Having left Sunny SoCal for points east, I arrived in Columbus and immediately thought I was wrong about something. As I waited for my ride at the airport, I could have sworn Chicago was the “Windy City” and yet as my jacket swirled around me I thought that that described Columbus perfectly. I decided to eat more on this trip so I wouldn't blow away. Yesterday I felt, “Mission Accomplished”!
Shortly thereafter, Michael Hoffman and Lisa Lee picked me up and the great Ohio Foodfest began. With a few days before the Cincinnati Chili Crawl, I knew I was set for a lot of food beforehand.
Our first meal was at Schmidt's, a place I'd heard about before. An oom-pah band, locally brewed Dunkel beer and J. Schmidt's Old World Sausage Platter with applesauce, potato pancakes and warm kraut started me off, while MH and Lleechef both raved about their favorite there, the Bahama Mama. Sausage. My sausages were hearty and flavorful and the sides delicious.
Schmidt's Old World Sampler
Bahama Mama Platter
The next morning, MH and I went to Waffle House. Even though I didn't know the proper way to order it, I still knew what I wanted and enjoyed my hash browns with onions and ham.
For lunch, we set out for Crabill's Hamburgers. The way MH and Lleechef raved about it and with what Michael Stern had said here, I knew I was in for a transcendental experience. Three burgers later, I understood why everyone raved about it. They were awesome, oniony, crusty and yet juicy.
I could have easily ordered more, but I knew we had places to go and things to eat. The atmosphere is funky at best, with the best part being the aroma of those burgers constantly on the grill. People came in while we ate, ordering from 4 to 16 burgers and getting them in no time flat. What Crabill's does, they do perfectly.
From the outside, our next stop made Crabill's look like Spago. I was absolutely amazed when this turned out to be Henry's, the home of awesome pie. I did mutter some things under my breath though, when I found out BB and pals had bought 11 pies the night before, leaving us with not much of a choice. Brandi, our waitress, described the scene to us from the night before. In the mean time, it turned out the rhubarb pie I had wanted was gone as well as Lleechef's desired cherry pie. I drowned my sorrows in a piece of scrumptious blackberry pie and an average piece of apple pie. MH had Banana Cream, topped not with whipped cream but meringue, while LL had a piece of coconut cream pie.
Dinner that night, however, made up for the disappointment at Henry's. Lleechef channeled her inner Alaskan memories and made us a wonderful pile of Alaskan king crab legs. Along with some Jack Daniels, it was truly a delicious, memorable meal.
Saturday morning we were on the road early, bound for Cincinnati and the Chili Crawl. With many of the Roadfooders meeting at the hotel in Blue Ash, we had some yummy pies brought by the JRPfeff contingent. That more than made up for the lack of pies at Henry's. After meeting plenty of Roadfooders, some old friends and some new, we headed to the first stop, Pleasant Ridge Chili.
For my first meal, I shared a three-way and an order of goetta with WJ. My first taste of goetta, suggested by WJ and I was hooked. It was delicious. The chili was good, probably the closest I came to what I had imagined Cincinnati Chili would be, with cinnamon and spice notes giving it a unique flavor. Overall, it was not the best chili, but I think it was the closest to what I had heard it described at over the years.
Mike S. and Ava
5 way at Pleasant Ridge Chili
Our next stop was Jungle Jims, a place that I can only describe as a cross between all the ethnic markets I shop at here in SoCal, thrown together with a splash of Disneyland's Jungle River Cruise and a touch of Trader Joe's.
Michael Hoffman. Lleechef and unidentified Roadfooder at Jungle Jim's
As is befitting a place that seems like you need to join a hunt, I joined with a group in search of
Buddy Roadhouse's BBQ sauce. After a while, I got my “Big Game shot”, of Buddy with his BBQ sauce on the shelves. After a detour to the seafood department to see some nice live crawfish, we headed down across the river to Kentucky for our next stop.
6 Way at Dixie Chili
Dixie Chili was probably the closest to “eh” that I had. The coney looked nice, but tasted like one of those cheap chicken hot dogs with some uninspired chili on it. More interesting was the six way chili, with fresh garlic on top of it. The garlic was good, but a little too much after a while, completely obscuring the taste of the chili. Of course, since it was the same chili that was on my coney, that was not a problem.
After a short hike to a non-existent Graeter's that was supposedly four blocks away, we drove to another location. There, everyone was in ice cream nirvana. Lleechef had said the hazelnut gelato was the thing to get so I ordered that and salted caramel ice cream. Working my way through the two scoops at a table with Bonk, Big_g and ChiBears15, Buddy Roadhouse came by and asked what flavors I had. When I told him, he said that it looked like she gave me butter pecan instead of the hazelnut gelato. I took the half finished dish to the counter and told her. She apologized, told me to keep the first dish and then gave me a second dish practically overflowing with the hazelnut gelato. Great customer service! Two dishes of ice cream later, I thought I had ruined my appetite for the rest of the day. Boy, was I wrong---I was just starting!
After officially checking into our rooms, we headed over to meet the group after their tour of the sign museum. They had finished the tour early and most were leaving Camp Washington Chili as we arrived. This was probably the fanciest place we went to, high-tech and modern. A surprise sine they had been around since 1940 and I expected a classic looking “joint”. I was happy though to get there when we did however because it gave me some quality time to visit with CajunKing. I had a cheese coney which was definitely better than Dixie Chili. The chili had a decent amount of kick to it and the hot dog seemed better. MH and Lleechef split a four-way which they seemed to enjoy. CajunKing told some fascinating stories about the history of the area and several stories about the area's history in the war.
