Okay…it’s a bookstore. How good can the coffee be? Well, we heard about the café located inside Trident Booksellers and Café, through a list of reviews online. Everyone declared it the best coffee…in town…anywhere…ever. This sounded, to me, like a challenge. Since I rediscovered a love of espresso drinks, and since we just happened to be in the area…and even happen to love bookstores…we stopped in.
After a bit of browsing, we headed into the small café and up to the register to place an order. I ordered a sugar-free soy mocha, sans the whipped cream. Right there, you can watch the barista prepare your drink to absolute perfection. I got the drink to take away, rather than sit and sip, which would have been quite okay as the café was quite cozy and full of people mulling over books and holding friendly conversations. But I had a lot to accomplish that day. And stepping outside into the biting wind with a warm drink was the perfect compliment.
The mocha was perfect. Just the right hint of chocolate flavor. The soy milk was steamed to creamy perfection. This was smooth. Very smooth. It was rich and creamy without being too much for the palate. Reviewers were right, it was some of the best coffee I had ever had. Probably not THE best…but it ranked up there. I enjoyed it all the way down to the final sip and had to resist going back for a try at another drink. Another time. Always save something to bring you back.
And, with coffee drinks like that…there is no doubt I will be back. Boulder does a lot of things right. Not just tea (Celestial Seasonings is located there), but coffee too. They do it oh, so right! Yes…even at café’s in bookstores.
On my recent trip to Denver, Colorado, last month, my roommate and I spent Friday morning traveling to Boulder, Colorado with the intent of going to the Celestial Seasonings plant. Why? Because I am a tea fiend. No kidding. If it’s tea…I love it. And there is no doubt that Celestial Seasonings has some of the best teas out there. Why not go to the source?
We headed out early from Denver and made it to the plant before it even opened. But we were a little hungry and, thankfully, their Celestial Café was open and serving breakfast. I noticed a menu hanging on the wall with a variety of dishes that could be ordered, but it appeared everything was being done cafeteria style. There were hot trays of breakfast casseroles (one vegetarian, one not), breads, your usual bagels, muffins, etc. Since I have a gluten allergy I got a (very) small bowl of the vegetarian breakfast casserole (eggs, potatoes, cheese) and discovered some delicious gluten-free breads in a small refrigerator near the front of the café. My roommate grabbed the gluten-free cinnamon coffee bread and I decided to go for the chocolate zucchini bread. And we decided we would split a bag of sweet potato chips…just for a little more sustenance.
We paid for our food and headed out into the dining area, pulling up a seat and digging in. I have to say…my favorite thing was the gluten-free chocolate zucchini bread. After one taste, I left it alone so I could eat everything else and save that for last. Yeah…it was that good. I later wrote an e-mail to Celestial Seasonings hoping to obtain a recipe for it…but never heard back. I live in an area where buying gluten-free anything is not only impossible, but expensive. But…it was worth a shot. The breakfast casserole was…okay. After all, it was sitting on a warming plate for the better part of the morning. It wasn’t…fresh, but it was good. I threw a dash of hot sauce on mine and enjoyed it well enough. And the chips…well…they weren’t so good. But we ate them because we were hungry.
After polishing off breakfast, I went back and grabbed more of the coffee and chocolate zucchini bread to take back to Denver with us. I probably could have bought them out of that stuff without blinking an eye. So…if you go to the café…turn around away from the food counter and check that small refrigerator behind you. It was in there. And even if you don’t have a gluten allergy (like my roomie), you’ll LOVE this bread.
Then…enjoy the rest of your time at the Celestial Seasonings plant. Take a tour. Sample every flavor you want (I know I did). Visit their Tea Room…and buy whatever flavor you want. I walked out of their with a new tote bag and filled it to the brim with tea flavors I can’t get in my area! I’m making sure that every time I go to Colorado, this place is one of the stops I make. I had such a great time there.
And I’ll hopefully be able to snag more bread from their café…
When I mention Colorado…what do you think of? The Rocky Mountains? Skiing? Perhaps even chocolate?
What if I said crepes? No? Well, change your way of thinking, my friends. On a recent trip to Denver, Colorado, I enjoyed one of my most favorite pastimes. Breakfast…for dinner.
