410 E Whittier Street
Columbus, OH 43206

Skillet isn’t a new hot spot. It isn’t even in a trendy part of town. But this teeny cafe on the outskirts of German Village hasn’t been getting the buzz it deserves lately. In my humble opinion, Skillet is dishing up one of the best brunches in town. Plus, the menu changes daily, so even the staples like scones and gravies get a new twist every time you visit. Even better, the rotating offerings allow for Skillet to utilize local ingredients from purveyors like Honey Run Farms, Blue Jacket Dairy, and Hirsch Fruit Farm. I also love that Skillet serves brunch every day it’s open (Wednesday-Sunday). It’s always so disappointing on a Friday when you’re off work and craving brunchy goodness, only to find that most restaurants limit that joyous menu to weekends only.

Skillet Cheese Blintzes

The aforementioned scones, along with morning buns, cinnamon rolls and coffee cake varieties are generally offered in some form. At the time of this writing, the current scone selections included chocolate pecan, blueberry, Amish cheddar thyme, or raspberry white chocolate. Cheese blintzes (comparable to crepes if you’ve never had them) are a typical option as well, stuffed with ricotta and creme anglaise and topped with fruits ranging from blueberries to raspberries to tumeric-cherry preserves.

Savory breakfast from Skillet

Seeking savory over sweet? Skillet has you covered there too. The biscuits and gravy will always aim to please; my husband loves the mushroom version, or try the house-made chorizo gravy when you spot it. Or let your stomach steer you towards the scallops and grits, a scrumptious play on a Southern stand-by. Even the often blasé chicken and waffles has pep here: Crispy panko chicken is tossed in a spicy red curry with a savory popcorn rice and coconut milk cornmeal waffle. Add some bacon, brined ham, or lamb and fig or fennel sausage on the side and you’re set. There’s a small lunch-focused section to the menu in addition to brunch as well. For fall, the joint is cooking up jalapeno bacon corn chowder, fancy grilled cheese, simple salads, and a pumpkin concoction with roasted apples and cider.

Skillet Bourbon Barrel Cold Brew

And I can’t forget the house bottled cold brew coffee, sweetened with a touch of bourbon barrel maple syrup. This glorious creation deserves a paragraph of its own. I normally have admittedly embarrassing coffee tastes, and will cram as many syrups and glugs of cream as possible into every cup. I drink Skillet’s cold brew black, over ice – it’s that smooth and flavorful. The little bottles are available for purchase to take home as well; I had to ask because I wanted more to enjoy later!

Culinary Clue: Sometimes the menu sells out and the restaurant is not large. So drag yourself out of bed early to make sure you get the best possible selection!

Have you been to Skillet lately? Let me know on Instagram or in the comments below what your favorite dish to order is.

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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?

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Trillium Kitchen & Patio

Trillium Kitchen & Patio
2333 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43202

The closing of Alana’s left a little hole in the hearts (and stomachs) of Columbus diners last year. So after being invited to the soft opening of Trillium Kitchen & Patio, I was eager to sample the new offerings in Alana’s old space. While it is still early in the life of the fledgling eatery, our meal was very enjoyable and I’ll be back to try more. In the meantime, here is a brief overview of our first foray into Trillium.

The interior of the building is totally revamped, and there is also a generous amount of patio seating. My husband and I opted for the outdoor area, since it was a beautiful day and there was live music. We started with the Pork Cheek Poutine, a dish that is often more trendy than tasty. Not the case here; this treat was flavorful at every layer, from the peppered pork gravy to the local cheese curds and tender chunks of meat. Definitely go for the optional soft egg on top, because drippy eggs are always a good idea. On the menu but not yet available during our visit were two phenomenal-sounding appetizers with Asian flair. First, I spotted Duck Confit Spring Rolls on the menu, served with Serrano black vinegar dip, spicy aioli, and a sesame salad. But I’m also drooling over the description of the Lump Crab Wontons: rhubarb bbq, avocado crema, pickled red onion, and Napa cabbage.

The entrees had a local focus as well, with lots of Ohio cheese, corn, meats, and Athens-based Shagbark Mill products. The BBQ Chicken had a nice char and a dollop of bacon jam, plus equally savory Southern-style sides: creamed corn, pickled cabbage, and molasses BBQ pinto beans. We also were pleased with the peach-jalapeno jam glazed on the Pork Chop, accompanied by bacon-cheddar Shagbark grits, andouille sausage, red-eye gravy, and braised greens. The trout and the spelt pasta selections caught my eye too, but save room for a donut ice cream sandwich!

