Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hass

wood fired grill columbus

Cuisine: Mexican
7370 Sawmill Road, 43235
(614) 760-0155
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Simply put, Hass is good, solid, real-deal Mexican in a part of town that is largely lacking. Nestled between Anna’s and Sunflower in a strip center on Sawmill Rd. just north of 270, it operates as a (surprisingly refined) dining room that is semi-attached to a Mexican market (La Favorita). If there’s one thing we’ve learned in researching alt.eats restaurants, the restaurant-market connection gives us reason for heightened expectations.

mexican restaurants dublin ohio

Expectations met by Hass’s wood fired grill. The flavor of the carne asada (steak) coming off of it is definitely a cut above, especially in the ‘papas calientes’ – a grilled/baked potato that has been sliced open and flattened, and covered with the aforementioned asada, plus bacon, mushrooms, onions, cheese and salsa. It’s like alambres atop a buttery baked potato, and this is a good thing.

Mexican wood grilled potatoes

The selection of tacos is reasonable, with a fair range of options. Fans of spit-roasted al pastor should find contentment here – it’s a solid and enjoyable rendition that doesn’t (yet?) quite meet the lofty benchmark established by Los Guachos. Fish and shrimp tacos are good, as is the vegetarian taco (taco verde), filled with cactus, potatoes and melted cheese, known as the taco verde.

Burritos and tortas are also available, as are a variety of daily specials. Tostadas are freshly made.

Hass wood grilled tacos

Hass is very new, and in speaking with the owner he admitted that there are some kinks to work out with service and the like. In our experience this was true, though it was nothing major, and we wouldn’t let it deter you from checking it out if your in the area.

El Pollo Loco

New Peruvian restaurant in Columbus

727 Georgesville Rd, Columbus, OH 43228
614.754.6769

El Pollo Loco is a new – as in, opened yesterday (10/19/13) – Peruvian restaurant on the west side specializing in Peruvian charcoal-grilled rotisserie chicken or pollo a la brasa. If you had been to the late, lamented Fito’s on campus, you’ve almost certainly had a very similar style of chicken. Word to the wise – if you liked it there, you’ll almost certainly love it here.

pollo a la brasa in Columbus

The menu lists a wide range of options, but upon opening the chicken was just about all that was on offer, at least as far as entrees go. We did try an order of the salchipapas (french fries with thinly sliced hotdogs), and the papas a la huancayna (cold boiled potato slices in a creamy garlic sauce). Both are pleasant enough, though far from a reason to make a special trip.

el pollo loco peruvian chicken in Columbus

The special trip-worthiness comes from the chicken, which is incredibly moist and tender and wonderfully seasoned.

columbus peruvian food

El Pollo Loco also features a selection of Latin American sodas, including Inka Kola and Kola Inglesa, as well as some house-made beverages. The chicha morada, described as a purple corn drink, was particularly pleasant and had an interesting fruity, cinnamon flavor.

Haitian & American Restaurant

Haitian food

Cuisine: Haitian

1784 E. Dublin Granville Rd (161)

Click here to map it!

I have to admit that, prior to becoming aware of this restaurant, I’d given next to no thought to the idea of Haitian cuisine. And, upon learning of it, I presupposed we’d be in for something along the lines of Dominican and Puerto Rican – mild, plantain driven, and rice-rich.

And, assuming this restaurant is a good measuring stick, (and I’m inclined to believe it is…) well… kinda. Spicing is moderate, with the occasional kick of scotch bonnet peppers. Plantains are used, though their preparation was distinct. Rice, sure, but with a surprising twist. In spite of the similarities, our simple two plate meal made it clear that there was much that was unique to, and worthwhile about, Haitian preparations.

tostones

For example, the plantains with pikliz. The plantains were similar to Puerto Rican tostones in preparation (fry, smash flat, fry again), but semi-sweet plantains were used, giving it a flavor we found to be clearly preferable to any tostones we’ve had. The pikilz amounts to a cabbage slaw spiked with chiles – it was tart, bright, and spicy, and reminded us of an amped up Salvadoran curtido.

du riz djon djon haitian american restaurant

Next came the black rice with goat sauce. The rice is blackened by cooking it with a Haitian mushroom called djon djon, and was mixed with what I assume to be pigeon peas. It was served with a side of a reddish sauce containing chunks of skin-on goat meat (chicken is another option). Enjoyable, especially for those who appreciate a strong does of the flavor of mushroom (that’d include me).

legim

We also tried the ‘white rice with vegetables’, which is actually legim – a thick stew comprised of eggplant, chayote, cabbage, carrots and beef, flavored with epis (essentially a sofrito). It’s perhaps not much to look at, but make no mistake, it’s mild, hearty, and delicious in a very comfort foody way.

Haitian & American Restaurant’s decor is at least a half-step above what’s expected from its strip mall environs, and was very clean. Service was extremely friendly, and eager to answer the many questions we had about this new-to-us cuisine. The menu also includes American-style favorites (mac & cheese, hamburgers, and the like) as well as a $5 menu smaller portions (the dishes above were around $10 each and came with the plantain & pikliz).

We look forward to exploring its menu further, and would encourage you to do the same.

Tandoori Grill

pakistani food in columbus ohio

Cuisine: Pakistani

808 Bethel Rd., Columbus OH
614.326.3777
Tuesday-Sunday 11:30am-9pm

When a place looks like this, and has great food, we’re all  kinds of happy:

pakistani take out food columbus

That said, we understand that perhaps not everyone feels similarly. However, when you take the same great food and serve it in a setting like this:

best pakistani food in columbus

…that should make everyone happy!

