Our weekly roundup of bites and bevvies we can’t stop thinking about
Story by Kristen Schmidt
Hi, there. Welcome to the first edition of Cravings, our weekly roundup of stuff we cooked, ate, drank, ogled, read about—basically anything we love and want to share with you. We hope it opens a few doors for you to new restaurants, recipes, websites and other ways of embracing and experiencing the Columbus food and drink scene.
Since early spring weather has vanished (for which I blame a certain groundhog named Phil), I’m in full-on comfort food mode. That’s one reason why I am crushing on 101 Beer Kitchen’s winter menu (their sour beer list is another, but that’s for a later discussion). A few highlights: beer-battered fried cheese curds, duck confit ravioli with pistachios, and a homey short rib stroganoff with caramelized onions, roasted mushrooms, a topper of tomato jam and a smart swap of spaetzle for noodles. The dish that really got me this week is the Pan Seared Salmon entree, a plate painted purple with savory-sweet beet puree and stacked high with so many flavors and textures that it flirts with one too many ingredients. But each one is so well prepared, it’s impossible to mind. Crispy roasted cauliflower florets. A fried, cheesy chive and fennel risotto cake. Flaky, crispy-skinned salmon. Tender asparagus. And fried strings of beets—a nice touch to round the whole dish out.
Don’t skip the bar snacks at Rockmill Tavern. The cheesy biscuits with spiced honey butter were as yummy (and buttery) as I expected they’d be, but it was the caramelized Brussels sprouts with honey mustard that had me scraping the bottom of the bowl for one last bite. The perfect balance of bitter and sweet was just what I needed after a long Monday. And at $4 during happy hour? I was kicking myself for not ordering another. Next time.
This deserves many more words (and we’ll give them to you soon), but here’s a first impression of Light of Seven Matchsticks, the new speakeasy underneath Natalie’s Coal-Fired Pizza and Live Music. Just finding the entrance was fun—and then came the cocktails, created by Nicolene Schwartz, whose complex, unexpected drinks I love. English On A Green-Broke Horse, made with mezcal, Suze, ginger syrup, bourbon and yuzu, is an early favorite. The bar has a small food menu, too, so order some Korean-inspired beef jerky, salmon rillettes and merguez meatballs to slow down the absorption of those great drinks. More than any other speakeasy-style bar in Columbus, this one has an air of mystery, discovery and playfulness (book lovers, just wait).
I finally got the chance to try the Superfood Roll at FUSIAN, a collaboration with the fast-casual sushi restaurant and Alchemy Juice Bar + Cafe. Roasted tofu, sweet potato, avocado, pickled beets and brown rice in a seaweed wrap are topped with micro kale and puffed quinoa (a deliciously nutty tempura substitute) and a dragon fruit drizzle. It’s sweet and satisfying—and a bit altruistic, too: $1 from every sale of a Superfood Roll goes to Local Matters, a nonprofit dedicated to food education, access and advocacy.