Harvest Pizza: Review

Who doesn’t love pizza? It seems like even the pickiest of eaters are happy to sit down and devour a breaded crust smothered in sauce, melted cheese and greasy protein like bacon or sausage. So it was only a matter of time before we reviewed a restaurant specializing in pizza. While Columbus has a lot of pizza places to offer, a local favorite is Harvest Pizzeria.

Harvest Pizzeria is so popular that they actually have two locations in Clintonville and German Village. I’ve had the pleasure of dining at both locations and I’ve never been disappointed. If I had to give a recommendation, I would say it’s best to visit the German Village location for dinner because Curio is attached and offers incredible cocktails. Be prepared to pay a high price (around $11) for an alcoholic drink, but I promise, you won’t be disappointed. The Clintonville location offers equally delicious food and the bar is a nice addition, but cocktails there are not quite as fancy as those offered at Curio.

Recently, I decided to take my sister, a pizza-lover and pretty tough judge of food to Harvest. We took a stroll down to the Clintonville location, conveniently located on North High Street, not far from my house. It’s easy to walk to this location, but parking can be a little tricky. You’ll have to find a spot on the street.

Upon walking in to Harvest, I was overcome with the slightly burnt smell of wood-fired pizza crust cooking in the oven. The space is small and it was difficult to even get in the door. We put our name on a list and were prepared to wait about an hour to get a seat. (Please note this was a Friday night and you have to wait pretty much anywhere, so this wasn’t a surprise).  We decided to put in a to-go order instead and pick it up in 30 minutes. This is a very convenient option if you don’t feel like braving the Friday-night crowds.

We quickly perused the menu before placing the to-go orders. Harvest offers a range of salads and standard appetizers, but the brussel sprouts are a favorite of mine. They’re topped with crispy panko bread crumbs, glazed with balsamic and a hint of sweetness. Basically the best brussel sprouts I’ve ever had and I highly recommend them! Just to make them taste even better, they’re served hot in a mini cast iron skillet. (if you dine in, otherwise they come in a takeout box!)

I selected the mushroom pizza and my sister went with a classic pepperoni. (Did I mention she’s picky)? I’ve tried several of the gourmet pizzas and you really can’t go wrong. The spicy uma is another favorite of mine as well as the fennel and sausage.

30 minutes later we picked up our food and boy was it worth the wait! The thin crust was wood-fired to perfection and the garlic aroma filled our home as I opened up the box. I typically don’t even like mushrooms, but there’s just something about the sautéed, garlicky-goodness of Harvest mushrooms. They’re not too thickly sliced either and the classic tomato sauce and cheese mellow the garlic just enough to achieve a perfectly enjoyable, balanced flavor.

My sister seemed to enjoy her pepperoni pizza just as much as I enjoyed my pizza because she barely uttered one word. My sister is not one to keep her mouth shut if she doesn’t like something, so this was a good sign!

My only complaint about Harvest is that good pizza doesn’t come cheap! An order of Brussel sprouts and two pizzas was close to forty dollars. But I’d say it was well worth the price.

Whether you’re dining in or carrying out, this pizza is sure to satisfy even the pickiest pallets!

  • Food =5/5 Stars
  • Price =$$$
  • Service = 3/5
  • Location = 3/5
  • Atmosphere 4/5
  • Website
  • Menu

    Catie

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Q2 Bistro: Home of the Perfect Food

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My co-worker and I recently decided that Ritz crackers are a “perfect food.” This is not to say that it’s the best food that ever existed; it just means that it cannot be improved upon. It’s very difficult to achieve such an honorable mention, and very rarely have I stumbled across such a realization. However, I feel it my duty to report those victories, hence the creation of this blog.

I usually pack my lunch for work, but every once in awhile, I’ll eat at one of the millions of restaurants at Polaris. My absolute favorite is Q2 Bistro, home to one of the “perfect foods” on my list. Their firecracker chicken is out of this world, and their other food isn’t half-bad, either.

