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!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Liberty Tavern

December 27, 2010

Liberty Tavern
50 S. Liberty Street
Powell, OH 43065
(614) 825-0500

After lunch at Local Roots (see review below), another Powell eatery, and a relaxing afternoon, Lori's and my dinner destination proved to be just down the street at Liberty Tavern.  It is said to have been named after the original Liberty Tavern in Boston which historians have referred to as the place "where America was born!"

The restaurant sits in quaint downtown Powell and is filled with liberty-related paraphernalia, including replicas of the Statue of Liberty and the Liberty Bell.  Upon entering, one is immediately thrust into the tavern atmosphere with a generous bar area to the right and dark wood seating to the left and beyond.

We were greeted by a nice young man who took us around the bar into the Ben Franklin Room.  What we didn't realize was that kids eat free on Mondays and Tuesdays at Liberty Tavern and on this night, they all seemed to be in the Ben Franklin Room!

Our table was the one in the corner of the room as seen above.  The table itself was a bit wobbly...I suppose adding to the endearing nature of the tavern.

We began our dinner with the Spinach and Artichoke Dip which was accompanied by crispy pita chips.  It was nice and creamy and didn't last long.  I am a lover...of garlic (!), but if you are not, you may want to steer away from this appetizer. 

It is unusual for me not to order a seafood soup when it is available.  Although I did not order it on this visit, I have previously had the She Crab Bisque.  It is quite good and I recommend it.

In keeping with the patriotic theme of the restaurant, I chose the Red, White & Blue Burger for dinner.  The half-pound burger featured roasted red peppers, white onions, and melted bleu cheese and was big enough to satisfy any patriot's appetite!  Incredibly, this marvelously jingoistic burger shared a plate with (gasp) French fries!

Once again, we opted not to have dessert, but if we did, we undoubtedly would have selected the Liberty Sticks which the menu describes as "light fluffy funnel cake sticks...dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar."  Hmmm, perhaps next time!

Undoubtedly, there will be a next time.  I'll just have to be careful to check the calendar first to see if it's a Kids Night!  I have nothing against kids (I have two myself!), but I find that, at least in a restaurant setting, I am becoming less tolerant of the younger variety.

Liberty Tavern maintains a website and Facebook page.  Be sure to visit these sites as well as the restaurant itself.  I have never been disappointed in their tavern fare.

(Photos from Liberty Tavern's website)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Local Roots

December 27, 2010

Local Roots
15 East Olentangy Street
Powell, OH 43065
(614) 602-8060

In operation a little more than a year, Local Roots accounts for an improved landscape at the crossroads of Powell (Powell Road and Liberty Street) once inhabited by Saturday's Sports Club. 

Although Lori first believed the establishment to be a hair salon, it is appropriately named as the owners strive to use locally-sourced produce (from their own farm) and continually change their menu to showcase the freshest seasonal products.  They also maintain a small herb garden on the patio, presumably when its not covered in snow and ice, from which they hervest most of the herbs used in the kitchen.

I had been to Local Roots one other time with my girls and found it to be a nice place for dinner.  Lori treated me to lunch this day using a gift card she received for Christmas...from me!  There is always a method to my madness!

We arrived shortly after noon.  The restaurant was sparsely populated at the time, but as time passed, more and more patrons arrived accounting for a healthy lunchtime business.

The space itself is very nice with a lot of dark wood and an attractive bar area with rows of beer, wine, and liquor bottles standing guard.  The bar was also separated from the dining area by a wall of about six feet.  The acoustics were such that we could hear very clearly a conversation between two bar patrons without seeing them at all.

Whereas the menu features pizza and calzones, it also has a nice selection of appetizers, sandwiches, and entrees.  We selected Potato Dippers as an appetizer.  They are battered and fried potato wedges served with a bowl of bacon and cheese dipping sauce.  It might not have been the healthiest choice, but it sure was good!  For an appetizer, the number of wedges and the amount of dipping sauce was more than adequate.

For lunch, I ordered the meatball sub accompanied by onion rings.  It was just the kind of sandwich that usually ends up on my shirt, but I was successful in eating it without incident.

Served on a toasted bun, the three rosemary parmesan meatballs were topped with a housemade marinara sauce, banana peppers, onions, and cheese.  It was a good sandwich.  Even though I ate them without any hesitation, I was a bit disappointed in the onion rings.  The onions were sliced too thin and their flavor was trumped by the batter.  With little onion taste, they were little more than batter rings.  Fortunately, the batter was good.

