Butler County: Where to Dine and Drink

You may have heard of the Donut Trail, via last week’s post or other sources, but did you know that Butler County boasts some great spots to eat and imbibe? My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the culinary scene in the area, located just north of Cincy. You’ll want savory items (and maybe an adult beverage or two) after filling up on all those donuts, and the locals have you covered in this regard. Let’s discuss some of the delicious places that we dined and drank:

To Eat:

 

Flub’s Dari-ette

http://www.flubsicecream.com/

This soft-serve paradise is swirling up frozen confections to the masses in every variety. I was crazy for my orange creamsicle twist cone, but don’t miss the signature Cyclones. These aren’t your average blended ice cream treats. Give Brian’s PB Cup a whirl (Chocolate dip-top, peanut butter topping, and crushed peanut butter cups cycloned into vanilla creamy whip and topped with homemade whipped topping and Reese cups) or try Ellinghaus’s Blondie (Chocolate and vanilla twist ice cream mixed with cookie dough and brownie then finished off with chocolate dip top and home made whipped topping).

Hyde’s Restaurant

http://www.hydesrestaurant.com

It’s easy to see why this mom and pop joint has been around since 1946. The prices are reasonable, they serve breakfast all day, and oh my, the pie! The meringue on the banana cream pie was mile-high, and I’m still thinking about the flaky crust on the cherry pie. You’d think I wouldn’t be able to finish this pie after all those donuts, but you’d be wrong.

Jungle Jim’s

http://junglejims.com/

I could spend hours happily getting lost in Jungle Jim’s Fairfield. To call it a grocery store is almost an insult; it’s more of a mecca for food: delicious, unusual, or international. The cheese aisles alone are worth the trip, and the varieties I came home with were ones I’d never seen elsewhere, like truffle goat cheese or banana coconut gouda. There a whole section just for butters, one for pretzel breads, and even sections for foreign fruits and exotic game like rattlesnake. Wait, why did I leave here again?

Henry’s Candy Co

https://www.facebook.com/henryscandyco/

The sweet tooth strikes again at Henry’s in Hamilton. Chocolates, Jelly Belly beans, and every other colorful candy you can imagine line the shelves here. I snagged some nutty trail mix (one of multiple offerings) to tide us over on the drive home.

Cozy’s Cafe

http://cozyscafeandpub.com/

The name says it all – we received the best service, amazing food, and the desire to linger forever at Cozy’s. The interior is a Chip and Joanna Gaines farmhouse chic dream, and the outdoor patio area is immense, filled with Adirondacks and fire pits perfect for lounging. We were wowed by the short rib fries, the massive crab cakes, the Manhattan, and especially the zucchini carrot cake. Not to play favorites, but I need to go back to Butler County for Cozy’s alone – the backyard vibes are beckoning me this summer and I want to check out their brunch.

To Drink:

We were especially surprised by the number of breweries in Butler County during our visit. As hop heads, we discovered that there were plenty of superior suds to savor, and we met some of the dynamic folks behind these operations as well.

Quarter Barrel Brewery Hamilton

https://qbbrewery.pub/

This bar and restaurant just opened as an outpost of the original Oxford location. On tap, you will find some unique beer styles that you don’t often see, such as a Grissette and a Biere de Garde. On the menu, there is tasty pub grub too, like flatbreads and a pork belly BLT, pictured at the top of this post.

Municipal Brew Works

http://www.municipal.beer/

We loved chatting with Jim at Municipal who told us a ton of fun facts about Butler County, in addition to a few ghost stories. The building, we learned, used to be the municipal building for the City of Hamilton, hence the brewery name. The garage doors previously opened for fire truck bays, there are jail cells upstairs (spooky!) and a former shooting range for police detectives in the basement. There is also a beer available for every palette, from and aptly christened Approachable Blonde to a coffee porter. The riverfront patio here is large and lively, with daily food trucks and friendly pooches with their owners. A must-visit in my opinion!

