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!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dempsey’s (November 9, 2012)


346 S. High Street
Columbus, OH 43215


Full disclosure – I have known Mark Dempsey, the proprietor of Dempsey’s, for many years since we were both involved in Franklin County politics in the mid- to late 1980’s.  This review, however, is based on the quality of the food, service, and ambiance, not any association I may have with Mark.

Fortunately, my experience at Dempsey’s makes it easy to share that disclosure because my first visit to Dempsey’s was a very enjoyable one.  I had wanted to stop in the restaurant since it opened in March of this year, but it was a Living Social voucher ($20 coupon for $10) that finally got me and Lori in the door. 

The restaurant is located on the corner of High and Mound Streets in downtown Columbus, across the street from the new county courthouse and within walking distance of many government and other offices.  There is definitely a political vibe to the restaurant.  Photographs of local, state, and national political figures adorn the walls, but the highlight is the political button collection that is displayed on the walls of the back room.  The collection, on loan from a friend of both Mark’s and mine, contains memorabilia from the 19th century to the present!

But this is a food blog, isn’t it…

My meal started with the Cream of Mushroom soup ($4.75) that contained button, crimini, and portabella mushrooms.  The mushrooms were flavorful and provided a nice texture to the creamy soup.
Lori selected the Maryland Crab Cake ($8.75).  Unfortunately, my photo doesn’t do the dish justice, but I was assured that it was very delicious.  Actually, I was permitted to have a bite, so I, too, can attest to the tastiness of the crab cake!

For my entrée, I selected two small plate offerings, the Seared Jumbo Scallops ($8.25) and the Lamb Lollypops ($10.95).  I generally don’t order scallops because, more often than not, I receive a plate of bland and rubbery sea denizens that are overpriced and leave me disappointed and unsatisfied.  This was certainly not the case with Dempsey’s scallops!  Without a doubt, these were the most delicious scallops I have ever had!  Served with a black bean and corn salsa, the scallops were seasoned so well that, even after eating my other small plate as well as a dessert, I still had the taste of the scallops on my lips on my drive home!  Scrumptious!

Not to be outdone, the Lamb Lollypops were very tender and very good.  The three small chops were served atop a nice portion of mashed redskin potatoes.  They were so good that, after using my knife and fork to separate the meat from the bones, I had to pick them up and, not so decorously, make sure I nibbled all of the tender meat that I could reach!

Lori once again declared her entrée, the Dempsey Steak Salad ($12.95), to be very good.

Lori and I will often share a dessert and this evening was no different.  We decided to sample the Jameson Bread Pudding ($4.95).  It proved to be a nice ending to a delicious dinner.  The Jameson Irish Whiskey was distinctive, but not at all overpowering. 

Our server, Nick, was very attentive, visiting our table often to ensure our satisfaction.

I highly recommend Dempsey’s and will definitely be back!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Starliner Diner (November 3, 2012)

Starliner Diner
5240 Cemetery Road
Hilliard, Ohio 43026


After dropping my daughter off to babysit her cousins in Hilliard, Lori and I drove through town and, as we passed the Starliner Diner, we decided we were hungry…now!  I’m almost ashamed to say that, having lived in Central Ohio for 27 years, I have never been to the Starliner Diner!  I know, I know…even if it’s true, I probably shouldn’t admit that out loud (or in print).

Every time I have tried to go, there has been a long, somewhat intimidating, line outside the building.  This night, there was no line and only about six or seven cars in the parking lot.  The hunger pangs beckoned a bit more forcefully!

There were two things that caught my attention as I entered the cozy and comfortable diner.  First, the artwork on the entry wall…
Second, the bacon!!  Sitting in a large pan in a work area that waiting patrons can peek in on, was a tremendous pile of bacon with an intoxicating aroma!

We were escorted into the small dining room and, again, were met with quirky artwork and a welcoming atmosphere.  Clearly, we were in a relaxed and happy place!

But, alas, unless the food and service is good, a happy place is not a fulfilling place.

