Noodlecat in Downtown Cleveland

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Recently, we decided to take advantage of Downtown Cleveland Restaurant week by visiting Noodle Cat for dinner for the first time. I’ve attended a few special dinner events there, but we have never actually gone and eaten off the regular menu. During restaurant week Noodlecat was offering one Goyza, any two bowls of noodles, and one desert for only $30. This deal was too good to pass up!

Food
The Goyza we were offered was a seafood variety. We mentioned that my fiancée doesn’t care for seafood so our waiter offered to check if they had another variety they could substitute. Within a few seconds he was back and offered us the pork Goyza, which made us both very happy. This crispy take on a Japanese dumpling were very flavorful and were amplified by the peanut based dipping sauce. We both enjoyed this very tasty starter.

For my fiancée’s noodle dish, she picked the College Ramen ($9). This came with poached chicken, shiro chicken broth, corn, peas, chive, scallions, & chicken salt. The first comment she made was about how this really did bring her back to her college days at Bowling Green. The flavors in the dish were all well balanced and the poached chicken was very tender. The corn and peas added a little sweetness to the dish.  The noodles themselves were cooked perfectly and were delicious.

My noodle dish was the “Roscoe’s” Fried Chicken and Ramen (Priced at $13 with two pieces of chicken). I ordered this dish because I was very curious as to how they would prepare the fried chicken after reading the description. It came with two pieces of fried chicken that were coated in panko breadcrumbs, butter, hot sauce, and maple syrup. The noodles came with kale & fried chicken broth. I’ll start by saying the noodles, greens and the fried chicken broth were outstanding. I loved how “slurpilicious” this dish was. It not only had flavor, but it was very fun to eat! The fried chicken however was on a totally other level. The ultra crispy skin was both packed with heat and sweet notes that simply were amazing! After biting through the skin, I found chicken that was perfectly cooked and very moist. This dish for me was a homerun and I really look forward to getting it again.

After these two courses we were both pretty full, but we couldn’t pass up on the olive oil cake desert. The cake was light and moist with a subtle orange flavor.  A nice ending to a very filling meal.

Drinks 
Noodlecat offers Happy Hour every day of the week! It was still Happy Hour when we arrived. The happy hour prices on drinks is a great deal. They only have 4 draft beers, but they are all of good craft quality. I had a Dogfish Head 60min IPA, but they also had the Victory Greenhouse Tavern Lager, Sapporo, and a 4th draft that slipped my mind! In addition to these drafts they carried at least a dozen different canned beers and a dozen different bottled versions too. If you are in the mood to share a brew, they also offer 22oz and 750mL bottles. For how small of a restaurant Noodlecat is, I give them props for offering a very respectable craft beer selection. Of course it wouldn’t be officially a noodle house if they didn’t offer some Sake! I’m not an expert in the Sake department, but from the looks of the extensive list I’m sure you can find something that will suit your needs!

Atmosphere and Service
Noodlecat is a fun place to eat. The décor features many pieces of recycled metal and lumber which looks kind of rustic, but it also has a modern feel as well. The service for the night was excellent. We were clearly ahead of the dinner rush, because the restaurant was not really busy. That being said our service for the early evening dinner was excellent. Our waiter was quick, prompt, and very knowledgeable about the menu. Being knowledgeable about the menu was very helpful for us because we don’t eat at many Japanese restaurants.

Overall our first official dining experience at Noodlecat was a success. We loved the food, my beer was tasty, and the service was excellent. We look forward to going back to Noodlecat, especially once Cleveland Indians Baseball season starts! Go Tribe!

Sunday Supper: Orecchiette with Chicken, Caramelized Onions, and Blue Cheese

For this installment of Sunday Supper the recipe once again came from our Food and Wine Cookbook and was called Orecchiette with Chicken, Caramelized Onions, and Blue Cheese.   We choose this particular recipe because we both were in the mood for pasta, and the combination of chicken and blue cheese really grabbed our interest.

Ingredients we used:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, quartered and cut into thin slices
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 pound orecchiette pasta
  • 3 ounces crumbled blue cheese (1/2 cup)

Directions
1. In a large nonstick frying pan, melt the butter with 2 tablespoons of oil over moderately high heat. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring frequently, until well browned, about 25 minutes. Remove.

