Gift Card Giveaway!!!

Posted: August 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

katzingers

It’s giveaway time!!

Summer is coming to an end, school has started, and everyone is feeling a little stressed, right? So I figured, what a great time to give some stuff away!

Our friends at Katzinger’s Delicatessen have graciously given us more $25 gift cards to give away to TBGG readers, and you don’t even have to jump through hoops for them. All you need to do is comment on this post and tell me which breakfast or brunch spot you’d like to see me review in an upcoming post! That’s it! Just recommend your favorite breakfast or brunch spot in town, or pick a spot you’re curious about and want the low-down on. I will choose 2…that’s right, 2…random winners Monday evening, August 25th at 11:00 pm, and each will receive a $25 gift card. Winners will be posted here on Tuesday morning!

Spread the word…TBGG is giving away $50 in Katzinger’s Deli grub!! Have your family and friends submit their suggestions, too (and maybe you can talk them into taking you to breakfast with their free moolah!).

 

***** WINNER UPDATE!! ***** Based off of numbers randomly drawn by Mrs. Grub Guy, the winners of the $25 gift cards are Tom Anderson and AlohaJo!!! Congrats guys, please send me an email with your addresses so I can mail you your prizes. Thanks so much to everyone who submitted suggestions. Watch for more giveaways in the near future!!

103_2045

One of the OSU campus area’s newest restaurant/bar combo spots, Ethyl & Tank, was the appointed meeting site of a recent guys breakfast I had arranged with a couple of buddies, which we usually try to do together every couple of months. Located just about a block off of High St. and right across from the Student Union, Ethyl & Tank is a long, brick building with a slender patio out front, and a cool, retro neon sign that marks the otherwise unassuming exterior of the building. I’ve been wanting to check out E & T since they opened earlier this year, and figured that the trendy campus restaurant that’s also part coffee shop/part bar/part arcade (yes, you read that right), would be a great grub spot on a Saturday morning. I took Grub Boy (aka. my eight-year-old) along with me, and we arrived at around 9:00am and grabbed one of the several empty metered spots right out front.

103_2039

Ethyl & Tank is brought to us by the same folks who gave us the Crest Gastropub, and as much as people like to down its elder sibling for their struggling quality and higher prices, Ethyl & Tank is making a name for itself as a hip neighborhood joint where you can find tasty, Southern-inspired meals from morning to late night, and for a great price, too! E & T is as visually appealing as any place in town, with bright colors, a wide-open floor plan, exposed brick, high ceilings, and much more to look at.  The perplexing name is derived from a now defunct gas station/truck stop somewhere in Georgia, which inspired the rugged concept of the restaurant itself. In fact, much of the original lighting and signage from the shop was used to bring life to this new space.
103_2036

When you first enter, you’re standing in the space glowingly appointed as “Ethyl”, a full-service coffee shop where the drink menu is divided into “Classics” and “Specialties”. Here, you can order up anything from a basic cuppa joe to iced coffees, frozen drinks, pour-overs, and more. They also offer bagels, cookies, and other pastries for take out or as a pre- or post meal snack.

103_2032

The restaurant and bar side of the operation is the main focus of the space just to the left of the coffee shop. As I mentioned, the bright and vibrant colors, as well as the rustic brick, make this attractive area a hip, fun place to come enjoy happy hour at the bar – aka “Tank” – where there are almost 40 beers on tap, or the perfect spot to fill up on anything from breakfast and brunch to satisfying those late night hangover munchies.

103_2034

Speaking of drinks, a lot of people like to partake of them with their brunch/breakfast, so Ethyl & Tank have you covered – aside from the bar, they offer an extensive Bloody Mary bar for just $5.00. I’m not a fan of vodka or tomato juice, but if I was, I’d be pumped at the awesome selection of mixes, spices, add-ins, and garnishes that are available.
103_2022

I’m more of a fan of coffee with my breakfast, so I decided to ask our server about their coffee selection. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to order something at “Ethyl” and walk it to my table, or if I could order with her. She offered to bring a sample of one of their two house specialties – the “Congo”, which she described as dark and chocolatey, or the lighter, fruitier “Summer Punch”.  She brought me this tiny E & T branded sample mug, containing a few sips of the latter, which was later confirmed to be a blend of a couple different Ethiopian flavors. I ordered up a cup, and was very happy to be able to enjoy such a great coffee with my meal.

103_2020

The menu at Ethyl & Tank seems to lean toward being both a little bit Southwestern, and a little bit Southern-fried. I was hugely disappointed when our server announced to us as soon as we sat down that they were completely out of pork. I had been eyeing the Tank Pancakes all day the day before, as I browsed their menu online, and had my taste buds totally prepared to devour a big stack of flapjacks topped with pulled pork and cheddar cheese. I was crushed. She did offer to substitute steak or chicken for any dish that regularly included the pork, but it just didn’t have the same appeal. Nevertheless, I had to regroup. I wasn’t worried though, because E & T’s breakfast menu is loaded with lots of breakfast options, like breakfast tacos, fried egg chicken fried steak, a chicken & waffles sandwich, orange blossom french toast and more.

