Author Archives: CMH Gourmand

Chutnys

Cuisine: Indian

CLOSED MARCH 2011 – reopened as Paradise Chutnys with new Management

195 East Campus View Blvd (270 and 23 North, Crosswoods, next to Starbucks)
Open Tuesday to Thursday: 11 am – 2:30 pm (lunch buffet $7.95); 5:00 pm to 9:30 pm
Friday to Sunday: 11:30 am – 3:00 pm (lunch buffet $9.95); 5:30 pm -10:00 pm
614.430.0090
Chutnys.com

Click here to map it!

The Crosswoods complex at SR 23 (North High Street) and I-270 is not far off the beaten path. In fact, many paths beat their way to this suburban, strip mall laced part of the northside. The Crosswoods area is densely packed with apartments, office buildings, condominiums and not so long ago, six steakhouses in a quarter mile area. Somehow this retail center has become beaten down with numerous failed restaurants, unpatched potholes and thousands of cars driving by in search of an Applebee’s. Buried in the rubble of what was once a booming retail strip is a ruby of an Indian restaurant.

Chutny’s has survived where many well known competitors have failed to thrive. This nondescript location, sporting a nylon banner for a sign may have the best value Indian buffet in town (based on variety, number of offerings and price). The restaurant does not seem to get much traffic from the nearby office workers but it does run a brisk lunch time business with what appears to be every Indian IT worker on the north side (based on observation and overheard shop talk). The menu offers a wide range of northern and southern Indian cuisine as well an assortment of tasty milkshakes (Elaichi Kesar and Roohafzaa) and Lassi.

The buffet is impressive in the depth of dishes and the quality of the food. There are fifteen entrees to choose from which include two to three soups, two to three varieties of Biriyani rice and frequently filled arrays of other dishes. A few entrees are perennial including Palak Paneer (stewed spinach and paneer cheese in a curry sauce), Chicken Makani (a creamy, flavorful chicken dish which seems to be a house favorite) and a daily special daal (lentil based stew).

Ginger Chutney - all kinds of awesome!

A second buffet station features a mixed variety of desserts (usually mango custard, frequenty (sweet) curd rice, and almost always (milk and flour balls in sweet syrup) Gulab Jamun). On occasion beetroot halwa makes an appearance but disappears quickly. There are vegetables for salad, three chutneys which usually includes a ginger chutney (which can only be described a nirvana in liquid form) as well a variety of sauces and condiments.

naan

There is a self serve beverage station for those that want coca-cola products. The service is exceptional with staff getting more than a bit nervous if they see your water glass is below the 85% mark. Fresh, hot, crispy, sliced naan (bread) is brought to your table within 5 minutes of arrival.

The dining area is mostly booths with some large tables for groups. There is seating for sixty and a noticeable high volume carry out trade at lunchtime. Light Indian music plays in the background as the servers strive to anticipate your next move so they can meet your needs without interfering with your dining experience.

For those eaters that have never experienced Indian food, this is a very accessible option at an unbeatable price. For those acquainted with the finer details of northern and southern Indian dishes, there is an excellent depth to the main menu that would take months to explore. The entrees vary in price from $5.99 to $13.95.

While Columbus has quickly grown a large number of Indian restaurants in just under a decade, this one is worth putting at the top of your list. It has received high rankings on a local Indian culture website and may be a destination the local Indian community is trying to hide in very plain sight.

Bono Pizza

Cuisine: Italian and beyond (pizza, crepes…)

1717 Northwest Blvd.
5xNW section of town
614.906.8646 (ToGo)
as the menu says: “of course it’s in the back of a liquor store, it’s bonopizza!”
Open: Wednesday to Sunday 5 PM to 10 PM
http://www.bonopizza.biz/

Click here to map it!

Regular alteaters may be thrown a bit off balance when trying to conceive of Bono as an alt.eats destination, but consider the case carefully: Bill Yerkes, the head ‘tosser’ at Bono Pizza is about as alternative as any human could be and Bono also meets our other alt eats criteria: off the beaten path location, authentic (with a dash of audacity) ethnic food and independently/family owned.

Bono Pizza is located in a carryout on Northwest Boulevard (almost in Grandview) in the area known as 5xNW. It features a wood fired oven and the always entertaining personality and styling of Bill Yerkes. His wife Peggy is there most evenings to take orders and take care of her customers. Bono features eighteen specialty pizzas as well as a ‘build your own’ option. All pizzas are $10 each.

Bill perfected his pizza craft during twenty odd years in Italy. His crusts and ratios are in the Italian style with all flavors balancing each other harmoniously. Italian pizza lovers have often said that the Yerkes approach to pizza pie would make any Italian proud. Bill’s non traditional half (or in his case 3/4), exhibits itself in the some of the toppings and names (Hulk, Waikiki, The Greek Boy….). Using a wood fired pizza and hand tossed techniques, the pizza may have a bit of char or not come out as a perfect circle. We like to call that real food.

A Greek Boy.....

The menu is a constant blank slate for Bill. There is a core group of pizzas and sometimes other dishes (maybe a salad, maybe a pepperoni roll) and who knows what else. Bono has offered crepes for $3, espresso for $1 and on occasion creme brulee in shot style glasses. Beverages can be obtained in the adjoining carry out.

The location is not without challenges. There have been issues with the roof and the space itself calls for some creativity for business hours after the carry out closes. However, customers get a “hidden clubhouse” feel about Bono that can be hard to beat.

Here are a few examples of the pizzas:

San Rolando
Fresh tomato sauce, pepperoni, (real – really good too) Italian Sausage and fresh Mozzarella cheese.

Carbonara
Smithfield peppered ham/bacon, carmelized for three plus hours with onions then lathered on a layer of Asiago and real mozzarella cheese with a sprinkling of Parmesan and “pixie dust” (that came right off the menu and not my keyboard, but at Bono….it could happen).

This pizza was created and inspired in part by the Grumpy Gourmet who has made an appearance or two at this establishment.

Here is a bit of Bono history to give the current incantation some added meaning.

The summer of 2008 was THE season for Bono Pizza in the Short North. The unconventional ways of pizza purist Bill Yerkes meshed a traditional approach to pizza (well kind of) with many non traditional elements such as a unique partnership with a Short North Bakery in a location in an alley. The enterprise should not have worked. It did. In fact it prospered. It was the darling of Short North and Victorian Village residents as well as an unofficial meeting point for Columbus Underground ilk. However, like any burning sun, it was bound to extinguish and it did in the fall of 2008.

There were attempts at rebirth. Bill came full circle with a location near his home at a site vacated by Cowtown Pizza but the site did not quite work out. Unfortunately most of 2009 was a year without a Bono Claus so the natives started to get a little restless. Bono reopened in mid 2009 and has slowly been rebuilding a following.

Alt eats specializes in some out of the way places and off the beaten path locations. For a few, the far side of 5xNW may be a bit too far. Bill does have a mobile pizza oven that can be available for events and catering (give him a call) and there is ongoing discussion of partnerships with other businesses to bring Bono to the masses on occasion. We will see what happens.