Third Birthday Extravaganza: Highlights, News, + More Truth Talk

How have I been blogging for 3 years already? This fact alone makes me feel pretty elderly. This post will be the 169th here on Columbus Culinary Connection. To be honest, some weeks I’ve been chomping at the bit to get my thoughts down on paper; others, it has been hard to make myself sit down and write. But I’ve loved every minute of connecting with each of you.

To shake things up a little bit, I’m in the process of working on a website redesign, and I can’t wait to share the end result. Hang in there if a link is down during the process or if the site’s formatting isn’t quite right. My husband is uber-talented at teaching himself WordPress, and he created this current website plus the one to come. There will be more pictures, more searchable posts, and more opportunities to connect. One thing I’m most excited about is the Caroline Currently page, which will be a live, ever-changing page of what’s happening now: what I’m craving, what’s trending in town, recipes I can’t stop making, and answers to questions submitted by you.

In honor of this anniversary, I also need to take some time to laugh at myself and how far I’ve come. Specifically, in the area of photography. I don’t have a “real” camera, and so it’s been fun to see how much my skills at capturing food with my cell phone have improved. Practice makes perfect, as has reading books and articles on this subject. I have to credit The Wonder Jam too, for their fun and informative class on honing that prowess. When I first started blogging, I didn’t have an Instagram account (now my biggest social media following by far) and I naively didn’t fathom how essential taking good photographs is to putting out quality posts. Just take a peek at some “then” and “now” comparisons below. I still have a lot of work to do, but some of these early shots are downright laughable. Too many filters, bad lighting and props, and so much blurriness.

Cookie Skillets: before and after

Click here to see the full Cookie Skillets recipe.

101 Beer Kitchen: why did I think would anyone care about the sign?

Read more about 101 Beer Kitchen.

Rockmill Brewery: wasn’t doing this beautiful spot justice

Learn more about Rockmill Brewery here.

Sugar Cookie Peach Cobbler: do I even need to explain this one?

Click here to see the Sugar Cookie Peach Cobbler recipe.

Lava Cakes: note the shadow and salt shakers in the corner…

Lastly, I wanted to share with you the all-time top five posts on the blog. Of course, you all love Fox in the Snow (how could you not) but some were surprising. Who knew so many of you shared my obsession with white BBQ sauce? Here are the 5 most visited blog posts to date:

Thank you as always for following along with my food journey. I’m incredibly humbled when someone takes the time to read content I’ve produced. Please let me know what kinds of posts you love best, so I can focus on those topics this year. Or shoot me a message and just say hi!

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Caroline’s Picks: 5 More Chocolate Treats to Try

When I picked 5 of my favorite cocoa confections for a Valentine’s Day post earlier this year, something horrible happened. It was too hard to pick just five local items highlighting chocolate. So, here we go again! Below you’ll find a few more of the sweet treats that I love best.

Chocolate Cheesecake – The Cheesecake Girl

My husband is cheesecake-crazy, but I’d never been an aficionado until I sampled The Cheesecake Girl’s cheesecake. Try all kinds of chocolate-packed types such as puppy chow, Oreo, and even brownie. You can also custom order your own cheesecake with all the chocolatey toppings you can imagine; think Reese’s cups, ganache, and cookie dough. Find Sam and her cheesecakes at North Market pop-ups, Local Roots and Smidge and Pinch in Powell, and at all kinds of pairing events.

Chocolate Cremeaux – Tupelo Donuts

While I await the opening of Tupelo’s Worthington shop, I’ve been stalking their trucks all around town to swipe their Chocolate Cremeaux donuts. This pastry is stuffed with a deep, dark chocolate custard, dipped in glaze and then drizzled with more chocolate, all adding up to a sugar-lover’s dream. Check their social media pages to see where to find the truck and order ahead – this donut sells out fast!

Chocolate Bars (various flavors) – Ohiyo Chocolate

Crafted “bean to bar” in small batches, Ohiyo’s offerings will delight chocolate purists and adventurers alike. All kinds of chocolate are produced, with additions like salt, coffee, and sage, as well as traditional 75% cacao versions. Ohiyo also recently did a beer collaboration with Pretentious Barrel House, so be on the lookout for this chocolate beer combo too! You can buy the bars online, or I pick mine up at Wholly Craft in Clintonville.

