Word’s getting out around the US that Columbus, Ohio has become a foodie mecca. They’re near some of the most valued farmland in the country and are using the ingredients in a most gourmet way.
Le Chocoholique is in Columbus’ Short North neighborhood. Get a frozen chocolate drink or indulge in a chocolate/wine/cheese tasting. I sampled a few chocolates, including a blue cheese truffle. I recommend the “Rosy Posey”; it has a deep chocolate and red rose water flavor and is covered in a crystalized sugar coat.
Pistacia Vera is where Columbus’ society mavens go for special occasion desserts. They make and serve some of the most exquisite macarons and sweets in the world — as written about in Destinations Magazine. They create their drinks with Valrhona chocolate. Their orange brioche — with its rock sugar coat — would be a perfect foil for fois gras.
North Market is the home of North Market Poultry and Game. You’ll want to stop at some of the other purveyors too, including local green grocers, mouth-watering pastas, cornmeal pizza crust that caught the eye of Anthony Bourdain, and other delectables. NMP & G will wow you with their fresh-never-frozen, mostly grass-fed and free-range organic bison, pheasant, rabbit, venison, elk, drakes, hens, Muscovy ducks (which are from warmer waters and thus less fatty and thinner skinned) and more from small local farms. Their cooked side, Kitchen Little, makes a scrumptious cassoulet with ducks, wild boar bacon, roasted turkey, chicken and white beans.
Lindey’s is a chic, upscale place where the city’s movers and shakers definitely go to see and be seen. While I hear that not many people indulge in the house-made charcuterie plate, it’s a secret treasure. Maybe folks are intimidated by the generous size — definitely enough for at least two. The meats are excellent: rich and flavorful, not gamey. It had a touch of smokiness to it and was thinly sliced, enhancing its melt-in-the-mouth qualities. The pork pate’ had crushed pistachios.
The Franklin Park Conservatory — a gorgeous conservatory located in a neighborhood with stunning architecture — has all kinds of events designed for foodies. Along with special farm-to-table dinners, they have a “From Field to Table” dinner series, Market Days, Harvest Thursdays, Food Truck Sundays and Community Garden Tours.
At Columbus’ finest bars, you can order Middle West Spirits’ OYO Vodka, Honey Vanilla Bean Vodka and Whiskey. I’d always hear that Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla is the best vanilla, but the finest actually comes from Uganda. Middle West Spirits braves the political turmoil to support a woman farmer who grows the creme de la creme. They also use 100% Ohio red winter wheat handpicked from certain farms for their spirits. The rich honey comes from Lancaster, Ohio.
Bon Appetit magazine named Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams one of the top 10 in the US. The ice cream is made from milk and cream from one hand-selected farm, Snowville. Check out the funky flavors, such as blackberry-sweet corn.
Surly Girl Saloon has a cowgirl, badass-yet-grownup vibe. The menus are made from hand-tooled leather. The food is described as “Southwestern comfort, but with upscale twists”: you won’t see burgers. Surly Girl infuses OYO vodka with natural ingredients for seasonal flavors.
One of Columbus’ restaurants is about as secret — and cherished by locals — as a speakeasy: Basi-Italia. Located in an alley of a quiet residential neighborhood, the restaurant has the feeling of a private party. If you eat in the courtyard, you’ll feel like you’re at a garden get-together. A “must-order” is the Parmesan Creme Brulee. It’s a sweet, buttery creme brulee with fresh, savory herbs and flatbreads.
Macarons at Pistacia Vera
OYO Vodkas and Whiskey
Parmasan Creme Brulee at Basi Italia
Steak Tartare at Basi Italia