I went to visit my sister in Columbus, Ohio over Labor Day weekend. Columbus is the 15th largest city in the United States. Who knew? Well, a lot of people probably do but I didn’t. They have a crazy popular College football team at Ohio State but I won’t pretend to know anything about the team, their schedule, popularity or rank. I will however share with you some delightful discoveries in Ohio’s capital city. Keep in mind there were no small children in tow.
I arrived Friday afternoon and we headed straight to lunch at Northstar cafe. It’s cafeteria style so nice and casual and the atmosphere is inviting and attractive. I had the Northstar veggie burger no bun, hold the cheese with side salad. A very good side salad tossed with a particularly delicious vinaigrette. The burger itself is made with organic brown rice, black beans and beets, topped with white cheddar, kale, tomato, pickle and onion. I was hoping for a good veggie burger but it totally exceeded my expectations. It was super fresh, flavorful and unique. It’s their signature item which apparently many people have tried to re-create. I found a recipe on The Kitchn blog which I’m going to attempt. All in all Northstar is a tasty, easy, affordable lunch spot. Done.
After lunch we did a little shopping around Easton, a fancy built-from-the-ground-up outdoor shopping district with all the chain stores you can imagine from Claire’s boutique to Nordstrom and most recently Wholefoods. Since I’m spoiled with no sales tax in Minnesota and I’m trying to shop at small boutiques vs. chain stores I didn’t buy anything.
Friday evening we dined at a relatively new restaurant in Worthington called The Whitney House. It was fabulous from start to finish. The atmosphere, decor and service were impressive and the food? Outstanding. The Skewered lamb appetizer was succulent and flavorful. We shared it though I could have eaten the whole thing myself. I ordered the Bells Farm trout with purple potato hash, bacon, wilted greens, Tabasco butter sauce. Yes, it was as tasty as it sounds. I was skittish when they brought the dessert menus because I haven’t eaten cane sugar in months and was fearful of derailing the hard work I have done to stay fit over the past several months. I opted for the fresh berries with vanilla infused Ohio honey and lemon Mascarpone crème. We also ordered the Peanut butter pie to share and let me tell you, I was derailed. I have no regrets but as soon as I tasted that sugary goodness I knew there was going to be more trouble as the weekend progressed. The thought of those desserts is currently making my mouth water if that’s any indication of how scrumptious they were. We opted to head home for an early and relaxing night post dinner. The gregarious Maitre’d who had taken such good care of us from our arrival throughout the meal was rendered speechless after he excitedly asked “so, what’s next for this Friday night?” and we replied “bed” half jokingly. If there are dance clubs and after hours bars in Columbus I am not the person who knows about them but if you want to know more about Farmers markets, restaurants and coffee shops read on!
After an early Saturday morning spin class, my first ever, we headed back to Worthington to check out the farmers market. It was extensive and bustling. I got honey sticks for my girls and lavender infused honey for moi from Honeyrun Farm. I saw purple potatoes that I had tasted for the first time at Whitney House and discovered the existence of fairy tale eggplants.
They was a bread man selling loaves, bagels, scones and much more. With all the free samples he was offering his table was packed. Since he seemed to be doing so well I broke my no gluten rule and tried a bagel sample. It was worth it. He boils before baking, New York Style, to achieve the crispy outside and soft chewy outside. It’s a texture and taste that is hard to perfect but he managed to make some crispy, chewy, delicious bagels. We also passed by the Doll museum but did not go in because, well, it’s a doll museum. The poster alone was enough to creep me out.
We headed back to the house for some downtime but it wasn’t long before we were ready to grab some coffee so off we went to Fox in The Snow. If you’re wondering where all the hipsters in Columbus hang out, it’s at this place. It is a really cool spot. The interior is simple, clean and modern but more importantly the coffee was perfect. I could imagine hanging here with my laptop or a good book for hours if I was that person. All food is prepared in-house but since we had just eaten lunch at the house we didn’t indulge (unless you count the banana chocolate muffin we split. What?) I was instructed to order their egg sandwich so I’ll be sure to save my appetite next time around.
Driving home we passed by a cool looking brewery called Seventh Son where a food truck had set up shop in the parking lot. If we hadn’t just had coffee and didn’t have dinner reservations a few hours later we might have stopped for a beer and a bite but really there is only so much enjoyable eating that can be done in one day. They have a rotating food truck schedule. How cool is that?