Culinary Clue: Are you a horrible parallel parker like me? Then look for the dedicated lot behind Trillium for some dedicated spaces for the restaurant. I also learned that the space is named for Ohio’s state wildflower – apparently we have one of those?

If you give Trillium a try, let me know your thoughts in the comments below! I’ll share more upon a return visit.

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5 More Bacon Bites to Try

I might be a little obsessed with bacon. One of my favorite wedding gifts was a bacon of the month club, in which Michigan’s own Zingerman’s Deli delivered a different variety of bacon to my door every four weeks. I’ve also already written about 5 bacon dishes I can’t get enough of here, but limiting myself to such a small number was HARD. So here we go again – I’m listing 5 more must-try meals where bacon is the belle of the ball.

Breakfast Tacos – Balboa

Tacos for breakfast are pretty much a dream come true, especially when you pair it with a blueberry basil margarita at Balboa brunch (tongue twister). An order includes three mini tacos, bursting with queso, avocado, scrambled eggs, veggies, and of course, a crispy slab of bacon.

Click here to read my full post on Balboa

Hounddog – Angry Weiner

I always thought that people who ate hot dogs with peanut butter deserved the electric chair. But now…I’m a convert. Food truck The Angry Weiner is serving up the component that convinced me: bacon jam. When a toasty bun meets melty peanut butter and savory bacon jam, trust me, it’s amazing!

Click here to read my full post on Angry Weiner

Morning Sliders – 1803 Bacon

Every Saturday from 10-2, Platform Beer Co. is hosting 1803 Bacon for brunch. I’m crazy for the sliders: teeny sammies with poached eggs, 1803’s signature blended curry bacon, and a good old Kraft single. Buy a pack of Maple Espresso or House Bacon for the road too.

Bacon Cheddar Scone – Kittie’s Cakes

This item is a more traditional use of bacon, but certainly not less tasty. Salty from the generous chunks of bacon and crammed with plenty of cheddar, these treats will kick your morning off right. Plus, they are available at both the German Village and Bexley locales.

Read more about Kittie’s Cakes here – German Village | Bexley

Fried Green Tomato BLT – Grandview Cafe

Sure, anyone can make a BLT. But only the recently revamped Grandview Cafe can layer it up in Southern style. Country white bread is sandwiched with dill pickle aoili, arugula, crunchy fried green tomatoes, and ample strips of bacon. You’ll be hard pressed to eat a plain Jane BLT again.

Bonus bacon sneak peek: next week’s post will be a burger recipe, featuring bacon-date spread. Check back next week for the scoop!

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Brunchin’ It Up: The Market Italian Village

The Market Italian Village
1022 Summit Street
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 745 2147

The Market Italian Village is one part actual market (buy craft beers, well-priced wines, and local food products), one part bakery, one part restaurant, and a large dash of perfection. The menu at any time of day is always seasonally-focused, creative, and artfully prepared. One of The Market’s best kept secrets though, is brunch. Start your weekend morning right by snagging a stool in front of the open windows and people-watching while savoring some rib-sticking cuisine.

Let’s start with the French Toast and Chicken. Say sayonara to the Chicken and Waffles gracing every brunch menu in town. This dish is immense (hooray for leftovers!) and hits all the right notes: huge slabs of French toast, crunchy fried chicken, creme fraiche, and smoked maple syrup. I’m always partial to a good egg sammie, so the B.E.L.T. is an ideal option. Consisting of thick-cut bacon, a runny egg, greens, garlic aioli, tomato jam, sourdough, and optional smoked salmon (vote yes) this a simple but well-executed dish. Don’t forget the crunchy home fries on the side! Other mouthwatering selections include the Market Waffle (topped with bourbon bananas foster and pecans), Shakshouka (baked eggs, tomatoes, red pepper sauce, crispy chickpeas, and feta with stone-fired pita bread) and the biscuits with lamb gravy. Each dish is familiar with an elevated twist.

Feeling festive? Brunch cocktails are also available, such as the house Bloody Mary, garnished with candied bacon. Fruit fans will flip for the sangria: red wine, Grey Goose l’orange, Copper & Kings brandy, hibiscus, orange juice, and honey, or pry those eyes open with the Espresso Milk Punch (bourbon, molasses, spiced simple syrup, Snowville milk, Deeper Roots espresso, and nutmeg). Pair your meal with a luscious lavender latte, score a pastry for the road, and #brunchgoals are complete.

Tell me more about your favorite Italian Village brunch spot in the comments below!