The eclectic menu had a number of tempting offerings plus several specials including the Azteca Chicken (chicken breast stuffed with chorizo and queso) which I came very close to ordering. Maybe next time…

First of all, I chose a cup (actually a bowl) of Jalapeño Soup ($3.50).  I love spicy foods and was looking forward to a bit of a kick start to my meal.  Let me say that, whereas the creamy soup was delicious, it did lack the kick I had anticipated.

I also tasted a bit of Lori’s Starliner Chunky Chili ($5.00) which was a thick beef chili topped with jalapeño cornbread and cheddar cheese.  It was actually spicier than my Jalapeño Soup and very good.

For my entrée, I selected one of the other off-menu specials – the Creole Mac ($14.00).  This was a bowl filled with elbow macaroni, Cajun sausage, chicken, shrimp, onion, peppers, tomatoes, and corn tossed in a Cajun creamy sauce and accompanied with a large slice of bread.  The serving was healthy – and by healthy, I mean substantial – and, whereas there were a number of elements to the dish, the flavors blended well and were quite distinctive.  After hearing the dessert options – crème brulee cheesecake, peanut butter pie, and flan – I decided to box half of my dinner so I could sample the happy endings!

We decided to share the Crème Brulee Cheesecake ($3.50 I think) and was that a good choice!  The cheesecake was thick, topped with whipped cream, and served with a delicious caramel-like sauce.  Believe me, there was none of that left to take home!

Our server (didn’t catch her name – although she reminded me of Felicia, my colleague in Mississippi…well, except for the lack of a Southern accent and bangs, but otherwise they could have been sisters!) checked in on us frequently making sure we were happy (we were!) and satisfied (again, yes!).

Finally, as we were leaving the restaurant, I noticed the large opening into the kitchen.  I'm fascinated by kitchens of busy restaurants and this one was definitely busy.  Unfortunately, the quality of the picture isn't the greatest, but the quality of cooking that was going on was very high!

Don’t make the same mistake I have made.  If you drive by the Starliner Diner and see a line…don’t keep driving!  Stop, find a place to park, and wait for a fun and delectable dining experience!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Liberty Tavern (October 28, 2012)

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

Wanting to “get out of the house,” my parents drove from Tiffin to Powell to visit Sunday afternoon, ostensibly to discuss the cruise that my sister and I are taking them on next summer – for a late 80th birthday present for Dad and an early 80th for Mom.

After discussing the cruise that we had selected and watching the Browns dispatch the Chargers, it was time for dinner.  We opted for a nearby neighborhood option, Liberty Tavern, at the crossroads of downtown Powell.  I’ve been there a number of times and wrote an earlier review (December 2010).  The food is always good, the staff is pleasant, and the mood is welcoming.

It was kind of a lazy Sunday evening with diners and bar mavens watching football on the several screens located throughout the space.  Whereas you could clearly hear the announcers of one of the games, it was not at all distracting or annoying.  The staff, too, was laid back as they served their patrons.

Although I was tempted by the Cajun Mac and Cheese (Cajun spiced rock shrimp and bay scallops with tomatoes and scallions in parmesan cream tossed with pasta shells), I settled upon the Stuffed Black and Bleu Burger ($11.00).
The nice sized burger was, in fact, stuffed with bacon, caramelized onion, and bleu cheese, then blackened and served on a brioche bun with Tabasco aioli.  Rather than the normal accompaniment of fries, I chose to pay $2.00 more for the onion rings.  There were about six or seven of the deep-fried beauties, so it was worth the couple bucks more.

Served with lettuce and tomatoes, the sandwich was definitely a big bite…and a bit messy with cheese and onions oozing out from the middle of the burger.  My only disappointment with the sandwich was the rather large chunks of onion that had been stuffed into the hamburger.  It was, however, prepared to my specifications and blackened very nicely.  The Tabasco aioli was understated, frankly to the point that I wouldn’t know it was there if I hadn’t read it on the menu.  Taking the Tabasco up a notch would have added even more character to the burger.

One other non-dining criticism was being seated in front of the front door when other tables were available.  As patrons entered or exited the building, they let in the cold, moist air.  We could have moved, but chose to stay there…so we don’t have much room to complain, right?