It’s not an unusual concept, but seeing as more and more people skip the most important meal of the day, it seems breakfast is a dying fad…something only a few people still enjoy. I am all about breakfast food. I can eat breakfast food all day and be one happy woman. So, upon arriving in Denver, my roommate and I set out to nearby Aurora, Colorado and the Southlands Shopping Center.
Okay…so now you’re thinking…dining in a shopping center? Another one of those strip mall joints? Well…outdoor shopping center is more like it. Beautiful even. And that was where we found our destination: Le Creperie Café.
I had been craving crepes for a long while…but where I live no one offers an option that I can eat. With my gluten intolerance, it makes dining out a lot more challenging than it used to be. However, Le Creperie Café had me covered. We arrived to an empty restaurant, and during our time there had only three other people join us for dinner. But it was also a Thursday night. And with the food and service we received at this restaurant…I can only imagine it is hopping on the weekends.
We were seated immediately upon entering and the server left us with menus while he fetched our drink order. After having flown across the country, we were starving…so an appetizer sounded like a good idea. When the server returned, we went over the menu briefly, as it was our first time there, and we mentioned my food allergy. Le Creperie Café, however, does make crepes with buckwheat flour, a gluten-free option for people like me. I was in love.
Our appetizer of choice was going to be to split the Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Dip…but the server immediately informed us that he believed it was made with flour, which would definitely not sit right with me. He double-checked with the chef, and sure enough…that was the case. Instead, my roommate opted for a bowl of the tomato bisque soup and I went for the Cucumber Tomato Salad…a towering plate of fresh roma tomatos, cucumbers, feta cheese, red onion, and dill…drizzled with olive oil and balsamic. It was fresh and delicious. A great way to start off the meal.
And because this was vacation, we decided to do sweet crepes over the savory ones. My roommate had never had a crepe before, so she got the very basic Nutella crepe, which, mind you, is served with homemade, fresh whipped cream on the side. I wanted a little more sweetness in my crepe, so I got the gluten-free (buckwheat flour) Crepe avec Bananes et Fraises, or a Nutella-filled crepe with bananas and strawberries, also served with the homemade whipped cream on the side.
Interesting note here…all orders are made when you order them to guarantee freshness at this restaurant. This means food takes a little bit of time to reach you…but the wait is worth it. I promise.
The crepes arrived shortly after we finished our appetizers and they looked amazing. More amazing than any crepe I had ever had. I took my first bite and remembered every reason why I loved crepes in the first place. Rich, fruity, and delicious. The Nutella complimented the fruit stuffing. And my roommate compared the buckwheat crepe with her regular one and said she couldn’t even tell the difference. Gluten-free…done oh so right! I polished it off with the whipped cream and mopped up every bit of Nutella on the plate. Nothing went to waste because it was really that amazing.
Not only did the staff at La Creperie Café know the menu, they were very knowledgeable about the ingredients. This is a place that takes pride in the food it serves, as well as concern for their customers. The fact that they offer gluten-free options is a step in the right direction and one I wish more restaurants would take since it is a growing food allergy. The food was delicious. The service was spectacular. And I will return the next time I go to Denver because they made every bite worth my while.
Breakfast for dinner. Savory or sweet. Your choice. But for a taste of something delicious…make it a crepe. And do it right…go to Le Creperie Café if you are in the Denver area. You will fall in love with breakfast all over again.
When someone mentions a pub, that’s usually synonymous with either the Irish or the English. But at Digger & Finch Pub in Dublin, Ohio, Scottish cuisine is on the menu.
I’ll be honest, I have been to Scotland, and much like the food of the UK, it didn’t thrill me. So, in choosing a place to eat after attending a Major League Soccer match in the freezing cold of Columbus, Ohio, Scottish food would not have been my first choice. But we were in the market for pub grub on a Saturday night…and anything else in the area would have been packed.
What we found at Digger & Finch Pub was a very warm atmosphere. There were still flat-screen televisions with March Madness playing throughout the restaurant, but there was also a fire-place with a real fire burning, beautiful windows and views, and just a comforting setting to settle into, relax, enjoy a pint or two, and some food.
