Let me set the scene for you. My husband went on a golf trip with friends from Friday morning to late Sunday evening. He left for a business trip to China Monday morning, and got back late Friday evening. On Saturday morning, we left for a foodie adventure in Columbus. While I drove most of the way, I still knew he was tired, and the pressure was on to take him to some good places. Luckily, I had done lots of research and made a plan, catering it to things we both like (good food and good beer).
After the 3-1/2-hour drive from Detroit, we pulled into town right at lunch time, and immediately headed to the Short North neighborhood for lunch at Basil. OK, so perhaps this first stop wasn’t really catered to Jeff, seeing as how he had just spent a week in China and I took him directly to an Asian (Thai) restaurant. But, my friend Courtney instructed me “GET THE CRISPY ROLLS,” and I really felt like she meant business. I needed to try those crispy rolls.
I’m happy to report that they didn’t disappoint. Not even close. These things were just amazing. The perfect balance of sweet and savory, soft and crunchy, they definitely had an addictive quality. If there’s a way I could have taken a few dozen of these home, I would have! We also had the green papaya salad (my first time trying this type of salad), and we loved that as well. It was the perfect light lunch to start our day of food adventuring.
Next, we headed a little ways further downtown to the famous North Market. While we were there too late in the day to enjoy the farmer’s market part of it, the inside was still bustling when we got there. Between the bakeries, cafes, beer and wine, ice cream, spice market, ethnic food counters, and kitchen supply shops, this place was a food lover’s paradise.
I ended up doing a little damage to my credit card bill at The Source by Wasserstrom kitchen supply shop, as well as North Market Spices. I mean, what’s a food blogger going to do without food photography props and flax seeds, ya know? Bloggers be bloggin’.
One of our most anticipated stops in North Market was Pistacia Vera. With several locations in Columbus, this bakery is famous for their macarons, but I had heard that the rye croissant was even better. Naturally, we tried both. The macarons were among the best I’d ever had, with the right combination of chewy and crispy (I particularly enjoyed the lemon flavor, of course).
But the rye croissant . . . oh, that rye croissant. I didn’t even know rye croissants existed until I had this one, and now it’s what I want every croissant to be like. It was buttery and flaky like a regular croissant, but balanced with the distinct flavor of caraway seeds. We got a side of homemade jam for spreading, and enjoyed our afternoon snack on the covered picnic table area just outside the market.
We relaxed with a beer a Novak’s on their outdoor patio overlooking North Market (and a street fair going on alongside the market), then headed to our hotel to freshen up. By this point in the afternoon, the city was hoppin’! There were several street fairs, conventions, and LOTS of downtown weddings. We saw a little something of everything on our walk through the city from the hotel to Elevator Brewery & Draught Haus.
I really wanted to watch California Chrome try for the Triple Crown, so I was hoping Elevator would have a TV, and they did. The place was quiet when we got there, so we were able to get seats right in the middle of the bar, and kindly ask the bartender to change the channel for the race. The bar and restaurant soon filled up with people stopping in for drinks and snacks between wedding festivities and the other things happening that afternoon. The house-brewed beer and beautiful atmosphere were the highlights of our stop here. It seems strange calling a brewery beautiful, but if you look at the photo above, you’ll see what I mean. The building is historic, dating back to 1897.
After witnessing an expected Triple Crown disappointment, we walked a few blocks to Wolf’s Ridge Brewing. This place was very busy when we arrived 15 minutes before our reservation, but we were able to try some house-brewed beer samplers at the bar while we waited for our table. All of the beers were tasty, with my favorite being the Vanilla Porter. Before we knew it our table was ready.
Get ready, because this is a big truth bomb: I would drive back to Columbus to eat at this place again. It was THAT good. Definitely one of the best brewery meals I’ve ever had. In fact, referring to this place as simply a brewery does a disservice to how excellent the food really is. We split an order of popcorn oysters as an appetizer. Then, I had the dry aged duck breast for dinner, and Jeff had the grilled rib-eye steak with foie gras butter. We also had a great conversation with the women at the table next to us, who were curious as to why I was taking pictures of all of our food (bloggers be bloggin’).
Both meals were outstanding, but we decided that my duck breast was the winner (because we’re weirdos, and always have to choose whose meal is best). The duck breast was cooked perfectly medium-rare, and served on top of a grilled herb polenta cake. It came with a smattering of mushrooms and asparagus, and was finished with a rhubarb compote, balsamic reduction and pink peppercorns. I loved that seasonal produce like asparagus and rhubarb were highlighted, and in a way where all of the flavors came together and worked in harmony. Seriously, I would drive 3-1/2 hours to eat this dish again!
We headed back to our hotel in food comas, and Jeff got a much need good night’s sleep / jet lag recovery. We couldn’t stay in our food comas for too long, however, because the next morning we were heading to Tasi Cafe! This place was widely recommended by almost everybody we talked to in town, and for good reason. I loved their efficient system of waiting in line to place your order at the register and paying, and then taking a seat in the small dining room. They definitely have the operation down to a science, and even on a busy Sunday morning, as we sat at the bar looking into the open kitchen, everything seemed smooth and calm. I also appreciated their commitment to using locally-made products. I had huevos rancheros, Jeff had biscuits and gravy, and I’m pretty sure my meal won again. I’m awesome like that / I snooped around the dining room and saw lots of others enjoying the huevos rancheros, so I knew they would be great.
After brunch, we had plans to head to German Village (and the outlet of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream located there), but a thunderstorm derailed that, so we headed home to our dog who had been missing her best friend for over a week. I know, how could we come to Columbus and not have some Jeni’s ice cream? Well, now that I know Wolf’s Ridge alone is worth the drive, I’ll hit up Jeni’s next time I’m in town. Promise.
Have you ever been to any of these places in Columbus? What did you think of them? If you’re interested in experiencing Columbus for yourself, be sure to connect with Columbus Food Scene on Facebook, and Experience Columbus on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and their website.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Experience Columbus OH via Burst Media. The opinions and text are all mine.