103_2021

We started our meal with a plate of the Biscuits & Chorizo Gravy ($6.00) for the table. The four of us completely devoured these…ok, ok…it was mostly me that devoured these. But the other guys helped (a little). The biscuits were baseball-sized drop biscuits that were dense and moist, and were covered in a lake of creamy, flavorful white gravy. The deliciously spicy chorizo was sprinkled on top, and was proportioned very well. This has got to be one of my new favorite biscuits & gravy dishes in Columbus.

103_2027

Ethyl & Tank doesn’t have a kids menu per se, but that didn’t deter my son in the least. He spotted his usual favorite, the Pancakes ($7.00). These cakes are thick and fluffy and big – everything you want a stack of pancakes to be. They come with one of four toppings – mixed berry compote, Jameson maple syrup, rosemary apple cinnamon compote, and Nutella banana custard. Being a creature of habit, the boy requested just plain old maple syrup to top his stack. I asked if we could have some of the mixed berry compote on the side in case he changed his mind.

103_2031

My buddy Roman ordered the American Tank Scramble ($7.00), which was one of those dishes that should have come with the pulled pork but didn’t. I believe he substituted the chicken in its place. It was an extra large portion (looked to be at least a 3 egger) and also included bacon, onion, diced tomatoes, and was topped with cheddar jack cheese. You’ve just gotta love a good scramble some times.

103_2026

My cousin ordered another of the huge scramble dishes, the South American Scramble ($7.00). This one again was a huge plate-filler that combined eggs, chorizo, green chiles, tomatoes, onions, and was topped with queso fresco and salsa, and came with four corn tortillas. I liked the fact that the tortillas were included, so that you have the option of making breakfast tacos if you wanted to. He really enjoyed this dish, and said that the flavors were really vibrant and lively.

103_2024

In lieu of the Tank Pancakes, I ordered the recommended Smothered Breakfast Burrito ($7.00). Burritos aren’t something that I order very often for breakfast, but I decided to give this one a try. It was a huge portion, and was filled with scrambled eggs, chorizo, black bean corn salsa, potatoes, sour cream, and was topped with their house made Bloody Mary mix and melted cheddar jack cheese.

103_2030

The filling was hot and gooey and was a mix of lots of flavors and textures. It was good, but I wasn’t blown away. I’m still trying to find a breakfast burrito where the stuff on the inside has as much flavor, or more so, than the sauces or cheeses on the outside. It wasn’t bad, and it filled me up plenty.

103_2037

The boy was anxiously awaiting blasting some video game bad guys, so after breakfast we headed upstairs to check out the arcade. E & T’s game room is stocked with a dozen or so 80’s arcade games that are all set to free play. They’ve got some classics up there such as Pac-man, Street Fighter 2, TMNT…

103_2041

And his favorite of the day, Terminator 2. He could have stayed for hours.

We all really enjoyed our breakfast at Ethyl & Tank. I think the space itself is spectacular, with the beautiful colors and decor. The food was just a bit hit and miss for me, but I think that’s because I’m still disappointed I didn’t get my Tank Pancakes. Everything else was wonderful, including our servers. The restaurant is still very young, but has everything it takes to survive in the ever-changing landscape of a college campus – a great coffee shop, an impressive bar, a delicious menu, and even a free arcade.

It’s a great addition to the Columbus breakfast scene, and one that I’m sure we will be visiting again soon.

Ethyl & Tank is located at 19 E. 13th Ave, Columbus, OH 43201 (Map). They’re open Monday – Sunday, 7:00 am – 2:00 am. For more info, like their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter or Instagram.

Ethyl & Tank on Urbanspoon

103_2009

Last weekend, Mrs. Grub Guy and I made a quick weekend trek to the northwest suburbs of Philadelphia to retrieve our eight-year-old, who spent a couple of weeks there visiting with his grandparents. The plan during our brief trip was, aside from spending a couple days with family, that we would also try to take advantage of the time by grabbing a bite at some of our favorite spots in town (we used to live in that area before moving to Columbus, so we’re pretty familiar with many of the local restaurants.) We made sure to hit up the stellar Shady Maple Smorgasbord near Lancaster, PA, for their breakfast buffet on Saturday morning (which you can read all about here), and before we started the eight hour drive home on Sunday morning, I knew I definitely wanted to drop by Suzy-Jo Donuts in nearby Bridgeport.

Suzy-Jo Donuts is a small, mom & pop donut shop with a rich history of serving up fresh, delicious donuts since 1955. They have a total of three shops in the general area, all within approximately 20 minutes of each other, with Bridgeport being their original location.

103_2010

The shop itself is a tiny storefront located on one of the main streets through town, and is easily accessible by both auto and foot traffic. Stepping through the doors of the small, unassuming shop is like taking a step back in time. Suzy-Jo’s is a no frills – walk up to the counter, get your donuts, and walk out – type of place. There are no tables or stools for seating (not that there’s room for such nonsense anyway), and that’s how it’s always been. It’s straightforward and it’s simple. While I was at the shop, I took just a minute or two to observe a few people come and go: A father and his young son coming in to get their Sunday morning donuts together, a special trip they had obviously made many times before…an older man stopping in for a newspaper, a donut and his usual coffee, a combo which the young man behind the counter had memorized…and an elderly gentleman in his Sunday best, grabbing a dozen glazed to-go on his way to church. There was just something incredible about it. The beauty of a beloved local business is having the opportunity to build your own traditions with it and around it, and Suzy-Jo Donuts is obviously that business for many of the local people.

