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Restaurant Review: Alana’s Food and Wine

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Restaurant Review: Alana’s Food and WinePhotos by Mollie Lyman.
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Somehow, Alana’s has always slipped through the cracks.

Somehow, ColumbusUnderground has never published an official review of the Columbus culinary giant.

Perhaps that’s because Alana’s is already so renown. People know about Alana’s. They know to expect a changing menu and carefully crafted cuisine. They know to let go of any control-freak instincts, because Alana’s is a place where the chef is definitely in charge.

People already know Alana’s is something special in Columbus.

But did you know it’s affordable? Special restaurants are usually associated with blowing the budget, but the prices at Alana’s are within ten percent of what you might spend at an everyday chain joint. Why go boring, when special is an option?

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For example, the menu might feature a Tomato Soup (with grilled bread and parsley) for $6. Or, for $7, the table shared a Warm Lamb, Nut & Bulgar Salad. Easily a meal for one, it offers dewy soft lettuce leaves that cuddle around a blended mixture of the ground lamb, bulgar and nuts -all with a subtle, aromatic Mediterranean accent.

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The day’s appetizer section also featured quinoa cakes, kimchee stuffed tofu, and salads priced below the ten dollar point. Then there was the lure of Grilled Asparagus with Crab & Lobster Hollandaise ($12). Long strands of the caramelized vegetable are served with shellfish clotted in sauce. The first taste is of pure butter; in the second bite, the sweetness of the crab comes through. And in the bites after that? It’s butter, sweetness, and the caramelized edges of asparagus all playing off of each other.

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More formal dining happens at Alana’s too. It’s mostly priced between twenty and thirty dollars. Based on its grand reputation, the Risotto ($22) was an obvious choice. The evening’s version featured “faubulous fungi and sheri jus”. The dish is worth its reputation, first because of the magnificent ratio of mushrooms to rice. In fact, it’s a sea of soft flavorful mushrooms, they are the foundation of every forkful. The rice itself is the soft stuff that ties it all together, and it performs that task while still keeping its granular characteristics.

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Then, there’s “1/2 and 1/2 noodles and asparagus with scallops…” ($26). All of the titles on the menu are really long. They’re descriptions, instead of cutesy names. In any case, the same insane ratios hold: the dish contains at least as many asparagus sections as noodles. And the scallops: melty in a way that is altogether unexpected. Most places cook them to an almost bouncy point. Not in Alana’s house.

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Between courses, there are amuse-bouche. The little off-menu gifts include: macerated pineapple in a kumquat, a luxurious taco salad with black bean hummus built atop an avocado, and a bite of bruschetta that was topped with something so good, it was gobbled whole, without any reflexion at all.

Alana’s can be found at 2333 N. High Street. It opens for dinner Wednesdays through Saturdays at 5pm.

*Author’s note: It is the review team policy to visit restaurants incognito. In this case, the restaurant was aware of the review in process due to same-day photography to capture the daily menu. Other guests under observation seemed to receive comparable treatment.

For more information, visit www.alanas.com.

Photos by Mollie Lyman of www.fornixphotography.com.

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Photos by Mollie Lyman.

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6 Responses to Restaurant Review: Alana’s Food and Wine

  1. DavidF
    DavidF May 21, 2014 6:00 pm at 6:00 pm

    I love Alana’s! It’s been far too long since I’ve been there.

  2. Anne Evans
    Anne Evans May 21, 2014 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm

    Perfection!
    That scallop dish looks amazing, I want to start eating the screen.

    I love Alana’s. She’s so imaginative! She does all of the Historical Dinner Club menus and the three so far have been out of the park.

  3. meltsintowonder
    meltsintowonder May 22, 2014 12:24 am at 12:24 am

    The drinks are never mentioned but they have the best wine list in Columbus as far as variety, quality, and pricing.

  4. Ned23 May 25, 2014 7:16 am at 7:16 am

    +1. This place is fantastic.

  5. Anne Evans
    Anne Evans May 28, 2014 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm

    Upcoming event!

    Patio Wine Dinner
    May 31, 2014 at 6pm
    Yummy!
    Cheap!
    Plentiful!
    $50 plus tax and gratuity
    Gideon from Vintage Wine pouring and talking about the wines
    https://www.facebook.com/events/1497366793812137

  6. Columbusbooster September 30, 2014 5:26 pm at 5:26 pm

    I like Alana’s too – the food is pretty good as are the aforementioned cocktails to say nothing of the sassy attitude she dishes outalong with the amuse – bouche, but boy oh boy does she need need to do something about the environment. Simply put alana’s has looked a bit long in the tooth for a while now and it is in desperate need of a remodel. I hate to complain and I love a great dive as much as the next guy but seriously the place feels old (not in a cool retro way either) , dated uninviting, and yes, even dirty! Don’t start lecturing me about the coolness of dives – I was hanging out in the 30 years ago. But a great dive starts with a a pklce that was once top of it’s game visually and let’s be honest here, Alana’s never was goodlooking to begin with.

    Your review comments on the low prices – which I have never experienced in my dozen or so visitis over the years – but assuming your right, I for one would willingly pay more if the room was better looking. I only say this for constructive purposes and because I know I am not alone. I have a dozen or so frineds that go out with my spouse and me to dinner regularly and at least one friend typically votes against going to Alanas becuase bad the place looks. This is particularly depressing considering the great outdoor space that could- with $10,000 be transformed. But plastic chairs that are worse than a fast food restaurant or a cheap bar isn’t the kinda place a lot of us want to hang out on a weekend. And don’t get me started on the 1980′s sponge painted walls! Seriously, it’s bad and sending out of town guest there can give a really bad impression of Columbus.

    Casual can be great, but old chairs that look like they came out of an elementary school does not a hip environment make. Alana’s isn’t alone. With the exception of Third & Hollywood, the Italian Market, The Crest, Clintonville Harvest and a few other newer places in town, this city’s restaurantuers do a subpar job combining interesting, high quality food and drink with beautiful, comfortable environment that you want revisit. It isn’t too much to ask. Other city’s better restaurants are able to deliver on all three fronts, and we should demand the same. But with few exceptions all you seem to get in Columbus is the style of say a Cameron Mitchell place or the substance of say Veritas. Come on guys – give us both.

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