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!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Kogen's Far East Fare

January 22, 2011

9711 Sawmill Parkway
Powell, OH 43065
(614) 798-8882

Central Ohioans, in particular, will recall the Mark Pi chain of restaurants that, at their peak, numbered about 90 in cities all across the country.  About 18 months ago, the culinary torch was officially passed to his son, Mark Pi, Jr.  A resident of Powell, the younger Pi opened Kogen's Far East Fare in a strip center on the southeast corner of Sawmill Parkway and Powell Road.

(Photo from Kogen's Facebook page)

Living less than a mile away, I have made several visits to Kogen's in the past year and a half.  The food has been consistently good and the service is always attentive and respectful.

The resemblance between the former Mark Pi restaurants and Kogen's ends with the Pi lineage.  Whereas the Mark Pi format was more of a fast-service style, Kogen's is a full-service restaurant with a menu of items from throughout the Far East with an emphasis on sushi.

The interior of the restaurant is contemporary and very welcoming with booths, tables, and a sushi bar as well as (weather permitting) a nice outdoor patio area.

(Photo from Kogen's Facebook page)

Prior to seeing The King's Speech (an outstanding movie, by the way), Lori and I stopped by Kogen's for dinner.  On this evening, we selected the Veggie Tempura, a selection of asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, onion, sweet potato, and zucchini coated in a tempura batter and fried.  Very good!

For my entree, I chose the Thai Spicy Coconut Shrimp.  Served with your choice of white, brown, or fried rice, the dish included about ten nice sized shrimp prepared with coconut, Thai spices and served with a curry sauce.  Whereas the flavors were distinctive, the spices were just right.  Included in the dish were carrot slices, mushrooms, and zucchini.

Lori had the Classic Mongolian which consisted of chicken and vegetables stir-fried with white and green onions on a bed of crispy noodles.  It was also very good...or at least the leftovers were that she let me keep for the following day!

Still having time before we had to leave for the movie, we opted for dessert.  On a previous visit, our server spoke highly of one of the restaurant's newest items - Tempura Funnel Cake!  It quickly assumed the top spot on my list of guilty pleasures!  Therefore, we ordered it again!

(Photo from Kogen's Facebook page)

The tempura style funnel cake is served with two scoops of vanilla ice cream on the side and covered with a whipped topping and chocolate drizzle.  Whereas the funnel cake was very good on this visit, it wasn't quite as crispy as it was the first time we had it.  The menu states that the funnel cake is also served with seasonal fruit.  There was no fruit this time, but, perhaps with temperatures in the single digits, there are no seasonal fruits!  Anyway, why mess with fruit when you can have funnel cake, ice cream, and chocolate sauce?  I'm not sure how Asian a funnel cake is, but it is one nice dessert!  Reasonably priced at $5.95, it easily serves two people.

I also found the naming of the restaurant a nice story.  Apparently, the wish of Mark Pi, Sr.'s mother's that her grandson be named after his father was granted and he became Mark Pi, Jr.  However, his nickname, and the name that his father reportedly wanted to give him, is Kogen. 

Kogen's has quickly become one of my favorite Asian restaurants and I highly recommend it.  Visit their website or Facebook page, but, more importantly, visit the restaurant.  I am confident you will become a fan!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Lee Garden

January 19, 2010

Lee Garden
2691 Federated Boulevard
Dublin, OH 43235
(614) 764-1525

I don't know how long Lee Garden has been in operation, but it has been here at least for the last 17+ years I have lived in the northwest quadrant of Central Ohio.  A fairly large space, it is nestled in a strip mall just east of Sawmill Road.

Lee Garden is one of those places where my sense of adventure deserts me...not because there aren't adventurous menu items, but because I really enjoy their Kung Pao Chicken and General Tso's Chicken.  I will generally alternate between the two.

On this visit, my daughters and I went out on a Wednesday evening.  As we were seated, I noticed that there was only one couple in the restaurant at the time.  Shortly after we were seated, a single patron joined the "crowd."  Unfortunately, it was just the six of us for the entire time we were there.  It pains me to say that this is not unusual.  I don't understand why more people don't patronize Lee Garden.  The food is good, the service is fine, and the price is right. 

