Restaurant Review: Alana’s Food and Wine
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.