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2014 Year in Review: The Best Food in Columbus

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott 2014 Year in Review: The Best Food in Columbus
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The problem with “best” lists, at least for a fickle person, is that they’re so absolute. The BEST dining, the BEST entree, the BEST trend. A little reality check says that most of the new joints will be gone inside of five years. Heck, at least one of my Bests of 2013 is already gone. That doesn’t say much for BEST, does it?

But there were some really fabulous things to happen in dining land during 2014. On any particular day, they could be “The Best”, for at least a few hours.

Cases in Point:

Quattro Stagioni pizza from La Tavola — Photo by Mollie Lyman.

Quattro Stagioni pizza from La Tavola — Photo by Mollie Lyman.

The return of La Tavola. It started in Powell, moved to Dublin, disappeared for a few years, then re-emerged, triumphantly, in Grandview. That’s where it truly belongs, close to the center of the city so everyone can enjoy its wares. The place will serve you a to-die-for garlic bread for a mere three bucks — that’s a friendly introduction. Beyond that, there’s pizza, luscious pasta dishes, and even something made with calf liver.

Chicken and French Toast from Angry Bear Kitchen — Photo by Mollie Lyman.

Chicken and French Toast from Angry Bear Kitchen — Photo by Mollie Lyman.

Angry Bear, although its name is a little hipstery, was also a fabulous thing to happen in 2014 with its trifecta of chefs and commitment to local ingredients. Although its menu is constantly in flux, it’s earned fans galore on the wings of items such as crab teamed with avocado mousse and grapefruit marmalade. Too fancy? Just as many people worship the house burger with truffle aioli.

The Porchetta Sandwich from The Carvery — photo by Walker Evans.

The Porchetta Sandwich from The Carvery — Photo by Walker Evans.

On the Downtown Lunch Scene, The Carvery deserves consideration. There’s something addictive about the earnest meatiness of its sandwiches that made their debut in late August. Try the piled-on porchetta or the meatball: it’s proof that food is love.

Short Ribs from Strongwater — Photo by Walker Evans.

Short Ribs from Strongwater — Photo by Walker Evans.

And Strongwater was so good, it was almost vexing. Stationed in a revitalizing part of town, it combines elements that are polished (the menu) with elements that are rough (the building). You can’t go wrong with a Cuban Sandwich, but the options such as the soft Short Ribs make it worth getting out a fork and knife.

There’s still room for more names, but they’ve not yet settled past the newbie stage: The Chintz Room, Acre or that new DareDevil Hot Dogs — they might all be worthy candidates for some 2014 glory. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, it’s entertaining to consider other feats from 2014.

Most Exhausted Trend: The prize here goes to Gourmet Burgers. They were cool when they were a novelty. Now, they’re just another ubiquitous double-digit burger. Enough.

Most Overused Suffix: A fabulous colleague nominated “things that end with -ery“. Drinkeries and eateries are here, there and everywhere. The new Cray Eatery & Drinkery managed a double doozle with the terms, but there are plenty of other local offenders.

Longest Farewell: Betty’s announced it was closing its Short North doors back in January. Then it just kept on going right on into the middle of summer. It set a record for long midwestern goodbyes.

Ballsiest Farewell: The Jury Room, for obvious reasons.

Most Messed With Comfort Food: Mac & Cheese. This has been the year where everyone has fooled with the macaroni and cheese. Five cheeses, peas, chorizo, lobster: everyone’s gotta add something.

Most Promising Trends: 2015 can be the year of the taco; there’s lots of taco-action outside the authentic world. Black Point did a nice duo with seared tuna and pork, and there’s a new build-your-own Condado taco place.

Just the same, those fresh tacos will be stale, old news in 365 days. The countdown starts… now.

CLICK HERE to join in the conversation on Best and Worst Food Trends of 2014!

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