Really good food too, mind you. If, like me, you have traveled to Scotland and not been blown away by the fare…give this place its fair shake. Digger & Finch offers a versatile menu which includes favorites such as shepherd’s pie, bangers & mash, and my roomie’s favorite – fish & chips (which she ordered, by the way!). In addition, some more modern and American foods appear too, like pork chops, ribs, and even grilled cheese.
I admit…I toyed with getting the grilled cheese. I mean, it included three different kinds of cheeses (but mine would come without the bacon & ham rashers, mind you!). Ultimately, however, I settled on the Portobello Mushroom Sandwich, consisting of a grilled Portobello cap on focaccia bread with mixed greens, roasted red peppers, and Pepper Jack cheese. I am still getting used to this gluten-intolerance thing, so I was a bit shy to ask for it without bread. In fact…that would have basically made it a sandwich.
Food arrived and we dove in. And every bit of it was delicious. I had expected the bread to be crisper, but what I ended up with was the mushroom and veggie filling between two very soft and delicious slices of focaccia bread. Very good! And their fries were delicious too. Granted, afterwards I felt the effect of eating the bread, but that wasn’t the restaurants fault…it was mine for ignoring my new food allergies. And let’s face it…it was delicious regardless.
Afterwards, my two friends and I split a dessert…the aptly named Chocolate Explosion, chocolate brownie served with vanilla bean ice cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Every bite of it was sinfully, melt in your mouth, chocolatey goodness. It was sex on a plate. Delicious. Warm. Melty. CHOCOLATE! Need I say more? I stuck mostly to the ice cream though since I already was feeling the effects of the bread…but took a couple small bites of the brownie. Oh yeah…next time forget the entree…just give me dessert!
Digger & Finch Pub was the perfect place to go after a cold, soccer match. We were not rushed out. We were given time to enjoy our food. And everything about the place just made me feel like I was visiting with good friends, sitting in their living room, having a good time. It’s not the typical pub…but then again, it doesn’t need to be.
When you think of delicious coffee drinks, what sort of places usually cross your mind. At the top of the list is probably the biggest coffee franchise in the world: Starbucks. While Starbucks has its place in the coffee world (I can say this…I used to work for them!), they are a chain and, let’s face it, overpriced and over-roasted. (*GASP!*)
I discovered something recently. Despite having been a barista years ago, I never really took the opportunity to really taste and find a liking for coffee. Until I stumbled into a local place here in the area and was introduced to the perfect espresso pour with the perfect temperature of soy milk and a sugar-free chocolate flavor. It wasn’t just a latte…it was a latté that changed my life and my feelings toward coffee in general.
So, on a recent trip to Columbus, Ohio, my friends and I decided to forgo the usual stop at another (but even more delicious than Starbucks) coffee shop chain, Caribou Coffee, and opted to try a local place out instead. We drove into Gahanna, Ohio and stopped off at Crazy Goat Coffee.
I know what you’re thinking…coffee and goats should not work. But, not to worry my friends…step into the warm interior of this local café and you immediately feel welcome. The barista, a young gentleman, was on his own that Saturday morning and the coffee shop was booming with business. That…is a great sign. We placed our orders…one friend getting the Crazy Irishman (she wasn’t impressed) and the other getting the Crazy Goat Mocha, which means…extra espresso (and she loved it and was over-caffeinated the rest of the day!), and I got the dark chocolate, soy mocha.
Rich…delicious…smooth…and gone way too soon. The dark chocolate syrup really, really complimented the rich soy milk and the delicious roast of espresso used in the mocha. I gave each of my friends a sip and they immediately wished they had ordered that as well. Speaks highly of the drink, I would say.
So, while Crazy Goat satisfied (and caffeinated!) one of us, left one of us wishing we ordered something else, and made my dreamy mocha something I crave almost every morning, it is a local coffee shop with an array of flavors, specialty drinks, bakery items, and even a lunch menu. Stop in for a morning, afternoon, or even an evening pick-me-up. Their signature drinks have fun names and an interesting blend of ingredients that may suit your palate. Or, if nothing else, get the dark chocolate soy mocha. I promise…you will wish you ordered the largest size available.