Nutella Pancake Balls – Katalina’s Cafe

Who says you can’t have chocolate for breakfast? Every pancake ball offering from Katalina’s is utterly craveable, but if you haven’t tried the Nutella version and then dunked it in bourbon barrel maple syrup, you’re not living your best life. Gooey, warm Nutella oozing out of a bite-sized pancake is something that everyone must experience, especially with a side of spicy bacon.

Chocolate Croissant – Pistachia Vera

The German Village bakery’s Pain au Chocolat consists of a flaky, buttery dough wrapped around semi-sweet chocolate batons – simple and perfect. Make sure to microwave the croissant for maximum melt factor if you eat it at home! Wash your chocolate down with an iced mocha featuring Hartzler Dairy’s chocolate milk to get a double chocolate hit.

Want to bake a chocolatey treat of your own at home? Check out these recipes from the blog: Top Secret Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies and Magic Chocolate Stout Cake.

Have another favorite cocoa goodie that needs to be included in Part 3 of this chocolate saga? Send me an email and let me know!

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Brunchin’ it Up: Vaso Dublin

6540 Riverside Drive
Dublin, OH 43017
(614) 698-2525

I can’t seem to stop gravitating towards the new Bridge Park area in Dublin lately. All of your local Cbus favorites appear to be popping up in this new complex: Local Cantina, Cap City Diner, Pins Mechanical, Fukuryu Ramen, and more. Go ahead and add Vaso to this mega-list, as my new go-to brunch locale. Perched on the top floor of the AC Dublin Hotel, Vaso’s lounge is churning out a Spanish-inspired brunch menu that will make you melt. Every dish is familiar, but new ingredients and preparations will keep me coming back for more. I should also note that if you’re like me and obsessively photograph your meals, the glass-encased dining room makes it easy to capture Instagram-worthy snaps. I also can’t wait to visit Vaso in the summer so I can enjoy my brunch on the enormous rooftop patio, filled with fire pits and an outdoor bar!

Let’s get to the cuisine though. The chef here excels at sauce-making; every course I tried boasted a flavorful aioli, vinaigrette, hollandaise, or other liquid delight. The Tortilla Española, a Spanish potato omelette, had dollops of craveable garlic aioli and a lightly dressed side salad. The almond and red pepper-based romesco accompanying the fiery lamb meatballs was divine. I loved the Brussels Sprouts salad as well, featuring two preparations of sprouts: one raw and thinly sliced as a “Caesar salad” and one deliciously crispy and fried. Be gone, boring avocado toast – Vaso’s version has the addition of crispy peas and a drippy egg for texture and flavor. The shrimp flatbread has succulent shrimp, but also a surprising slather of white bean puree and tomato jam. My favorite dish was the Benedictino del Sur, an Eggs Benedict redux consisting of an English muffin layered with ham, braised greens, and poached eggs, then topped with a generous ladle of pimento hollandaise. There’s even more to the menu, such as hangar steak, grilled octopus, and chorizo hash that I’ll have to sample soon.

Wash all this fare down with some brunch-ready libations. I’ve never been a Bloody Mary fan, but I have to admit that I found the Red Snapper, Vaso’s slightly spicy twist, enjoyable. The use of house pepper mix, ginger, and Watershed gin instead of vodka made me a convert, in this case at least. Watch your drink being made live at the corner Bloody Mary cart, overflowing with fresh fruits and veggies. Traditional Bloodys and mimosas are also available, but my favorite cocktail was the Madrid Old Fashioned (Oloroso Sherry, simple syrup, lemon, and rum) all shaken up and poured over a giant ice cube with the Vaso logo, a nice touch.

Culinary Clues: Vaso is also a stop on the Celtic Cocktail Trail. In this passport-style program, you can collect stamps for visiting select Dublin restaurants and earn rewards like koozies and t-shirts along the way. Additionally, Vaso is part of my 2018 Dining Bucket List; read more here.

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Disclosure: Vaso invited me to try their new brunch in exchange for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.

The Keep

The Keep

The Keep
50 W. Broad St.
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: (614) 745-0322

One of the restaurants on this year’s dining bucket list that I was very eager to sample was The Keep. Having experienced a meal here, that excitement hasn’t waned. Nestled inside one of Columbus’ most identifiable skyscrapers, the LeVeque Tower, this swanky spot is the ideal locale for cocktails with friends or a fancy night out before a show at the Palace Theater.

