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Feb 17, 2003 04:25 PM

What's cooking in Columbus?

  • d

Hey fellow chowhounds. What's the restaurant scene like nowadays in Columbus ?Is it still fast food and more fast food?Just curious?Boston chef originally from Columbus.

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  1. I'm not from Columbus, but am a recent transplant to the St. Louis area from San Francisco; so, parenthically, the following compliment comes from someone who is otherwise pretty cynical about restaurant eating in the heartland. On a recent biz trip to Columbus, my colleague and I ate at Handke's Cuisine. I probably should have posted a detailed report. It was excellent from start to finish, and the meal would have been well received in any big city.
    So, from my limited impression, it's not ALL fast food.

    1. Oh, things have changed. I'm in Dayton and go to Columbus every once in a while, and there's no shortage of great ethnic food offerings there. When we go, we usually have lunch at the Blue Nile for great Ethiopian food, pick up some goodies at the Chinese bakery down the street, stop by a good-sized Japanese grocery store on Kenny St. for unusual items, go to Penzey's for a great selection of spices and spice blends, and we used to make a stop at Trader Joe's before they opened one in my hometown. And that's really only a fraction of what's available, I know.

      1. improved yes but up from what? its gone from pioneering fast food to lots of bland middle of the road restaurants now that they have some blooming suburbs. not much of a step up but thats how the locals like it. though not in the actual population, there is a smattering of ethnic eats, but none are standouts. remember, this is the town that tore down the mammoth and goofy, yet iconic polynesean KAHIKI restaurant to build a walmart.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mrnyc

          there's no walmart anywhere near the old kahiki location. just for the record...

          1. re: abbefaith

            It was actualy Walgreens that bought the site and tore down the restaurant. I haven't been out that way recently, but I heard that the Walgreen's on the site has already closed. The food was decent but wasn't amazing, but the experience was fun. I miss the place because of the memories.

          2. re: mrnyc

            I'm not sure from your post in you live in Columbus, but either way, you appeantly have not done much research when it comes to finding excellent Columbus restaurants. I have friends/relatives from all over the country who cosistently compliment the restaurants in Columbus. Sure, we have fast food (what city anywhere in the world DOESN'T these days?) We're not NYC, or San Francisco, or Chicago, but we do have some EXCELLENT restaurants here.

            For a great dining experience, try going to some of the locally owned and operated restaurants like Alana's, Z Cucina, Trattoria Roma, Lindy's, The Blue Nile, the Refectory, Thurmans, Barcelona, Rigsby's, the list goes on and on.

          3. d
            Dave in Columbus

            Seems to me that plenty is cooking in Columbus these days. Chef Hartmut Handke came in sixth in the Bocuse D'Or, the Refectory keeps winning that prize from Wine Spectator, and L'Antibe has the best classical French food in the state (okay, it's Ohio, but still). Shaw's Restaurant in nearby Lancaster, too, has a fantastic wine list and creative seasonal menus alongside classic chophouse selections.

            Plus, there's good Japanese (Otani, Sapporo Wind, and Restaurant Japan), Indian (Indian Oven, Taj Palace, and others), and Chinese (including dim sum at Fortune and Shangri La). The Cuban food at the Starliner Diner is tasty, hearty, and cheap, and good taquerias keep springing up (like that new place on Bethel Road, whose name I've forgotten). That's not to mention seriously good bar food at the Thurman Cafe and Olde Mohawk.

            There's fast food and chain food aplenty in Columbus, but good eats aren't that hard to find either.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Dave in Columbus

              I'll have to make it a point to eat at L'Antibes the next time I'm in Columbus. Maisonette and now Jean-Robert at Pigall's, both in Cincinnati, have set the bar pretty high for French cuisine in Ohio. L'Antibes must be very good!

              1. re: Matt

                funny thing is i used to live in the apt right above L'ANTIBES before and when it opened so we got to try things and make comments on the menu. it was working out kinks for quite a long time but the food was always pretty good.

                i know MAISONETTE is supposed to be the best in ohio but have you tried any northeast ohio french? on the westside CHEZ FRANCOIS, LE BISTRO DU BEAUJOLAIS and the venerable SANS SOUCI are also very good. and closer to you dont forget to give L'AUBERGE a try.

                yes there is french in ohio, problem is relatively its all too damn expensive. where are the cheap bistros we have all over new york? you'd think someone would open one by a college or something.

                1. re: Matt

                  I have always found L'Antibes boring, even though the food was good quality and the execution flawless. In contrast ,Maisonette (now out of business) was dated old school cuisine , but I have had impressive food there. Jean-Robert at Pigall's can be excellent on the level of top N.Y. restaurants.

                  1. re: Matt

                    Maisonette was old school and dated and that is why they are no longer in business despite their 5 star rating, but I have had some great meals there on occasion. Jean-Robert at Pigall's is much better (IMHO) and I have had a meal there on par with the top restaurants in N.Y.C. L'Antibes has never delivered a meal that impressed me. The service is very good and the quality of ingredients is good but the food was never inspired and I have always found it boring.

                2. Columbus has a lot to offer, if you know where to look. For example, there's a great Vietnamese place on the East Side, in Whitehall, called Pho Little Saigon. They have pho that rivals the best stuff in the D.C. area, where I'm from. The Indian Oven has very solid Indian food, in a beautiful techno-modern setting. And I agree about Handke's - top flight food that would be at home anywhere. I was there earlier this week and had a terrific filet au poivre. Their creme brulee was excellent, too. And, last but not least, there's a great little taco truck on Georgesville Road on the West Side, in the parking lot of a thrift store. I think the taco truck is called Little Mexico - terrific tacos served with fresh cilantro and lime wedges. Great stuff.