Anne I and I attended the “Taste of the Independents” event last night, which is an annual fundraiser event put on by Dine Originals Columbus. Essentially, the best restaurants in Columbus wine and dine you for an evening in one of the nicest event spaces downtown.
A few friends of mine scoffed at the $75/person ticket price, but when you consider that for dinner last night we ate at Alana’s, Banana Bean, Barcelona, Basi Italia, Blackcreek Bistro, Cafe Corner, The Clarmont, Due Amici, Figlio, Handke’s, Katzinger’s, Luce Enoteca, Pistacia Vera, The Refectory, Surly Girl, Tony’s, The Top Steakhouse, and Z Cucina all at the same time… I’d say it was money well spent. There were a dozen or so others that we didn’t manage to try, but everything looked and tasted great!
The highlights for me include:
- The Lamb Sirloin with Sweet Pea and Minted Pesto from Basi Italia – I’m not a big lamb fan, and there were a few other places who offered it last night, and Johnny D knocked it out of the park for me. The meat was tender and moist, the pesto paired perfectly, and the presentation was top notch as always.
- Creme Brulee from Handke’s – We just tried this dessert out last week at the Celebrity Chefs event at Huntington Park, and we eagerly headed back for seconds last night. I eat a lot of creme brulees as it’s one of my favorite desserts, and Handke’s does them right.
- Pistacia Vera – Anne & I are big fans of this place and just had one of their lemon tart (I can’t recall the real name) desserts earlier this week when some friends brought it over for a dinner party. Their spread included two of our favorite items, their Pate de Fruits and Macaroons. Excellent as usual.
- Sea Scallop Pomponette from The Refectory – I didn’t get a chance to try the scallop that Barcelona offered (Anne stole it off my plate) so maybe it was just the longing I had for one by the time we found The Refectory table, but their scallop was cooked perfectly, and their sauce was near perfection.
- Caliente Crab Salad Bites from Surly Girl – Whoa. Where did that come from? I don’t think many expect a restaurant who decorates their table with eyepatch-adorned skull decorations to hold a candle to some of their higher-end counterparts, but this offering was really tasty. If it’s not on the regular menu, it should be.
- Sliced Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Demi Glace from The Top Steakhouse – I’m ashamed to admit that The Top is one restaurant that we’ve always meant to try and still haven’t made it to yet. But if they’re able to serve steak out of a chaffing dish at an event like this and have it be some of the juiciest and most tender steak that I’ve ever had, then I fully expect their restaurant offerings to be mind blowing.
- Butterscotch Panna Cotta from Z Cucina – This is another two-times-in-one week for me after also trying it for the first time at the Celebrity Chef event last week. If you’re a butterscotch fan, this dessert is meant for you. It’s really rich, so the small portion size at an event like this is perfect.
Anyway, aside from the food, the event space was great. If you’ve never attended an event at the Smith Brothers Hardware Building, then you’re missing out on one of the best outdoor patio views of the downtown skyline.
It was also great to bump into so many familiar faces and hang out with a lot of fun people. Hopefully even more people will join us next year! We’re looking forward to it already!