I don’t normally focus on the decor of a space, but the ambiance inside The Keep is worth noting. Every detail was considered in the design of the interior, from the torch-like gas lamps on the walls, the beautiful gold artwork, and the coves in the bar that are perfect for lounging.

Just as appealing to the eye are the cocktails. The LeVeque 75, a local twist on the classic French 75, is crafted with Watershed bourbon-barrel gin, bubbly, lemon, and simple syrup. As someone always partial to bourbon, I was also fond of the Keep-Easy Walnut Manhattan (The Keep’s special Maker’s Mark, nocino walnut liqueur, chocolate and orange bitters, vermouth, and a cherry) and the In Brasserie Fashioned (bourbon, St. Germain liqueur, and a bitters ice cube with an orange peel and a cherry encapsulated in the middle).

Chicken and Waffles - The Keep

The curated menu at The Keep has French leanings, and there wasn’t a dish that I sampled which I didn’t enjoy. Start with the tender Braised Short Rib, accompanied by the best grits I’ve had in awhile, or the pink-hued, beet-cured salmon with a pop of cranberries. For entrees, the Chicken and “Waffles” is a fun dish, a caper-sauced concoction of thin, crispy waffle-shaped potatoes atop breaded chicken. The Pork Cheek was another delectable selection, slow-cooked pork with collards, black-eyed peas, andouille sausage, and corn nuts for crunch. The Steak Frites were served up with an generous portion of craveable fries, and the scallop and green tea noodles had just enough sear and spice to be perfect. Our party didn’t have time to savor one of the signature Shellfish Towers, but next visit will have to include one of the heaping seafood platters overflowing with Creole shrimp, oysters, chilled lobster, ceviche, and smoked whitefish. I will have to return soon for beignets and the brunch menu too!

Culinary Clue: Don’t miss a chance to sit at the bar around the open kitchen in middle of the main dining room. It’s so interesting to watch the care going into every meal as it’s plated.

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Getting to Know: Freedom a la Cart

When you can devour cookies for a cause, what’s not to love? In this segment of the Columbus Culinary Chronicles, I’m getting the scoop on Freedom a la Cart. If you aren’t aware, Freedom a la Cart is a local charity supporting human trafficking victims by teaching them skills in the food service industry. They have a wonderful catering menu, and also have a mini cafe in the main branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library selling baked goods. Learn more about this wonderful organization, with responses from Executive Director Paula Haines and Head Chef Jessica Levy below.

Paula Haines
Photo Credit: Freedom a la Cart

Can you tell us a little bit about Freedom a la Cart and how it got started?
Paula: Absolutely. In 2009, our founder, Julie Clark, established Doma International as a community-based support program for adult survivors of human trafficking. Two years later we expanded the program to fill the void between restoration and economic independence, and purchased a food cart as a workforce training tool for survivors. While Doma offered supportive services toward restoration, the Freedom a la Cart social enterprise gave survivors a job and means to live. Freedom a la Cart became the vehicle – literally – through which survivors began the ever-important first steps to self-sufficiency.

In 2014 we dropped the Doma International name and now operate both our supportive services program and our thriving catering & box lunch business under one name: Freedom a la Cart.

In the past two years alone, Freedom has provided supportive services to 326 survivors of human trafficking – an annual increase of over 80%. 55 survivors received workforce training and 20 survivors transitioned from our program into sustainable employment in the community. 85% of survivors that have been in the program experience no new criminal charges.

The majority of your employees are human trafficking survivors. How has working for Freedom a la Cart benefited them?
Paula: I would love for you to hear a response to this questions from one of our survivors! They are beautiful, strong woman who work hard to keep their life on track; and it’s exciting for us to watch them transform before our eyes. Freedom helps them see their worth, find their voice and become more confident, and self-sufficient. These women are getting their driver’s licenses, buying cars, paying taxes, attending college, moving into permanent housing and regaining custody of their children. They are gaining employment as office assistants in law firms, as treatment assistants in recovery programs, and as chefs in restaurants. Life changing, generational impact.

Freedom a la Cart’s Instagram account (@freedomalacart1) features lots of delicious baked goods. What’s your favorite treat to make?
Jessica: Thank you. That is always such a difficult question for me, the ‘favorite’. I have such a deep love for making pastries. I enjoy making them all and getting to practice different techniques and methods. Bringing new items to the menu is my probably my favorite time because it is all about the research and development. It means I get to play!