The portions were sizable and we exercised some discretion (this time) by not ordering any of the homemade desserts.  However, there is still money left on the gift card, so we will undoubtedly return...that is, if Lori invites me again!  It is her gift card after all!

Local Roots also offers catering, has a nice kids menu (at $5 for a meal, side, and a drink), and offers friendly and attentive service.

Visit the website to review the daily and Sunday brunch menus and to plan your own visit to Powell!

(Photos from Local Roots' website)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

La Choza

December 17, 2010

La Choza
240 N. Liberty Street
Powell, OH 43065
(614) 505-6915

La Choza is in a strip center just north of the Powell Road/Liberty Street intersection of "downtown" Powell in a space long occupied by Las Margaritas.  Notwithstanding the photo below, La Choza has been open a few months and this evening was my second visit.

After dropping off Molly at the mall with her friends and getting some Christmas shopping done, Sarah said she had a craving for Mexican.  Since La Choza is very close to home, we left Polaris and headed back to Powell.

"La choza," in Spanish, means "the hut."  I didn't really get the meaning of the name of the restaurant.  I wouldn't say that the interior resembled a hut or dwelling of any kind.  In fact, it was not much different from the decor used by Las Margaritas.

The staff was friendly and seated us in the last booth on one side of the restaurant.  We passed Sarah's next door neighbors which was a testament to the neighborhood feel of the place.

After receiving the obligatory chips and salsa, we ordered our dinner.  Sarah asked for two soft tacos with rice and beans.  I opted for the chile relleno (as always!) and a chimichanga.  I didn't order any rice and beans because I knew there would be an opportunity to finish up those on Sarah's plate...

As we waited for our food to arrive, we snacekd on the chips and salsa.  The chips were standard chips without distinction.  The salsa was nice because it actually had a little zip to it.  I appreciate Mexican restaurants that aren't afraid to add a little heat for the gringos!

The chile relleno and chimichanga were nice fried offerings...again, not distinctive, but very tasty. 

I've written about my taste for chile rellenos before.  Well, last week, I bought two poblano peppers and plan to make my own chile rellenos tomorrow, after another trip to the grocery store.  I'm looking forward to trying these at home, but will undoubtedly continue to order them when I make return trips to La Choza...and I recommend that you give it a try as well.

I came to the restaurant armed with a coupon for $5 off of a $25 order and didn't even have to use it.  I'll save it for a time when I'm a bit more hungry!  Oh, and Sarah's rice and beans?  She was apparently pretty hungry because there were no rice and beans left for me to sample!

La Choza does not have a website, but does have a Facebook page that, so far, has little traffic.

(Photo from La Choza's facebook page)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Asian Garden Buffet

December 13, 2010

Asian Garden Buffet
8633 Columbus Pike
Lewis Center, OH 43035
(740) 549-1888

What is it about Asian buffets?  Why do I feel periodically compelled to visit them?  I generally regret if afterward, but every few months I return only to binge on the tasteless, mass-produced chicken and beef offerings before swearing that I won't ever do it again.

Today was just such a day.  After a meeting in Delaware this morning, I headed south for my office in downtown Columbus.  Not wanting to interrupt the rest of my day for lunch, I decided to stop at Asian Garden Buffet just north of the Route 23/Powell Road intersection for an early bite to eat.

My girls and I had visited Asian Garden Buffet several times when they were younger (and their palate was still undeveloped!).  We gave it a nickname that is not appropriate to repeat in this forum, but ask me about it and I'll tell you the story.

Having been open for half an hour by the time I arrived, there were already a few patrons in the restaurant.  I was promptly greeted and offered my choice of a table or booth.  Selecting my booth and ordering a diet, I made my way to the buffet.

I opted for the white rice and mentally divided my plate into quarters.  The first quarter was occupied by a small helping of General Tso's Chicken, followed by Japanese Chicken, Ma La Chicken, and Mongolian Pork.  I topped the plate off with two Crab Rangoons.  I know...sounds a bit overindulgent, doesn't it?

As usual, it was difficult to differentiate between the tastes of the four items.  None of the items were seasoned particularly well, but, if forced, I would have to say that the Japanese Chicken was the tastiest.  The chicken was cooked with red and green peppers and onions and had the most distinctive taste.  The General Tso's Chicken, typically a spicy dish, was bathed in a sauce that was sweeter than it should have been and packed nary a zesty punch. 

Even though they featured two different proteins, the Ma La Chicken and Mongolian Pork were virtually identical in taste.  The Crab Rangoons were undoubtedly prepared by the thousands by an offsite vendor.