If you’re shopping at Polaris, you’ll have to drive down the street to get to Q2, but I assure you, it’s worth it. Located off of Polaris Pkwy., this tiny Asian bistro will make your mouth water just by looking at the picture above. Although the space is small (you’re literally rubbing elbows with the person next to you), this is still a great place for a casual date… but many like to come here on their lunch break. Translation: if it’s noon on a weekday, beware of a packed house and a sea of suit-coats. You may even see me in there, hanging out with the waitstaff because they’re the coolest people I’ve ever met… and I make sure to hug them as soon as I walk in the door. Not to mention, these people are FAST. I mean, you’ll get your food within five to ten minutes, no joke.

The food here is untouchable. You will never be disappointed. But if you’re ordering for the first time (and you like spicy), order the firecracker chicken with white onion, AKA a perfect food. In addition, each rice bowl comes with two small egg rolls. The portions are big, but not too big, so you don’t need to split a dish. If I have anything leftover, I take it home with me… because I get extremely greedy with Q2 and can’t imagine sharing any of my meal. Not to mention, the prices aren’t too shabby; I pay around $10 every time.

In conclusion… run to her…

  • Food = 5/5 Stars
  • Price = $$
  • Service = 5/5 Stars
  • Location = 3/5 Stars
  • Atmosphere = 4/5 Stars
  • Website
  • Menu

Caitlin

1803 Bacon: From Backyard to Full-Blown Business

Bacon
Josh Bailey, Jared Welsh and Tony Terrell of 1803 Bacon

For Tony Terrell, Jared Welsh and Josh Bailey, bacon is so much more than a five letter-word, it’s the concept for the new business they’re launching: 1803 Bacon.

What began as a backyard barbecue progressed quickly into the start of the business. The friends and co-founders, who originally met through their work at Giant Eagle Market District, have a shared love for food and for Ohio, so what better way to pay tribute to their home state?

According to their mission statement, the company wants to “bring wonderfully flavored artisan bacon to Ohio”. For those not up on their local history, 1803 is the year Ohio became a state, which is a perfect branding option for the new business.

“We wanted [the business] to have a local theme around the Buckeyes or Columbus somehow, but didn’t want it to be overt or in your face,” says Welsh. Thus, 1803 Bacon was named.

The idea for the business began when Terrell — a chocolatier — and Welsh — a former barbecue pit boss — connected at Giant Eagle. Terrell currently works at the supermarket as a chef and Welsh just acquired his cicerone certification. The duo noticed the same standard foods on the shelves of the store, so they started ordering meat and experimenting with different flavors. Positive reviews from friends and family during regular backyard barbecues encouraged them to continue the evolution of the bacon business.

With the help of Bailey — an IT specialist by day and a bacon-lover by night — and assistant cook Matt Nelson, the friends conducted their first bacon experiment: porter brown sugar bacon. From there, a whole menu of flavors evolved.

“We specialize in various flavors from the spectrum of sweet to very savory,” says Bailey. “We’ve been working on 15 flavors, all of them very unique and all handcrafted — works of art, really.”

Whether you’re an Indian food lover, or enjoy a spicy Bloody Mary, 1803 Bacon has a unique flavor on their menu for you. The owners recommend the curry flavor, which features a light cinnamon taste combined with a spicy kick. Other favorites include the maple espresso and the seasonal apple moonshine bacon, smoked with apple wood.

“Everybody’s palate is different,” says Terrell. “So that’s the fun thing about this. Everybody’s used to what bacon is supposed to taste like, and we just want to put a twist on it.”

Terrell keeps the menu interesting by combining unique ingredients with different types of smoking woods such as hickory, maple and walnut.

“The different flavors of bacon allow me a fun range to play with recipes,” he says. “I can make a dessert spicy by using jalapeño bacon or I can make an appetizer sweet by using maple espresso bacon.”

Not only do the men of 1803 whip up incredible flavors, but they also try to source all their ingredients locally, for the highest quality product.

“We try and keep an eye on what we’re getting, so we went and visited a farm and saw all of our hogs to make sure they’re happy, healthy and eating right,” explains Terrell.