Before I share any more about this dinner, I have to tell you about a visit a couple years ago.  Lori and I went to Lee Garden for dinner.  At one point during our meal, our server came to the table and asked me if my name was Larry.  Quite puzzled, I said "No, it's Gary."  He said "Oh, we have your picture on the wall!"  OK, now I'm really puzzled.  Then it occurred to me...actually I believe it was Lori who figured it out.

A few months before, I had done an interview with the Columbus Dispatch for its "Where I Eat" feature that appears every Thursday in the Weekender section.  (As a matter of fact, you can read my interview by clicking here!)  I had said that Lee Garden was one of my favorite restaurants.  As a result, this interview had been carefully cut out and posted on the bulletin board as you walk into the restaurant!  It appeared in the newspaper on August 14, 2008 and it is still on the bulletin board!  

Well, on this most recent visit, the girls decided to share a chicken and broccoli dish and before I got a chance to order, our server (the same one who asked if I was Larry a couple years before!) said "General Tso's?"  My lack of adventure at Lee Garden had betrayed me.  He knew what I was going to order!  So, I had the General Tso's Chicken!

Lee Garden does have one of the best General Tso's Chicken that I have had and I was not disappointed this evening.  With an egg roll dipped in a mixture of sweet and sour sauce and hot mustard, it was, once again, an enjoyable dinner.  

Now, about that sense of adventure!  I hereby pledge to expand my horizons on my next visit to Lee Garden.  No longer will the server know what I will order.  Lee Garden is known for its Dim Sum, so I plan to try that.  Also, I hear they have very good Chicken Feet!  I've never had Chicken Feet, but I'm going to surprise them, as well as my dining partner, and order Chicken Feet on a future visit!

Lee Garden does not have a website nor do they have a Facebook presence.  You're just going to have to go on my recommendation...and please do visit.  I get a little more discouraged each time I stop by and there are only a few people there.  Be sure to check out my interview posted on the bulletin board and tell them that I sent you!

Oh...almost forgot.  My fortune from this most recent visit?  "Welcome change."  OK!  Bring on the Chicken Feet!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Amul India

January 17, 2011

Amul India 
7676 Sawmill Road
Dublin, OH 43016
(614) 734-1600

Today, I took advantage of a day off work and the girls spending time with their mother to enjoy a lunch of Indian food. 

I have been to Amul India several times in the last few years and, with the exception of unsuccessful efforts to introduce the cuisine on separate occasions to a friend and my girls, I have enjoyed it alone!  That's OK; I don't mind some alone time now and again!

Amul India is tucked away in the Old Sawmill Plaza that is also home to other fine dining establishments like Skyline Chili and Dairy Queen...as well as Thai Orchid!

(photo from Amul India website)

On each visit to Amul India, I have taken advantage of the lunch buffet.  It's difficult to choose just one item, so I have yet to order off the menu.

This day, the buffet offered a few more items than usual and, of course, I had to sample as many as I could.  Before I left the restaurant, I had small portions of each of the following:
  • Vegetable Pakoras - a type of fried vegetable fritter
  • Naan - traditional Indian bread
  • Vegetable Biryani - a special rice blend with garden vegetables
  • Palak Paneer - homemade cheese cubes cooked in spinach and cream
  • Dal Makhani - creamed lentils prepared with butter and spice
  • Chicken Makhani - marinated chicken pieces smothered with onions, tomatoes, butter, and cream
  • Lamb Mushroom - lamb and mushrooms cooked in a curry sauce
It goes without saying that Naan is one of my favorite Indian foods.  In addition, I particularly like the Palak Paneer and Lamb Mushroom.  Today, the lamb was incredibly tender and the curry sauce was delicious.

As much as I enjoy Indian food, I have not really tried the beverages.  In keeping with the "adventure" theme of this blog, I hereby pledge to order a Mango Lassi with my next meal!

With a soft drink (and before tip), the lunch buffet is a few pennies north of $10.  The staff keeps the drink glasses filled and completes the dining experience in a positive manner.

Although I do not mind visiting Indian restaurants alone, I am always up for a dining companion.  Just let me know if you would like to join me on an upcoming Indian culinary adventure!