I know I’ve made plenty of kitchen blunders. Do you have any cringe-worthy kitchen disasters you’d like to share?
Jessica: Haha, I actually don’t have any super crazy stories. About 7 years ago, my family asked me to make dinner rolls for Thanksgiving. which I had actually never made, but I wanted to go all out and make the most amazing dinner rolls in all the land. So I researched and found the best recipe by a chef I idolized and thought they had to be the best. So I got home the night before Thanksgiving from working a very loooong shift and started making my rolls. The first batch did not turn out, so I tried again.. Well, batch two wasn’t going well either and I was sitting on the kitchen floor staring into the oven cry-begging my little rolls to rise and bake in the oven. It just wasn’t happening. So long story short, it ended with me buying good ol’ Sister Schuberts frozen dinner rolls Thanksgiving morning at Kroger with dried tears still on my face.

Which Columbus establishment do you frequent more than any other?
Jessica: Kroger! You can literally find me there everyday. But that probably wasn’t what you were looking for. I live in German Village, so I typically stick to my little bubble- South Village Grill, Skillet, Club 185, The Blind Lady Tavern, Fox in the Snow are a few of my go to spots. Vernacular for shopping.

Jessica Levy
Photo Credit: Freedom a la Cart

What is your favorite locally made product?
Jessica: Hmmm.. there is that ‘favorite’ question again. That is truly a tough one, there are so many great locally made products. Columbus really is such a wonderful city and it is continually growing and expanding especially with new talent and products. So I will give a shout out to a non-food place that I love which is Honest Carry Goods. They make such beautiful products, love their bags.

Can you share your go-to recipe to make at home?
Jessica: I am pretty simple when it comes to cooking at home. I try to prep my food for the week on one day. So typically I just chop up a bunch of veggies to have throughout the week. I just have them cut up in the fridge and ready to cook throughout the week for whatever meal I feel like making that day. But I do eat a lot of roasted vegetables for dinner. I grill or bake chicken and put that over greens for salads or with rice and beans to have for lunches throughout the week. And I medium boil eggs to have for breakfast with either yogurt, a granola bar or a protein shake. I genuinely enjoy hosting people, so that is when I like to go all out.

What is your favorite kitchen tool?
Jessica: Commercial stand mixer, rubber spatula and bowl scraper…these are a few of my favorite things.

Rumor has it that there is a Freedom a la Cart cafe in the works, in addition to the Columbus Metropolitan Library location. Can you give us the scoop about what’s coming up in the future?
Paula: Well, we’re not ready to announce a location quite yet. But we are currently raising funds, and talking with property owners for a near-future Freedom a la Cart cafe. In the meantime, we’ll be expanding into wholesale business this year. And you may even see a Freedom a la Cart pop-up cafe.

Tell us about any major fundraising events supporting Freedom a la Cart.
Paula: Our annual fundraiser – Eat Up! Columbus – was on Saturday (February 10th) at St. Charles Preparatory School. We have a talented team of 10 local chefs, led by the amazing Catie Randazzo of Ambrose & Eve [and Challah food truck!] who collaborate to prepare a 5-course dinner with drink pairings. Master mixologist Cris Dehlavi crafts a signature cocktail and selects the drink pairings. It’s such a fun night! Everyone tells us it’s their favorite event of the year! And of course, we agree. Eat Up! Columbus raises over $100,000 to support our work to empower and employ survivors of human trafficking.

Photo Credit: Freedom a la Cart

What else can people do to support this cause, whether through donations or volunteering?
Paula: Friends of Freedom can support our mission by:
1) donating online at
2) order our delicious box lunches or catering at
3) visit our mini cafe located on the lower level of the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Northside Branch at 1423 N. High St.
4) volunteer to be a personal mentor, bring a meal to CATCH Court or assist in the Freedom kitchen. Visit for details.

Have you tried Freedom a la Cart’s cookies or catering yet? If not, make sure to pick up some goodies soon and keep up with them on Instagram (@freedomalacart1)!

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*All photos courtesy of Freedom a la Cart

Caprese Prosciutto Cups

Caprese Prosciutto Cups

I’m crazy for Caprese! I love Caprese sandwiches, Caprese kebobs, Caprese pizza, salad, you name it. That got a little too Bubba Gump shrimp, but you get the point. I’m always looking for a new way to devour the tomato, basil, and cheese combo, so for Christmas this year I developed this bite-sized version. Minimal effort is required, but this fancy-looking appetizer is a sure-fire hit.