Creating flavors with local ingredients has been a no-brainer for the co-owners, who currently keep shop at The Commissary. The Commissary offers a space for local growers and up-and-coming restaurateurs to rent space and launch their business while networking with others who have similar goals.

Eventually Welsh, Terrell and Bailey hope to open their own brick and mortar restaurant, featuring a menu of bacon and beer in the Columbus area. They’re also working to sell their bacon in retail outlets. The ten-year plan is to raise hogs on their very own farm.

1803 Bacon will be hosting an Autumn-themed Kickstarter dinner on October 30 from 7:00-10:00 pm at The Commissary to help fund their new business. Each course of the five-course meal will incorporate one of their signature bacon flavors. You can check out the full menu and purchase tickets HERE.

For more information, visit www.1803bacon.com.

This article was also featured on Columbus Underground.


Catie

Hot Chicken Takeover: A Drama

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I hope you enjoyed that jolt of motivation from reading Catie’s last post on the benefits of cooking your own meals… because I’m about to spoil it for you. Ladies and gentlemen of Columbus, get ready for yet another blog post dedicated to Hot Chicken Takeover.


It was a quiet day here at GSW Advertising. Word of Hot Chicken Takeover arriving for lunch had quickly spread around the office. As I sat outside at a picnic table, working on my laptop, I patiently awaited the infamous food truck. It was 11:20AM; it would open in exactly ten minutes. I could see the truck in plain sight and knew I had a chance to be one of the first in line to eat the delectable, savory chicken. I had only one task left in my inbox and then I would be home-free… but disaster struck. My emails weren’t sending.

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Panicking, I rushed inside to find a better internet connection. With tears welling in my eyes, I clicked send again. Success! Just as I was about to walk outside, I felt a rumble. I looked at the clock; it was 11:30AM. Suddenly, a stampede of co-workers flew past me. I was too late. The line was longer than any I had ever seen. I fell to ground, looked up at the sky and screamed “WHY?!” I had been defeated.

As I walked towards my car, I heard a fellow co-worker yell my name:

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“Earth Fare… the line isn’t worth it.”

Contemplating my life choices, I sobbed uncontrollably over sushi, thinking how often life mistreats me. At 1PM, I grabbed my purse, and headed back to the office.

Upon my arrival, I couldn’t believe my eyes! Hot Chicken Takeover was still in the parking lot. I ran towards that beautiful truck and placed my order: four hot drumsticks with a side of coleslaw. A smile spread across my face as they handed me the chicken. Like a maniac, I instantly became paranoid. “I must hide this tender, spicy chicken immediately,” I said to myself. I thanked the two nice men and scurried back to the office, where I hid my dinner for that evening.

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“Just smile and give the girl her chicken… you know the drill”

Later that evening, my boyfriend and I opened the fridge and unwrapped the chicken from its foil – its golden goodness glowing! We heated it up in the oven and prepped our tongues for a spicy treat. We sat down at the table, looked each other in the eyes, and took a bite.

It was terrible.

I’m kidding, it was amazing.

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Although I didn’t actually go to Hot Chicken Takeover (rather, it graced me with its presence via food truck), the experience was a good one. The chicken was juicy, salty, and spicy! HCT has four spice levels: cold, warm, hot, and holy. If you don’t like spicy, you might want to go for the cold option, since I heard the warm option is pretty intense. I got the hot option and my lips were stinging (in the best possible way). Also, you have to have a taste for salty food in order to enjoy this chicken.

The food truck is difficult to get, so jump on the opportunity if it’s presented to you. Otherwise, you’ll have to drive to the North Market. Beware: their hours are wonky. They’re open Wednesday-Sunday, 11AM-3PM, but closed Monday and Tuesday. While I can’t comment on the atmosphere, I will say that the two men running the truck were very nice and very funny.

