Columbus, Ohio USA
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Restaurant Reviews

by Jan and Ralph Rosenfield

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BASI ITALIA
January/February 2018 Issue

Small casual feel-good restaurant featuring clean simple Italian fare with innovative twists

T’was brillig...OK it was COLD out and we were looking for a place close by for a quiet dinner with good friends. Our friends suggested “Basi” and we jumped on the suggestion! We were surprised to find our friends seated OUTSIDE when we arrived at Basi Italia on Highland Street in Victorian Village on this “brillig” evening! But THIS outside is totally cozy and toasty – maybe warmer than the INSIDE of the restaurant on a night like that.

We wasted no time ordering our favorite starter, which we remembered from a previous visit – the Crispy Oysters. Lightly breaded and perfectly fried, served with saffron-horseradish aioli and fingerling potatoes, these plump, juicy, and savory delicacies were just as good as we remembered them. Our other starter this night, the Roasted Beet Salad with feta cheese, fresh mint, and pistachio/avocado oil, was a perfect complement to the oysters.

Because our friends visit Basi quite frequently, they were happy to re-acquaint with the warm and friendly staff who were genuinely happy to see them again. This restaurant is small enough to allow the staff and customers to really connect with each other, yet large enough to support a wide-ranging selection of menu items, from a top-flight chef, that change seasonally but never fail to excite.

To follow our most satisfying starters we decided to share main courses. The boys shared the Rigatoni Salumeria (sweet sausage, raisins, fennel, and pine nuts) and the girls shared the Eggplant Parmesan. Each entrée was filling enough to make us all happy and leave room for one of the special desserts of the house – and if we could remember which one we ordered we’d tell you about it.

A followup visit a few weeks later found us eating inside, though the outdoor space was still pleasingly toasty, thanks to the plentiful space heaters and the canvas enclosure. Basi’s interior is small but surprisingly quiet – no head-pounding music to distract from the ambiance of the space. Conversation is easy here, even though the tables are rather close together. The open kitchen is bright, clean, efficient, happy, and BUSY! Our big surprise this night was the Clam Chowder - it actually contained CLAMS! – and lots of them. It was amazing. We must have been in a seafood frame of mind, because we also had the Pan Roasted Calamari. We generally like our calamari fried, but this roasted preparation made it both tender and full-bodied while allowing the flavor of the squid to shine. Keeping with the seafood theme, we couldn’t pass up our favorite Crispy Oysters, this time as one of our main courses, along with the special of the evening, a masterful Mahi Mahi. We skipped dessert on this visit, but it wasn’t an easy decision!

It’s best to make a reservation because the place fills up quickly and regularly. And you’ll probably want to take advantage of the valet parking – unless you live close enough to walk – because parking is somewhat limited in the area. However, even the short wait for your car at the end of the evening is enjoyable, thanks to the crackling of the open fire pit in the restaurant’s side yard.

We look forward to future visits to this small but mighty restaurant, especially anticipating the spring and summer when the enclosed outdoor space gives way to a beautiful garden-like setting that you just must experience. Basi Italia is a year-round treat for the palate as well as for the ambiance.

Basi Italia is located in Victorian Village at 811 Highland St. Hours are Tuesday - Thursday 5p - Close; Friday - Saturday (bar menu) 3p-5p; (dinner) 5p to close; Closed Sunday and Monday. Call 614-294-7383 or visit www.basi-italia.com for more information.

 

COSECHA COCINA
November/December 2017 Issue

Fine Mexican dining serving traditional and modern Mexican food and drinks

Squash Tostada: Delicata and butternut squash, grilled eggplant purée, pepitas, and tamarind

We stopped by Cosecha one night recently, and we couldn’t have been happier with what we found there! Located at 987 North 4th Street, one of the many recent additions to Italian Village neighborhood, is a standout. Featuring Mexican specialties, inspired cocktails, and at least one truly spectacular dessert, Cosecha is part of the Grow family of Columbus restaurants, which includes Harvest Pizzaria, Curio, and The Sycamore.