103_2011

But tradition isn’t the only thing that’s great about Suzy-Jo. There are, of course, the amazing donuts. Overflowing with a variety of over 40 different flavors and styles, their cases are famous for being stocked with some of the freshest, tastiest treats in town. They offer many unique flavors that you really don’t find very often, and some I had never seen before – flavors like coconut custard, peach-filled, strawberries and cream, “hard chocolate” (kind of like the chocolate shell stuff you put over ice cream, only on top of a donut!), peanut butter fluff, and cherry cheesecake-filled.

103_2012

More choices than you can wrap your brain around….

103_2013

Two of their monstrous specialties are the cinnamon rolls and the scrumptious-looking apple fritters. I am a huge fan of the fritter, and these were simply enormous (the picture doesn’t do them justice). I’m still kicking myself for filling up my box too quickly and not leaving room for one of these dudes.

103_2016

Alas, it was decision time. I tried to keep in mind that I was buying to share with several other people, so I tried to get a variety and not just all of my favorites. I ordered a box of twelve ($9.25/doz), and had lots of fun choosing them.

103_2017

I knew I wanted to try Suzy-Jo’s version of the maple bacon donut, and had to get a couple of their famous “Cream Stix”, which are essentially powdered long johns filled with white cream. The maple bacon donut was sweet, airy and delicious. The icing was not too sugary, but was mild and smooth. The bacon on top was cooked just enough to be done, but not too crispy, which I liked. They definitely rank high on my list of great maple-bacon donuts…if not possibly the best I’ve had.

The Cream Stix were very nicely done, and were much better than many cream-filled long johns I’ve eaten. I’ve never been a big fan of powdered sugar though, simply because I can’t seem to not get it all over myself.

103_2019

Rounding out the rest of the box, I chose several “filled” yeast donuts like the coconut custard, a basic white cream-filled, a strawberries & cream, and a cherry cheesecake-filled donut. I also went with some nice cake donuts such as the chocolate-iced Devil’s food, a white-iced coconut, and a plain donut for my FIL. And of course, for the kiddies – sprinkles!!

103_2015

There is very good reason why Suzy Jo Donuts is a beloved gem in an East coast world that’s been overrun with chain shops like Dunkin’ Donuts (I swear, they’re everywhere out there!!). These donuts have character and are made with love and pride – you can see it and you can most certainly taste it. The difference in the two is not only evident in the quality of the end products themselves, but also in the fact that the people who’ve loved these local shops for decades still make it a point to continue their routine traditions of support, and are passing it down to the next generation.

That’s what this blog is all about, and that’s what I’m all about.

Well done, Suzy-Jo.

Suzy-Jo Donuts is located at 49 E. Fourth St, Bridgeport, PA 19405 (Map), with two additional locations around town. They’re open from 6:00 am – 3:00 pm, 7 days a week. For more info, check out their Facebook page here.

Suzy-Jo Donuts on Urbanspoon

(Disclaimer: This post is slightly lengthy. I just couldn’t help myself. I went a little photo crazy, but I love this place. You may want to grab a snack before you start reading….just sayin’)

103_2008

See this place? This, my friends, is one of my happy places. Nestled among the rolling hills, the planted fields and the Amish farm houses of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is the Shady Maple Smorgasbord. Shady Maple is the ultimate tourist destination – a huge mega-complex composed of a 1,200 seat restaurant, a 30,000 square foot gift shop (located below the dining room), a farmer’s market, a furniture store, a banquet hall, a cafe and more. Basically, think Der Dutchman (in Plain City) on tons of steroids. The main attraction of the Shady Maple complex is the Smorgasbord –  a huge buffet that stretches over 200 feet in length, and features some seriously delicious authentic Pennsylvania Dutch cooking, in heaping plenty. The Smorgasbord serves some of the best comfort food I’ve ever eaten, including fried chicken, steak & gravy, meatloaf, roast beef, homemade stuffing, mac & cheese and sooo much more, but what I love best is that every weekday morning, and on Saturdays too, Shady Maple opens their doors bright and early for their equally bountiful breakfast buffet. The wife and I have been here several times in the past, and upon a recent weekend trip to visit her family in southeastern PA, we knew we wanted to take them to Shady Maple for breakfast on Saturday morning.

103_1963

Helpful hint: If you’re going to go to Shady Maple for breakfast, it’s probably wise to go during the week. If Saturday is your only option, as it was for us, try to get there early. After a 45 minute drive from the Norristown/King of Prussia area (just northwest of Philly), we arrived at around 9:00 am, and had about a 30 minute wait. Long lines are not an uncommon sight at Shady Maple, since they attract visitors from all across the country.

103_1964

There was a sign in the lobby welcoming morning guests. Shady Maple starts serving breakfast at the crack of dawn mainly for the farmers, as has been tradition for the restaurant since they opened. But anyone is welcome as early as 5:00 am (although their hours will change starting in September to 6:00 am).