As a vegetarian, one of the most complimentary cuisines out there is Asian food. Most of it is centered around rice, tofu, and all those delicious spices and seasonings. And the best part about Asian cuisine…it never tastes the same at every restaurant. Each place has its own take and its own flare to add to a dish. Even the most basic of dishes can turn into a gastronomic masterpiece.
Fresh off of one of the finest sushi bars and Asian restaurants I had eaten at, a good friend of mine chose an Asian fusion restaurant on Bardstown Road in Louisville, Kentucky, for her birthday lunch. We met outside the restaurant just as it opened and were the first customers of the day at this beautiful establishment.
Beautiful is not an understatement. The sushi bar is beautifully arranged and the first thing you see as you enter the building. The waitresses seated us at a table in the back and gave us time to browse the menu. My friend’s mom insisted on sushi, but this place did not offer a vegetable roll. Too bad, really. But the sushi was a huge hit with everyone at the table. My roommate preferred the California roll over those with more of a fishy taste. And she was dared to try one of the rolls with the fish over the top, and took the challenge. While she didn’t like it, she polished off that roll. It wasn’t a reflection of the food. Sushi just isn’t her thing. Everyone else enjoyed the various rolls down to the very last bite, polishing it off.
For the entrée, I chose to order the Crispy Tofu Sichuan Style, which consisted of lightly fried tofu with garlic, ginger, spicy soy, and a touch of Asian vinaigrette reduction over sautéed Chinese greens and Goji berries. It was served with a choice of the house salad or their soup. I opted for the house salad topped with ginger dressing.
The salad arrived and it was delicious. The dressing was light and seasoned just right. It didn’t overpower the vegetables, and it stood out. It was different from every other dressing I had on a salad. And that, alone, would make me order it again with my next meal here. Very delicious!
The Crispy Tofu Sichuan Style was beyond delicious. It was fantastic. The tofu was crispy on the outside, but melt-in-your-mouth on the inside. It was the perfect texture. Not only that, it was cooked properly and seasoned to perfection. Tofu can be tricky, but Wild Ginger does it right and does it well. The sauce served with the meal was fantastic. The right amount of seasoning so that the food popped with flavor with every bite, and didn’t taste bland. It was fantastic.
If not for the decision of my friend to eat here, I probably never would have entered Wild Ginger. But now that I have…and now that I have sampled a bit of what their menu offers, I honestly can’t wait to go back and try something else. While their menu doesn’t have as many vegetarian choices, the ones they offer sound delicious. And I can’t wait to get back again and again and try every single one. If they are as good as the meal I had the first time, then they’ve won a new regular customer.
My recommendation if you find yourself on Bardstown Road in Louisville, Kentucky…forgo some of the pizza places, the bars, and the fast-food joints and give Wild Ginger’s Asian fusion menu a whirl. You won’t be disappointed.
I love Asian food. Seriously…LOVE it. Every kind of it. Which is why when a little gem of a place like Beijing comes around, my foodie self rejoices!
Beijing Grill & Sushi Bar, at first glance, would seem like something that would be fighting to survive on Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares.” Not that the place is a mess. It’s not. In fact, it is immaculate. What worries me about this restaurant is, every time I’ve been in there, no one else has been. It’s so quiet. It’s so…empty. And that is truly a sad thing.
Located in Sellersburg, Indiana, Beijing offers a fantastic menu consisting of Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese food. In addition, they have one of the best sushi bars I have ever been to. Seriously. The woman who makes their sushi is a master and no other sushi has come to live up to the standards of hers. It is, without a doubt, the best sushi outside of Japan.
I went to Beijing on St. Patrick’s Day. I love Irish pubs, but not on thatcommercialized Irish holiday. So, instead I went to a bar – a sushi bar. And it was just what I needed that day.