The first thing to notice is the atmosphere. In good weather the roomy, uncongested outdoor patio seats plenty of patrons at long tables where mingling with other diners is encouraged and comfortable. Step into the interior, either through the standard door or the wide open garage door, and you are immediately immersed in the Mexican ambiance of old brick walls, arched windows, eclectic artwork, and once again, comfortable dining tables. The tables are not crowded together, but just perfectly spaced for a comfortable dining experience. The adjacent bar area is warm and inviting, with plenty of seating and – thankfully – only ONE television! And the music is fun and at a decibel level that makes table conversation easy – we didn’t have to yell at each other to make ourselves heard.

Now for the food and beverages. Lots of unique cocktails, a wide range of beers, and a great selection of mescals to choose from. Two of our favorites are the fruity and herbal Sage Margarita, and the pleasantly spicy Los Muertos.

And the tacos! – 9 different combinations ranging from Fried Cod to Chicken Tinga and Plantain! Tamales and enchiladas, tostadas, chips, housemade salsa and guacamole, and a variety of starters, such as housemade pickled cucumbers, and small plates such as Charred Octopus round out the menu with their fresh, locally sources ingredients and tasty flavors that are great to share with your tablemates. There are two tacos per order and we enjoyed mixing and matching all around the table. The service is fast, well-plated, and served with a smile by the attentive wait staff who seem to really enjoy showing off what the kitchen staff is producing. You might find yourself ordering seconds!

Be sure to save room for dessert, though. We’ve been to Cosecha twice but we’ve only sampled one of the desserts because we loved it so much the first time. This churro is the real thing – a freshly fried pull-apart “donut” served with two dipping sauces – spicy chocolate and salty caramel. Yum!

Cosecha Cocina is located in Italian Village at 987 N. Fourth Street. Hours are Friday - Saturday 11-11; Monday - Thursday 11-10; Closed Sunday. Call 614-369-1129 or visit www.cosechacocina.com for more information.

 

DRUNCH EATERY AND BAR
September/October 2107 Issue

A brunch-focused gastropub with emphasis on locally sourced foods.

Chicken and Waffles

Is this a breakfast place for dinner, a dinner place for breakfast, or what?

To be honest we had no clue until we finished our meal. We happened upon Drunch while driving up N. Fourth Street in search of something quick and inexpensive for dinner. Intrigued by its modern design amidst a string of new restaurants, breweries, and bars, this one at 995 N. Fourth St. drew us in.

There are a lot of things to like. Open and airy, with a unique menu posted on notebook paper (actually a well-diguised whiteboard), Drunch features a variety of unique offerings. Have you ever had Avocado Fries? They’re on the menu, along with Fruity Pebbles Cheesecake, the Drunch Burger, and three varieties of Drunch Wings – Angry (habanero and sour cherry), Happy (pineapple teriyaki), and Playful (bourbon maple and bacon).

We had the Super Salad, made with quinoa, walnuts, pomegranate, microgreens, onion sprouts, sweet potato, and feta, with a matcha vinaigrette. Priced at $11, it’s worth every penny. We also had the Black Bean Burger ($12), with cilantro lime crema, microgreens, house pickles, and a small house salad. I requested ketchup on the side, as I often do when ordering things I’m not sure of. My request soon prompted one of the owners to come over to our table to ask, “Why the ketchup?” I told her that quite honestly I did so that in the event the “veggie” burger wasn’t very good I could add the ketchup to make it more palatable. I quickly and happily added that she should not worry – I had used none of the ketchup, and her burger was quite good, just as served.

This was our first time here and we look forward to a return trip, as we feel it has many things we need to try. Maybe next time we’ll go for Chicken and Waffles (cheddar cheese waffle with Tabasco, and bourbon maple syrup), or possibly the Drunch Fry Up (2 eggs, choice of meat, homefries, toast, and a cup of fresh fruit). And we’re almost certain to line up for the Challah Back (bruleed challah French toast with smoked caramel) and the Drunch Stack (pancakes with orange ginger syrup and hibiscus butter)!

Oh – and the BEERS! Choose from a great selection of craft beers on tap to go with your French toast or burger (we had the delightfully spicy Land Grant Greenskeeper). And we’re told that outdoor patio dining is in the works. So stop on by and try a Drunch – whether its breakfast for dinner or dinner for breakfast, we love that this place offers such a creative twist on some classic old standards.

Drunch Eatery + Bar, 995 N. Fourth Street, www.druncheatery.com, 614-420-2121, Hours: 7 Days 8a - 8p.

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