Our weekly roundup of the bites and bevvies we can’t stop thinking about
By The Editors
This week, we're all about chocolate chip cookies, spicy chicken sandwiches, and happy food memories.
As I write this, I’m eating bad airport food (on my way to visit family in Minot, N.D.). So it feels a little painful to remember the wonderful meal my husband and I shared on Sunday at Dublin’s Cafe Istanbul. We love the atmosphere here, especially when we get a table by the windows overlooking the river. We split the appetizer sampler, a beautifully colorful platter of hummus, baba ganoush, tabbouleh, stuffed grape leaves and a few of their other cold salads. My favorite was the fried eggplant with peppers, onions and garlic in a light tomato sauce. We landed on the Chicken Adana Kebab ($15.95) for our entree. It’s a little unique in that it’s ground chicken, but the flavor, due to a blend of spices and red peppers, was warm and wonderful. My only disappointment came with the side of seasonal veggies, a mix of carrots, peppers, celery and tomato. There just weren’t enough, and they’d benefit from a touch of oil and salt.
An impromptu, totally coincidental (or was it) cookie bake-off occurred at my office last week. Both cookies were good. Great, even. But being the crazed competitor I can sometimes (oftentimes) be, I knew I had to throw my best chocolate-chip cookie into the ring. Thankfully, I knew exactly which recipe I’d use: The Food Lab’s “best” chocolate chip cookie. (Side note: I definitely just put this bad boy in my Amazon cart.) I can’t claim all the credit here; a friend made a big batch of these for a girl’s trip back in February, and I’m fairly certain I ate at least a dozen in three days. They’re that good. It’s gotta be the browned butter. In any case, there’s currently a big container of dough in my fridge—just chilling—and I can’t wait to see the look on my coworkers’ faces come Monday. They may not admit that these are the best, but, deep down, we’ll all know it.
I drive through Indianapolis several times a year en route to the Chicago suburbs to visit family. We like to think we’ve become pretty good at finding places to stop in Indy that will satisfy and get us back on the road in good time. We’ve enjoyed Rook, Bru Burger (coming to Polaris soon), The Tamale Place, Major (an Ethiopian-Eritrean restaurant), 3 Sisters, Shoefly Public House and Mesh. This week, we made the trip to Milktooth, and it’s everything breathless fans say it is. Nothing get played straight here, from the vintage church light fixtures over the bar to the bathroom-door art. There was a twist—a slow-burning chile, a zing of vinegar, a nose of funk—in everything we ate, elevating familiar comfort food into something intriguing. I loved the Hare of the Bear, a cocktail with turmeric aquavit, tomato, carrot and ginger juice and hot sauce that tasted like a slice of rye bread spread with just-picked veggies. And a rutabaga and potato latke dotted with ramp chimichurri was a great way to welcome in spring. If you have to eat outside Columbus sometimes, this is the way to do it.
I need to talk about Rockmill Tavern’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Not about how it’s great, which it is. Or to say that you need to go try it, which I highly suggest you do if you have not. I want to talk about why it works—why it’s worth all the hubbub. And what it is about this chicken sandwich that people can’t stop talking about it (or snapping pictures of it. Makes me wonder if Rockmill’s sandwich may someday dethrone Fox in the Snow’s egg sandwich for most Instagramed.) After enjoy chef Andrew Smith’s sandwich for the umpteenth time this past week, I’ve settled on a very simple theory: It is the Goldilocks for sandwiches. It has just enough crunch, enough vinegary bite, and the heat flirts with spicy but is never too hot. It starts with a soft brioche bun, just slightly toasted and coated on the outside with spicy honey butter. Inside, it’s a hearty, crispy breaded chicken breast that juts out from under the bun at all angles. The toppings are simple, but flavorful—bread and butter zucchini pickles, which are not as sharp as their cucumber cousins, and a healthy schmear of urfa mayo—a Turkish chile pepper that gives the sandwich subtle smokiness. Paired with a side of fries, it’s worth every bit of hype.