The service was good as the staff visited my table several times to refill my diluted diet cola.

But do you know the worst part of this?  There's just something about an Asian buffet that I like...and I will be back, but probably not for several months!

Oh, and the fortune cookie?  It read "You will be free of the heavy burdens you have been carrying."  Well, we'll see about that!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Lost Shepherd

December 11, 2010

The Lost Shepherd
345 Olentangy Street
Powell, OH 43065
(614) 792-5678

I have probably been to The Lost Shepherd about a half dozen times since it opened about two and a half years ago.  It has always been a pleasant experience and this visit was no different.

Lori and I embarked on our first dinner out since her knee surgery a couple weeks ago.  Having had little to eat that day, we decided on an early dinner and arrived at The Lost Shephard at about 5:00. 

We made good use of her handicapped placard as she exited my car with her crutch and we made our way toward the entrance.  Unfortunately, we had to walk through a haze of smoke just outside the entrance as two patrons had just completed their smoke and re-entered the restaurant ahead of us.  It sure would be nice if those who have to smoke would do so away from restaurant entrances.

There were only about four or five tables occupied at the time we were seated.  The interior walls are covered by bricks and, even though the restaurant is basically one large room, the bar area is separated from the dining area by a partial wall.  A large screen television, featuring the Army vs. Navy football game, occupied the wall behind me.  The restaurant accurately conveys the feeling of being in a neighborhood tavern.

After ordering our diet Cokes (so much for the tavern feel, huh?!) and reviewing the menu, I inquired about the soups du jour.  Learning that the two siups being served that evening were Prok and Bean Soup and Shrimp Alfredo Soup (referred to as Shrimp Bisque by another server to the patrons at the table next to us), we opted to go the appetizer route.  After all, I had just made a large pot of ham and bean soup the previous weekend and was still working through it!

After five appetizers made the initial cut, we decided to share the Southern Fried Chicken Fritters.  What a surprise!  These chicken tenders had been coated in buttermilk and a cornmeal mixture, fried, and served with a Carolina dipping sauce that complemented the chicken nicely.  The chicken was served hot and it was juicy, moist, and very flavorful.  What a great start to the meal!

For our entrees, I opted for the Shepherd Surf & Turf and Lori ordered the Portuguese Paella.

My Surf & Turf consisted of twin filets with four shrimp scampi and accompanied by a very healthy serving of roasted red potatoes.  The filets were tasty, but would have been better with a little more seasoning and, perhaps, some bacon.  After all, doesn't bacon go with everything?  The shrimp was also good, but, surprisingly, the roasted red potatoes were the unexpected hit of the plate.  Diced into about three quarter inch cubes, the potatoes were well seasoned and cooked to perfection.

Whereas I admit to having a couple bites of Lori's Paella, I didn't have enough to develop an informed opinion about it...other than it was good, if a little lacking in the spiciness.  That was fine with her, however, as she does not have the taste for hot and spicy foods that I do.  She did mention that the Paella was a little soupier than she prefers.  Not able to finish the entire serving, she gave it to me to enjoy the following day.

Wanting the full dining experience (of course!), we asked about the dessert offerings for the day.  There were three - carmelized banana cake, chocolate cake, carrot cake.  We decided to share the carrot cake and we were not disappointed.  The 1/16th slice of the cake was an appropriate size to share after our meal.  It was just the right density and was covered with a thick, smooth icing that might actually have been a fondant...it didn't last long enough to fully explore!

During our dinner, the restaurant, which seats about 150, had filled up nicely.  I will say that the tables are placed rather closely together, at least in the area of the restaurant where we were seated, making it a bit of a challenge for servers and guests to navigate the floor when the tables are all occupied.  By the time we left at about 6:30, it was nearly full with four people waiting in the small alcove next to the host's stand.  Fortunately, there had not been any smokers outside to greet us! 

Now, back to that Paella!  I heated it up this evening, added some hot sauce and, along with a fried egg sandwich with cheese and sauteed red onions, had a nice dinner!

Each time I have visited The Lost Shepherd, I have enjoyed a nice meal.  Take a look at the extensive website (http://www.thelostshepherd.com/) and make plans to stop by, perhaps for live music on Friday or Saturday evenings! 

(Photo from The Lost Shepherd's website)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cinco de Mayo

December 7, 2010

Cinco de Mayo
3962 Powell Road
Powell, OH  43065
(614) 210-0900

My parents came to town to watch Sarah cheer for the 7th grade girls' basketball team at Hyatts Middle School that evening and, before heading back to Tiffin, they needed to get some dinner.  Having been to Cinco de Mayo before and liking it, they chose to re-visit this Mexican restaurant in a strip center at the corner of Powell Road and Sawmill Parkway in Powell.  Of course, I joined them!