Alright… so if you haven’t thrown your computer across the room after reading my over-dramatic account of Hot Chicken Takeover, here’s what I can offer in terms of my limited experience with the food:

  • Food = 5/5 Stars
  • Price = $$
  • Service = 5/5 Stars
  • Location = 4/5 Stars
  • Website
  • Menu

Caitlin

DK Diner (My Happy Place)

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Sometimes I wonder if my family hated me as a child. When we’d go on vacations, I’d make everyone eat their McDonald’s breakfast inside the restaurant because I couldn’t stand the smell of a McGriddle in the car. Luckily, I’m not an idiot kid anymore. Also, I actually look forward to breakfast now, so much so my friends and I created a weekend diner tradition.

Columbus is an excellent city to explore local restaurants, especially those in the breakfast realm. If you live in Clintonville, you have Nancy’s, the Crest, Jack and Benny’s, Wildflower, and that’s only the beginning of what you’ll find in just one town. But I have to admit, when I find a good diner, it takes a lot of persuading to get me to move on to another. DK Diner is totally that place for me right now.

Located in Grandview Heights, DK Diner is tucked away in a neighborhood right near 5th and Kenny Rd.  This concealed location isn’t enough to deter customers, though; everyone in Columbus seems to know and love this exceptional, noteworthy restaurant. However, since the diner is located in the middle of a neighborhood, parking is difficult. If you’re lucky enough to find a spot in its tiny parking lot, I speak on behalf of everyone when I say congratulations, you lucky jerk. The streets around it are narrow, but it is possible to find a spot on Elmwood Avenue. My secret is to go on a Saturday when there’s a home OSU football game; the place is dead and you can eat all of the home fries your little heart desires.

Speaking of home fries, let’s move on to the food. It’s unreal, even if you order off of their lunch menu (but for the love of God, do yourself a favor and order their breakfast). Whenever I visit any new diner, I usually order their traditional breakfast to see if it passes the test (scrambled cheesy eggs, extra crispy bacon, potatoes, and sourdough bread). DK Diner went above and beyond my expectations. Their eggs are soft, their bacon is perfectly crisp, and their home fries are basically just mini french fries. Let me repeat: their home fries are miniature french fries. Plus, you can get them loaded.

Feast your eyes, hungry ones
Feast your eyes, oh hungry ones

Since that pivotal day when I sunk my teeth into DK Diner’s “Teny” Little Breakfast, I’ve investigated some of their other menu items (equally as good, if not better). The boyfriend is a fiend for their Donut Sandy. This delectable sandwich features two over hard eggs, melted American cheese, and bacon all on a glazed donut.

DK's donuts are one for the books and will go down in history
DK’s donuts are one for the books and will go down in history until the end of time

The service at DK Diner is very laid-back. Drinks are self-serve (did I mention how much I love their coffee?) and the waitstaff is very nice, but not entirely talkative. If you’ve read some of my restaurant reviews before, you know how insouciant I am about service in the first place (read: I don’t care as long as you feed me good foodstuff).

If my pictures haven’t elicited strong desires to bathe in a pool full of DK Diner’s home fries, then just take my word for it: this place is the bomb.

  • Food = 5/5 Stars
  • Price = $
  • Service = 4/5 Stars
  • Location = 3/5 Stars
  • Atmosphere = 5/5 Stars
  • Website
  • Menu

Caitlin

Review: Balanced Yoga Clintonville

While I normally practice at Balanced Yoga, it’s always more fun on the beach!
While I normally practice at Balanced Yoga, it’s always more fun on the beach!

Yoga has swept the nation over the past few years with studios popping up from coast to coast. This fitness craze is here to stay with an average of 15,275,000 practitioners in the United States. The ever-progressive city of Columbus has hopped on the yoga bandwagon with several unique studios. One of my absolute favorites in Columbus is Balanced Yoga.

I began my practice about five years ago in Cincinnati, Ohio at Simply Power Yoga. I credit this studio for igniting my passion for yoga. The hot yoga classes were challenging both mentally and physically and I lost a pant size around my waist through regular practice three days per week.  When I moved to Columbus a little over a year ago, I was determined to find a yoga studio that matched the intensity of Simply Power Yoga.

I tried about four different studios and while they were all great, there were missing that special touch. I prefer to leave classes physically and mentality exhausted and I wasn’t able to find that until I took a class at Balanced Yoga in Clintonville, Ohio.