Michelle was our server and she kept our drinks full and quickly resolved the issue of my mother not receiving the sweet potato fries she had ordered.

Powell has a number of casual dining options and Liberty Tavern has never disappointed.  If you’re up in my neck of the woods, I recommend you stop by and give it a try!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Amul India (October 27, 2012)

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

In all likelihood, this afternoon was my final visit to Amul India, located in the Olde Sawmill Plaza on Sawmill Road north of Hard Road.  It was recently announced that the entire plaza would be razed and re-developed for a new retail tenant.  Unfortunately, it appears that that tenant may be WalMart!
The plaza is mostly vacant with such tenants as Skyline Chili, Dairy Queen, Westshore Pizza, and others having already closed their businesses.  Amul India is closing on November 3 and has yet to identify a new location.

This is a dining blog, so I will spare you my thoughts of a WalMart disrupting the Olde Sawmill residential community as well as the already congested Sawmill Road.

As always, I opted for the lunch buffet ($8.99 on weekdays and $9.99 on Saturday and Sunday) this afternoon.  It is difficult to settle on just one dish and Amul India offers many fine selections.

Today’s buffet included such items as Saag Paneer, Dal Makhani Chicken Makhani, Tandoori Chicken, and Aloo Pepper.  I chose two dishes that I had never tried before.
In the photo, Chicken 65 is the red dish on the left and Ginger Paneer is on the right.  Both are served on a bed of Basmati Rice.  I also added a piece of Bhatura.

Chicken 65 is a spicy chicken offering with a rather curious name.  Wikipedia offers a variety of theories regarding the origin of the name, but it may be as simple as representing the year that the dish was introduced at the Buhari Hotel in the Indian city of Chennai.  Interestingly, the hotel apparently offers Chicken 78, Chicken 82, and Chicken 90!

Amul India eschews the typical deep frying of the main ingredient in their Chicken 65.  It is, however, marinated in several spices (most likely turmeric, red chili, garlic, and others) giving it a distinctly spicy flavor.  Combined with peppers and onions, it was a delicious dish that I will try elsewhere. 

Among my favorite Indian dishes are Saag Paneer and Palak Paneer.  These are related dishes consisting of spinach and cubed paneer cheese combined with spices and yogurt in a thick and creamy presentation.

Today, however, I tried the Ginger Paneer…and I’m glad I did.  Prepared with ginger, onions, and peppers, along with the cubed paneer cheese, it was the highlight of my lunch.

Whereas I usually have Naan to accompany my meal, this afternoon I also chose a piece of Bhatura which is a thick, yet soft and fluffy, fried bread.  Very delicious!

Today was the busiest I have seen Amul India.  They were doing a fairly brisk noontime business.  The always attentive staff keeps drinks refilled and clears dishes promptly.  Hopefully, they will re-locate somewhere in the northwest quadrant, so it will be convenient for me to visit again.

Lan Viet Market (October 26, 2012)

Lan Viet Market
North Market
59 Spruce Street
Columbus, OH 43215

If you’ve never been to the North Market, you’re probably not from Central Ohio, but you should definitely make plans to visit and patronize the 35 (more or less) local vendors who offer everything from fresh fish and poultry to popcorn, gourmet ice cream, BBQ, flowers, baked goods, and a variety of international foods.

Lori and I had just finished up long and stressful weeks at our respective jobs and even the thought of having to make a decision about where to eat was daunting. As luck would have it, just few weeks ago, I had put my North Market gift certificates that I received for Christmas last year in the car so I wouldn’t forget to use them before they expired at the end of the year. 

Taking a couple laps around the market, we finally decided to have some Vietnamese fare at Lan Viet Market.  This was my second visit to Lan Viet Market and only my third Vietnamese experience (having lost my virginity at Saigon Palace in downtown Columbus about eight years ago…well, you know what I mean).

The menu at Lan Viet Market is only a bit intimidating as each item is written in Vietnamese, but an English description is also provided.