Fig Leaf Brewing

http://www.figleafbrewing.com/

Fig Leaf is a newer operation, but that doesn’t mean they are short on beers. I really enjoyed Fig Leaf’s numerous hazy New England IPA selections, and they are doing some fun infusion flavors as well. It’s a very family-friendly place, with large tables and plenty of board games. The owners and their families have created some gorgeous woodwork pieces inside as well.

Rivertown Brewery

http://rivertownbrewery.com/

Our last stop of the trip certainly wasn’t my least favorite, and I’ll definitely return here too. I’ve loved Rivertown’s sour beer offerings for some time, and the tasting and tour of the brewery did not disappoint. Furthermore, our lunch was craveable: think giant pretzels, cornbread, bacon wontons with jam dipping sauce, and BBQ deviled eggs for apps. But don’t miss the photograph-worthy Rt. 63 burger, topped with an oozy fried cheese square, brisket, and a sparkler in the middle! Another tidbit we learned: they just started bottling and brewing Iron Line, a new line of beer exclusively for Kroger. Lastly, don’t miss the Groupon for a beer, growler, and tour if you visit Rivertown – it’s a steal of a deal.

If beer isn’t your preference, then the libations at The Roosevelt Room cocktail parlor are sure to please. This locale is serving up draft wine, happy hour specials, and a swanky atmosphere designed around Theodore Roosevelt. My inner history nerd is swooning right now. The drinks all have Roosevelt-themed names, such as the gin-based “Monocle” and the bold, bourbon-forward “Big Stick.”

Ready to head to Butler County yourself? Find out more information about the Butler County Donut Trail and its breweries and restaurants here: https://www.gettothebc.com/. The Visitor’s Bureau site can also give you ideas about other activities to do while you’re in town, since you’ll (probably) want to do other things besides eat during your journey. There are all kinds of outdoor activities that are ideal for warm weather, like golf, art exhibits, and even wakeboarding lessons! There are also other culinary destinations that I’d like to pay a visit one day: Swine City Brewing, Jolly’s Drive In, True West Coffee, Liberty Spirits, and Bagel & Deli, to name a few.

Finally, I have to mention our home base during the trip, The Courtyard Marriott Hamilton. This hotel had a modern, clean interior, and the staff was stellar. It is situated on the Miami River with water views, and within quick walking distance to both Quarter Barrel Hamilton and Municipal Brew Works, so no driving is required! Hamilton is a reemerging area, and if you love the musical Hamilton, you will adore its historic downtown, filled with Alexander Hamilton quotes and statues. There are also dozens of murals, sculptures, and art studded throughout the urban landscape.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out part one of the series, focusing on the Butler County Donut Trail and my favorite sweet at each stop. Have you had the pleasure of going to any of the locations listed in this post? Let me know your favorite.

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Disclosure: The Butler County Visitor’s Bureau hosted me on this trip, in exchange for an honest blog post. All opinions are my own.

Cocktails at The Candle Lab

Cocktails at the Candle Lab

Earlier this month, the Columbus Food Bloggers group and I had a girl’s night out at The Candle Lab! There’s definitely a culinary connection here, even if this is a candle shop. See some shots from the event below and learn more about this fun way to spend an evening.

First, if you haven’t been to The Candle Lab before, you begin by smelling the 120 different scents available for mixing to create your own custom candle. There are plenty of food scents to sniff like bacon, spiced rum, whipped cream, grapefruit, strawberry jam, and lemongrass, but also unusual ones like hops, leather, sea kelp, and morning dew. On a clipboard, you select 15 or so that you love; I struggled with this they all smelled so delicious. You also choose your candle’s vessel from all kinds of glass jars in varying colors and sizes.

Then, after narrowing down your list of favorites to three final varieties (the helpful staff can help you decide which ones pair best), you mix the scent oils in your chosen ratio in a shot jigger. Lastly, stir the oils into the melted wax, and wait for the candle to harden. During this process, imbibe in a cocktail made from Watershed Spirits or a glass of wine!

For my candle, I settled on old books, bourbon, and campfire as my selected scents; it smells warm and cozy like an old library. It’s so me! You can also decorate a label with the chosen name for your custom candle.