Note: I would consider myself an intermediate yoga practitioner for the purposes of this blog post.

I drove to the North High Street studio one Monday evening, which is a convenient five-minute drive from our place in Clintonville.  Parking can be a little tricky and there is no designated lot. If you take a class after seven, you’re permitted to park in the Jiffy Lube parking lot. Otherwise, you have to park on a nearby street and walk. It’s not too time consuming and it’s also very easy to find a spot, but I’d recommend leaving a little early so you don’t have to rush.

Upon walking into the hot yoga studio, I immediately noticed the beautiful space. Open windows let in the natural light and the wall to the left of the doorway showcased paintings from local artists. Candles filled the space with warmth and a fresh, vanilla scent. There are two studios (one for hot and vinyasa yoga and another for other classes) a few doors down from each other so make sure you check the studio number on the website. The friendly staff will also help direct you if you get lost.

When I walked into the Hot Baptiste yoga class I had pre-registered for online, I was surprised to see only a few other people there. The other students were very friendly and chatty with the instructor and I later learned that the Monday evening classes tend to be pretty sparse, so you receive a lot of individual instruction!

Our class of five students began the hour and fifteen minute class. The instructor led us through a brief meditation and breathing exercise to kick off the practice and before long, we were moving through intense vinyasas. The heat was set to about 90° and it’s safe to say that I’ve never been so sweaty in my life! I was sliding all over my mat, so I’d highly recommend bringing a towel and a large water bottle. We were instructed to hold chair pose for what felt like an eternity but I’m thankful I did it because I got a great workout in.

After several challenging sequences including balance, strength and breathing exercises, the instructor took us through a quick ab series. We wrapped up the class (which turned out to be about an hour and a half) with some deep stretches including dragon, lizard pose, and my all-time favorite, savasana, which basically involves laying on your back and doing nothing until class is over.

The class was so intense that I failed to notice the fact that the instructor didn’t play any music throughout the entire hour and a half practice, except when we were in the final pose. I did notice the lack of music in other classes and this is one critique I have of the studio, although clearly not a deal-breaker.

I’ve taken many classes at Balanced Yoga since this first class and I’ve been impressed with every single one. I always leave with a clear head and a physically exhausted body. Each instructor is dedicated and brings their own unique style to the practice.

The studio offers vinyasa, Baptiste, pre-natal, Forrest and many other types of yoga I’ve never heard of, so there really is something for everyone. I would highly recommend Baptiste with Morgan, Greg or Nicole. These instructors are very popular and classes tend to fill up quickly so try and arrive about 10 minutes early to get a spot.

While I love pretty much everything about this studio, there are a few other notes worth mentioning. The cost of classes is high. If I weren’t so impressed with the studio I probably wouldn’t pay close to $12 per class. Memberships run pretty high as well but offer bundled deals so the cost of single classes decreases by a few dollars. Yoga in Columbus can be pretty expensive, but based on my experiences I’d say this studio is a little on the high end. You can explore pricing options here.

The studio also charges an additional $5 fee to use a mat. I found this to be highly discouraging to new students who could be trying a class out for the first time and may not have a mat. It’s also a pain for regular practitioners who give the studio a lot of money but may have forgotten their mat on a given day. Regardless, while slightly annoying, this has not deterred me from the studio.

Lastly, some instructors can be very particular about students arriving late. I’ve taken a few classes where I’ve had to wait at the door until the instructor has ushered me in. I found this to be understandable since yoga is a highly focused practice, but definitely a bit extreme. I’ve never been disturbed when someone has come in five minutes late.

While there are a few minor things I would change about this studio, I always like to end on a positive note. If you want to practice a variety of high intensity yoga classes at a beautiful studio with dedicated instructors and a welcoming community, I would highly recommend Balanced Yoga.

  • Experience = 5/5
  • Instructors = 4/5
  • Atmosphere = 4/5
  • Price = 3/5
  • Location = 3/5
  • Parking=3/5
  • Community= 5/5
  • Website

Catie

Honest Opinions: The Crest

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There are a lot of conflicting reviews concerning the Crest Gastropub. It’s received a high 3.5/5 stars on Yelp, Facebook, and Zomato, but I find there’s slight ambiguity towards the establishment.