2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and reduce the heat to moderate. Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper and add to the pan along with the rosemary. Cook the chicken until brown, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook until almost done, about 3 minutes longer. Add the garlic. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Cover the pan, remove from the heat, and let steam for 5 minutes. Cut the chicken into 1/4-inch slices.

3. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the orecchiette until just done, about 15 minutes. Reserve about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and toss with 2 tablespoons of the pasta water, the onions, the chicken with pan juices, the blue cheese, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. If the pasta seems dry, add more of the reserved pasta water.

Just the smell of the caramelizing onions is reason enough to make this dish.  That being said, the taste did not disappoint.  The sweetness from the caramelized onions was a perfect balance for the saltiness of the blue cheese. The amount the recipe called for really did strike a perfect 50/50 balance.   This balance of salty vs. sweet also really helped the rosemary to remain noticeable, but not overpowering.   Finally, the chicken picked up just enough of the garlic and rosemary flavor to also add more depth to the dish.   This is another dish from our Food and Wine cookbook that we will be cooking again, just next time for friends and family because it was so good!  Cheers!

Sunday Supper – Roasted Chicken with Bourbon Maple Pepper Glaze and Sweet Potatoes

This Sunday we decided to invite a few friends over for dinner.  Our plan was to roast a whole chicken and when we saw the recipe in our Food and Wine cookbook that called for both bourbon and pure maple syrup we had to try it out!

Ingredients:
2 pounds sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons fresh-ground black pepper
1 chicken (3 to 3 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
6 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons bourbon
Directions:
1. Heat the oven to 425°. In a large roasting pan, toss the sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Push them to the edges of the pan, leaving a space in the center for the chicken.
2. Rub the cavity of the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Twist the wings behind the back and tie the legs together. Put the chicken, breast-side up, in the center of the roasting pan. Coat the chicken with the remaining tablespoon oil, sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper, and dot with the butter. Roast the chicken for 30 minutes.

 

3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the maple syrup, bourbon, and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and stir the potatoes. Brush the chicken with about 2 tablespoons of the glaze and drizzle the potatoes with about 1/2 tablespoon of the glaze. Return the pan to the oven and cook, stirring the potatoes and brushing the chicken with the remaining glaze 2 more times, until the chicken and potatoes are just done, about 30 minutes longer. Transfer the bird and potatoes to a plate and leave to rest in a warm spot for about 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, pour off the fat from the roasting pan. Add any accumulated juices from the chicken to the liquid in the pan. Serve the chicken with the pan juices and sweet potatoes.

Out of all of the Sunday Supper posts I have written up, this one might go down as my favorite!  The chicken was moist and packed with a rich maple flavor. I would have liked the skin to be a bit crispier, which could have been helped by turning on the broiler for the last few minutes.  The bourbon didn’t come out as much in the chicken as it did in the sweet potatoes.  Speaking of the sweet potatoes, I could have eaten the whole batch myself they were so good.   If you are looking for a very fun and tasty recipe that was fairly easy to execute, I’d highly recommend this one!

Grizzly Peak Brewing Company in Ann Arbor, MI

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On our recent beercation to Ann Arbor, we had dinner at Grizzly Peak Brewing Company.   We heard from many friends and even some local Ann Arbor folks that Grizzly Peak was one of the places we needed to visit.  I was curious to see what this brewing company had to offer both in terms of both food and beer.

Food
My fiancee ordered the Grilled Steak Salad. This came with grilled hanger steak sliced over a salad of quinoa and mixed greens with manchego cheese, marcona almonds, roasted red beets and a side of basil pesto ranch dressing for $13.95.  The steak was cooked to a perfect medium temperature and paired well with the quinoa and beets.  The basil pesto ranch dressing was amazing.  I am not even a fan of ranch dressing and I would have eaten an entire salad topped with this dressing.  The only real criticism of this dish is that my fiancee wished there would have been more nuts and beets to help balance the meat and greens on the plate.   That being said, she would highly recommend this dish for the salad/steak lover!