I selected the Com/Bun Thit Nuong ($7.00) which was the daily special.  Served in a large bowl, it was a feast of grilled pork (marinated in Vietnamese seasoning sauce), with broken rice, vermicelli noodles, lettuce, tomatoes, bean sprouts, cucumber, cilantro, and sauce.
Rather than sit on the wooden stools provided at Lan Viet Market, we took our dinners to the second floor overlooking the market below.  The meal was fabulous and, although the bowl was rather large, the portion was just right…and it appeared to be a generally healthy meal as well.  The marinated pork was seasoned just right and was very tender.  The other elements of the dish were perfect complements to each other.

With our drinks ($1.00 each for a bottle of water and a can of Diet Pepsi), our entire meal was a consumer-friendly $16…and with my gift certificates, it only cost a single dollar!

I was a bit disappointed that some of the tables upstairs hadn’t been cleaned off.  I mostly attribute this to lazy diners who chose to leave their disposable “to go” containers and used napkins on their tables rather than availing themselves of the trash containers that were no more than ten feet away. 

Our relaxing dinner complete, we went back downstairs (after discarding our disposables) and re-entered the now quiet market as most vendors were closing or already closed for the day.  Fortunately, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (http://www.jenis.com) had not yet closed up shop!  I opted for a single scoop of the Brown Butter Almond Brittle in a sugar cone ($4.50).  The sweet treat was the perfect ending to my meal.

When you visit the North Market, don’t forget to get your parking ticket validated to take advantage of the $1/hour rate (up to two hours).

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Milestone 229 (October 12, 2012)

Milestone 229
229 S. Civic Center Drive
Columbus, OH 43215

Open for just over a year, last evening marked my first visit to Milestone 229 which is so nicely situated along the Scioto Mile in downtown Columbus.  Fittingly, the dining occasion was to celebrate Lori’s milestone birthday earlier in the week.  We’ll just leave it at that…milestone…not a number!

With reservations for 5:30 on a Friday evening, we entered a restaurant with a bar that was already bustling with end-of-the-week revelers.  We were escorted through the bar area into the dining room and seated at a table that looked out onto the fountains of Bicentennial Park.  Alas, blinds had been pulled on the windows to keep the blinding late afternoon sun out of diners’ eyes.

Studying the menu, I was struck by the Soup of Yesterday with the claim that “it’s always better the next day.”  That day’s selection was a Reuben soup containing…well, Reuben ingredients such as sauerkraut and rye croutons. 

Instead, we both opted for the 229 House Salad ($5.95) which was a nice portion of mixed greens topped with orange segments, golden raisins, and goat cheese.  The toasted almonds and sourdough croutons provided a nice crunchy texture and the salad was dressed with an understated mimosa vinaigrette.

For an entrée, Lori selected the Great Lakes Walleye ($21.95) which was accompanied with what looked liked a very tasty roasted corn polenta.  She assured me that it was, in fact, very good!
I chose the Grilled Barrel Cut Sirloin ($22.95) which was a thick center cut steak topped with Gorgonzola butter and accompanied by a three potato hash, al dente skillet green beans, and a whiskey steak sauce.  Whereas I ordered the steak to be prepared medium, it was just ever so slightly overcooked, but retained its flavor nicely.

Never one to deny at least a peek at the dessert menu, I was glad to learn that there was an addition to that evening’s offerings.  I’m sure the banana pudding, lemon tart, and panna cotta were good, but they just didn’t tempt my taste buds.  We also learned that the slice of chocolate cake was big enough to serve four people and came with a “small jug of milk!”

Fortunately, a pumpkin cheesecake ($6.50) was available and, whereas we typically might share a dessert, we each opted for our own slice of this sweet course.  A healthy (size-wise!) portion, the cheesecake was very good and served with a caramel sauce and caramelized pecans, proving to be a nice autumnal ending to the meal!

Michael was a very attentive server who earned his 20% gratuity.  The $5 valet parking was very convenient and operated by polite and gracious attendants.

Milestone 229 is a good reason to stay or venture downtown for a delicious meal in a relaxing setting with a nice view (in the absence of blinding sunlight) where casual or business attire co-mingles comfortably.