To catch you up to speed, the Crest is an upscale, casual restaurant located in Clintonville. While “upscale” and “casual” are paradoxical in nature, I’d consider them appropriate contradictions to describe the gastropub. Per their website, the Crest “focuse[s] on craft beer, local spirits, and fresh quality food” (emphasis on fresh). The ingredients used in all of their food are sourced and grown locally; in fact, you can see the majority of these herbs and vegetables surrounding the perimeter of the restaurant.

So why all of the mixed reviews? I’ve heard it all: while the food may be fresh, the taste isn’t worth the price; the rooftop garden, while appealing and very cozy, smells like garbage (the dumpsters are located right next to the building); the service is “mehh”, etc… In other words? It’s overrated.

I’m here to set the record straight, or at least attempt to set the record straight. Catie and I live a block away from the restaurant, therefore, we frequent the establishment every so often (there’s your hint, everyone… we keep coming back).

I’ve experienced the Crest in almost every facet (breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, drinks in the evening, etc…) and my reviews are similar across the board:

First and foremost, I love the atmosphere. Its rustic, yet farm-to-table decor (this post is full of oxymoron’s) fits the Clintonville, hipster aesthetic perfectly. During the daytime, the multitudinous windows let a beautiful natural light fill the space (sans being overbearing). There’s usually a band playing during brunch, too, so that’s pretty cool. At night, the dimmed, ambient mood-lighting is perfect, but the noise-level is a little high due to the volume of Crest-goers. And I hate to say it, but the garbage-smell rumors are true. A group of us experienced it first-hand… but it wasn’t enough to deter me from the space. It’s beautiful and very intimate up there and it’s definitely suitable for your family gathering (on a smaller scale) or for a group of friends. It’s almost perfect for a romantic date night… but I’d clear the air on where the smell is coming from.

The service is sub-par, but I’d consider it adequate for the high-volume of traffic coming in and out all hours of the day/night. Needless to say, every single server I’ve ever had has been gracious, kind, and considerate. It might just make up for the small mistakes they make along the way (rest assured: the mistakes are nothing major).

Location is obviously a huge win for me and Catie; we live a block away, so parking isn’t even on our radar. The restaurant is situated on one of the main streets of Clintonville, Indianola Ave, and if you have the pleasure of living in the neighborhood, the walk is pretty great and the neighbors are the best in Columbus (I think 50% of my neighbors are cats). If you don’t have the luxury of living down the street like we do, parking can be a little obnoxious, especially during the winter or when it’s raining. The parking lot is small, but I think there’s valet available. Parking on Crestview is limited (it’s the street perpendicular to Indianola and alongside the Crest), but you can park on the next street, Tulane Rd.

OKAY. Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for: food and drink reviews. Having a gluten allergy, I love that they carry Omission (a beer specifically crafted to remove gluten… I’m pretty sure those are the exact words on the label). In my personal opinion, their drinks are great. They’re expensive, but that’s what you get when you’re not chugging Nati a few blocks away on campus. As far as food is concerned, I am only a fan of a few items on the menu. I love their veggie burger (make sure to add avocado), fries (I’m especially partial to the sweet potato fries with the dipping sauce), breakfast skillet (I think they got rid of this, though… for shame!), nectarine and prosciutto salad, pub chips, and veggie plate (their coffee is amazing, too). They’re very attentive to vegans and those with gluten allergies (you can substitute with gluten free bread and buns). Everything else is fine, but many items lack some key flavors for me. Speaking on behalf of my boyfriend, the chicken and waffles were bland; the drummettes apparently tasted “gamey.”

They may not taste the best, but they photograph well...
They may not taste the best, but they photograph well…

All in all, unless you’re my friend Ben who boycotted ever going to the Crest after the Crestview Tavern closed down, it’s well-worth a shot. So now that I’ve given you one of the most involved, long-winded reviews the Crest Gastropub has ever seen, I’ll sum it all up for you:


Caitlin