To begin my meal, I ordered a Vegetable Sushi Roll off the sushi menu. It was delicious. And they don’t skimp on the size either. Most sushi establishments give you tiny slices of a small roll. Not at Beijing. You get a large roll, sliced into 5-8 pieces. Each bite is delicious. While eating it, the woman who makes them came over to see if we got the vegetable one because we don’t eat meat. My roommate does eat meat, but I said that I did not and she said next time she could make it with apple or whatever I wanted in it. Now, name another place where they will personalize a sushi roll to your taste? Regardless, the one she made was delicious and I ate most of it as my roommate was sampling their egg rolls off the appetizer menu.
For my entree, I wanted to try something different. Previously I had ordered off the Vietnamese menu…the Boom Cha Gio Vermicelli Bowl. But since then I had become a vegetarian, so the spring rolls that were on that bowl were not going to work for me. I opted to try something off their Chinese menu, deciding on the Spicy Eggplant and Tofu entree. This was a simple roasted eggplant stirfried with fried tofu and topped with roasted sesame. It looks a bit of a mess when it is set down in front of you, but the taste is exceptional. Not even kidding. The eggplant was roasted and marinated to perfection. The tofu was done perfectly. Despite the huge portion size and my indulging on the sushi roll prior, I ate every last bite of it. Cleaned my plate completely. Happily stuffed and in Asian food heaven.
Another thing to point out about this fantastic restaurant is that they can substitute tofu or mock chicken for almost any dish on their menu. Talk about vegetarian friendly. They also have a note on the menu that if you alert them to any food allergies, they will accomadate you and make sure you have a safe dining experience.
Honestly, if you like a variety of Asian foods, Beijing is the place to go. The food has always been delicious. The service is great. And you feel like the people there really care about you and want you to have the best dining experience you can. And that says a lot these days when most people think Asian food is always served buffet style, drenched in thick, fattening sauces, and over overcooked fried rice. This is a refreshing change. Freshly cooked food done perfectly to reflect the area of Asia it is derived from.
If you are in the Sellersburg area and want amazing sushi…or Asian food. Go to Beijing. Just go. You can thank me later!
There is a desparate need for Irish pubs in the United States that do not pride itself on displays of clovers and leprechauns. It seems pubs in the States are all about Irish gimics instead of being, well, Irish. Mo’s, however, is not one of those places. In fact, Mo’s does Irish right and does it proud.
My first experience at a Mo’s was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin a couple years back when I was in town with my roommate and her mom to see Billy Joel. We chose the pub as a place to eat dinner…fell in love with the ambiance, the drinks, the food…and the famous Mo’s Cookie (but more on that later!).
So, when one opened up in Nobelsville, Indiana…it was close enough to warrant giving the place another shot since Wisconsin’s was so great. What I found, and appreciated, at Mo’s was not only a couple of vegetarian options, but also a gluten-free menu. Since I recently had to go gluten-free, this was a blessing! Even the chips (aka: fries, for those of you who don’t know the lingo), are made gluten-free. This made for one very happy pub connoisseur!
While my roommate opted for her usual pub fare…fish and chips, and our friend Julia went for the soup and grilled cheese, I got a little creative with my order. I ended up with a mish-mash of various items on the menu. I ordered the Caprese Salad, a delicious mix of grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. It was SO good. Along with that, I got a basket of fries, for the carbs (of course!), and their fresh fruit. Every bit of it was delicious. And I enjoyed the salad and fruit down to the last bite. I left quite a few of the fries, but it was an entire basket of golden potato-y goodness that I enjoyed in moderation!
But the most imporant part of the meal came at the end. Ignoring my need to be gluten-free in honor of my roommate’s birthday, the three of us split the famous (and sinfully delicious) Mo’s Cookie…which consists of a freshly baked (so it is hot and gooey) jumbo chocolate chip cookie topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. Oh yeah…it was worth every calorie and everything I had to deal with as a result of food allergies. Yeah…it is thatgood, my friends! Sometimes a splurge is worth it and this was one of those times!
So, if you find yourself near Indianapolis…venture to Nobelsville and check out Mo’s Irish Pub. Feast on their versatile menu. And, for God’s sake, go off your diet, forget calories, and get the damn cookie. Because it’s worth it. It is all worth it.
I absolutely love scones. LOVE them. So, when I went to visit a friend of mine in Columbus, Ohio, she mentioned a local bakery in Gahanna that had…scones. So, it only seemed natural that I go and check them out. I mean…scones for breakfast make any day better. Mark my words.