103_1968

The mammoth dining room is composed of several areas. There’s the main floor, and then there are several side rooms just off of the main dining room, which are used regularly. To give you a little perspective, this photo captured only about a quarter of the dining room.  It may look cramped, but there’s plenty of space at each table, and it really isn’t bad, even when the room is packed. The buffet and accompanying grills are all situated along the far side of the room.

103_1974

So we got through the lines, and as soon as we were seated at our table, I hit the buffet. I kind of started in the middle, which was a little unconventional, and incidentally was where the sweet stuff was located. I picked up half a donut while I was in the area :)

103_1976

There was a buffet designated for French toast, biscuits, waffles, and cereal.

103_1975

Lots and lots of fruit & yogurt.

103_1979

I moved on to the loads of Pennsylvania Dutch comfort food. Pancakes, French toast sticks, bread pudding, oatmeal, grits….

103_1978

Several styles of breakfast potatoes including cheesy hash browns, hash brown patties, fried potatoes, sausage gravy, creamed chipped beef…

103_1980

Sausage links and patties, smoked sausage, scrapple, fried mush…

103_1982

And the biggest pile o’ bacon my eyes had ever laid sight upon!!

103_1969

Some of the biggest attractions are the grill stations where you can customize and personalize your breakfast to your liking. The pancake station was busting with activity. Pancakes made with several kinds of fruits, nuts, sprinkles, chocolate/pb/butterscotch chips, and even pieces of candy bar!

103_1973

Likewise, the customized eggs station was cranking out some incredible omelets, scrambles, benedicts, and more!

103_1983

I’m usually a two-plater kind of guy, and you know I planned to get my money’s worth here! The thing about buffets is that most buffet restaurants always tend to WAY underseason their foods, because they are serving such a diverse range of people with different tastes. It’s done that way so that you can alter the seasonings according to your taste buds. Shady Maple is similar in that their foods do sometimes require an extra shake of the salt and/or pepper on top, but it’s different in that you can just tell that their foods are made from quality ingredients, which always gives the food a more well-rounded flavor.

My first plate consisted of some basic scrambled eggs, bacon, a couple of sausage links, half of a chocolate-iced cream-filled donut, and a split, homemade biscuit with sausage gravy. Everything was really tasty and cooked well. The only complaint I would have is that by the time I got back to the table, my sausage gravy was a bit cold, but I’m not sure if that’s because it was cold to start with, or if the long trek back from the buffet just cooled it down a bit for me. Either way, it was edible, and hey…it’s gravy!

103_1990

Plate #2 consisted of one of my all-time favorite food pairings – chicken & waffles. This plate was the result of Mrs. Grub Guy’s brilliant mind, as I had seen people with chicken tenders on their plates, and I had seen the waffles on the buffet, but for some reason just didn’t put the two together until my lovely wife suggested it. Thanks, honey :)

103_1984

Some other plates of breakfast love at our table included things like pancakes, hash browns and fresh fruit for our 8-year old…

103_1985

My father-in-law actually braved the long line at the egg station, and opted for a Philly cheesesteak omelet, which was packed full of tender, seasoned steak, cheese and peppers. He also went with some fried potatoes with peppers and some bacon.

103_1986

Mrs. Grub Guy grabbed some sliced breakfast ham, scrambled eggs, potatoes, a banana, half a donut, and some fried mush. She said the mush was well done, but needed some salt.

103_1992

She also went for a unprecidented second plate (a true rarity for her), and decided to mix things up a little with an original masterpiece…the “bacon crisp French toast”. Ok, so it was just slivers of bacon on top of French toast, but she enjoyed it :) There’s also a house-smoked sausage link there too.

103_1996

After breakfast, we all made our way out to the lobby area, where there is always lots of activity. There are often times local crafters, quilters, and other artists with displays and goods for sale here. On this particular morning, there was a man selling wooden roses (the rosebuds were made from curled wood shavings and dyed different colors)….

103_1995

And there was also this table of Whoopie Pie pillows for the kiddies. For those who don’t know, a whoopie pie is a favorite treat in this area, made with traditionally two soft, chocolate, cake-like cookies and cream in the middle.

103_1997

In the far corner of the lobby was a small section where they sell fresh-baked goods that are made at their bakery, located elsewhere on the campus. You can pick up fresh breads, rolls, cookies, pies and other treats to take home and enjoy. I was tempted to pick up a few things, but controlled my urges.

103_1999

The real temptations are located one floor below the actual restaurant, in Shady Maple’s 30,000 square foot gift shop. I can honestly say that I do NOT enjoy shopping, but this gift shop is so cool that even I like browsing it. There’s literally thousands of collectibles, figurines, country decor, quilts, toys (we caved and bought our son another Star Wars LEGO set), sports stuff, leather goods, seriously…anything you can think of that would be in a tourist gift shop, is HERE! I won’t bore you with lots of photos (this is a FOOD blog, after all), but I did want to show you a couple of my favorite aisles…

103_2001

The comic book super heroes aisle (how cool are those cookie jars?!?)

103_2003

And who doesn’t love this stuff???