Sunday, January 9, 2011


January 9, 2011

Knead Urban Diner
505 N. High Street
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 228-6323

Less than a year old, Knead has found its way to the top of many diners' favorites list.  ColumbusUnderground.com lists Knead as the Best New Restaurant of 2010 and Urbanspoon.com lists it #1 on its Talk of the Town ("Restaurants that Columbus critics and bloggers are talking about right now") list.

Knead is the beneficiary of a fine culinary pedigree.  Rick and Krista Lopez were the proprietors of Crescendo Pastaria (just north of the current Digger & Finch location in Dublin) and one of my favorite restaurants - Trattoria La Tavola which began in Powell before moving to Riverside Drive.  Prior to these husband and wife endeavors, Rick also worked at Tapatio, another of my favorite restaurants on Park Street across from the North Market.  Each of these restaurants was critically acclaimed and Knead is already living up to this reputation.

This was my sophomore sojourn to Knead, having first visited for dinner in early August.  Unfortunately, that visit was before I conceived the idea of creating this blog and I can't remember what I ordered.  What I can remember is that I enjoyed it very much, had excellent service, and vowed to return.

Today, Lori and I came downtown for lunch.  With a train show across the street at the Columbus Convention Center and few available parking spaces on this early Sunday afternoon, I thought we might be in for a crowded lunch.  On the contrary, several tables were still open and we chose one with a view of the passing traffic.  Short North traffic, particularly of the pedestrian variety, is always fun to watch!

Knead prides itself on offering food made from scratch and using ingredients produced by local farmers.  In fact, we were seated by a map of the state that had the locations of many of the restaurants vendors listed.

(Photo from Knead's Facebook page)

After reviewing the menu and considering a number of options, particularly The Fun Guy pizza (with shiitake and oyster mushrooms...get it..."Fungi!") and the StuDaBurger (Knead's take on the classic bacon cheeseburger), I opted for the Motherclucker!  Based on the menu description, this incarnation of the sandwich is apparently "new and improved" over the original.  After reading that it was a "buttermilk fried Gerber chicken breast with house cured bacon, roasted poblano chiles, romaine lettuce and Amish jack cheese drizzled with honey," I was hooked.

Keeping with the theme of fan favorites, the Motherclucker was also named 2010 Sandwich of the Year by Columbus Alive!  In my humble opinion, this was a well-deserved honor. 

(Photo from Columbus Alive)

The sandwich contained a nice portion of deliciously fried chicken breast topped with "can't miss" favorites - bacon and poblano peppers!  It is accompanied by the diner's choice of lentil salad or hand-cut fries.  I opted for the latter and received a large portion of thinly sliced, perfectly fried potato strips.  The only downside to the meal was the house-made fennel ketchup.  Two things came to mind immediately after tasting the ketchup...(a) if it ain't broke, don't fix it and (b) you don't need to put your signature on everything.  However, the fries did not need to be dressed at all.  They were very good on their own.

For dessert, we shared a Swoozy Q, which is Knead's take on the Suzy Q's, the Hostess snack that has been around for more nearly 50 years!

The two pieces of chocolate cakes with a white creme filling was a nostalgic take on an old lunch box favorite!

The staff at Knead is very friendly and attentive.  This also seems to be a hallmark of Lopez restaurants.  They make their patrons feel that they really enjoy working there...and I'm sure they do!

Knead has a website and Facebook page that offers additional insight into their food and philosophy.  Also, undoubtedly due to its reputation in the culinary community, a Google search will yield many reviews and stories about the restaurant and their owners.

I highly recommend Knead!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


January 6, 2011

199 East Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 228-1256

Just two blocks from the Statehouse is a modest storefront offering Mexican food to the downtown crowd.  Mexica has probably been at this location for a couple years and I have visited often, although not a lot recently.

I arrived at Mexica about 12:45, a little later than usual, and caught the tail end of the lunch crowd.  A number of people were waiting for their take-out orders and about 2/3 of the seats were occupied.  Although it had been a while since I had been to the restaurant, I recalled a fairly brisk lunch business.  Today looked to be no different.

