Date Night at The Guild House

Thomas and I like to think of ourselves as a “let’s eat pizza in bed” type of couple, but this past Sunday, we put on our fancy hats and hit the Short North for a date night. Ohio received some beautiful weather this weekend, so we weren’t about to take that for granted. That being said, I was exhausted yesterday from exposing myself to so much sunlight. It’s like I was a vampire over the winter – I chose to wear a dress to blind everyone with my pale legs. Needless to say, I am ready for this warmth and sunshine to stay!

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Bourbon and grapefruit juice… this may become my summer drink

I wasn’t sure where Tom and I were headed the other night; he made surprise reservations, though, so I knew it would be something good. Not to my surprise, it exceeded my expectations.

The Guild House is one of the many Cameron Mitchell restaurants popping up in the Columbus area. And to be perfectly honest, this one is the best. I’ve been to almost all of his restaurants and I can attest to their accommodating service and impeccable eats. We were greeted by the maitre d’ with warmth and enthusiasm. He checked on us periodically and made sure I had everything I needed in terms of my gluten allergy. Speaking of which, the gluten-free rolls were incredible – moist, flavorful, and fresh. I love the bread Cameron Mitchell uses in his restaurants. They never taste too grainy or spongy, like most do.

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Perfectly sculpted hair, Tom

It should be noted that the food here is exceptional, and I’m not just saying this because Thomas knows the executive chef, himself. Sure, we expected the food to be delicious, but this blew our minds. The scallops were as soft as butter, and melted in your mouth as such, bursting with flavor. I had to hold myself back from throwing the fork behind me, grabbing them all with my hands and shoving them into my mouth like a barbarian. But I’m a lady sometimes and people were watching. I had to remind myself that I wasn’t in the sanctity of my own home, dipping garlic bread in butter and binge-watching Bob’s Burgers.

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Finally, something that isn’t bread, tomato sauce, and pepperoni.

Thomas ordered the chicken roulade, easily the star of the show. Our fabulous waiter informed us that this chicken takes about three days to make, and we understand why. Chicken can be very boring, but it can also be very flavorful, depending on how you marinade it, etc, etc… However, this was matchless. You cannot make this at home, guys. The best chicken I’ve ever had. Period. End of story. Need I say more?

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The price is high for smaller portion sizes, but this is quality dining and to be expected. My suggestion would be to order side dishes in addition to your meal, however, you’ll obviously be paying more for this. In terms of parking, there’s a parking garage right across the street where you’ll pay around $5, but they do offer valet for $10. Otherwise, the Short North can be highly trafficked so be sure to arrive early enough to scour the area for a spot.

I think I’ve said enough to lure you into a date night at the renowned Guild House. John Paul Iacobucci’s Italian heritage and artistic approach to food is a genius addition to Cameron Mitchell’s unforgettable dining experience. Bravo. Beautiful interior design, outstanding service, incredible cuisine… This is the new Columbus staple, no doubt.

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

Caitlin

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Dough Mama

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Tom and I discovered Dough Mama about a month ago while eating at Cornerstone Cafe. It seemed to pop up in a day’s time… either that, or we’re totally oblivious of what happens in Clintonville. In any case, we vowed to ditch DK Diner the next weekend and give Dough Mama’s breakfast a try. We weren’t disappointed.

This tiny bakery with its yellow exterior has a great atmosphere. It’s cozy, simple, and refreshing. I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to eat anything off of their menu since I have a gluten allergy, but they were very accommodating. The oatmeal didn’t make my stomach sound like an old man grumbling and it tasted great (I don’t usually have a problem with oatmeal, but some Celiacs advise against it). Tom really enjoyed his meatloaf sandwich, too. I suppose our only disappointment involved the side dishes. They serve their breakfast with salad, which is great if you’re healthy and cool, but Tom and I are lame and want potatoes dipped in grease… or, you know, any kind of potato dish will do.

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This lamp took me places I’ve never been… if you know where I can find it, lemme know

Their coffee is top-notch. Have you ever heard of Thunderkiss? It’s based in Columbus and it’s the best coffee I’ve ever had. Well, Dough Mama has it. So thank you, Dough Mama, for contributing to my coffee addiction.

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A well-groomed man, Tom waits as the caffeine courses through his veins and those children behind him become real

Tom decided against buying a pastry since we were full from breakfast, but I’d love to go back and see what they’re all about. Unfortunately, they don’t have any gluten-free baked goods on the menu, so in the meantime, I’ll just have to sit and watch Tom enjoy them *cue the sad violins*.

Dough Mama is located right on High Street, about a block away from North Broadway, so the location is great. You’ll have to park on the street, I believe, but parking is free.