While you’re waiting on your candle to set, head to a local restaurant to dine. It takes about an hour, so the timing is perfect. Our group went to the Grandview Cafe, to enjoy their excellent mac ‘n’ cheese and the white BBQ wings. Check out my neighborhood guide for other eating inspiration too. Swing back in before the shop closes to pick up your candle, beautifully wrapped for transportation home, and enjoy burning your signature smell.

Have you had a sippers and scents event at The Candle Lab yet? Let me know your ideal candle scent trio below!

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Disclosure: Our group received a free cocktail and candle, with no obligation but to give honest feedback about our experience.

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!

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Service Bar

Service Bar
1230 Courtland Ave.
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 947-1231
https://servicebarcolumbus.com/

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!

Keep Connected,

Caroline

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!

Veritas

https://veritasrestaurant.com
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

http://www.cravingscafe614.com/

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

https://www.facebook.com/momogharohio/

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

http://www.jeffruby.com/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

https://www.cameronmitchell.com/our-story/news-releases/id/1332/cameron-mitchell-restaurants-introduces-unique-new-concept-a-modern-take-on-the-delicatessen

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

https://www.thekeepcolumbus.com

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

https://www.facebook.com/EdenBurgerNFries/

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

https://thelightofsevenmatchsticks.com/

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

https://www.asterisksupperclub.com/

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.

Vaso

https://www.vasodublin.com/

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!

Keep Connected,

Caroline

A Visit to: Athens, Ohio

I have experienced Athens as a college student previously, while visiting my best friend at Ohio University. I will forever cherish snack runs to the Burrito Buggy, much-needed breakfasts at Bagel Street Deli, and one fancy night out at Restaurant Salaam. However, I had just scratched the surface; this vibrant town is so much more than its college roots. When I received the opportunity to re-visit the food and drink scene in Athens by partnering with the Athens County Visitor’s Bureau, I was ready to hit the road.

Athens is just over an hour’s drive from downtown Columbus, the ideal distance for a quick weekend trip. You will want to get an early start for this journey, because there’s a lot to see and do in one day!

My husband and I kicked off our southeastern Ohio adventure at the Athens Farmers Market. It was by far one of my favorite stops of the day, and I will return for the wonderful vendors alone. The market runs year-round on Saturdays, so there’s plenty of chances to snag some goodies. I also enjoyed that the market and many of the local eateries have a commitment to the 30 Mile Meal Project, sourcing ingredients where possible from within 30 miles of Athens.  I had a great conversation with the meadmakers at Dutch Creek Winery, scored a delicious caramel iced mocha at Dirty Girl Coffee, ate a chocolate chip scone at Crumbs Bakery, and scooped up coconut curry sausage at Pork and Pickles for breakfast sammies at home. There were so many more stalls that we wanted to try but we had to conserve stomach space.

Once we left the market, we headed to uptown Athens for a little shopping; I can never resist a college bookstore like Little Professor. Afterwards, we strolled around College Green and enjoyed the campus and perfect autumn weather. Nothing beats old bricks, leaves, and brisk fall air! Naturally, we were starving again after all that walking, so it was time to head to Casa Nueva for lunch. Casa Nueva is a funky Mexican joint with well-priced margaritas and a delicious array of house-made salsas. These nachos were wickedly cheesy, and this was just a small order!

The next leg of our itinerary was the Brewed on the Bikeway trail, a fun way to sample new beers while exercising and experiencing nature. Rent a bike from Athens Bicycle and then determine your route using the guide linked above to pick your poison. We made a visit first to Little Fish Brewing to take in their tasty sour offerings and the country setting, then headed to Jackie O’s Campbell Street taproom for a seasonally appropriate maple porter. Next time, a visit to Devil’s Kettle Brewing is on the agenda as well!

For dinner, we went the traditional route and noshed on home cooking at Miller’s Chicken. Just take a peek at the crunchy coating on that drummie! For a night cap, we couldn’t resist West End Cider House. I fell in love with the tiny courtyard in the back of the building, and had so much fun trying to determine the best cider in the flight we shared. The verdict: lemon-ginger most captivated my taste buds. As I’m sure you can tell, this fall visit to Athens was genuinely one of the best road trips we’ve ever done.