Caprese Prosciutto Cups

Yield: 24 mini cups


2 packages prosciutto, 12 slices
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 container mini mozzarella balls
1 T. basil, chopped
3 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper for seasoning

Begin by preheating the oven to 375 degrees. Next, separate the prosciutto slices and cut each in half crosswise to create 24 squares. Tuck each slice into the holes of a mini muffin tin, pressing the edges as high up on the sides of the holes as possible to create a cup shape. The prosciutto will shrink considerably in the oven. Bake the prosciutto shells for 7-9 minutes until firm and crispy. Place them on paper towels to drain any excess grease.

While the prosciutto is baking, slice the mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes in half. After the prosciutto cups are completely cooled, fill each prosciutto cup with a mozzarella half and a tomato half. Drizzle the oil and the balsamic over each of the cups, then sprinkle on basil, salt, and pepper to taste.

Do you have a go-to Caprese recipe? Share a link with your favorite one in the comments below!

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Pin It

Caprese Prosciutto Cups
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
  • 2 packages prosciutto, 12 slices
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 container mini mozzarella balls
  • 1 T. basil, chopped
  • 3 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  1. Begin by preheating the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Next, separate the prosciutto slices and cut each in half crosswise to create 24 squares.
  3. Tuck each slice into the holes of a mini muffin tin, pressing the edges as high up on the sides off the holes as possible to create a cup shape. The prosciutto will shrink considerably in the oven.
  4. Bake the prosciutto shells for 7-9 minutes until firm and crispy.
  5. Place them on paper towels to drain any excess grease.
  6. While the prosciutto is baking, slice the mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes in half.
  7. After the prosciutto cups are completely cooled, fill each prosciutto cup with a mozzarella half and a tomato half.
  8. Drizzle the oil and the balsamic over each of the cups, then sprinkle on basil, salt, and pepper to taste.


Caroline’s Picks: 5 Chocolate Treats to Try

I don’t get all lovey dovey on Valentine’s Day, but I do appreciate the power of cocoa as February 14th rolls around. Fortunately, Columbus has plenty to offer in the chocolate arena, so it was hard to pick 5 of my favorite chocolate treats.

Chocolate Mini Bundt Cake: Flowers & Bread

Chocolate Mini Bundt Cake Flowers & Bread

Instagram-worthy and the ideal size (given that you’ve likely just crammed yourself full of carbs), I must order this cake each time I visit Flowers & Bread. The bundts are coated with a rich chocolate glaze, and the buttermilk keeps the texture delightfully fudgy. The bakery also started offering them in a parfait form as well in the grab-and-go cooler!

Click here to learn more about Flowers & Bread.

Chocolate Morning Bun: Fox in the Snow Cafe

Chocolate Morning Bun Fox in the Snow Cafe

That’s right folks. The picture above is indeed croissant dough baked into a muffin shape, rolled in sugar, and filled with glorious mounds of chocolate mousse. Add on the fact that you can find it at one of my favorite coffee shops, Fox in the Snow, and we’ve got a winner here. For breakfast, a coffee break, or dessert, this offering is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Click here to learn more about Fox in the Snow.

Gooey Chocolate Espresso Hummus: Darista Dips

Gooey Chocolate Espresso Hummus Darista Dips

It’s rare that a hummus company could make both the veggie-rific list AND this chocolate treats list, but I’m convinced that Darista Dips is taking over the world. Their Gooey Chocolate Espresso Hummus celebrates girl power by sourcing ingredients from female-led companies. You won’t believe there’s chickpeas inside, but you will want to slather it on everything. Plus the talented local girl boss Natterdoodle drew the label!

Dairy-free Dark Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream: Jeni’s Ice Cream

Dairy-free Dark Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream Jeni's Ice Cream

This new variety from Jeni’s is deep, dark, chocolatey goodness that would excite Willy Wonka himself. Concocted with coconut cream instead of milk, this vegan-friendly option will fill the cocoa bill. Lately I’ve loved making it a double-scoop duo with Salty Caramel to hit all the flavor notes, but it’s successful as a stand-alone too.