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Caroline’s Picks: 5 Sweet Breakfast Treats to Try

Cruffins: Dan the Baker/Toast Bar

This one is simple: croissant meets muffin and has the flakiest baby imaginable. The result is a handheld delight that will satisfy your every breakfast desire. Fillings range from strawberry cream to spicy cardamom. Pick one up at select farmers markets or at Dan’s Grandview restaurant, Toast Bar.

Caramel Mocha Kolache: Kolache Republic
Caramel Mocha Kolache: Kolache Republic

All the kolache flavors are wonderful, but the not-too-sugary filling of the caramel mocha kolache has my heart. If coffee isn’t your speed, these Czech pastries consist of a soft, yeasty dough packed with sweet or savory items like chocolate, bacon, or cheese. Pick up a couple extra for mid-week snacks – you won’t regret it.

Custard Donuts: Fox in the Snow Cafe
Custard Donuts Fox in the Snow Cafe

For a place that isn’t a donut shop, Fox in the Snow has created one tasty confection. Basic but not boring, these donuts are bursting with a generous amount of thick vanilla custard, then rolled in sugar. Keep a napkin handy for the superb stickiness that will ensue. I dare you to eat only one.

Red Velvet Croissant: Angry Baker

http://theangrybakerote.comRed Velvet Croissant Angry Baker

Ok so I really like croissants. Mainly because I like butter, and croissants have an indecent amount of butter. But also because the Angry Baker is serving up a red velvet version. With a cream cheese center, chocolate drizzle, and brilliant red hue, you can have your cake croissant and eat it too.

Lemon Blueberry Aebelskabels: Alice’s Aebelskabels

https://www.aebelskabels.comAlice's Aebelskabels

Aebelskivers are stuffed Danish pancake balls, the morning essential you never knew you needed. Alice’s dishes out their take on the treats from a food truck, and can be hard to track down. But the hunt is worth every bite, especially for the lemon blueberry version. Tangy, bright, and with just enough of a dessert edge, you should add this to your wish list.

What do you think is the best sweet breakfast bite in Columbus? Let me know in the comments below!

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Sassafras Bakery

Sassafras Bakery

Sassafras Bakery
657 High St, Worthington, OH 43085
Phone: (614) 781-9705

Top Tastes:

1. Donut Muffins
2. Egg Sandwich
3. Cherry Pie
4. Caramelized Onion, Apple, Cheddar, + Blue Cheese Quiche
5. Bacon Cheddar Scone

Tucked into a small shop in historic downtown Worthington, Sassafras Bakery is churning out delectable sweet and savory items. Arrive as early as you can for the best selection – these are some goodies you won’t want to miss. I’m always ready to gobble on a flaky pie crust, and have mentioned the divine cherry pie before here. Many bakery items are seasonal, but there is always a treat to try any time of year.

Pies are featured front and center, and are available in various sizes for carryout purchases. Each is piled sky-high with toppings and enveloped in a tender crust. Choices range from sugary (Salty Ohio Maple) to creamy (Vanilla Chai Cream) to fruity (Strawberry Rhubarb) and beyond (Bourbon Pumpkin). The donut muffins also keep me coming back. These jumbo muffins are baked to a cake-like texture, then the whole thing is rolled in cinnmon sugar reminiscent of your favorite donut. Granola bars, brownies, and blondies are for sale as well. Last but not least: happy hour for cocktails is all well and good, but have you ever had milk and cookies happy hour? Here, every day from 3-5 pm, Sassafras is serving up free milk and coffee when you purchase a cookie. And when available varieties include triple ginger, salted chocolate chip, and lemon-rosemary, what’s not to love?

Sassafras Bakery in Worthington

On the savory spectrum, you must order the egg sandwich. This isn’t your average breakfast between bread, but is instead bright and herbaceous. Sassafras’ version consists of ciabatta stuffed with egg souffle, peppered bacon, tomato, chimichurri mayo, cheese, arugula, and shaved onion. Veggie lovers will flip for the vegetarian jerk mushroom sammie and even the roasted carrot salad. The seasonal soups are noteworthy as well; during my last visit, the feature was a chilled strawberry soup with olive oil and black pepper. Quiches are made with the same thick and perfect crust as the pies. The Caramelized Onion, Apple, Cheddar, Blue Cheese, and Thyme Quiche is a personal favorite, but don’t forget about the bacon, fontina, and chive version either. Bacon is also the star of the craveable bacon-cheddar scones, with sausage and banana pepper as a close second in flavor. Various other drool-worthy items like asparagus galettes with cornmeal crust rotate on and off the menu board.