It took me all of ten seconds to make my dinner choice. When I looked at the menu and saw Hanger Steak with a red Thai Chili reduction, I knew I had to order it! The dish was also served with mashed potatoes and fresh sauteed Swiss chard and red onion for $18.95.  The steak itself was cooked to a perfect medium. The combination of the steak and the red Thai Chili reduction created a perfect bite.   I loved the rich, tender flavor of the steak.  The reduction added a perfect balance of both sweet and spicy to everything on the plate.  I even ended up dipping every bite of the well seasoned mashed potatoes in this reduction!   Simply put, this dish was well proportioned, delicious and very reasonably priced.  I’d order this dish again in a heartbeat.
After dining at Grizzly Peak we understand why so many people said we had to eat here.  We were very happy with the food, and we gladly eat dinner here again!

Drinks
When we arrived, we had about a 20 minute wait before we were seated.  We took this opportunity to order a sampler from the bar so I could see what Grizzly Peak had to offer.  The sampler prices were very reasonable.  Six four ounce samples were $6.95 and for every sample over six they only charged a dollar more.

From left to right we ordered the Pale Ale, Porter, Warm-Up Winter Ale, Irish Stout, Cask IPA, and the Cask Junicade Red Ale.  Of these six the pale ale and the cask IPA were the most drinkable.  Their flavors were light but well balanced.  The porter and the cask stout were next, but really lacked body for the styles.  Finally, the winter ale and the red ale were our least favorite.  The winter ale had a very odd spice to it which really threw it out of balance.  The red ale had a buttery note which was really off putting and we did not finish the sample.  The beers at Grizzly Peak didn’t wow either of us.  I felt all of the beers were very “safe”. Luckily they are owned by the same group that owns North Peak and Jolly Pumpkin, so they had a good selection of North Peak beers in bottles.  I picked a bottle of the North Peak Dubious Black Chocolate Stout to drink with my dinner.  This 5.5% abv. stout is light in alcohol, but not in body or flavor.   This is one of the best session stouts you’ll find anywhere, and is available here in Cleveland.

This was the best I could get with the lighting in the bar.

Atmosphere and Service
The atmosphere at Grizzly Peak is what you would expect at a very nice brewpub.  Fun, friendly, and a little noisy thanks to the group of guys standing behind our table. Our server for the evening was very friendly and  was open to giving suggestions about both food and beer.  When I asked her what North Peak offerings they had, she didn’t remember, but quickly found out and told me about each and every one in detail.   We also liked that the brewery took the time to add recommended beers to each and every dish on the menu.
Overall
Grizzly Peak didn’t wow us with their house-made beer, but they did with the food.   The good news about the beer is that they carry a full line-up of North Peak beers which are usually very flavorful and very sessionable in terms of the abv. content.   If you visit Ann Arbor, we would recommend stopping by Grizzly Peak for dinner and a sampler as we did.  If you do, let us know your thoughts!  Cheers!

Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week February 27 – March 4, 2012

Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week kicks off on February 27 and goes through March 4 with more than 40 participating restaurants! Of the 40+ restaurants, each will offer $30 3-course menus for one or two diners, and a $15 lunch option at select restaurants.

A full list of participating restaurants with menus is available here.

New to Downtown Restaurant Week

Pura Vida by Brandt – Wholesome cuisine, craft cocktails, exceptional service in a one-of-a-kind Cleveland atmosphere

Taza – Lebanese grill with vegetarian, fish and meat lover appetizers and entrees inspired by traditional home-cooked meals

Prime Rib Steakhouse– Juicy, melt-in-your-mouth prime rib carved at your table to your specifications from gleaming silver carts

Pacer’s Ribhouse – Award-winning ribs

Noodlecat – A slurpalicious Japanese-American mash-up from Chef Jonathon Sawyer, inspired by Tokyo noodle worship and New York City noodle houses

“Restaurant Week Foodie Dream Package”

Interested in dining downtown for an entire year – for free? Restaurant Week diners will receive a small postcard with their meal at participating restaurants. A QR code on the back of the card will direct them to a form where they can enter to win a grand prize, including gift cards from participating downtown restaurants. Multiple other winners will be selected for special prizes.

Park and eat

During Restaurant Week, several downtown parking facilities will offer $2 parking to diners who show their special Restaurant Week parking voucher. The $2 parking special will be available to diners beginning at 5 p.m. each day during Restaurant Week.

The $2 parking voucher must be printed out prior to using it at participating lots.  You can find the voucher here. To see participating parking lots and garages, click here to view the map.

