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The Truth is in the Tasting: Veritas Tavern (Delaware, OH)

Veritas Tavern has been serving some of the area's finest
cuisine since its opening in 2012
Generally speaking, my spouse and I are pretty happy with the more modestly priced side of the culinary ledger, whether it be a hole-in-the-wall hot pot place, various mobile vendor eats or a well-prepared nicer meal at a favorite neighborhood joint. On special occasions, we do like to indulge just a little bit (we've had a wonderful anniversary dinner at Healdsburg, California's Barndiva, for instance) and with a stretch of various anniversaries and birthdays coming around, we figured it was the perfect time to do just that.

In the Bay Area, restaurant tasting menus are easy enough to find, and cover the gamut of price ranges (granddaddy once-in-a-pocketbook for the average Joe & Jane type places like The French Laundry or Saison) to the far more accessible and perhaps surprising (the Ethiopian-oriented Radio Africa & Kitchen or the latin cuisine of Mr. Pollo) and everything in-between (Manresa and Gary Danko, among many worthy contenders.)

In the Columbus area, the choices are not near as plentiful in regard to restaurants that offer this option as part of their regular menu. Latitude 41 in downtown Columbus offers a regular tasting menu option, and some Japanese restaurants  (including Columbus' renowned Kihachi) offer an omakase option that essentially leaves your meal completely up to the chef's whims on the day of your dining.

Another option involves a bit of a drive, especially for those trying to come from the southern reaches of Franklin County during the traffic morass that often builds along the north side of the I-270 Beltway during the afternoon commute. However, our recent experience with the $55 per person seasonal tasting menu at Veritas Tavern, a place we had wanted to try for awhile, showed that this drive is more than worth it.

Veritas features a straightforward appearance both in its
interior as well as its food and beverage menus...
Open since July of 2012, Veritas Tavern's interior actually sports a fairly simple appearance, with a bar area dominating the space bordered by high-backed chairs and tables diner seating; the ceiling is a fairly simple, ceramic-tiled affair and the walls are intermittently dotted with "book" shelves (shelves actually made of books) along with historic pictures of Delaware and other pieces of art.

The menus are similarly straightforward: the A La Carte menu (which did tempt us greatly) features a focused selection of Before (appetizers), Small Plates and After (dessert) dishes. The most detailed menu may be their beverage menu, which details Veritas' intriguing selection of cocktails, wine, beer and spirits. However, it was the most simply laid out menu, their Tasting Menu, which started off and remained our mutual intention this night.

If anything, experience at Veritas made us gain greater appreciation of flavors rarely or never before explored. While we are generally beer drinkers, Veritas' craft cocktail preparations gave us new appreciation in that line of adult beverages. Creme de Violette, a violet flower based liqueur, and various gins provided the link between our two favorite drinks of the night in The Aviation, mixed with Maraschino Luxado and lemon, and the Moonlight, partnered with Cointreau and lime. Even the more familiar preparations like the Caiparinha seemed to have something extra compared to previously experienced renditions at other bars and eateries.

More tastes like Veritas' Crab Blossom, featuring a squash blossom
stuffed with crab with a rich fresno and ancho pepper sauce,

 pickled carrots & radishes, may make me a seafood lover yet.
Seafood has always been one of those classes of food items that I have never pursued with much vigor (my spouse, on the other hand, has no such compunctions.) However, chef/owner Josh Dalton's seafood-based preparations were some of my favorites of the night, whether it was the very simple Oyster and Strawberry (a subtle raw oyster flavor dancing alternately between strawberry sweet and briny) or the more complex (and the favorite dish for both of us) Crab Blossom, featuring an squash blossom stuffed with incredibly sweet, creamy crab, bracketed with pickled carrot, radish and delicious Ancho and Fresno pepper sauces.) I may be a seafood convert yet if I could eat more dishes like this.

Other tasting menu items (clockwise from top left: The playful Bellini meal
opener; Oyster + Strawberry; Terres Major + Potatoes + Chanterelle;
"Tomato Watermelon + Feta"; and "Shrimp 'N Grits"
As this eight-course tasting menu continued and the cocktails slowly but surely had their expected effect, the exacting descriptions of each dish became fuzzy but the excellence of the food continued strong. Whether it was their playful dessert-like opener (the Bellini, a one-bite white chocolate globe containing a peach-laced Prosecco center), the unique take on the breakfast dish Shrimp 'N Grits (a shrimp-flavored lace chip topped with polenta with a tiny squeeze bottle of New Orleans area hot sauce), the play of sweet watermelon and salty feta amidst fresh tomatoes in their Tomato + Watermelon + Feta salad, or the absolutely tender meat mixed with perfectly cooked potatoes and mushrooms in their Terres Major + Potatoes + Chanterelles (just slightly behind the Crab Blossom in terms of favorites), my spouse and I were thoroughly satisfied by our experience.

We learned through a brief jaunt before our dinner that the downtown area of Delaware seems to be more than suited for a day trip from the metro, with the addition of two new beer-oriented places (the bottle shop/brewing supply oriented Barley Hopsters and newly opened Restoration Brew Worx brewery); antique shops; some new (Son of Thurman) and old (Hamburger Inn) heartier food options; Division III college-level and professional sports with Ohio Wesleyan University and the Ohio Machine Lacrosse team, respectively; and a little bit of history to boot. 

This won't be our last time to Delaware, and another visit to Veritas is all but the truth at this point.

Veritas Tavern
15 E Winter St.
Delaware, OH 43015
(740) 417-4074
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