Egg Sandwich Sassafras Bakery

Culinary Clue: Stop by the bakery during the Worthington Farmer’s Market. Its location is right in the middle of the market, making Sassafras the ideal spot to take a break in the A/C. You can also visit Sassafras as a stop on the Worthington itinerary of Columbus Food Adventures tours.

Have you tried those ridiculously scrumptious donut muffins? Let me know your take on Sassafras in the comments below!

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Sassafras Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Paulie Gee’s Short North

Paulie Gees Short North

Paulie Gee’s Short North
1195 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43201

Top Tastes:

1. Monte Cristo Pizza
2. Hell Boy Pizza
3. Cherry Jones Pizza
4. The Katzingers Pizza
5. Brisket Marmalade

I’m going to put the most important words in this post out there at the beginning: pizza flight. That’s right – Paulie Gee’s in the Short North is dishing up the best flight you never knew you needed, in the form of 3 mini pizzas. The owner, T.J., is an OSU grad with a passion for pie. He knew that our capital city would be a great fit for the renowned NYC eatery, and convinced the Paulie of Paulie Gee’s to franchise here. There is no bland corporate feeling in the restaurant though. The reclaimed barn wood walls and framed photographs of Cbus keep things local; even the pizza flight boards are crafted by Columbus purveyors.

Brisket Marmalade at Paulie Gees

To start, a must-order item is the Brisket Marmalade. This concoction begins with Ray Ray’s Hog Pit BBQ mixed into a sweet tomato base, piled high and served with Laughlin’s Bakery crostini and microgreens. You can also find the local meat king’s brisket on the Hog Pit Brisket Pizza, BBQ pie plus pickled red onion and mozzarella. Wash it all down with a Columbus by Way of Brooklyn, an OYO Rye sipper made with luxardo liqueur and hopped grapefruit bitters.

Cocktails at Paulie Gees

But let’s get to the pizza. Don’t miss checking out the staff tossing dough and shoveling it into the cavernous brick oven that cooks each pizza in less than 2 minutes. Opt for the flight to maximize your tasting options; if you bring a friend, this means you can sample 6 pizzas and have plenty for lunch the next day. Even then, it is still so hard to choose a favorite. The divine Cherry Jones (Gorgonzola, prosciutto, dried cherries and more) and the sweet and salty Monte Cristo (Canadian bacon, gouda, and maple syrup) have captured my heart. But I can’t forget the Katzingers Deli-inspired pie, consisting of Swiss, pastrami, sauerkraut, and a Russian dressing drizzle. And then of course, there is the Hellboy, its dough spilling over with tomatoes, parm, mozz, hot sopressata, and spicy honey. It indulges my Mike’s Hot Honey obsession completely, a love first cultivated by Kittie’s Cakes. Finally, I especially love that so many of the pizzas are crowned with a dollop of ricotta. Why aren’t more pizzerias swirling on ricotta? Even vegans can get in on the ricotta action – the Red, White, and Greenpeace Pizza has a cashew milk version.

Pizza Flight from Paulie Gees

If you’ve ever questioned whether it’s worth it to go to the Short North for pizza, the answer is an unequivocal yes.

Culinary Clue: Speaking of the Short North, parking can be atrocious. But Paulie Gee’s has its own lot at Wall and 5th Streets during most hours. Look for the sandwich sign with Paulie Gee’s logo on it.

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Disclosure: The Columbus Food Bloggers group and I received a free Paulie Gee’s smorgasbord; however, all opinions in this review are my own. 

Paulie Gee's Short North Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Flowers & Bread

Flowers & Bread

Flowers & Bread
3870 N High St
Columbus, OH 43214
(614) 262-5400

Top Tastes

1. Citrus Focaccia
2. Chocolate Bundt Cake
3. Mini Wheat Loaves with Butter and Fig-Apple Jam
4. Bacon Jam and Brie Sandwich
5. Lemon Lavender Scones

Clintonville’s newest bakery is combining all the pretty things in one spot, with baked goods, hydrangeas, and a cozy atmosphere. Beauty in simplicity rings true here; every element is aesthetically pleasing and not too stuffy. Flowers & Bread is open, airy, and filled with fresh floral arrangements created by the shop. You can pick up these same bundles of flowers to gussy up your own table at home.