103_2006

Also located on the lower level is the Dutchette, a fast food style restaurant where they serve many of Shady Maple’s favorite dishes for take out, or individual menu options. It’s actually a great idea if you think about it…you can still have the great Shady Maple grub if you’re in a hurry and grabbing something to go, or if you don’t want to wait in the lines or experience the awesomeness that is the Smorgasbord, you can order an individual meal from the menu and eat at the Dutchette. Brilliant!

As you can see, Shady Maple is a popular place. It’s got something for everyone, which is why they are always packed – morning, noon and night. But especially on weekends! Tour buses filled with traveling folks from all across the east coast are not uncommon to the Shady Maple Smorgasborg parking lot. But the funny thing is, you might see an Amish horse and buggy parked right next to it. That’s one of the things that makes Shady Maple great, in my opinion, is that folks from all walks of life gather here to partake in delicious comfort food together. I wonder if the Weaver family had any clue, back in the 1970’s when they opened a little farm market called Shady Maple, that one day they’d be bringing folks together from all over the country.

My family really enjoys coming here. From the beautiful local landscapes and scenery to the delicious donuts and scrapple, Shady Maple will always remain a favorite for us.

Shady Maple Smorgasbord is located at 129 Toddy Dr., East Earl, PA 17519 (Map). They are open Monday – Saturday, 5:00 am – 8:00 pm, with breakfast running from 5-10 am. For more info on the Smorgasbord, or any of their other facilities, you can visit their website or their Facebook page.

 

Shady Maple Farm Market & Smorgasbord on Urbanspoon
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

103_1957

Colin’s Coffee is a shop that’s caught my eye on many a drive-by, while out and about running errands or riding along with family or friends, but one that I’ve never actually had the opportunity to visit. I’ve always been curious about this corner coffee shop near the intersection of Riverside Dr. and Fishinger Blvd., so now that I have a permanent office job in the area, I swung over during a lunch break recently to grab a caffeine pick-me-up and possibly a snack, too.

Colin’s Coffee is run by a dude named Colin Gawel. In addition to running the coffee shop, which he does on a full-time basis, Colin is also a local musician who has had big success as part of the band, Watershed. During my visit, I got a chance to have a long chat with Colin, who told me that he no longer tours much as part of the music industry, but credits his time on the road with contributing to his coffee appreciation and education. Colin took what he’d learned by watching and drinking coffee while touring, and decided to expound on that and open his own shop just around the corner from where he lives, with his wife and son.

103_1956

Colin’s Coffee has an incredible local coffee shop vibe, and that’s exactly the way that Colin wants it. He advertises the shop as a sort of ultimate anti-chain store, with these great signs posted all over the building and even in the parking lot! The tag line at the bottom of his menu board even offers a bit if sage advice – “Friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks.”

103_1954

The shop is designed with doors at either end of a long, slender space, and a big counter that stretches the length of the inner wall, which is where Colin does his thing daily. He’s quite the friendly owner, welcoming every customer with a smile and a willingness to talk coffee, and help patrons with coffee and food selections.

103_1955

Seating is pretty well covered with a mix of tables inside, several bar stools at the end of the counter, and a sidewalk patio area. The dining room is illuminated well, and the place was tidy and neat. All things that you want in a comfortable, local shop.

103_1952

As for the menu, Colin’s Coffee is true to its first love – coffee. That being said, there is a small food menu that features several breakfast and lunch sandwiches, along with specialties like hot oatmeal, and a fan favorite tomato soup. There’s also plenty of typical coffee-shop faves like bagels (made locally by Blocks Bagels), muffins, and pastries. One of the special items that Colin sells are scones made by a local baker, My Sweet One. She delivers a fresh batch every Wednesday, and I was told that customers flock into the shop just for these treats. See this basket? Colin told me it was overflowing just a few short hours before my visit. When I got there, there were four.

103_1958

Colin offered me a complimentary sample scone (hey, I couldn’t refuse…that would be rude! Regular price is $2.00), and I broke into it almost immediately. This Wednesday’s featured flavor was blueberry, and as you can see, it was chock full of fresh, sweet, whole berries. The pastry itself was dense and moist, but flaky. It had terrific flavor, and the berries amped the intensity up ten-fold! The sweetness of the fruit was the perfect contrast to the savory, buttery dough. And the sprinkle of sugar on top put it over-the-top delicious for me!

Now on to the coffee…

103_1959

Like most shops, Colin’s Coffee features a wide variety of hot & cold coffees, teas, smoothies, juices, hot cocoa, and more. I opted for something cold, and went with their house specialty – the Polar Blast ($3.00/20 oz), which was a blend of iced coffee, chilled milk, and choice of espresso or vanilla (I chose espresso based on Colin’s recommendation). The flavors were bold and strong, and exactly what I was looking for on a warm Summer day. It also went very well with the scone. I highly recommend it if you stop in!

I really enjoyed my visit to Colin’s Coffee that afternoon. Colin is about as friendly a guy as you’ll ever want to meet running a coffee shop, and is more than happy to answer questions about his drinks, food, or anything else you want to talk about. The store is situated just across the parking lot from the McDonald’s on the corner, and Colin told me that often times, customers who come in will sit and watch in amazement at the folks waiting in line for boring, fast food java, when such a great, local product is just yards away.

