Restaurant Review: Aroma
This summer, Aroma made its debut on Lynn Street in the spot that used to be Si Señor(!). Before that, the space was home to Deli in the Alley. Unlike its predecessors, Aroma is neither deli-oriented nor south-of-the-border, both familiar and popular genres for the Downtown crowd. And while “Aroma” is a moniker that could be associated with just about any dining theme, the new operation does have an area of speciality; it offers up a sophisticated blend of Mediterranean and European menu options.
Aesthetic-wise, Aroma’s lines are modern and clean, with hard surfaces and wood-toned floors. With walls in gold and burgundy tones, the color palette is on the warm side, and it matches the warm house hospitality nicely.
The appetizer section of the menu is the first spot where a pronounced Mediterranean influence distinguishes itself. Consider a dip, such as Ezme ($3.99). Served with pita triangles, it’s a thick, spiked tomato-based blend that distinguishes itself with a walnut element that adds a luxe richness.
Or perhaps something more fusion-ish? For this, there is Avocado Hummus ($3.99). If its title creates expectations of some sort of mix between a guac and a traditional hummus, those expectations would be pretty on-target. Avocados are ridiculously flexible, anyway. They’ve made appearances in faux-nutella and brownie recipes, so why not hummus too?
Verdict: Of course it works. The appetizer’s chickpea-tahini-avocado blend comes across as an uncommonly smooth and silky hummus, while preserving the savory nutty accent from the tahini.
The Cigar Rolls ($6.49 named for shape, not aroma) offer up a different sort of munchable option. Again, there’s a Mediterranean accent, feta, but teamed harmoniously with a melty gouda, and served with a palate-brightening, yogurt-based citrus sauce.
Aroma also bakes pizza, in its own distinct way. For starters, the house pizza is served on a cauliflower-based crust. While it’s possible to find cauliflower-crust pizza elsewhere in town, the variant remains atypical. In terms of pizza functionality, Aroma’s cauliflower crust gets the job done. It’s not as chewy and toothsome as a conventional crust, but it makes a serviceable base for the toppings.
But those toppings need to carry the pie, and the Meat Eater ($11.99) is up to the task. While cured meats (pepperoni, ham, canadian bacon) might top a traditional pie, Aroma’s Meat Eater features straight-shooting, hearty, hefty ground beef, combined with soft onion, spirited serrano, tomatoes and mushrooms melded together with mozzarella. Even as its components are straightforward, there is something (at the risk of being punny) aromatic about the pie that makes the sum more than the parts.
For those who really love cauliflower, there’s a pizza option that tops the crust with even MORE roasted cauliflower; that version is also vegetarian-friendly. But there are plenty of other plant-based alternatives to consider in the formal entree section. Case in point, Shepherd’s Dish ($9.99). It’s built on a flavorful lentil foundation that blends in bulgur (you might know bulgur from tabouli, it’s the same grain product), roasted beats, goat cheese, and sautéed onions. It’s heavy and hearty and served with a cleansing yogurt sauce to add variety to the eating experience.
The Chicken Brochettes ($10.99) are decent quality. The entree offers a familiar kebob option, with appropriately grilled chicken chunks, and seared tomato and pepper on the side. Entrees come with formal sides, generally, and if not novel, the house fries are respectable, hot n’ crispy companions.
Aroma is open every day at 11a.m. – 9 p.m. for lunch and dinner at 72 E. Lynn St.
For more information, visit aromacolumbus.com.
All photos by Susan Post