really fine mac & cheese with kale and funky mushrooms. The Table does some upscale things to food, at a price point where anyone can play.
Chez du Bon is just straight up visually fabulous with swirls and gold and patterns all over its interior design -that is, if you like over-the-top statements where too much isn’t nearly enough. There’s a casual market and kitchen in the back, and a fancier restaurant up front. Get the quiche: it’s life-changing.
Wolf’s Ridge Brewing is super serious about its beer, but it’s just as serious about its food. The dining menu stands on its own with great takes on classics (steamed mussels) as well as more modern offerings with mole or coconut curry sauce.
The Pint Room in Dublin scores one for the burbs. It’s not fancy, it’s more of a raucous sports bar. The burgers are just as raucous with with excessive levels of toppings on versions like The Hangover (with layers of every breakfast food under the sun along with the burger) or The Triple (with short rib, bacon, slaw and cheddar).
The Pearl makes the list too. While its cousin Ocean Prime may have hit some rocky waters back east, The Pearl does what Cameron Mitchell Restaurants do very well: it serves up quality eats with a staffing team that is beyond hospitable. In addition to many fine seafood options, there is some killer fried chicken and a terrific brunch menu too.
Beyond the new restaurant scene, several other trends were on the upswing in Columbus over the last year.
Grilled Cheese. Columbus is home to all types of grilled cheese: there was a fancified version with apples at Philco, a divinely large version at Frezno and several two-hour versions at Melt. We like cheese.
Speaking of cheese: Mac and Cheese. The Table’s (aforementioned) version with kale and mushrooms made the classic seem all grown up in 2013, but the re-discovery of Hoggy’s classic version hidden away on Bethel Road made this an especially good year for the side.
Bulgogi. Hae Paul’s got a jump start on the Korean beef scene with its bulgogi offerings on the menu downtown. Then, a little food truck called Ajumama took it to the top, winning a best sandwich award for its Bulgogi Cheesesteak.
HypeLESSness. You might remember when restaurant proprietors came to town, heralding projects such as BoMA and Rosendales that would introduce local bumpkins to big city style. Those restaurants are gone, and so is the hype.
One more thing to mention, a guilty pleasure has returned to Columbus in 2013. Sure, not everyone misses the midwestern taco experiences from the eighties and nineties. But for those who did: Talitas is back in Clintonville with comforting throwback style.
Photos by Mollie Lyman of www.fornixphotography.com and Walker Evans.