Do yourself a favor…don’t settle for ho-hum coffee. In the words of Colin, “Why wait in the drive thru? Choose small business!”

Colin’s Coffee is located at 3714 Riverside Dr, Columbus, OH 43221 (Map). They’re open from 6:00 am – 3:00 pm daily, and can be found on Facebook and more info is available at Colin’s website.

103_1844

Last weekend, I was invited to ride along as a guest on Columbus Brew Adventures’ Pitchers & Pizza Tour, as they traveled to some of the city’s most well known pizza destinations to partake of four very different, yet equally delicious pizza varieties, as well as some of the area’s tastiest craft brews. Each exceptional beverage was expertly paired with a local favorite pizza pie in order to highlight this classic combination.

Columbus Brew Adventures is the city’s premier local craft brewery tour operator and has been offering delightfully entertaining and informative guided tours since 2013. CBA was founded by the co-owner of Columbus Food Adventures, Bethia Woolf, and local food writer, blogger, and beer enthusiast, Jim Ellison (CMH Gourmand). In addition to the Pitchers & Pizza Tour, they also run several tours featuring some of the city’s most exciting, independent microbreweries and distilleries.

The Pitchers & Pizza tour focused on four distinct pizza styles that are found here in Columbus: Chicago-style deep dish, Columbus-style, New York-style, and “Pizza for the People”. Our tour guide, Jim, offered an incredibly detailed history of all four styles of pizza as well as their accompanying beverages, the origins of each restaurant we visited, and each brewery whose product we sampled. It was great to be able to soak up all of that knowledge, as well as hear the legends and lore of each component of the tour.

103_1845

Our first stop (and our original meeting point) was Meister’s Bar, which is located at 1168 Chambers Rd, and is sort of sandwiched between Upper Arlington and Granview. Honestly, I was completely unfamiliar with Meister’s prior to the tour, but I quickly learned that they are one of only 2 or 3 places in town where you can find authentic, Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Meister’s itself is your typical dive bar with pool tables, darts, etc, and you’d never know by looking at the place that they also make some of the most incredible pizza in Columbus.

103_1849

Jim took the liberty of ordering each of us a “bonus beer” – an Old Style Chicago beer, which has been a favorite of the Windy City natives since 1902. It’s a traditional lager that comes straight from Chicago, and we enjoyed it with our deep dish slice(s). The pizza was excellent, made traditional Chicago deep-dish style, with the thicker crust, tons of gooey cheese in the middle, and topped with a slightly sweet tomato and basil sauce. I tried to pace myself for our upcoming pizza & beer marathon (Ha…while writing this sentence it struck me that this may be the only kind of marathon I could survive LOL) so I limited myself to two small slices, but could have definitely grubbed out on more. I’m looking forward to trying Meister’s again soon.

103_1852

The featured brew at this stop was the Brass Knuckle Pale Ale by Four String Brewing in Grandview. As you can see, this APA is dark amber/light copper in color, and crisp and smooth in taste. It had a little of the hops bitterness, with a slight sweetness as well. Good start!

103_1858

The next stop on our tour took us to Iacono’s Italian Restaurant at 4452 Kenny Rd. near Upper Arlington. Iacono’s is synonymous with classic, Columbus-style thin crust pizza which they’ve been serving local fans since 1978, and comes from a pizza family with a legacy dating back to 1953 in Columbus. Here, Jim talked about the slices vs. squares (also called “tavern-style”) debate, provolone cheese vs. mozzarella, Iacono’s humble beginnings, and their connection with another local favorite, Tommy’s Pizza. He also made an extremely strong argument for the fact that Columbus does indeed deserve – nay, demands – to be recognized as having our own pizza style based on history and character.

103_1857

At Iacono’s, we got to sample three different pizzas topped with some of my all-time favorite toppings – Old World Pepperoni (smaller, spicier, and slightly thicker pep that curls when it’s baked, creating the infamous toasty-rimmed grease cup), and house-made pork sausage. The third pizza was absolutely delicious too – a Margarita pizza, which was a white pizza brushed with olive oil, topped with roasted garlic, fresh basil, tomatoes, and topped with provolone and Romano cheese. I am a huge fan of Columbus-style pizza, and Iacono’s nailed the flavors and technique.

The beer this round was a Columbus favorite, the IPA (India Pale Ale) by Columbus Brewing Company. CBC’s IPA is a classic around these parts, and can easily be found on tap at most local watering holes, restaurants, and for sale at most major grocers.

103_1860

Our third stop was at a favorite drinking destination of a lot of folks in Old North Columbus, Ledo’s Tavern at 2608 N. High St. Ledo’s is a large space and is a prime spot to get your drink on, especially since it’s connected to one of Columbus’ most popular pizza empires, Mikey’s Late Night Slice. We started this leg of the tour with the drink, another example of an excellent IPA called “Psychopathy”, this time by MadTree Brewing in Cincinnati. This IPA was much stronger than CBC’s version at our previous stop. It’s a honey gold color, and had the aroma, as well as the taste of citrus with a bit of malty-ness.