Mexica offers a nice menu featuring standard Mexican fare plus a few not often found at casual dining locales.  This afternoon, I stopped by with the intention of ordering something different.  In all of my previous visits, I have ordered the Steak Burrito.  Almost "Chipotle-sized," the Mexica burrito is a meal in itself.

Walking up to the counter to place my order, I scanned the menu on the wall above searching for that "something different."  I settled on a Steak Torta, a kind of Mexican sandwich.  The menu described it as containing refried beans, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and avocado.  In reality, it contained whole beans, shredded lettuce, no tomato, no sour cream, and no avocado, but with some small pieces of a white queso.  The steak was cut into very small bits also, perhaps appropriate for a burrito, but lost in the thick bolillo bread of the torta.

The sandwich was about 8-10" in length, cut into two pieces, but the bolillo, although a tasty white sandwich roll, overwhelmed the inadequate filling.  To make matters worse, the beans and pieces of steak fell out of the sandwich because there was no sour cream to bind it all together.  Fortunately, Mexica has a small salsa bar with about five or six kinds of salsa.  I used a mango salsa on one half of the sandwich and a red salsa, which proved to not be spicy at all, on the other half.

The Steak Torta was definitely decepcionante (disappointing), but I will undoubtedly return to Mexica for their burritos.  They are quite good, far more substantial than the torta, and a half buck cheaper at $6.50!

Each day, Mexica has a $1 off special with 99 cent tacos every day.  That may be my next selection.

If you try Mexica, you may want to plan on an early or a late lunch.  There is seating for about 22-25 people and it is often quite busy around the noon hour.  Interestingly, the left side of the room has four tables, each seating two people, underneath a thatched roof kind of contraption.  A similar "Gilligan's Island" style roof covers the small salsa stand in the middle of the room.  Together with adobe-style walls and wooden tables and chairs, there is some (not much, but some) charm to an otherwise standard downtown storefront.

Mexica does not seem to have a website as http://www.mexicarestaurant.com/, listed as the website on http://www.urbanspoon.com/, is a dead link.

(Photos from http://www.urbanspoon.com/)


January 5, 2011

7400 Sawmill Road
Columbus, OH 43235
(614) 791-0939

Having lived on the northwest side of town for 17 years, I have been to Sumeno's many times.  It's a very low-key Italian restaurant in a strip center at the corner of Sawmill and Hard Road that is also occupied by the resale stores Once Upon a Child, Play it Again Sports, and General Uses.

Sumeno's offers and extensive menu as well as a lunch and dinner buffet.  In addition to the standard pizza, pasta, and salad bar, the Sunday buffet also features lasagna, Italian baked chicken, and sausage with green peppers and onions.

The restaurant has always been a favorite of ours.  Kids are given pizza dough when they arrive so they can play with it at their tables.  Molly and Sarah would always make their own little imaginary pizzas or cookies with their dough as we awaited our food.

On this evening, we opted for the buffet.  At $6.99 per person, it really is hard to beat.  Soft drinks are a bit overpriced at $2.59, but how many places can you have dinner for less than $10.00?

For pasta fans, there is a selection of rigatoni, rotoli, and spaghetti that is cooked for you right at the counter.  As you wait the few short minutes for your pasta to cook, you can look right into the kitchen and watch the cooks at work.  Once the pasta is ready, you are faced with another decision...which sauce to choose.  Typically, the choices are cheddar cheese, meat, mushroom, sausage, tomato, and white sauce.

There are generally at least four or five pizzas as well as a dessert pizza and other sweet items.

Although I did not order it on this visit, my favorite Sumeno's dish is the Spaghetti Parmesan.  It is described on the menu as spaghetti tossed with tomato sauce and covered with mozzarella and parmesan cheese and baked.  It is a large portion, usually necessitating a take home box, and well worth the $10.99.

Sumeno's is a family-oriented restaurant (although I remember one visit about 13 years ago when Molly was just a baby and the staff wasn't too thrilled to provide her with saltine crackers for fear they would end up on the floor...some of which undoubtedly did!), that is comfortable and not the least bit pretentious.

The staff is friendly, the food is good, and the price is right.  I recommend Sumeno's if you find yourself in the Sawmill Road area with an appetite for Italian food.

(Photos from http://www.idine.com/)