Seriously Big Chocolate Cake: Cap City Fine Diner

Seriously Big Chocolate Cake Cap City Fine Diner

Cameron Mitchell always proves that simple things executed perfectly are the best things, and Cap City’s chocolate cake is a classic for just this reason. You might be tempted to share the immense slab of this confection with a partner-in-crime, but I’m fairly certain I could polish off a whole piece myself. The cake is tender and packs a chocolate punch, and the icing is just as divine.

It was so difficult to narrow this list, I might have to do a chocolate treats part 2 post. Where do you get your chocolate fix in town? Let me know:

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Service Bar

Service Bar
1230 Courtland Ave.
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 947-1231

Columbus distilleries are proving that they are more than just creators of craft cocktails. The debut of Watershed Kitchen and Bar in early 2017 left me impressed with the food menu as well as the drink list, and Service Bar is making just the same waves. Open since October, the Middle West Spirits-based eatery is led by former Veritas chef Avishar Barua and the cuisine is unquestionably delightful. My recent meal there was one of my favorites of 2017.

The menu is designed around small plates, great for someone like me who loves to nibble on a little of everything. So grab some friends, order up as many dishes as you can muster, and get to sharing! Begin with the Bread and Butter course, boasting crumbly bits of pepperoni swirled into butter, ready for spreading on a warm pineapple bun as a sweet and salty treat. The Cheese and Poof is another good snack option to start (fire-roasted pimento cheese dip, barrel-aged hot sauce, and pork rinds).

Bread and Butter at Service Bar

Next, go for the Cheesy Brisket Crunch; it’s “upscale Taco Bell” in the best possible way. These large, crunchy taco shells are filled with tender brisket, cheddar, thinly shaved lettuce, and queso, all wrapped in a soft circle of Indian fry bread. The rib-stickiness of the potato gnocchi with oxtail and squash is comfort food at its finest, and the umami glaze on the Asian Crispy Ribs (accompanied by fried broccoli and radish) is utterly craveable. Make sure to ask about the daily specials too; during my last visit there were wonderful white barbecue sauce-slathered wings available. There are a few more noteworthy selections too that I’ve yet to taste, such as an appealing-looking pastrami sandwich and a whole chicken celebration, meant to be split by the table. Another visit is in order to dine on these dishes!

Cheesy Brisket Crunch at Service Bar

Don’t discount dessert or the drinks, even though this post focuses on the food. Try the playful take on cookies and cream, or the caramel-laden Cinco Leches cake. As for drinks, bourbon fans will revel in the smoky Hard Pour Corn, containing OYO bourbon, OYO whiskey, Vida Mezcal, roasted corn and pepper syrup, and BBQ bitters. The bright and creative Strawberry Feels Forever (OYO vodka, lemon essence, limoncello, strawberry, jalapeño, basil oil) is perfectly tangy. You can also opt for a shareable punch for 4 or an Old Fashioned tasting flight.

Culinary Clue: Given the popularity of the restaurant and the small size of the space, reservations are a must. You might get lucky and snag a seat at the bar, but planning ahead is a good idea in this case.

Have you sampled Service Bar yet? What was your favorite dish? Shoot me a message on Instagram and let me know!

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2018 Restaurant Bucket List

Every year, I like to kick off the new year by compiling a list of restaurants that I haven’t yet had the pleasure of sampling, but hope to visit in the coming year. Some on the list are old favorites that I’m ashamed to say I’ve never tried, a few are new kids on the block, and one doesn’t open until later in 2018, but all are spots where I’m eager to eat. Here’s my 2018 Restaurant Bucket List!

Bacon Risotto from Veritas Tavern

I’ve written about one of my incredible experiences at the Delaware reiteration of Veritas here, but at the start of the year operations moved to Gay Street downtown. I expect to enjoy the dishes at this new locale just as much as the old one, since I still spy bacon risotto on the menu.

Cravings Cafe

Another business reborn in a new venue, Cravings is at the top of my to-do list. All the beloved treats from the former setting are here: breakfast sammies, chocolate chip cookies, and of course, brioche donuts (bronuts). Plus, I’m currently drooling over the daily specials like the corned beef hash burrito or the chorizo and beans over fried goat cheese corn cakes.

Momo Ghar

Lauded by critics and diners alike, Momo Ghar is a must-try for me this year. The Nepalese joint just expanded from the Saraga international grocery to an additional stall in North Market, and I’m currently drooling over the different iterations of the momo dumplings pooled in spicy sauces.

Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse Columbus

Photo Credit: Jeff Ruby Steakhouse via Instagram

This Cincinnati staple has put down Cbus roots, and I’m ready to devour all the steakhouse dishes next time I need a fancy night out. Classics like filet, Oysters Rockefeller, and crab cakes merging with more non-traditional items like prosciutto-wrapped pears and tempura lobster sushi rolls sounds just about perfect.

Harvey & Ed’s

Coming in Spring 2018, this Cameron Mitchell concept has me hungry already. Billed as a modern delicatessen, the Short North spot seems both approachable and innovative, touting menu items such as potato latkes, egg creams, and carryout sandwiches. Stay tuned for more on this one!

The Keep

Photo Credit: The Keep via Instagram

The revitalization of downtown’s LeVeque building also brought with it a new restaurant and bar, The Keep. Visions of the menu’s enormous smoking seafood tower and cocktails with gin and rhubarb syrup have haunted me every since. Furthermore, the Art Deco style of the new hotel has me ready for a stay-cation.

Eden Burger

I’m far from a vegan, but I love veggie burgers. I’ve heard great things about Eden Burger’s take on the patty, made with beans, rice, spices, and more. The buffet of toppings especially sounds craveable, even sporting a Western burger on the menu, crowned with BBQ, onion rings, fried jalapenos, and ranch.

The Light of Seven Matchsticks

Photo Credit: The Light of Seven Matchsticks via Instagram

A call to this speakeasy below Natalie’s Coal-Fired Pizza is long overdue. I’m intrigued by the secret hidden menu, the adventurous craft cocktails, and savory snack offerings. Soup dumplings, duck fat popcorn, and a brown butter bourbon drink might be the cure for the winter blues.

Asterisk Supper Club

Westerville’s Asterisk has proven it’s got staying power. I’m dying to try the afternoon tea, with finger sandwiches and scones, but the dinner dishes such as the chicken and waffles (fried chicken on a jalapeno and peanut butter waffle with honey butter syrup) appear mighty tasty too.


Photo Credit: Vaso via Instagram

Hotel restaurants are stepping up their culinary creations, and Vaso is another example of that. This Dublin locale has a rooftop lounge that makes me ready for summer, signature sangrias and tonic syrup, as well as Spanish tapas that will make you swoon.

What restaurant has your stomach growling in 2018? Send me an email or leave a comment below; I want your recommendations!

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Mistletoe Mimosas

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…a cheery cocktail with sparkling cranberry? These merry mimosas are perfect for Christmas brunch and holiday parties, and are just as tasty as they are festive. This drink comes together in just a few minutes, so you’ll have plenty of extra time to enjoy gift-wrapping and cookie-baking.

Mistletoe Mimosas


Yield: 6 cocktails


1 bottle of your favorite champagne
7 oz. cranberry juice
3 oz. orange liqueur (such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
Rosemary springs and fresh cranberries, to garnish
Sugar or sprinkles for rimming glass

Start by rimming glasses. Place sugar or sprinkles on a saucer or shallow dish. Pour 1 oz. of cranberry juice in a small bowl, and dip the rim of the champagne flute in the juice. Continue to hold the glass upside down, then swirl the edge of the flute in the sugar or sprinkles to coat the rim of the glass.

In each of the six rimmed champagne flutes, pour 1/2 oz. of the orange liqueur in the bottom. Next, add 1 oz. of cranberry juice to each flute. Fill the remainder of each glass with champagne. Float a rosemary spring in the top of each cocktail and plop a few cranberries in to garnish.


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Mistletoe Mimosas
  • 1 bottle of your favorite champagne
  • 7 oz. cranberry juice
  • 3 oz. orange liqueur (such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
  • Rosemary springs and fresh cranberries, to garnish
  • Sugar or sprinkles for rimming glass
  1. Start by rimming glasses.
  2. Place sugar or sprinkles on a saucer or shallow dish.
  3. Pour 1 oz. of cranberry juice in a small bowl, and dip the rim of the champagne flute in the juice.
  4. Continue to hold the glass upside down, then swirl the edge of the flute in the sugar or sprinkles to coat the rim of the glass.
  5. In each of the six rimmed champagne flutes, pour ½ oz. of the orange liqueur in the bottom.
  6. Next, add 1 oz. of cranberry juice to each flute.
  7. Fill the remainder of each glass with champagne.
  8. Float a rosemary spring in the top of each cocktail and plop a few cranberries in as well to garnish.