As one walks into the restaurant, you are immediately met by a blast of bright colors.  The tables, chairs, and booths are a combination of the most vivid reds, greens, yellows, and blues that you are likely to encounter in any restaurant!

Not unlike other Mexican restaurants, a server almost immediately places a basket of chips and a mini-carafe of salsa on the table.  The salsa is generally mild, but this evening, it actually had a little bit of a bit to it...a plus in my mind!

Open for about 15 months, Cinco de Mayo offers a wide variety of Mexican dishes and the ones I have tried have all been good.  This evening, I had a chile relleno, chalupa, and hard taco as a la carte items.  Chile rellenos are one of my favorite Mexican foods and I order them often.  At Cinco de Mayo, the poblano pepper is stuffed with cheese, coated in a batter, fried, and served with a tomato-based sauce.  The poblano is a mild pepper, so this dish would be suitable for anyone.

The chalupa is not the abomination you get at Taco Bell!   A real Mexican chalupa is a tostada covered with a variety of items.  Cinco de Mayo tops its chalupa with chopped lettuce, diced tomatoes, and guacamole sauce.  It is a bit bland and could benefit from a spicy salsa to liven it up.  On this evening, the chalupa was covered with a too generous dollop of guacamole that overwhelmed the dish a bit.

The hard taco was not very imaginative, but who doesn't like tacos?!

Cinco de Mayo is a friendly place staffed by attentive wait staff.  I was particularly entertained by our server repeatedly referring to my 76-year-old mother as "honey!" 

Typically, I will provide a link to the website of the restaurant I am reviewing.  Unfortunately, Cinco de Mayo's website has the same Coming Soon! banner that has been there for months, perhaps since the restaurant opend in September, 2009. 

If you are in the Powell area, Cinco de Mayo is worth the stop, particularly if you have a Valpak coupon!  As a Powell resident, the proximity makes Cinco de Mayo attractive and I will return often.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Indian Oven

November 30, 2010
427 East Main Street
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 220-9390

This was the last of a 15-week internship that Sydney had with me.  She would soon be heading back to the University of Akron to complete her undergraduate degree.  Since we first met, I told her I would take her to Indian Oven.  We finally made it.

Indian Oven occupies a glass-encased building on East Main Street in downtown Columbus.  It always provides a nice escape from work around lunchtime.  Very few of my friends enjoy Indian food as much as I do, so I have become accustomed to eating alone.  I typically bring my newspaper and catch up on the (by now) old news from the previous day and enjoy a variety of Indian samplings.  This day, I left the newspaper in the office and introduced Sydney to one of downtown's finest culinary destinations.

I was first introduced to Indian food in 1983.  I was working on a State Senate campaign in Orange, New Jersey.  Just down the street from our headquarters was a small Indian restaurant with very friendly and accommodating owners.  My candidate was the Mayor of Orange and we were always greeted with smiles and given a tour of kitchen and the tandoor ovens.

When I go to Indian Oven, I always opt for the lunch buffet.  The seasoning is mild to appeal to the masses, but it gives me the opportunity to sample a few dishes for a reasonable price.

This day, I sampled most everything that was offered.  I know…I know…but it is so hard to resist!  Featured on the buffet was Dal Makhani, potatoes with peas and peppers, and curry chicken on the bone with basmati race and naan.

The Dal Makhani is a combination of beans cooked with creamy curry sauce and tomatoes.  Served over the basmati rice, this makes for a delightful vegetarian dish.  The other vegetarian selection was the potatoes with peas and peppers.  It’s hard to further describe the dish other than, for those familiar with Indian cuisine, it reminded me of a version of Aloo Matar – a substantial dish in a sauce of Indian spices.

Finally, the chicken curry on the bone was very tasty, but my first bite included a bit of stray bone which is always a bit disconcerting.

One of the standards of Indian cuisine is the bread.  There are a number of varieties, but my favorite is the naan.  It is a white flour flatbread cooked in a tandoor or clay oven.  It is good by itself or to accompany the sauces that remain on your plate.

The only dish I did not have on this trip was the tandoori chicken. 

The lunch menu has a nice selection or, if you’re like me and find it hard to decide, try a little bit of variety by visiting the buffet!  Indian Oven is a welcoming restaurant with friendly and accommodating staff and very good food.

(Photo from Indian Oven's facebook page)