Free Food Giveaway!

The kind folks at the Downtown Cleveland Alliance have offered up a $30 gift certificate to one lucky reader!  The $30 gift certificate to Prime Rib Steakhouse that can be used anytime!

And the Winner is….. Comment #13 from @ohionewbie!  Congrats and please email me your name and contact information at clevelandfoodandbrews at gmail.  Cheers!

There are 3 ways to Enter The Giveaway

  1. Leave one comment on this post telling me where you hope to eat during Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week.
  1. Share this post on Facebook by posting this link:  http://hops.me/jsb

Then come back here and post a comment with your Facebook link.  You can only do this once, and it counts as one entry.

  1. Share this on Twitter:  I want to win a $30 GC to Prime Rib Steakhouse from@CleFoodandBrews and @DowntownCLE: http://hops.me/jsb

Then come back here and post a comment with your Twitter link. This will count as one entry. You can do this every single day. Just make sure to leave a comment each time you tweet!

Rules:

–You have until Friday,  February 24th, 2012 at 4:00pm EST to enter.

–The winner will be picked at random using Random.org.
–Only comments  with links left on this post will count.  If you tweet, facebook or enter in any other way be sure to leave a comment here telling me you did it with the link to that post.
–You must leave a SEPARATE comment for each Entry, otherwise your entry will only count once.

–Winner has 24 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.
–The winner will get their tickets via mail.
Disclosure:  The DCA has provided a single $30 GC for this giveaway.  All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

Momocho Mod Mex in Ohio City

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My fiancee wanted to go to Momocho for her birthday dinner.  After reading all of the glowing reviews and even seeing them on Unique Eats, we just had to see what all the hype was about.  It turned out that we met another couple for drinks before hand and asked them to join us for our meal!  This would be our first time eating dinner at Momocho.

Food
We started our meal with the guacamole sampler.  This gave us a chance to pick three different guacamole.  From bottom to top in the picture below we picked the goat cheese with tomato chile and poblano peppers, the jicama with pineapple, chile habanero, and mint, and finally the garlic confit with bleu cheese, and chile verde.  The goat cheese really stood out in contrast to the avacado. I enjoyed how each bite packed a punch. The sweet pineapple and jicama blend was my personal favorite because of the way it blended with the heat that came in late, and lingered on until the next bite.  The bleu cheese had a lot of potential, but only a few bites actually got a bite of bleu cheese, the rest was just normal tasting guacamole.


We decided to try several different taquitos for our entrees. At the bottom of the picture we started with the pato, which was slow cooked duck confit with chile ancho and a pomegranate barbacoa.  The duck was very moist and tender and the pomegranate sauce really had a nice balance of sweet to go along with the spiciness.  This was my personal favorite of the four.  Second from the bottom we had the machaca, which was coffee and ancho braised beef brisket with guacamole.  Although the coffee didn’t really come out, the flavor and the tenderness of the meat was outstanding.  Third from the bottom we tried the special for the evening which was the mole beef. The beef was in a chocolate based sauce and the richness of the chocolate stood out. This was my fiance’s favorite dish because the beef was even more tender than the braised beef brisket.   Finally, the top dish in the picture was the carnitas, which was adobo braised pork with a honey-chipotle mojo. We were told this was one of the most popular dishes, and the flavors explained why.  Simple, yet bold spices combined with tender and juicy pork.

To end our dinner some deep fried ice cream was brought to the table for the birthday girl!  The presentation of this dish was very fun and the combination of flavor and texture of this dish were amazing.  This really was a great way to end our fantastic dinner.  I have to say that the hype that surrounds Momocho is well deserved because we would go back and order any of the taquitos again.  Momocho offers bold flavors, perfectly cooked protein, and prices that are extremely reasonable considering the high quality of food!

Drinks
Momocho is known for their margaritas so we each decided to try what many consider their best, the cucumber margarita. All four of us felt the amount of sour mix used in the drink was just too much.  We asked if it was possible to get it remade, but we were informed that it was already premixed, and would likely taste exactly the same.  This was a slight disappointment because we have tried this drink at Momocho before, and this time it really fell flat.  As far as beer goes Momocho offers your standard Mexican brews such as Corona and Dos Equis.

