Dining Disappointments: 2018 Update
Last January’s Diary of Disappointment highlighted unpleasant eating events in an otherwise excellent year of gorging. This past year had its share of disappointments too. We’ll talk about that. And we’ll talk about some good moments too, because, you know, it’d be a shame to leave with a bad taste in your mouth.
Let’s begin with the Worst Place for Misanthropes. There are actually two spots that are tied for this distinction. One is the Short North Food Hall and its never-ending collection of hip and trendy-people of all generations (also with children). The other is SuperChefs on a Sunday. The promised wait for a table will be forever, and the actual wait for food will be at least three times as long as forever. If you’re not a misanthrope before visiting these destinations, you are at a high risk of acquiring the disorder immediately afterwards.
Next, let’s go with Most Unsatisfying Wing Thing. You might think it’d be the Pumpkin Spice Wings found at Buffalo Wild Wings. Nope, those were more of an “interesting” item than something straight-up unlikable. The most scarring experience in this category belongs to CleanEatz. The otherwise lovely health food joint offers a Buffalo Cauliflower appetizer that is not remotely like a buffalo wing, even if the first part of the name suggests it.
How about Most Disappointing Sea Monster? The meatless blue crab at Kai’s Crab Boil gets that title; you’re supposed to eat the guts. That said, the server warned that the blue crab experience was going to be an acquired taste. Listen to your server.
Worst Place for Diets and Gluten Allergies: The new Mrs. Goodman’s has this one wrapped up. Everything there is super-affordable, and full of sugar and gluten — everything from ginormous, frosted cinnamon rolls, to cookies filled with chips of every flavor. As long as we’re failing on all fronts, get the slice of cake that’s iced and sprinkled on all sides. Embrace failure: that is how we learn.
Pork belly is still trendy in Columbus, so it makes sense that there might be a Most Unpleasant Pork Belly experience. That belongs to Preston’s. In a sandwich, the thick belly slice is difficult to chew, and it’s also lined with a giant glob of fat. The house pork belly is the exact antithesis of Preston’s perfect burgers.
On the subject of pork, there was also the Worst International Discovery: pickled pork skin. Laguna afforded the opportunity to learn that pickled pork skin is not nearly as likable as fried pork skin (AKA pork rinds). The pickled version is soft and squishy and horrifying in every way. Any dish made with pickled pork skin can be improved simply by removing the product.
The Et tu, Brute? award goes, predictably, to the factory farming industry, for completely destroying the Caesar salad scene by polluting all the romaine lettuce. Kale versions, though trendy, just aren’t the same.
Tragic Poutine: Fries with gravy ought to be an easy win, but the gravy at Atlas was just all wrong: it tastes like nothingness, and slimy nothingness is not a good accent for french fries.
Atlas shouldn’t feel too bad about that, though, because it also scored with Best Nachos. It earned this title easily by delivering the hugest order of nachos ever witnessed, and also mixing it up with some sort of transcendent chimichurri-guacamole hybrid. Hoggy’s gets a nod here too, for its nachos made with ginormous shards of smoked chicken.
If the child inside you is actually outside you too, there are some notable Divine Kids’ Menu contenders from 2018. There was a brief and fleeting period when Schokko Cafe offered chicken fingers coated in crumbled Dorito chips. We celebrate the genius of the combo as surely as we mourn its passing. Up on the north end, The Rail’s kids’ menu offers fresh, house-made corn dogs with an extra-crisp batter: that’s an additional perk of being 12-and-under.
The Best Crepes belong to Huong, a restaurant that embeds them with shrimp and pork and sprouts and extra savory flavor. And crisp edges too.
All in, 2018 was a good year for eating. The bright-side of the down-sides is that they’re always learning experiences. They’re informative and usually not boring. All the same, once is enough: onward to 2019.