One of the fastest growing interests in the culinary world is the farm-to-table movement. So, we recently invited several food writers and bloggers from across the country to Columbus for a four day foodie frenzy. We took them to several locales that epitomize the farm-to-table movement and offer a twist that's uniquely Columbus. Here are just a few of the places we went that would make a great stop for anyone.
Black Creek Bistro Restaurateur/farmer Kent Peters is the owner of Black Creek Bistro, located in Olde Town East. Kent is one of Columbus’ best purveyors of the farm-to-table movement. Each morning he goes to his farm, which is 10 minutes from downtown, hops on his tractor powered by recycled kitchen oil and chooses what will be on the menu that night. The restaurant also features a great wine collection, including several Ohio wines to pair with the locally grown menu items. I would have to recommend the juiciest, fall off the bone chicken I’ve ever had in my life: the chicken confit. It's a half confit chicken from Gerber Poultry in Kidron Ohio, served with pan jus and accompaniments du jour. Another great entrée is the pork mole tender consisting of pork loin scallops with mole sauce, guacamole and tortilla crisps with pickled vegetables and accompaniments du jour. Blackcreek Bistro offers a truly tasty farm-to-table experience.
Knead Urban Diner For chef Richard Lopez and wife Krista Lopez, the word "knead" means making everything by hand, the old fashioned way. Lots of love and plenty of local, fresh ingredients are key to their menu of Mex-Italian-Ohioana fusion items. One of my favorites, the "Motherclucker" chicken sandwich, elicits both chuckles and raves. Some other must try items include the brioche French toast, which will melt in your mouth, and a "twinkie" made of olive oil lavender sponge cake that's filled with handmade lemon curd. Richard kneads the amazing fresh-made bread and brioche, handcrafted sausage and cured meats as well. Knead is the kind of casual laid back spot that everyone can enjoy. If you fancy yourself as a true foodie, then you’ll appreciate the taste, depth of skill and commitment to local sourcing you'll find at Knead.
Middle West Spirits When the Brady Konya and Ryan Lang met, the friends discovered a shared passion for spirits. But it was Lang's family history that helped seal their fate. His family had been bootleggers during prohibition; his grandmother even jailed after The Feds busted up her still. Today, Lang and Konya are lovingly distilling the first artisan vodka in Ohio, under the OYO label. They know well the farmers near Findlay, Ohio who grow the soft, red winter wheat from which their special mash is made. OYO vodka is the most sippable spirit I’ve ever tasted, and the first vodka I’ve ever wanted to drink straight. They are open Monday through Friday and if you stop in, they’ll give you a tour and offer tastings upon request. OYO is now available for sale at the distillery as well as behind the bar at Dine Originals Columbus restaurants.
Alana’s Food & Wine One of Columbus' most notable chefs, Alana Shock draws daily inspiration from the North Market's farmers, designing that night's menu based on what's coming off the farm. Alana’s sense of humor comes alive not only in her nightly menu write ups, but in her recipe design and preparation as well. A true artist, Alana often uses Old-World themes, techniques, ingredients and inspiration. If you like cold soup, you must try the Chili Lime Melon Muscat with Cucumber and Peanuts. A great starter is the Fried Green Tomato with Fried Amish Chicken Egg, Goat Cheese and Enchilada Sauce. The lamb chops came with several fresh made sauces to choose from and I of course had to try them all. What I love best about Alana’s is that you get high-quality, fresh food presented in an artistic way, but unlike some restaurants, the portions are not skimpy. You truly get what you pay for and it is worth every bite. On top of all that food, Alana is a sommelier and offers great wine menu as well as an entire back room devoted to wine parings and tastings on certain nights of the week.
Columbus has the farm-to-table movement covered, but you don’t have to take my word for it. If you’re curious what a couple of other writers had to say about Columbus’ food scene, including additional stops on our tour, check out these links:
And don't forget to experience some of these places for yourself.