At Seventh Son

Tonight we met the Ex-Neighbors at Seventh Son.  In addition to being regaled with tales of their two lovely daughters– who can’t possibly be as grown-up as they evidently are — we enjoyed some of the excellent adult beverages Seventh Son brews and some food truck fare, besides.

The Seventh Son model is simple and, I think, smart.  Brew your own fine beer, then invite food trucks to stop by — thereby ensuring grub variety.  Tonight the food truck was the Explorers Club, and I had their excellent Mofongo sandwich, piled high with smoked pulled pork, cilantro , plantains, jack cheese and slaw.  It paired quite well with the very tasty Seventh Son saisons.

I’ve not had much food truck fare since the Dinin’ Hall in Franklinton closed down.  It’s my loss.  I miss Dinin’ Hall!

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The Columbus Top Six

The Brown Bear, a faithful reader of the Wall Street Journal, alerted some of us to a Journal article that includes Columbus in a list of “6 great small cities for food lovers” and identifies six great food options for the lucky residents of Ohio’s flagship city.  The Journal‘s six Columbus choices are The Refectory, Skillet, Basi Italia, Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, Katalina, and Ajumama.

I’ve got no quibble with the restaurants on the list, although I haven’t been to Katalina yet.  In fact, I’ve written about my excellent omelet at Skillet, the delicious toad in the hole at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, and the mid-boggling amdong chicken at Ajumama, pictured at right.  The Refectory has long been a Columbus gastronomic landmark — its oyster soup may be the best soup this committed soupophile has ever tasted — and Basi Italia is a favorite of our friends the Bahamians where we’ve always had great meals.  I also commend the Journal for including a food truck, Ajumama, among the six choices.  I’m a huge fan of the Columbus food truck culture, whether found at Dinin’ Hall or the annual food truck festival, and I’m glad to see one of their number get a deserving nod in the pantheon of foodie destinations.

No, the problem with the list is who’s not on it.  No G. Michael’s?  No Rigsby’s?  No Indian Oven?  No shiznite from the Green Meanie?  And what about Alana’s, or the Black Creek Bistro?  They’re all deserving choices, too.

A list of six just isn’t enough to do justice to the great foodie options in Columbus.  And one other thing about the Journal article:  it says Columbus isn’t well known for its dining scene — yet.  Says who, WSJ?

Cool Stuff Coming Up

Those of you who live in the Columbus area might want to mark your calendars for two cool events that are coming up in two weeks:  Independents’ Day 2014, and Open Streets Columbus.

Those of us lucky enough to work on Gay Street know Independents’ Day well.  For years, it’s been held on Gay Street, right in front of my office.  It’s a great event that gives the “independents” in Columbus — be they musicians, artists, businesses, food trucks, or just about anyone else who wants to claim the title — a chance to show what they’ve got to offer the community.

IMG_2936This year Independents’ Day is moving to Franklinton, the part of Columbus just across the Scioto River from downtown Columbus.  Franklinton is where Dinin’ Hall is found — so it’s a great place by simple association — but it’s also an area on the uptick, where people are willing to try new things.  Although we’ll miss Independents’ Day on Gay Street, I think it’s great that Franklinton is the new location, so people can get a look at this up-and-coming area and what it has to offer.  This year’s festivities will be held from September 19 through September 21.

And here’s a terrific new twist on Independents’ Day:  on September 21, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Rich Street — between High Street in downtown Columbus and Starling Street in Franklinton — will be closed to vehicular traffic so that cyclists, walkers, joggers, skateboarders, and the casual strollers among us can walk down the street and across the new bridge.  They’re calling it Open Streets Columbus, and a chance to explore “a car-free urban playground.”  If you’ve never walked down the middle of a broad street and over a bridge without the thrum of traffic and the smell of exhaust affecting the experience, I can assure you it’s fun.

Dos Hermanos

IMG_2931Just because Labor Day weekend is here doesn’t mean that Food Truck Summer is over — at least, not yet.  Today Kish, Russell and I headed down to Dinin’ Hall on a beautiful blue sky day for another taste of the best Columbus’ mobile cuisine corps has to offer.  We found an impossible choice:  the Green Meanie, or Dos Hermanos?  Because I’ve already relished and celebrated the Green Meanie’s wonderful shiznite panko-crusted dog, this time we decided to head south of the border.

Let’s see, what to order?  Tacos, tamales, quesadilla, or a grande burrito?  Hmmm . . . well, we’re just going to have to declare a lunchtime exception to the no-carb/low-carb regimen and dig right in, aren’t we?  And when there is a dish with “grande” as part of the title, how can you possibly choose something else?  So three grande burritos it was, made with barbacoa and the works — although, in a sheepish nod to dietary discipline, I asked for mine without rice.