We worked our way over to the next stop, Blue Ash Chili. I gave the hostess a heads up about the size of our party and asked if they could set aside an area for all of us. They did try, but somehow things still got confused and some of us were seated in a different room. The beer, a local Mount Carmel, was very good. I took a chance and ordered one of my favorite delights, a chili cheese burger.
It was passable, the burger overcooked but the chili nicely seasoned. Some pickled jalapeños added heat. A better choice was MH and Lleechef's 4 way chili with deep fried jalapeños. The peppers were tasty and the breading was nicely done and crunchy. It was the best stop however for getting a chance to talk to more of the group.
We squeezed in a partial group shot.
It seemed that everyone was too full to go to the last stop, but we all sucked it in and went to Aglamesis Brothers ice cream. There after proclaiming I was too full for even a taste, I wound up taking suggestions and having a scoop of fresh strawberry ice with a scoop of champagne Italian ice. They were both delicious. It was a nice time but filled with goodbyes as many of the group were heading back to their homes early in the morning.
The last meal together for the rest of the group was Sunday morning at the Golden Lamb, Ohio's oldest hotel. In a beautiful classic building, the restaurant had that timeless feel to it. The menu was excellent, some of us shared the fried sauerkraut balls which really tasted excellent. The biscuits and gravy were my choice for breakfast, but I had been intrigued by one of the dishes that had a venison breakfast sausage so I ordered that as a side. The sausage gravy was smooth and creamy with big chunks of sausage in it. The biscuits were a little on the dense side but perfectly baked and delicious. The venison breakfast sausage was nothing short of amazing, with a nice snap to the skin, great flavor and a slightly coarse-ground texture that was perfect. It was an excellent way to end the trip to Cincinnati.
Fried saurekraut ball
After arriving back in Gahanna, MH took me for lunch to a place I have been wanting to try for years. Yes, I finally tried White Castle. The upside is---I'll never have to try them again. Hours later, my stomach was so messed up I had to spoil our dinner plans. Fortunately, by mid-evening it had (literally) passed and I was ready for Monday's adventure.
We were rapidly running out of time to try all the places we wanted to. After another breakfast with MH at Waffle House, again with some delicious hash browns, we picked up Lleechef and headed towards something I had always wanted to see, the Great Lakes. Our destination was Port Clinton on Lake Erie. On the way, we stooped for a photo op at the G&R Tavern in Waldo.
The plan was to stop again on the way back, where MH could have their famous fried bologna sandwich and I would have a sandwich I'd only found once in California, the famous breaded pork tenderloin sandwich.
Passing through many small, scenic towns, we reached our destination, the Jolly Roger in Port Clinton. Both Lleechef and MH had raved about their fresh fried walleye and fried perch, neither of which I had ever had. The Jolly Roger has a simple menu. Lleechef had the fried perch plate, MH had the fried walleye plate and I had the Shore Dinner, with a generous helping of both fish. On the side came a delicious house-made tartar sauce and one of the best cole slaws I have ever had, along with a heaping mound of perfectly fried onion rings. I can't say which of the fish was my favorite since they were both excellent, extremely mild, tasty and flaky-tender. I finally gave up. Leaving one onion ring and a roll. I was stuffed to bursting.
Perch and Onion Rings
We headed next to one of Lleechef's favorite places, the Marblehead Lighthouse. The weather had cooperated and it was gorgeous there, with the waves lapping at the rocks in front of the lighthouse and a beautiful blue and white sky. I had finally made it to the Great Lakes and it was a beautiful sight.
We began our trip back, planning on a “snack” at the G&R Tavern. I finally made a tough judgement call. I was still too stuffed to even eat part of a pork tenderloin sandwich and did not want to ruin my appetite for the last meal of the trip, the Gahanna Grill. Even though I hated to, I put the G&R Tavern on the “next time” list. After spending a few hours relaxing at their lovely home in Gahanna, we headed towards the Gahanna Grill.
They are known for their “Beanie Burger”, topped with numerous toppings including cole slaw. We all got burgers, although none of us got a “Beanie Burger”. I got a Mushroom Swiss Burger, which was cooked a nice medium rare and topped with plenty of sauteed mushrooms and a nice slice of Swiss Cheese. On the side was cole slaw and French fries. The place had a very nice, casual vibe and it was easy to see why it was the place of choice for many of the locals.
Mushroom Swiss burger
EdSails, Lleechef, MichaelHoffman at Gahanna Grill
I had an early flight Tuesday morning, so we were out of the house before 6AM. Greeting us was a nice layer of snow on MH's truck. After he scraped off the windows I was dropped off at the airport. Security and checkin was a breeze and it looked like perfect timing to be back at LAX by 9am PST. Instead, after we had boarded the plane, they announced that operations had come to a halt.
View from the airplane, on runway at 9am at Port Columbus airport
Two hours and 10 minutes later, after waing in a line while they de-iced each plane in line, we took off. At LAX, poor visibility put us in a landing pattern hold. Finally, at 10:45am, we landed. The adventure was over.
post edited by EdSails - 2014/04/16 23:32:40