Atmosphere and Service
The room was dimly light and the environment is full of flair.  The picture at the top of this review is just a glimpse at some of the artwork that is posted up all over the restaurant.  Momocho’s atmosphere definitely says fun, but also has a very relaxed feel to it which we very much enjoyed.  Our server for the night was outstanding.  Her service was everything you would want and expect at a restaurant.  She was friendly, funny, knowledgeable, and very helpful when it came to questions about the menu and the food.   With service and food like we had during this dinner experience it is no wonder so many people rave about Momocho!

Lee Anne Wong Pop Up at Noodle Cat January 21st Giveaway

Lee Anne Wong’s first trip to Noodle Cat for a Pop-Up dinner was a huge success.  If you missed the first event, you won’t want to miss her second trip back to Cleveland on January 21st at 6:30pm to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Lee Anne Wong is best known for her success on the first season of Bravo’s Top Chef, where she then went on to be the supervising culinary producer. She has competed on Iron Chef America and is the host of Unique Eats on the Cooking Channel. Lee Anne lives and works mostly in NYC, but enjoys traveling and cooking all over the world.

The dinner for this event will feature 5 courses for $69.
The Menu Includes:

  • Crispy Fish Salad w/ romaine, parmesan & lemon sesame dressing
  • Char Siu Pork Jiaozi w/ soy chili dipping sauce
  • Seamed Fish w/ sizzling oil, green onion, ginger & soy
  • Kung Pao Prawns w/ celery & rice salad
  • And much more!!
Giveaway
Ready for some good news?  I’ve been given two tickets to give away to one lucky reader. To enter the giveaway simply read the directions below!
 
 There are 3 ways to Enter The Giveaway
1. Leave one comment on this post telling me which of the three posted courses you are most interested in trying.

 
2. Share this post on Facebook by posting this link: http://hops.me/bte
Then come back here and post a comment with your Facebook link.  You can only do this once, and it counts as one entry.
 
3. Share this on Twitter
I want to win 2 tickets to the @bricknmortar216 pop-up featuring @leeannewong!  Check out the @CleFoodandBrews Giveaway: http://hops.me/bte
The come back here and post a comment with your Twitter link. This will count as one entry. You can do this every single day. Just make sure to leave a comment each time you tweet!
 
Rules:
–You have until Thursday,  January 19th, 2012 at 9:00pm EST to enter.
–The winner will be picked at random using Random.org.   
–Only comments  with links left on this post will count.  If you tweet, facebook or enter in any other way be sure to leave a comment here telling me you did it with the link to that post.  
–You must leave a SEPARATE comment for each Entry, otherwise your entry will only count once.  
–Winner has 24 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. 
–The winner will get their tickets at the door when they arrive for the event.

Flour Rustic Italian Kitchen in Moreland Hills

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After being open now for several months and with new head Chef Matthew Mytro at the helm, we decided to check out Flour Restaurant in Moreland Hills.
Food
With so many menu choices, we decided to do dinner a little differently tonight.  Flour offers you two choices in size for the past and entrees. Instead of getting a single full dish, we each decided to each get two halves, which would allow us to try more food.

My fiancee’s first choice was the Local Greens salad.  In addition to the fresh local greens it came topped with radish, carrots, tomato, baby cucumber and a roasted shallot vinaigrette. The baby cucumbers were perfect size for the salad and the salad dressing was very refreshing.