We read, chatted and hung out before we heading to the Short North Arts District for the monthly Gallery Hop that happens on the first Saturday of every month. We had dinner at The Guild House. The food was outstanding not to mention the decor. Forty foot ceilings and a design scheme that blended modern elements with vintage accents to create a cool yet welcoming environment. The mix and match English china side plates provided a unique sense of balance to the rustic wood tables. The contrast of Murano glass chandeliers, over-sized Persian carpets, ivory leather tufted banquettes, large and likely hand-carved wood tables paired with white Eiffel chairs created a vibe of European elegance meets rustic lodge with a nod to mid-century design. I liked the look and the food was delicious and approachable. This is what we ordered and shared.
- Oysters tabasco granita, apple cider mignonette, honeycrisp apple (I did not partake)
- Tomato and watermelon salad feta cheese, basil, golden balsamic vinaigrette (see above)
Smoked trout avocado, caper vinaigrette, toast
Eye of the ribeye, potato purée, mushrooms, buttered leeks, fois gras paté, sherry reduction
Salmon romanesco, raisins, capers, cauliflower caviar cream
Pork duroc blade steak, sour apple cabbage, poached apricots, brown butter (my favorite dish)
Carrot cake, cream cheese icing, carrot anglaise, candied almonds, raisins (see below)
Flourless chocolate cake, chocolate ganache, peanut butter mousse, vanilla tuille
After dinner we strolled into some galleries and shops. Toy shops, plant shops, gift shops, clothing shops you name it and very few chain stores. In fact, Anthropologie is the only one I can think of. There was an energy in the streets of people soaking up the last days of summer as they shopped, ate and watched street performers. The Gallery Hop is likely a different scene in the midst of winter.
And then it was Sunday.
We woke up and headed to German Village which is a quaint, mostly residential neighborhood with a couple of must visit places. The first is Pistacia Vera where we went for coffee and breakfast. I had the Muesli and Greek yogurt with orange preserves and a coffee. Some macaroons might have been purchased. The space is pretty and the baked goods buttery and plentiful. Stop in before of after a visit to The Book Loft, A book store like no other. That is not their tagline by the way. This is the kind of bookstore you could get lost in for hours. Literally. There are tiny winding rows of books on multiple levels. Little nooks and paths going this way and that. They have a huge assortment of books but aside for the layout what makes it special is the editions they carry. It’s not full of the latest releases with pictures of the movie promo on the cover. Particularly in the children’s section I was excited to find beautifully illustrated editions of well known titles in addition to some rare children’s book and re-issues of series like Nancy Drew in hardcover.
After The book loft we strolled around German village admiring the beautiful brick houses and the Fortress which was at one time the neighborhood school. It has been converted in to a home by some baron or business man of some sort who has tastefully preserved the original structure while adding what appears to be a beautifully landscaped “yard”. Apparently the foundation was dug up (don’t ask me how) to build an underground garage so all his hedge fund, celebrity and royal guests have a place to park because apparently parking in the neighborhood is a…rhymes with witch.
After two nights of dining out we decided to order from Natalie’s coal fired pizza and pick up some Jeni’s ice cream. Jeni is a hometown hero of sorts and her ice cream is pretty darn good. There are multiple locations throughout Columbus. If you’re in town go ahead and treat yourself. I rarely eat dairy anymore but unique and delicious specialty ice cream is where I take liberty. Hmm, I should do a post on specialty ice cream.
Anyway, Natalie’s pizza was great but I also recommend Harvest Pizza which is where we ordered from last time I visited. Both are delicious. For dine in I prefer the vibe at Harvest. They have two locations but the one in German village has a great little attached bar called Curio. The bar is set up like an apothecary. They make fantastic cocktails, the decor is super cool and they are quite possibly the only bar in town with out televisions broadcasting Ohio State games. I don’t know about you but I prefer to drink and dine without the distraction of TV.
Departure day. Before heading to the airport we had brunch at Katalina’s Cafe. A tiny, order at the counter place serving lots of local goodness with a line out the door. They have a festive patio to accommodate the crowds in warmer months. We had breakfast tacos and tried the pancake balls which are their claim to fame. They are salty delicious pancake dough balls filled with Nutella. Did I mention being derailed from my usual diet on this trip? Well the pancake balls were the last hurrah. This is a great spot. Check it out.
So that’s it! It was a fun sister weekend and I hope to have many more all over the country maybe even the world to share my finds. Happy travels!
Thankful for: The ability to travel.
Wanting: A trip to Europe. It’s been almost ten years since my last trip. I am just yearning to go back but not quite ready to make the trip with the kids.
I’ve learned: Good things come to those who wait. Or is it now or never? I’ve learned that mantras depends on the day and circumstances.