So, we headed into Gahanna and dashed through the rain into Bread Basket Family Bakery. Their mission: To make the best baked products possible. To serve our customers, our community, and our families to the best of our abilities. Seems noble enough. And, for a bakery that does everything…EVERYTHING…from scratch, well, it has to be good.
Myself and my two friends were set on scones, although contemplated a loaf of bread for a moment. Realizing we had much to do before heading back home, we opted just for the breakfast. Each of my friends got a chocolate chip scone. I opted for the strawberry cream cheese scone.
The one thing I absolutely loved about this bakery was the glass walls. Honestly, I could look back behind the counter and see the staff preparing the breads, the scones, the cakes…I could see it happening. I could see how the food was prepared and the people who were making it. No hidden kitchen in the back. It was out there and it was fascinating.
With scones in hand, we headed out with great anticipation to dive into them. I was informed the chocolate chip scones were awesome. The chocolate chips just melted away as you popped bits into your mouth. One of my friends got one with icing on it and she loved it. My strawberry and cream cheese scone was good…but it didn’t wow me. It might have been a texture thing. That being said, it was good. Delicious. And, despite the very large size of the scone…I ate every last bite of it. I kind of want to go back and try another kind…and maybe get some bread.
I’m very particular on scones. When I travel overseas, it’s my go-to breakfast for the most part. It’s filling, it’s delicious, it’s just…a warm piece of heaven that goes well with tea or coffee. Yes…scones are amazing. And the Bread Basket Family Bakery does a good job with their recipes. Good enough that I really want to go back and have another one…
That’s right. I am. But this is Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. After watching an episode of Man v. Food on Netflix one night, my roommate saw this place featured. After Adam Richman’s suggestion that everyone try the Bahama Mama sausage, Schmidt’s signature one, she knew we had to go next time we were in town. And, lucky us…we just happen to know people in Columbus.
Me? I totally wanted one of their half-pound cream puffs. Yes…you read that right…HALF A POUND OF CREAM PUFF!! They are known for them and I can tell why.
We went early on a Friday night to Schmidt’s, knowing that it is a really busy place on weekends. But, we got a table immediately and were given time to look over the menu before placing an order. The waitress was informed of my vegetarianism and immediately began pointing out what on the menu could be done for a vegetarian, depending on how strict one is. I am really strict when it comes to that, so anything with chicken broth was out, but there was still plenty out there.
I opted on the appetizer of Pretzel Nuggets with a side of the Potato Pancakes und Apple Sauce. To drink, I got the hot tea, which just happened to be served in what looked like a tube for a science experiment. It was different…and I love different.
The food was amazing. I absolutely fell iin love with the potato pancakes. The pretzel nuggets were perfect…crispy and chewy. The right texture. And the apple sauce had so much fresh flavor…it was delicious. I sampled a couple of sides from my roommate’s plate, as she opted for the big buffet, known as “The Autobahn.” The macaroni and cheese was delicious!! My roomate sampled a bit of everything…and the mild and hot versions of the signature Bahama Mama sausages, prefering the bite of the hot one to the mild. It may have still had a bit too much spice as soon she was just mixing the sausage in with her macaroni and cheese, but I give major kudos to her for stepping out of her usual comfort zone and trying something different!
And then came dessert. The half pound cream puff. As it wasn’t a Saturday or Sunday, we didn’t get the option for a specialty, but that was fine. Our choices were vanilla, chocolate, and peanut butter. My roommate went for chocolate. I wanted the original. The Vanilla Cream Puff. And when it was delivered…I was in dessert heaven. No, I didn’t eat it all then. I had maybe 1/3 of it and saved the rest of it for another time. Rich. Delicious. Creamy. The pastry was the perfect compliment to the creamy topping. Half a pound of deliciousness. I already crave another one.
So…if you find yourself passing through Columbus, Ohio and want to try out an awesome place to feast…check out Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant. It’s vegetarian friendly, despite it being meat-heavy and specializing in sausage. And the food is far and away some of the best to be served up anywhere.
And…save room for that cream puff. You know you want one!