IMG_2925We promptly received three freshly made burritos that were approximately the size of a bodybuilder’s forearm.  How to eat them?  The thoughtful proprietors provided a fork that Kish — being a highly genteel person — politely used to good effect.  Russell and I, on the other hand, decided to eschew social convention and use the two-handed approach.  In my case, this was a thinly disguised excuse to lick my fingers and feel some of the juice from the combined ingredients run down my chin.  And what a combination!  The first heaping mouthful was grande, indeed, with pico delgallo, cilantro, sour cream and the other sauces mixing to pack a powerful flavor punch.  Whew!  For $8, the Dos Hermanos grande burrito has to be one of the great bargains in the Columbus food universe.

We shared Dinin’ Hall today with a large group from the United Way that was touring the Franklinton area.  One of that party asked another what Dos Hermanos met, and nodded approvingly when the response was “two brothers.”  I don’t speak Spanish, but I do know this:  those two brothers can cook.  Their truck is cool looking, too.

The Carne Frita From Teodora’s Kitchen

IMG_2406Yesterday Kish and I continued our Food Truck Summer with a visit to Dinin’ Hall, where we faced a very difficult choice between Herb n Food Truck and Teodora’s Kitchen.

Ultimately, the mouth-watering description of the Carne Frita from Teodora’s Kitchen tipped the balance:  Flank steak over lentils and basmati rice, served with fried plantains.  When we picked up our order the flank steak was still sizzling and piping hot, as well as tender and succulent.  With a heaping serving of rice and lentils, grilled onions and green peppers, some greens on top, five fried plantains that were only slightly smaller than the size of a manhole cover, and some chunky salsa, our containers runneth over with food.

Kish, who isn’t much of a meat eater, couldn’t finish all of her steak.  Fortunately, her dutiful husband was there, ready to ensure that she remained a member of the Clean Plate Club.  Sometimes husbands just have to take one for the team.  It was a beautiful, mild summer day, and the Dinin’ Hall venue, which opens out to the great outdoors, is a great place to sit and chat.  Thanks to the friendly proprietor, too, for wrangling two ice-cold bottles of water for us.

So far, Food Truck Summer has been a riot.

First Dinin’ Hall Of The Season

IMG_6193Today Kish and I went to Dinin’ Hall for the first time this summer.  The schedule has been limited to Thursdays and Fridays for the most part, but it’s still a great place to sample what Columbus’ finest food trucks have to offer.

Today we both went with Ayam Bakar from Aromaku.  What a great way to start the Food Truck Summer!  Grilled chicken with Indonesian spices over thin egg noodles, with hot sauce, some lime juice we squeezed on ourselves, and other goodies.  Just stunningly good, and served in the friendly confines of the Dinin’ Hall eating space in Franklinton.

Dinin’ Hall, we’ve missed you!  Aromaku, thanks for making the start of Food Truck Summer so succulent and special!

Thankful For The Porker

I am a huge fan of truth in advertising.  Tell me what you’ve got . . . really.  Don’t say you’re offering “luxury living,” for example, when you’re building apartments next to a gas station and a “gentlemen’s club.” 

IMG_1523So when Kish and I went to Dinin’ Hall today and I saw Kenny’s Meat Wagon, I was definitely hoping for some truth in advertising.  A meat wagon should either be a hearse or a culinary conveyance that offers lots and lots of savory, hearty, dripping on your chin protein.  I’m happy to report that Kenny’s Meat Wagon fell into the latter category — and how!

Kenny was behind the grill, so I asked him whether I should get the brisket special or the Porker.  He mentally flipped a coin and suggested the Porker.  It was an inspired choice — a roll stuffed to the gills with moist, succulent, piping hot pulled pork, topped with Carolina barbecue sauce, grilled onions and bacon.  That’s right . . . bacon.  No wonder it’s called the Porker.  I silently thanked the tasty swine that gave its all so that I could enjoy this fantastic sandwich.

Bab’s Down Home Cookin’ also was at Dinin’ Hall today.  Kish got the gumbo, and Bab’s graciously offered a side.  I prevailed on Kish to get the homemade macaroni and cheese, because it is the perfect complement to a pork feast.  It was excellent, buttery soft, cheesy, and hot.  My lunch consisted of alternating bites of the Porker and forkfuls of mac and cheese with a swig of water every now and then.  Kish swears I didn’t take a breath during the meal, which seemed to end much too soon.