I picked one of the three specials for my first choice.  It was black pepper papardelle, served with preserved tomatoes, quail confit, roasted parsnips, and a chestnut cream sauce.  The pasta was cooked perfectly, and the richness from the chestnut cream sauce paired perfectly with the quail confit. I also loved how the tomatoes added a contrasting flavor of sweetness.  The last tasting note that I took away from this dish was how the chestnuts were used two ways.  Not only were they cooked down in the cream sauce, but they were also used in their raw state. I thought this was a smart use because it added a little more texture to the soft pasta and quail.   I would order this dish again, and I’d probably order the full because it was so tasty.  Finally, even the half size of this dish was pretty substantial because this style of pasta is very filling.
For my fiancee’s second dish she ordered the half portion of the Pumpkin Risotto.  This risotto came with roasted Ohio pumpkin, thyme, cinnamon, and clove. The pumpkin flavor was very mild but married well with the creaminess of the risotto. The risotto was garnished with roasted pumpkin seeds which added great texture.
For my second dish, I decided to try one of the wood fired pizzas. I love crispy wood fired Italian style pizza, so I picked the Romana. This pizza came with crushed tomato, garlic, kalamata olives, chili flakes, and anchovy oil.  The first thing I always look at when I get a pizza like this is the crust.  The outside part of this crust was cooked well, but the middle half under all of the toppings still could have used a bit more cooking because it was not crispy enough.  (Edit: To clarify this statement, the center should be softer than the outside in this style of pizza, but the center still needed a few more additional minutes of cooking.)  I enjoyed the contrast in flavors between the olives and the somewhat spicy chili flakes, but the anchovy oil didn’t do much to add to the flavor.  I also noticed that the sauce and tomatoes were so much in the background compared to the other flavors they were almost tasteless.  This wasn’t a bad pizza, but I was expecting an even, crispy crust with more well balanced flavors.
Overall, three out of the four dishes we ordered were very good.  My fiancee had a good overall meal and I was extremely happy with my pasta dish.  We will go back to Flour based on these three good dishes, and I will order another pizza to compare with this experience.
Drinks
Flour offers a full service bar with an extensive wine list.   Wine by the glass starts at $7.00 and bottles start at $30.  They also offered just a few craft beer options.  When we visited there were four draft options available. Great Lakes Dortmunder and Christmas Ale were on tap along with Thirsty Dog Old LegHumper Porter and Labrador Lager.  Outside of these choices they had a few standard Italian beers such as Moretti and Peroni.
Atmosphere and Service
The look of Flour is very modern and sort of a shock for a rustic Italian kitchen concept.  It was not what I expected at all in terms of design, but it was a very inviting space.  I really liked how the kitchen was an open concept for the customers to see.  There was even seating that would allow almost a chefs table experience. Our service for the evening was average at best. Our waitress seemed to be just going through the motions and really didn’t want to offer up any solid opinions even when we asked her.  In fact, at one point when we asked her what some of the most popular dishes were she responded with “It is hard to say because we just opened 8 months ago.”  To me, in 8 months a restaurant and the servers have a very good idea what is popular, and she should have been able to offer up some information when we asked her.  The food did come out in a very timely fashion, but it took her quite a while to check to see how our food was and if there were any problems.  Overall, I’d expect a higher level of knowledge about the menu, and more willingness to offer suggestions at a restaurant like this.  We’ll likely go back because most of our food was good, and I’d like to see if our experience is the same or better than this time.

Yellow Brick Pizza in Columbus, Ohio

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Yellow Brick Pizza, won best new restaurant in Columbus in 2011.  I wanted to go to see if the pizza really lived up to that honor.  I also read they had 16 beers on tap. When you put good pizza with good craft beer, you have a must try in my eyes.

Food
We arrived at the restaurant around 7pm on a Saturday night and had no problems grabbing a table.  While looking over the menu, we realized this place takes its pizza pretty seriously.   They had 20 specialty pizzas to choose from in addition to the 26 toppings you could use to make whatever pizza you wanted.   We asked our waitress what the most popular pizzas were. She gladly told us about several of them in detail.  Our table of 4 decided we wanted to try a few different pizzas, so we started off by ordering two medium pizzas.  The first was the Charles’ Red Hot Pie. This was a red sauce based pizza that came topped with chicken, spicy Buffalo sauce, and a bit of ranch.  The flavors of this pizza were intense.  Spicy Buffalo sauce, creamy ranch, a flavorful red sauce all combined to make one delicious pizza.  The crust on the pizza was crispy and flavorful, not too thin, and not too thick either.

The second pizza we ordered was the Big O.  This pizza came with red sauce and was topped with feta, artichoke hearts, spinach, fresh tomato, garlic, and red onions.  The crust on this pizza was cooked just as perfectly as the first.  It was crispy and medium in terms of thickness. The fresh spinach really stood out on every bite, along with the salty feta and red onions.  This pizza actually paired well with the spicy pizza because alternating slices between the two gave me a break from the spiciness of the Red Hot Pie!