Want to plan your own fall road trip to Athens? Head to http://athensohio.com/ to start mapping out your excursion!

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Athens County Visitors Bureau, who  provided me with complimentary meals on the trip. However, all opinions expressed in the post are my own.

The Half Pint Columbus

The Half Pint Columbus
415 N. Front St.
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 745-1165
https://www.thehalfpintcolumbus.com/

Top Tastes:
1. PBB&J Burger
2. Hangover Burger
3. Cheese Curds
4. Chipotle Bar Bacon
5. Caramel Brownie Cheesecake

I no longer have to trek to Dublin for my peanut butter burger fix! The Half Pint, sister restaurant to The Pint Room, has opened its doors in the Arena District just across the street from the back entrance to the North Market. This modern sports bar boasts some of the best burgers in town and 60 beers on tap. If you work downtown and are seeking happy hour comfort, visit Monday through Friday from 3pm to 6pm for half off craft beers and $2.00 off wine and cocktails.  The Half Pint is also a fun, casual option for pre-concert or game day grub.

But what I really want to talk about in this post is the burgers! I’ve been cherishing The Pint Room’s PBB&J Burger for years, and The Half Pint has this delicacy on the menu. Trust me on this combo. It sounds so strange, but just give it a try: melty peanut butter, candied bacon, jack cheese, strawberry jam, and strawberry slices, all atop a beef patty and sandwiched with a soft, buttery bun. Peanut butter should be in and on everything, if you ask me. The Hangover Burger is another good choice. Lots of restaurants feature a drippy egg on their burgers, but this one benefits from the added treat of crispy hash browns, plus smoked cheddar, bacon, and tomato. Even the Turkey Burger has a mouthwatering twist ( it’s crowned with pepperjack, pickled red onion, arugula, kale, and chipotle-cranberry mayo) and the CBJ Burger, a special feature, sports giant onion rings and BBQ sauce.

Besides burgers, there are a number of other dishes worth mentioning. To start, select the Cheese Curds, dished up with a light, crunchy beer batter and sriracha ranch, or the Bar Bacon trio. The latter is a bacon flight containing 3 types of thick-cut bacon, each coated in a different glaze or seasoning. During my visit, the platter had buffalo, BBQ, and the especially savory chipotle-rubbed variety. Save room for a small dessert, you will heartily demolish the Caramel Brownie Cheesecake to close out the meal. Lastly, I must mention that the large beer list has a constantly rotating variety of taps, so there is a cider, IPA, or pumpkin beer for everyone in your party.

Culinary Clue: The Half Pint is serving up Sunday brunch as well! Starting at 10, select from brunch favorites such as French toast, crab cake benedicts, omelets, and Bloody Marys so you can fuel up for the day.

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Disclosure: I was given a complimentary meal in exchange for writing my honest review of The Half Pint. The above writing represents my own views.

A Visit To: Asheville

This summer, my husband and I returned to Asheville for a much-needed long weekend. We were able to re-visit some old haunts and uncover some new favorite locales in the Blue Ridge Mountain town. A photo diary of my culinary explorations seemed to be the easiest way to approach this post; there were too many tasty spots to reduce the experience to words. Take a peek at some of the cuisine we loved best during our Asheville jaunt:

All things gravy at Tupelo Honey in dowtown Asheville
Brunch at Biscuit Head – complete with a jam, honey, and butter bar
Can’t get enough of this view of the Biltmore Estate
Chocolate Stout Cake with Mocha Frosting at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge
Every Taco combo you’ve ever dreamed of and some more you haven’t at White Duck Taco Shop
Hot Pimento Dip and more at the Stable Cafe, just outside Biltmore Estate
Lovely farm-to-table happy hour at Rhubarb, including this delightful gnocchi dish with pickled carrots
One of the trip’s highlights: the Battery Park Book Exchange. It’s one part bookstore, one part champagne bar, and a maker of extraordinary cheese platters.
So much wickedness in hops form at Wicked Weed
Watching tubers float down the river at the New Belgium taproom
Sampling all the honey at Asheville Bee Charmer

Have you been to Asheville? What were your favorite spots to dine and drink?