103_1862

We grubbed on a large, Mikey’s LNS pie of the pepperoni variety. We learned about the origins of New York-style pizza, and discussed the unique method of how to properly eat a slice – as any good New Yorker will tell you, you MUST fold it length-ways to prevent drooping. We also talked about the desire of a few guys in Columbus about five years ago for some pizza that they couldn’t find anywhere in the city. Mikey Sorboro and his buddies’ have a pretty cool story of how they took an idea, and a craving, and created possibly the most popular pizza in Columbus.  We learned about the accidental concoction of their now famous “Slut Sauce”, and their unique marketing style, which includes the overabundance of middle school-grade humor. In all honesty, Mikey’s is not my favorite pizza in town (I’ve eaten it several times), but it’s nothing personal…I’m just not a big fan of New York pizza. However, the pie was hot and fresh, and was enjoyed by our group. Good times.

103_1863

The final leg of our tour landed us at one of OSU campus’ favorite pizza joints, Hounddog’s Three Degree Pizza, which is located at 2657 N. High St. We started by sampling a beer with a really crazy name – “Chomolungma” by Jackie O’s Brewery in Athens, OH. Chomolungma is a honey nut brown ale, and was by far my favorite beer we sampled on the tour. The unusual name comes from the name that the people of Tibet use to reference Mt. Everest, and it was brewed to commemorate the 2007 Lungevity Everest Expedition. It has a wonderful flavor of wildflower honey, and according to Jackie O’s website, “Baked muffins, dark fruit, bittersweet chocolate, rich honey and earthy subtle hops caress the palate. ” An interesting combination to be certain.

103_1865

What better way to celebrate excellent beer than with excellent pizza! Like Jackie O’s drink, Hounddog’s was my favorite pizza we consumed the entire tour. Hounddog’s is known as the “Pizza for the people”. They’re open 24/7, which is a major plus for a lot of people. We were offered a large meat lover’s pie made on Hounddog’s famous “Smokin’ Joe’s” crust, and a large BBQ Chicken pizza on classic Hounddog’s crust. The meat lover’s pizza boasts two layers of mozzarella and provolone cheese, pepperoni, bacon, sausage, ham and salami. It was made on Smokin’ Joe’s hand-tossed, garlic-butter crust, and featured a mildly sweet tomato and basil sauce. It was divine.

103_1867

Hounddog’s BBQ chicken pizza was simply excellent. A zesty garlic BBQ sauce, seasoned chicken, bacon, red onions and cheddar cheese laid atop a crispy, perfectly cooked thin crust was the perfect way to wrap up this exceptionally satisfying afternoon. Jim talked some about Hounddog’s owners, their history, and the building itself while we ate and ate some more.

103_1868

Our final venture as we left, was out to the parking lot in back of the restaurant to peek at Hounddog’s unique delivery vehicle – an old school limo customized with their slogan and mascot. I can just imagine this thing cruising the streets of Ohio State campus delivering pies. Nice.

I had a fabulous time with Jim and the rest of the tour guests, and it wasn’t just for the pizza and beer. The history and information that was presented about each aspect of the tour was comprehensive and incredibly enthralling. Jim is a fountain of knowledge, and his enthusiasm and energy assist in making the experience extremely enjoyable.

If this post has done what it was intended to do, in the last 5 minutes you’ve been blown away by some awesome looking pizza, some thirst-provoking beer, and a yearning for learning about Columbus’ amazing pizza and beer scenes. Hopefully, it left you wanting more. The best way to get it? Click here to buy tickets to an upcoming Columbus Brew Adventures tour!!

 

103_1843

With the tremendous rise in popularity of the trendy, gastropub-style restaurant in Columbus over the last couple of years, comes a plethora of new brunch menus to be sampled. These types of establishments have increased greatly in number around the city, in part because of the attention they give to featuring local craft brews and breweries, but also for the new wave of innovative dishes they’re serving, which are most often prepared using products from local butchers, dairies, and the freshest local fruits and vegetables available. Let’s face it, brewpubs are cool. They’re the hip places to eat. And they’re definitely making breakfast and brunch cooler, too. Add these new spots to the already legendary (ok, I think it’s legendary) Columbus breakfast scene, and you’ve got a city filled with incredible places to enjoy our favorite morning meal. Mrs. Grub Guy and I recently headed up to Dublin to check out one of these hip, new(ish) spots for brunch, the 101 Beer Kitchen.

103_1818

101 Beer Kitchen is located along Sawmill Rd, just north of Hard Rd, and about five minutes off of I-270. It’s a pretty tricky location to find, unless you’re really familiar with the area. They’re set up on an angled end of a newer shopping center that sits back off the road, and behind some other buildings. Once we found it and made our way inside, the wife and I were greeted by two friendly hostesses who asked us about our seating preference, which was nice, since I’m usually pretty picky about where I like to sit. The deep interior of the restaurant is slightly dimmed, but the lighting around the perimeter is better, thanks to many big windows. The décor is rustic and modern, with lots of rugged-looking, antiqued wall art. I absolutely love a restaurant with big, community seating options like 101 BK offers.

