About "Eat My Words"

About this blog

"Eat My Words" is a long time in the making. There is no question that my favorite activity is eating, but beyond that obvious fact, I especially like visiting new restaurants and trying new foods.

That's where the "Adventures in Dining" comes in. I won't be reviewing chain restaurants. The food may be fine, but there is no adventure to a Bob Evans, Applebee's, or Olive Garden! The only time I may blog about one of these establishments might be to comment on something unusual - whether it be good or bad - that may have occurred during my visit. Otherwise, I will be focusing on small, local restaurants that feature unique menu items.

I am not a food snob. I do not have any culinary training. I like what I like and will share my thoughts regarding my meal, a restaurant's ambiance, the attentiveness of the staff, and any other thoughts that may come to mind. Hopefully, readers will enjoy my reviews and try these restaurants for themselves.

Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to share your own feedback!

Gary Dougherty
November 24, 2010

UPDATE (October 13, 2012): I'm back!! For a variety of reasons (none of them good), I have not posted any reviews for about 18 months. Rest assured, I have continued to eat...just not write! I hope you enjoy my culinary adventures and I welcome any recommendations you might have for me. Bon appetit!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Da Levee

November 24, 2010

765 North High Street
Columbus, OH  43215
(317) 250-8847

My Fudha (see earlier post for discussion about Fudha) was about to expire on this holiday weekend, so I decided to have a late lunch at Da Levee on this Thanksgiving Eve.  Fudhas are generally valid during times when the restaurant is not usually very busy.  In the case of Da Levee, the Fudha can only be used after   (They appear to be fairly strict about it, but I was able to use mine when I arrived at !)

This was my second visit to Da Levee…well, actually, the third, but my first visit was aborted when I learned the restaurant was closed on Mondays.  The days/hours of operation have since changed – closed on Sunday, but open on Monday.

My previous visit to Da Levee was fine, but it was difficult to get over the Styrofoam plates and cups and plastic utensils.  This, too, has changed…a bit.  The Cajun food is now served on plates, but the cups and forks are still throwaway.  A metal fork would improve the dining experience and presumably wouldn’t increase the dishwashing time much…if at all.

Da Levee is a low-key, friendly Short North eatery.  It has seating for 16 at tables and four more at a small counter space.  The daily changing menu is posted in typical colorful fashion on a chalkboard on the wall.  There is a NOLA flavor to the room as vibrant artwork adorns the walls and colored beads seem to be breeding throughout the space.  Shadowboxes are filled with relevant kitsch and fun “stuff.”

Having already viewed the day’s menu on Facebook, I knew what I wanted to order when I walked in.  Orders are placed at a counter manned by Justin Boehme, the owner of Da Levee…at least I believe that was him (I should’ve asked!).

I ordered half portions of the Ropa Vieja and Chili Cheese Etouffee with Crawfish.  The food, already prepared, was delivered to my table within about four minutes of ordering.  It reminded me a bit of glorified fast food.  Da Levee is a small establishment and I’m sure that costs are kept in check by preparing quantities of each menu item and serving them while they last, but I do miss the personal touch a bit.

Whereas it was good, the etoufee was on the bland side.  Having said that, I must inform the reader that Da Levee has a large selection of sauces, mostly of the hot variety, available for each diner to spice up their meal.  The etouffee could have benefited from a little heat, but I wanted to taste the base recipe before experimenting with sauces.

After mopping up the last of the etoufee sauce with one of the two pieces of garlic bread that accompanied my meal, I tried the ropa vieja.  This is a dish I had never experienced.  Ropa vieja actually means “old clothes” in Spanish.  It consists of stewed, shredded beef mixed with both black and green olives in a tomato-based sauce and served over rice.

The ropa had a slight kick to it, but I wanted more.  Wandering over to the collection of sauces, I selected a Tapatio Salsa Picante, a hot sauce.  After a conservative sprinkling over a portion of my remaining ropa, I applied a more liberal dose.  This was just what was needed.  The ropa came alive and was clearly my favorite of the two menu items I sampled this day.

To top off the meal, I had the P-Nutt Butta Pie, a steal at only $3.00.  I really should have taken it to go because, whereas the pie was very smooth and almost light, it made the entire meal just a bit too filling.  On a chocolate cookie-type crust, the peanut butter was perfect -  not overpowering at all.  Topped with whipped cream and a chocolate drizzle, it was an attractive and tasty conclusion to lunch.  Next time, I’ll take it home in a box to enjoy later!

I have not had a lot of authentic Cajun food, but the standard remains the former Glory, a non-descript “hole-in-the-wall” (and I say that lovingly!) on Henderson Road (if my memory is correct) that has probably been closed for at least 10-15 years prior to its next incarnation as Harold’s Cajun Glory on Bethel Road.  Alas, Harold died a few years ago and with him seems to have gone the best of Cajun cuisine in the Columbus area.