The four of us had no problems eating two medium pizzas so we decided to order one more!  We decided to do a half and half that we designed ourselves for our final pizza.  We started with the base of a white pizza and added banana peppers to half, broccoli to the other half and sundried tomatoes to the whole thing.  Again this pizza was flavorful and cooked to perfection.  By the end of the 3rd medium pizza, the 4 of us were full!

The average cost for a medium pizza was around $12-$15.   All of the pizza’s had fresh ingredients and all of the pizza’s were cooked perfectly.  Our entire table was satisfied and we would gladly go back again for pizza because they had some other very appealing specialty pizzas that we didn’t have room to try!  Pizza done this well gets them a 5/5!

Drinks
When you think of a pizza place, you don’t always think of them having great craft beer.  Well, Yellow Brick Pizza chances that thought process rather quickly.   They offer 16 quality craft beers on tap in addition to a bottle list that is large and well organized.   Brooklyn, Sierra Nevada, Founders and Avery were just a few of the many options available.  They also had a special running on Sierra Nevada Torpedo and Victory Prima Pils and Sunshine for only $3.00 a bottle.  Good selection of draft beer and bottles, plus reasonable prices nets this restaurant a score of 4.5/5.

Atmosphere and Service
Right when you walk into Yellow Brick Pizza, you are greeted with a delicious pizza aroma and an open kitchen layout.  Everything was bright with a modern twist. It had a pub-like feel but also felt like a good old family pizza place.  Our server was very helpful  by suggesting the best selling pizzas. She took our order quickly and the pizza was out in a good amount of time. Our service was pretty good but nothing over the top. Overall our experience was a good one, and I’d love to go back to try some of their other specialty pizzas.  3.5/5

Bodega In Columbus

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My fiancee and I made a trip to Columbus for the day on Saturday to visit  friends. While we were down there, she made some plans to try on wedding dresses.  It was my job to find a place for my buddy Steve and I to crash while the girls were off looking at dresses.  We decided to try Bodega on 1044 North High Street.  Before the girls left we all decided to get a small bite to eat since we wouldn’t be eating dinner until much later.
Food
I decided to go with a small plate of the Mac and Cheese. It was made with parmesan, cheddar and goat cheese, and topped with panko breadcrumbs.  There were also a strong rosemary presence and a little bit of crushed red pepper.  The pasta was cooked perfectly and the crunch from the panko added some texture to this very creamy dish.  I like rosemary, but my fiancee commented that for her it would have been a little too much.  Also, I was surprised that this dish lacked salt. It was a tasty dish overall and a good portion size for only $5!

My fiancee ordered the large Bodega house salad. It was made up of romaine lettuce, a few slices of grape tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, feta cheese, and a cracked black pepper vinaigrette.  It also came with lightly toasted flat bread.  All of the ingredients in the salad were fresh and the black pepper vinaigrette was delicious. The portion size of the salad for $7 was also very reasonable.

This food review is a mini take on what Bodega has to offer.  The panini sandwiches and pizza that are also available looked great. I hope that during our next trip to Columbus to stop back and try some other menu items.

Drinks
The craft beer selection was the real reason we stopped at Bodega.  They have 50 taps available and the selection of beer both on tap and on their bottle list is quite amazing.  They also offered 1 cask beer along with 5 of their 50 taps being nitro!  Beers like Southern Tier Pumpking, Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale, and Avery Imperial Oktoberfest were all available.   If craft beer is not your thing, they also have a very large liquor selection which helps them to offer a great mixed drink list.

Atmosphere and Service
The atmosphere at Bodega is easy going and friendly.  It is located in a building that was once a car shop and then a coffee shop!  The feel of the exposed brick and plenty of natural light make this a great place to hang with your friends. Bodega really stood out because of the service.  It is one thing to have a killer beer selection, but it is another when you are knowledgeable and willing to talk about the beer with your customers.   The bartenders are Bodega were some of the best and most friendly bartenders I’ve come across in my search for craft beer.  Their passion for craft beer was clear. They were happy to talk about what they were offering and what was on deck. Outside of the beer knowledge our food came out in a reasonable time and we were checked on several times to see how our food was.

Simply put, Bodega is a craft beer gem in downtown Columbus.  With 50 taps, great service, and a food menu that is going to be expanding soon it wouldn’t surprise me to see Bodega be the hottest bar in Columbus!