103_1820

The bar area is located in the center of the restaurant, and seemed to feature a fairly wide variety of craft beer. The environment, even on a Saturday afternoon, was comfortable yet sophisticated. 101 BK recently started a monthly beer tasting series that they’ve titled, “Beer 101”, which is a casual and informative event directed by their knowledgeable staff and other local beer experts.

103_1821

No reason for this photo other than I just liked the look of this stylish, frosted glass wall. :)

103_1815

101 Beer Kitchen’s brunch menu is composed of about eight unique entrees, along with appetizers and brunch cocktails. Our server, Philip, was very knowledgeable about their menu and the restaurant in general. He told us that the restaurant is owned by Thad and Jess Kittrell, who opened it on their anniversary, October 1, 2012 – thus the name (10/1 = 101 Beer Kitchen). The menu is eclectic, and features a number of trendy dishes such as benedicts, a corned beef pot pie, southwest-style cornbread with a chorizo gravy, and more. Decisions, decisions….

103_1817

Our server poured us some water, and left a nearly full, ice-cold growler on the table so that we could refill our glasses as we wished. I really liked this classy touch. Plus, with a growler sitting on the table, it obviously makes people think…beer!! Mind games, baby. Mind games.

103_1829

Ok, so we caved, and decided to order a couple of drinks from the brunch menu. I chose the MOA Breakfast Ale, which comes from the MOA Brewing Company in Marlborough, New Zealand. It was a European-style breakfast beer and had a subtle fruity taste. It was quite good. The wife ordered the Lavender Blueberry Lemonade, which was made with OYO honey vanilla vodka and a splash of soda. She raved about how light and sparkly it was.

103_1823

We started our meal with an appetizer, the 101 BK version of Biscuits & “Gravy”($2.95). Anyone who has followed this blog for a while knows of my biscuits and gravy fetish, but these were unlike any I had ever sampled before. The dish consisted of two homemade, buttermilk biscuits and was topped with a sweet praline gravy and chopped pecans. All I can say is HOLY BISCUITS AND GRAVY, BATMAN!! These were unbelievable! When they arrived to our table in a small, cast-iron cask, the “gravy” was still bubbling hot. Obviously from the ingredient list, I knew these weren’t going to be your typical biscuits and gravy. They were sweet, almost like a dessert, and as I was eating, all I could think was, “Man, a big scoop of vanilla ice cream would be excellent over this!”

103_1834

Mrs. Grub Guy ordered the Crab Cake Benedict ($14.95). It too, arrived at our table in a hot, cast-iron skillet and looked (and smelled) amazing. I surmised that a more accurate billing of this dish would be that of a skillet or a hash rather than a benedict, because its base was a mix of bacon and veggies (potatoes, asparagus, artichokes, onions, and tomatoes) that was topped with a tender and meaty crab cake, two perfectly poached eggs and red pepper hollandaise.

103_1840

Layers and layers of delish was what this dish was all about. You can see how much food was actually inside of that skillet. My wife absolutely loved it and said that all of the flavors played off of each other really well. The crab cake was fresh and flaky, the eggs were perfect, the veggies were tender, and the dish as a whole was incredibly tasty.

103_1836

After perusing the menu for apparently what is more than a socially acceptable amount of time, I finally decided to go with the “Steak & Eggs” ($12.95), which was a braised mole short rib atop a layer of corn tortilla, refried beans, tomatoes and queso fresco, with fresh guacamole and topped with a sunny side up egg. This dish just had an incredible freshness about it.

103_1841

The sunny side up egg was perfect, and the short rib absolutely melted in my mouth. It was fork tender, and had delicious flavor. The house-made refried beans were incredible, the veggies, the guacamole, the sauces…everything was so fresh and delicious. I would most definitely recommend this dish to anyone going to check them out for brunch!!

103_1842

I snapped this photo on our way out of 101 BK’s “patio”. Now I don’t really consider eating on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant a patio, so when I see this kind of thing, I’m more inclined to eat inside than out. But for what it is, it was ok, I guess. Just not my thing. There were many people sitting outside though, enjoying their meals and the sunshine, which is what it’s all about.

Our overall impression of 101 Beer Kitchen was that it’s a comfortable, casual, yet sophisticated establishment with a great brunch menu. I can’t really speak for the rest of their food, but if you’re looking for a nicer place to enjoy brunch on a weekend morning or early afternoon, 101 BK is your spot. Their prices are pretty much on point for the style of food they serve and the atmosphere they accomplish. The Mrs. and I both agreed that 101 BK may be one of our new favorite brunch spots in town, and we won’t hesitate to return.

They’ve also recently announced that they will be expanding to the east side in the near future with the opening of a second 101 Beer Kitchen restaurant in the Stone Ridge Plaza at the corner of Morse & Hamilton. So for those of you in the Gahanna/New Albany area, be sure to go out and check them out when they open!! You won’t regret it.

101 Beer Kitchen is located at 7509 Sawmill Rd, Dublin OH 43016 (Map). They’re open Monday – Saturday, 11:00 am – 11:00 pm, and Sunday, 11:00 am – 9:00 pm.They serve Brunch Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 – 3:00. For more info, check out their website, or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

101 Beer Kitchen on Urbanspoon