One of my favorite things about ordering at Glory, and it was almost always Crawfish Etoufee, was that each portion was prepared individually with the diner specifying the “heat index” on a scale of one to 10.  I found that seven was best for me!

Da Levee certainly has promise and I hope it succeeds!  I would normally refer you to the website, but there is only a home page at this time.  Hopefully, it will be launched soon and contain more information about the genesis of the restaurant and its menu items.  In the meantime, check it out on Facebook.

(Photo from Da Levee's facebook page)

Alana's Food & Wine

November 16, 2010

2333 North High Street
Columbus, OH  43201
(614) 294-6783

It had been a long time since I had visited Alana's, but I knew I would not be disappointed.  Her eclectic menu always has nice surprises, but the quality and taste are always consistently very good.

On this particular evening, I met Lori for our last dinner before her knee replacement surgery a few days hence.  There's something to be said for relaxing and keeping your mind off the trials of the day.

Shortly after we were seated, our server, Courtney, arrived with menus and Alana's nearly encyclopedic wine list.  Even though Alana's is highly regarded for its wine selection, we both opted for less potent libations - diet cola for me!  Knowing that Alana composes a new menu each day, I asked to keep my menu...to remind me that I needed to write my first blog post after all these weeks (months?) of threatening to do so.

A product of Emeril's original restaurant in New Orleans as well as the former David’s on Main (aka Out on Main) and the Gourmet Market (now Spagio) in Columbus, Alana Shock has been the chef/proprietor of Alana’s Food & Wine for more than 10 years.

Not one to be confined to the kitchen, Alana visits her dining room frequently.  This evening, she greeted each guest shortly upon their arrival with a bite-size sampling of a seasonal pumpkin tart dressed with arugula.  I love the personal touch of a chef mingling with her guests.

Courtney then presented a small basket of bread.  It was very good, but, alas, three pieces for two diners…  Is this a culinary rule?  Offer an odd number of bread items for an even number of guests?  Well, we got the last laugh…we asked for another basket!

My first course of the evening was the arugula salad with pomegranate seeds, feta, pecans and pecan vinaigrette.  I love a salad with character and crunch.  This was a sizable portion, but very light.  The pomegranate seeds and pecans added the necessary crunch to complement the spicy nature of the arugula. 

The next course allows me to introduce you to one of my favorite aspects of dining which is also included in the title of this blog – adventure!  My culinary adventures often involve trying new restaurants, but, more importantly, trying foods I have not yet experienced.  I am a firm believer that one must try anything, will undoubtedly not enjoy everything, but will unquestionably discover new flavors and textures.

This evening, I ordered the Braised Bluescreek Goat Shank with sweet potatoes, baby kale, and pancetta gravy.  The adventure began with the goat which I had never tasted, sweet potatoes which my family knows I do not eat (unless they are in the form of fries or pie!), and pancetta which is not as much an adventure as it is an orgasmic gastronomic experience!

Not sure what to expect with the goat, I pulled a portion of it away from the bone with my fork to discover that it had been prepared in such a manner that rendered the knife utterly pointless.  The first bite revealed that the low-fat meat was indeed quite tasty and resembled a cross between pork and lamb in its flavor. 

Too often, kale is used as a cheap garnish that, in my humble opinion, adds nothing to the presentation of the dish and, in fact, degrades the appearance of the food.  Prepared properly, however, as it was at Alana’s this evening; this slightly bitter cabbage accompanied by the saltiness of the pancetta gravy provided a delightful complement to the goat.

Finally, although the meal was perfectly filling, we succumbed to the allure of the dessert menu.  The chocolate pecan tart was served with a healthy scoop of Jeni’s ice cream and was the ideal ending for a delicious dinner.

(Photo from Alana's website)


Thank you to Fudha for reminding me of the treasure that is Alana’s and for offering the $20 for $10 discount.

Alana’s website has not been updated for sometime, but a visit there will give you a glimpse into her background and a peek at a menu; but remember, it changes daily, so don’t expect to see those items on the menu when you visit.  Instead, you will be faced with the dilemma of choosing between a small number of seasonal offerings that will be equally fascinating.


Whereas I do like to eat out and don’t mind spending money, I also try to be cost conscious.  Launched earlier this year, Fudha is a Columbus-based company that provides a service very similar to Groupon.

Almost daily deals are offered for local restaurants – generally $5 for a $10 value or $10 for a $20 value.  After purchasing the deal online, simply print out the coupon and use it within the prescribed time period.  Even better than the deal itself is that $1 of each purchase is donated to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank!

There is no cost to join Fudha.  Join today and enhance your own dining experiences!  Check out the FAQ to learn more!