Prices are a little high, but it’s worth it. The food is fresh, the coffee is outrageous, and the atmosphere is relaxed… we’ll definitely be back.

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

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

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

The Best Things in Life Are…Simple

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I believe American author and U.S. Ambassador Clare Booth Luce put it best when she said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Now I didn’t always believe this, especially not when it came to cooking. This was a recent epiphany. Just a few weeks ago, I was spending hours scouring Julia Child cookbooks, looking for recipes with robust lists of ingredients. The more ingredients to me, the better the dish. Then it will have a fuller flavor, I thought. Then it will taste sophisticated, I thought. Then it will taste gourmet, I thought.  I spent three hours simply looking at complicated recipes. I think it’s safe to say I was losing touch with cooking reality. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing immoral about a dish that contains several ingredients, but sometimes combining the freshest, simplest ingredients can lead you to your own masterpiece.

You don’t have to believe me, but take a trip to your local farmer’s market and you might change your mind. This is what turned my pre-conceived notions about complicated recipes upside-down. One quick stroll through the Clintonville Farmer’s Market later, and I had a brilliant idea for a gourmet sandwich (no lengthy cookbook required). Let me explain.

It was the perfect day, not a cloud in the sky and my stomach was rumbling like the steady whistle of a hot tea kettle. I was craving something hearty so I drove to the farmer’s market.  As I stepped out of my parked car, I could hear the sizzle of a griddle and the decadent smell of charred polenta and crispy bacon.

I walked up to the first covered tent I saw. There was bread. Everywhere. Loaves and loaves of bread. It smelled of fresh yeast and warm butter. I sampled the sourdough and was pleasantly surprised. It was crunchy and rough on the outside and doughy and warm on the inside, the perfect blend of hard and soft. I grabbed a loaf and was on my way.

The cheese station was next. Leek and mushroom cheese offered the perfect amount of creaminess to balance out the bitterness of the leeks and the year-old aged cheddar was sharp and rich. After sampling several more, I settled on a mild provolone.

Next came the jam lady. It was a rainbow of fresh jellies and preserves, so I was surprised when she asked, “Do you like brussel sprouts?” “Yes,” I replied, bewildered and wondering how this could possibly mix well with jelly. In one swift motion she grabbed a cracker and dunked it in a chunky looking dip. I tasted it and the world stopped, it was that good. “What is this?” I probed. She said it was cream cheese mixed with homemade, jarred brussel sprout relish. I was sold! I bought the largest container she had and moved to the vegetable tent.

I was amazed by how authentic and imperfect the vegetables looked. I grabbed a vibrant orange tomato that was slightly lopsided and asked the vendor what type of tomato I was holding.  She told me it was an heirloom and would be perfect for nearly anything I needed it for. I ended my trip by purchasing that perfectly imperfect tomato and a bag of fresh lettuce.

While walking to my car with my goods and nearly dropping everything a few times, it hit me. I had all the makings for a delicious sandwich. I could throw something together and top it with one of the eggs I had at home.

While very simple, this was one of the tastiest sandwiches I’ve ever had, and my boyfriend can attest to that!  I learned to appreciate the true beauty of simplicity in cooking and the use of fresh, local ingredients. I’ve included the egg sandwich recipe below.

Note: This recipe will taste similar to a gourmet sandwich if you use ingredients from your local vendors. I highly recommend the Clintonville Farmer’s Market in Columbus, Ohio. It’s a favorite of mine and they offer a lot of variety.

Ingredients

Makes two sandwiches

  • 1 loaf (4 slices) of farmer’s market sourdough bread
  • ¼ lb cheese, your choice (I recommend a mild cheese like provolone or muenster)
  • 3 tbs cream cheese
  • 3 tbs brussel sprout relish or olive muffalato
  • 1 orange heirloom tomato sliced into 4 thin slices
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 handful of lettuce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbs olive oil or cooking spray

Directions

1.) Begin by slicing and preparing all of your ingredients. I learned this lesson the hard way and have found that the likelihood of burning your eggs is much lower if you pre-slice. Slice the sourdough, tomatoes, lettuce and cheese and set aside.

2.) Microwave 3 tbs of cream cheese on low for about 15 seconds. Stir in 3 tbs of brussel sprout relish.

3.) Pour 1 tbs of olive oil in a large pan, or spray with cooking spray. Once warm, crack eggs into the pan, breaking the yoke. Cook on medium low, flipping halfway through.

4.) While the eggs are cooking, toast four pieces of bread.

5.) When eggs are cooked to your liking, sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic power and place on bread slices.

6.) Top with cheese, lettuce and tomato and spread the cream cheese mixture on the other bread slice.

7.)  Devour and enjoy the wonderful simplicity of this recipe!

Picture to come later!


Catie