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Ice Cream Chronicles - New Interactive Map

As you may have noticed, a new interactive Google Map containing all the location and links to all my Ice Cream Chronicles posts is now acce...

Case Study #3: Over The Counter (Worthington)

Though I didn't know it when I started, Worthington's Over The Counter is the third of a trifecta of places I had targeted in this mini-series. The first blog post, featuring Pat and Gracie's in the Graceland Shopping Center, is a great neighborhood-style hangout in an place I always expected to have a little more restaurant action than it does. Meanwhile, Old Beechwold/Clintonville-based Bareburger and its burgers that strive for something higher (grass-fed beef as well as more exotic proteins like elk, duck and boar) had been a bit on an culinary island in the metro but now find themselves surrounded by competition.

Over The Counter (OTC, as I'll call them from here on out) turns out is in a location that I never even considered for a restaurant, but succeeds not only because of that location but also because of its quality-for-the-price comfort classics focus.

Antiques and Brews: From The Tee Box to The Pulpit

Downtown Defiance, Ohio, named for the historic Fort Defiance
and home to the similarly named Fort Defiance Antiques shop.
If this summer is any indication, my spouse and I have confirmed our blood types as AB, as in Antiques and Breweries. Our last trip took us into north-northwest Ohio into Mercer County, where antique hunting led us to drop by places like Tailspin Brewing in Coldwater and Moeller Brew Barn in Maria Stein. Other recent jaunts have taken us into Cambridge (where we stopped at Southside Brewing) and down to Lancaster and Logan, with a finishing duo of Little Fish Brewing and Jackie O's in Athens.

This lovely combination has again led to another fun road trip to explore both, as we wandered into even farther up into true Northwest Ohio, starting at the tee box and finishing up at the pulpit.

Ice Cream Chronicles (Yr. 4): All Aboard the SS Rotterdam

Earlier this year, I wrote about Clown Cones & Confections, a place in the Linden area that's been plying its trade for four decades. While that area in general is hardly a tourist magnet, it most certainly is a neighborhood magnet, a place that folks who grew up there probably frequently visited and have fond memories about.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the eatery in the very early steps of establishing themselves. Most folks know that the restaurant business is a tough thing to break into, and that all manner of places (innovative, mediocre, just plain awful, etc.) fall by the wayside. Out of that group, there are places and people you root for more than most, and such are the folks behind the very freshly minted Double Happy in the southwest part of the metro.

Food Truck Dossier: Sobremesa

Food Truck: Sobremesa

My First Thought: Pretty snazzy trailer...and vegan to boot?

Reality: This relative newcomer to the Columbus food truck scene (starting up roughly during the winter of 2016) features Venezuelan Rafael Simo, who escaped the corporate world to follow his dream of "making good food that would be worthy of a conversation between old friends, family, lovers or even strangers", and touting itself as "Columbus’ first Latin-infused, plant-based mobile food service", as described on its main website.

Based on the menus I've seen at Sobremesa's stops, Simo is following through on that dream in spades. Sobremesa's dishes that are most definitely plant-oriented, with nary a hint of meat in the ingredient listings.

A Case Study: Bareburger Clintonville

Bareburger, a modest-sized chain of now 40+ locations in 9 states and a smattering of international countries, arrived on the Columbus scene in spring of 2014 in what seemed to be a mini-wave of gourmet burger places such as Easton's Flip Side and Gahanna's B Spot.  Bareburger differentiated itself by promising a more esoteric take on the standard burger via the use of organic ingredients, vegan options, as well as grass-fed beef and other exotic meats such as elk and ostrich. This combination, plus their creative take on the old downtown Yankee Trader space, was good enough to earn it a Best New Restaurant of 2014 nod by the readers of Columbus Underground.

When the eatery decided to open up a second Clintonville location, their general food philosophies seemed initially to me at least to be a perfect fit for the area. Interestingly enough, as time has gone on, this branch has become for me one of the more interesting eateries operating at this time within the Columbus metro, mainly for how the food scene has developed around this location.

West Side Story: Tailspin Brewing and Moeller Brew Barn

Once a former major port along the Miami-Erie Canal, the town of
Delphos in western Ohio is a much quieter destination these days
Perhaps one of the more underrated inspirations behind our travels (and, by default, this blog) has been our increasing pursuit of antiques and any far-flung shops we can find. As we've discovered, Ohio has plenty of fun such shops scattered within its borders, and that fact has in the past couple months taken us to both sides of the Columbus metro on Interstate 70 (Dayton/Springfield and Cambridge) and to the southeast along US 33 (Lancaster, Logan and Athens.)

Well, similar to our I-70 travels, we decided US 33 was worth a drive up to the northwest side of the state with antique stores in Delphos and Van Wert turning out to be pleasing looks into days gone by. We've also found nothing quite closes out a day of antique-seeking like a few good brews, and these travels allowed us to visit two of the more remote of Ohio's ever-growing collection of craft breweries.

Ice Cream Chronicles (Yr. 4): The Perfect Matcha

Perhaps due to its reputation as a fast-food haven and test market, Columbus finds its ethnic eats remaining a bit under the radar. I sure did not expect the large number of Mexican markets and food trucks in Columbus when I initially moved to the Buckeye state, much less the number of African restaurants that are just waiting to be discovered by locals and out-of-towners alike.

I was pleased to find out early on about another somewhat unexpected Japanese presence, something that made me feel a bit more at home early on. While this particular scene has gotten a bit more publicity than some of Columbus' other hidden culinary treasures (as in this 2016 NPR article spotlighting the scene), it still turns out to be a pleasant surprise for newcomers to the metro. A great place to start exploring this scene is the Japan Marketplace, which lies in the Northwest neighborhood in the Kenny Centre Mall.

Raising The Cap Level: Hot Chicken Takeover - Clintonville

With the recent arrival of National Fried Chicken Day on July 6, I figured it was more than appropriate to touch on the subject with a return to an old favorite. I have blogged about Hot Chicken Takeover (HCT) in the past (with this blogpost), a definite sign I've been at this blogging thing a lot longer than many.

But now as in any future return posts, I think the mission behind this now mini-chain of restaurants will always be the prime story when it comes to this Columbus-based eatery. Founder Joe DeLoss's commitment to hiring employees with significant social challenges has been a core staple and strength of its business since it started as a weekly pop-up restaurant in the Olde Towne East neighborhood in 2014. It is a model that, as noted in this recent Columbus CEO article, "has the potential to revolutionize the way restaurants and other entry-level employers approach hiring and retention."

Where The Best Once Held Court: Delaney's Diner

One of the first and most fun "buzzy" Columbus eateries that my spouse and I became acquainted with shortly after my move here was Westerville's Best Breakfast and Sandwiches. This compact diner, located in a non-descript south side strip mall, was an example of an eatery that was able to punch above its dining category and achieve something a little more.

We didn't mind the typical wait when it meant we would be grabbing their corned beef hash, or adorning one of their omelettes with some of their specially produced hot sauce from local fiery condiment maker CaJohn's. At its peak, a pop-up taco shop (Yeah Baby Tacos) emerged during the week to offer diners an unorthodox destination to grab some Mexican-styled eats.

And then, a familiar narrative unraveled: a few not-as-complimentary reviews started appearing in the usual review websites, then a change in ownership, and even more buzz about things not being as they used to be.

And then...nothing: The Best Breakfast was no longer as of the summer of 2016.

Fast forward a year now. Other eateries, most notably a new branch of local favorite Northstar Cafe, have come in to fill the void. It is in this new environment where the space has come to life again in the form of Delaney's Diner, a place we were eager to try once we heard the word of its opening.