So here’s the story – when the space next to Apna Bazaar opened up, Apna’s owners pounced on it. They gave it the pictured makeover, named it Tandoori Grill, and evolved from functioning as a simple takeout counter to providing a true, full service, sit-down experience.

Tandoori Grill (and Apna – the takeout counter is still open) specializes in Pakistani cuisine, with an emphasis on tandoori-grilled protein preparations. If you’re familiar with northern Indian cuisine (most Indian served in Columbus is essentially northern Indian in inspiration), this should be comfortable territory for you.

Especially if you start with their tandoori chicken platter. The dish exhibits all of the traits one would expect from the style of preparation, but raises it to a level otherwise unfound in town. The char is restrained but present,  the marinade penetrates deeply and has a brightness and complexity of flavor that’s in a league of its own, and the tenderness is second to none.

tandoori chicken tandoori grill Columbus

It would’ve been the hit of the meal, were it not for the tandoori kabob karahi. This dish, made of ground chicken kefta-like kebabs that have been grilled, sliced, and tossed in a tomato based masala sauce,  had our table of 4 fighting over the scraps. It’s a bit on the spicy side, and a wonderfully complex melding of flavors and textures.

best northern indian food in columbus

On a previous visit we tried the fish karahi, and found it similarly appealing. The kitchen took obvious care in not overcooking it, and the distinct flavor and texture of the fish made for a dish that differentiated itself significantly from its karahi-sauced compadre.

best indian food in columbus oh

Our meal began with crispy, flaky samosa, one filled with a minced chicken mix, the other with a potato mix. Both were enjoyed, with our nod going to the chicken version.

best samosas in columbus

Rarely have we had such a satisfying meal and yet left feeling like there’s so much more to try, but we’re big fans of dishes such as pakora, tikka masalas, kormas, and seekh kabobs, and eagerly look forward to the chance to taste them.

Especially since we’re relieved to report that food at Tandoori Grill is every bit as good as Apna’s has been. Service has been on the ball on both of our visits, making for a complete and completely pleasant experience.

Read more about Apna Bazaar and some of their other dishes here.

Fusion Cafe

columbus food trucks, mobile food vendor

Cuisine: Fusion

Location and hours: Check their Facebook page, or follow them on Twitter
614.581.5413

If, over the past week or so, you’ve been on High St. around Dick’s Den in the evening, or on Broad near the Columbus Museum of Art during the day, you’ve probably seen a relatively non-descript delivery truck parked along the side of the road. Perhaps the more perceptive among you even recognized its shape as that of a converted Wonder Bread delivery van.

Actually, to call it ‘converted’, is something of an understatement. While Fusion Cafe’s rolling kitchen is recognizable by its white paint job with blue accents on the outside, it’s most notable for being green through-and-through.  A partial list of their eco-bonafides include:

•They have a 45 watt solar panel array on the roof feeding 4 deep cycle RV batteries, which in turn provide for the majority of their electric needs.

•They use recycled packaging for their to-go orders, and word is that they’ll even keep your utensils for you, wash ‘em up, and have them ready for you on your next visit.

•They’re proud to source many of their raw ingredients locally, sometimes from their own back yard.

•They’re fastidious about the eco-friendliness of their cleaning products.

Fusion Cafe is the brainchild of the personable Chef ‘JP’ Potter, and his charming wife, Marie. Potter is a graduate of the ECDI’s business training program, and participated in it alongside the folks who run the ’3 Babes and a Baker’ cupcake truck as well as Michael Hemrick, the man behind ‘Zapico Foods’ (a local producer of pasta sauces).

Fusion Cafe’s menu rotates daily and is ambitiously wide-ranging, though on any given day there are 2-4 menu items being prepared and served. As being a good neighbor is particularly important for mobile vendors, beverages (smoothies seem to feature prominently among them) are only offered when the truck is not parked near other establishments that carry them.

On our visit, they were serving jerk chicken legs with rice & peas and ‘Fusion’ slaw, and veggie kabobs with the ‘Fusion’ slaw and tortilla chips.  We (of course) ordered both.

Among our group of 5, the jerk chicken legs were unanimously well received.  There has been some discussion about the authenticity of the jerk recipe – was it ‘toned down’ for the American palate? – and I will cop to having very little experience to fall back on in evaluating the authenticity of Jamaican/’island’ food.  And, really, in this case, I’ll admit to having little interest in the discussion in the first place. Let’s put it this way – if given a choice between your average properly grilled chicken leg, a typical fried chicken leg, or this, I’d easily pick the jerk chicken 9 times out of 10 (yes, there are the rare occasions when only crispy fried chicken will do).

The rice & peas were a nice accompaniment, and the ‘Fusion’ slaw was nothing short of a sesame oil-powered flavor bomb. This Asian-inspired approach undoubtedly sounds a bit incongruous, but actually worked quite well.  Fusion indeed!

The veggie kebabs were also enjoyed. This wide variety of fresh vegetables on the skewer were marinaded with a simple, subtly sweet and savory blend that never overwhelmed.  An object lesson in leaving well enough alone, these kebabs showcased the bright flavors of the vegetables and were accompanied by the aforementioned cabbage slaw and some (relatively forgettable) tortilla chips. All in all, a nice snack.

There is much left to try at Fusion Cafe (examples from the rotation include jerk pulled pork sandwiches, fish tacos, and bison sliders), and our first tastes gave us more than ample motivation to do so.  We liked the concept, had a great time talking with the owners, and certainly enjoyed the food.

Perhaps most of all, we love thinking about this converted, solar-powered, onetime Wonder Bread truck as a metaphor for everything that’s right about the direction of Columbus’s food scene.