Fresh Baked Items from Flowers & Bread

The bakery counter is small, but it’s churning out some seriously toothsome treats. On the breakfast front, don’t miss the delicate lemon lavender scones or the monkey bread muffins. I’m also crazy about the citrus focaccia, a fun twist on the typical savory bread sprinkled with pomegranate and punchy citrus segments. If you’re looking for lunch, sample the daily soup selections or the baguette sandwiches. Try the bacon jam and brie sammie with arugula and ham, or the deliciously Spartan radish, butter, and chives version. Finish with the tiny, tender chocolate bundt cakes; the accompanying gold silverware with intricate scrollwork makes every bite a treat. Take home a mini loaf of Semolina bread, with a crispy exterior and soft center. It’s the ideal item for breakfast the next day when slathered with house butter and fig-apple jam.

Outside of Flowers & Bread

Recently, Flowers & Bread has started offering “date nights,” featuring dishes created with the on-site wood-fired oven. Normally the shop closes at 3 or 4, but these special events are held at night and are BYOB. Menu items have included delectable-sounding smoky oysters, roasted hen, chocolate caramel lava cake, and champagne berries. I will have to try one of the offered cooking or floral arrangement classes soon as well. Topics range from flower crown-making to homemade marmalades and soups.

Butter + Jame | Flowers & Bread

Don’t wait to try this place – it’s one part carryout French bistro and one part dream kitchen with a florist’s touch.

Culinary Clue: Get to the shop as early as you can. They just added additional morning hours, and because of the bakery’s popularity things can get a little hectic at times. Going early or during a non-peak hour can help beat the crowds!

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2 Year Anniversary Spectacular: My Favorite Posts So Far

I’ll be writing more about this for the March newsletter (Click here to sign up for the newsletter), but this week Columbus Culinary Connection celebrated its 2 year anniversary! 131 blog posts, 4,200 Instagram (@cbusconnect) followers, and 8.3 million pounds of cheese later, I’m still enjoying being a food blogger. It’s forced me outside my comfort zone in tasting new cuisine, but also in making new relationships. It’s been a creative outlet, and given me a greater appreciation for Columbus and all things Ohio. I’ve enjoyed looking back at the posts I’ve written over the past two years, and daydreaming about the places I’ve visited, and of course the food I’ve devoured up to this point. Here are some of my absolute favorites!

Rockmill Brewery
Rockmill Brewery

One of my very first posts, Rockmill is still a place that has a certain magic for me. The countless good times on the brewery’s grounds and in the idyllic horse barn-turned-taproom make this a spot I’ll always go again and again.

Kittie’s Cakes
Kittie's Cakes

The original German Village location and the new Bexley Kittie’s cafe have some of my favorite treats in town. Bacon cheddar scones, immense Facecookies, and shop mascot Linus the Golden Retriever make Kittie’s a must-try bakery.

My Family’s Christmas Cookies
Christmas Cookies

My mom was the guest writer for this post, and she’s the reason I am crazy about cooking. It’s one of my all-time favorite family traditions, and it’s been fabulous seeing so many other people take her recipe and incorporate it into their own holiday customs.

A Visit to: Biltmore Estate
The Biltmore Estate

I love exploring, and have embraced my inner history nerd. Our mini vacation to Biltmore Estate let me combine my admiration for both fine dining and Downton Abbey, and I loved every second of it. I also used this post as a template for my Charleston Gazette article, another writing opportunity that blogging has afforded me!

Fox in the Snow Cafe
Fox in the Snow Cafe

The effort put into blogging is worth it soley because I learned about Fox in the Snow through blogger friends. What had I been missing? Only the cutest animal logo in town and some heavenly custard-filled donuts.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Grandview Heights
Sweet Carrot and Zauber Beers in Grandview

It’s been great seeing so many new foodie destinations pop up in Grandview recently, and there are some classic oldie but goodie spots as well. There’s something for every palette in this Columbus ‘burb. I need to get around to making another neighborhood dining guide soon.

Por’Ketta Food Truck
Porketta Food Truck

I love the ease and variety that food truck dining brings, and I tend to seek out my favorites time and again. Por’Ketta’s family business is doing some really fun things, and my adoration has not waned even after eating that chicken sandwich a hundred times.

Top Secret Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies

The secret is the cheesecake pudding! Trust me on this – it’s been my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe for years. It makes the softest, tastiest cookies imaginable.

5 Queso Dishes to Try
Bodega Columbus: Loaded Truffle Fries

I have to end this round-up with another round-up! When you can list some of your most beloved restaurants in one cheese-laden post, i.e.  Hudson 29, Condado Tacos, and Bodega, what isn’t to love? I have a whole category on the blog of 5 to Try posts, when you’re in need of a quick reference guide.

Thanks for being on this journey with me! Cheers to another year of bacon and blogging.

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