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Rambling House Soda

Rambling House Soda and Music Bar
310 E. Hudson St.
Columbus, OH 43202
614-468-3415
http://www.ramblinghousesoda.com/

Craft beer and craft spirits are currently monopolizing the market, but don’t discount craft soda! Lately, I can’t get enough of Columbus’ own Rambling House Soda. A tiny spot sandwiched in the south Clintonville/University District region, Rambling House is a music venue with a tasty “pop.” The interior has an antique saloon feel, and has the unhurried aura of a bygone era.  The bar hosts live music every night they are open, varying from bluegrass to local bands. Sundays lend themselves to the “Old Time Jam,” an open session where anyone with musical chops can bring an instrument and play with the group.

Most importantly though, Rambling House produces a few soda staples that are always on tap, and rotates a few special flavors in and out. Typically, the ginger beer (delightfully zippy), Columbus Cola (so much better than that other cola), sarsaparilla, and lemon lime soda are always on tap. However, past varieties when I’ve visited have included: orange-cardamom, cream soda, chocolate-mint, or coconut lime.  I also loved the strawberry soda that Rambling House brought to Jeni’s Strawberry Jam at the North Market this summer – hands down, the best bubbly beverage at the event. The drink menu offers soda-cocktail suggestions, or get creative and make your own. There are also a number of Ohio beers available on draft if brews are more your fancy. Don’t forget too: the bar fills any clean growler with their soda, so take home your favorite pop and make a crave-able concoction at home. My current combo is house cream soda and bourbon! But most of all, Rambling House stays true to its namesake Irish “rambling” roots – it is a refuge of foot-tapping tunes, well-crafted sodas, and communal spirit.

Culinary Clue: Don’t miss out on Rambling House’s bottled Moscow Mules. The libations are made with Rambling House ginger beer and Watershed Distillery vodka, ideal for end-of-summer sipping. I picked up a bottle at The Daily Growler but Kroger stores also carry the mixes. You can also find Rambling House soda on draft at some of your favorite local joints, such as Brothers Drake Meadery, Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza, and Homestead Brewery.

Have you sampled the soda from Rambling House yet? Let me know in the comments below.

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Canal Winchester Beer Trail

Canal Winchester Beer Trail

Loose Rail Brewing
37 W. Waterloo St.
Canal Winchester, OH 43110

BrewDog
96 Gender Rd.
Canal Winchester, OH 43110

Something big is brewing in the southeast suburb of Canal Winchester – at not one, but two breweries. Both BrewDog and Loose Rail Brewing have settled into the small town, making the area an ideal day trip for hopheads. The breweries could not be more different, but each is worth a visit. It just figures that my hometown would get all these cool businesses after I leave…

Loose Rail Brewing falls on the “micro” end of the craft brewery spectrum, and inhabits a structure near Canal Winchester’s historic downtown. I’m a sucker for a good building history, and my dad clued me into the tale behind the brewery name: Columbus used to have an electric railway system, and the building served as a power station for the enterprise. The interior isn’t large, but the attached outdoor space boasts a cozy patio with fire pits, the ideal spot to catch some live bluegrass music. No food is served but trucks like Sophie’s Pierogi and Star City Sliders are frequently parked nearby. Even the beer names stick to the train theme; think Full Steam Saison or Freight Hopper IPA. I fancied the Coal Burner imperial stout.

Scotland’s BrewDog also chose to put down roots in Canal Winchester, picking the city for its production headquarters in America. A massive operation with a potential beer-themed hotel in the works, BrewDog’s complex offers pond views, corn hole boards, and plenty of eats. Punk IPA is the flagship beer, but definitely opt for a flight to find your favorite. Pair your suds with hot pretzels, Prosciutto and arugula flatbread, or the Identity Crisis burger, crowned with tortilla chips, avocado, a drippy egg, and more.

Culinary Clue: On your way out of town, make a final stop at Blystone Farm to pick up bottles of local craft brews and maybe a cookie or two for the road. Also, they have bacon breakfast sausage – it’s a thing, and you should be eating it. Or dine at Harvest Moon Cafe, it’s owned by the same folks that run Loose Rail.

Keep Connected,

Caroline