Getting to Know: Sam from The Cheesecake Girl

Samantha Strange has based her career around one sweet specialty: cheesecake! After graduating college with a culinary focus and anointing herself The Cheesecake Girl, she’s developed a local brand that you should definitely get to know. You can pick up Sam’s cheesecakes in regular or mini sizes at Smidge and Pinch or The Hills Market, plus you can order treats directly from her online in varieties like jelly donut, Girl Scout cookie, or puppy chow. She also participates in pairing events all over town, where she pairs cheesecake flavors with everything from beer to coffee flights. Read on to learn more about the “girl” in The Cheesecake Girl:

Web: https://www.thecheesecakegirl.com/
Instagram: @thecheesecake.girl
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thecheesecakegirl

Photo Credit: The Cheesecake Girl

What motivated you to start a cheesecake business? Why cheesecake instead of another dessert?

I really just love cheesecake! So when I decided to minor in culinary in college, I started experimenting and letting friends try out the cheesecake creations. When I moved back to Ohio after college I kept baking for fun, family parties, my parents’ friends’ events and stuff like that. Then it just spiraled out of control into where I’m at today! I couldn’t be more happy with it. We are actually working on adding more desserts to the menu so it won’t be just cheesecake for long!

How did you transition into baking full-time?

It was hard to take the leap. I finally realized it was time when I had to turn orders down. I hated the feeling of telling people I didn’t have time for their orders. So I started looking at The Cheesecake Girl as a full time possibility. I re-launched the website, re-branded everything & went for it!

You bake so many tasty flavors! Where is your favorite place to find inspiration?

Honestly, Pinterest. I love to sit and scroll and see what everyone else is inspired by. I usually find flavor ideas through other recipes. For example, I love Boston Cream Pie, but I’m not The Pie Girl. So I decided to take all my favorite desserts and turn them into cheesecake flavors!

What is (in your opinion) the best variety you’ve ever made?

That’s a tough one because there are so many! One of my go-to flavors is German Chocolate Cheesecake, or Monster Cookie Cheesecake!

How many total cheesecakes do you make a day? I’ve seen your Instagram – those dishes must pile up!

Each day is different! On average I would say we bake around 6 full cheesecakes a day + 8-12 dozen mini cheesecakes a day!

Photo Credit: The Cheesecake Girl

Can you tell us about your worst kitchen disaster?

Our worst kitchen disaster actually wasn’t my fault (surprisingly) – I had just pulled out 4 dozen mini snickerdoodle cheesecakes from the oven. It was the last order of the day. I put them down on our cooling rack and went to start cleaning up when I heard the crash! An employee in the kitchen I bake out of was rushing by the racks and bumped all 4 dozen upside down on the ground. I literally couldn’t say anything I just stood there trying not to cry. We cleaned everything up and got back to work, that employee brought me a gift card and an apology letter the next day so all is forgiven!

Which local restaurant do you frequent more than any other?

I basically live at the Sunny Street Cafe in Upper Arlington. That’s the kitchen I bake out of and the owners are good friends! You’d think I would get sick of eating there…but I still eat breakfast & lunch there almost every day!

Photo Credit: The Cheesecake Girl

What is your favorite Columbus-based product?

There are so many fantastic local products! I love Ridiculously Good Salsa though, you can tell how fresh the ingredients are and it’s a great snack!

What is your adult beverage of choice?

Summer Sangria from Powell Village Winery has my heart. But I also would never turn down a Moscow Mule.

Can you share your go-to recipe to cook at home?

With the hours I work I rarely have time to cook at home! I do have a recipe I make every now and then when my friends & family get sick of cheesecake! I went to a Zac Brown Band concert (one of the 10 I’ve been to!) and they do an Eat & Greet instead of a Meet & Greet. The band serves you their favorite foods made by their tour chef and you get to chat with them. It’s really neat. Well they served a bread pudding that actually made me like bread pudding!

Do you have any fun hobbies or talents, other than making wonderful desserts?

Any free time I get is spent on friends, family & being outside with my dog Bo! I collect records as well & love going to concerts!

Photo Credit: The Cheesecake Girl

Do you have a charity that fans should know about and support?

I’m actually working with Easterseals this year for their Romancing The Grape event! Other than that I usually give leftover cheesecake to fire stations & police departments!

You recently started selling your creations at the Smidge and Pinch storefront in Powell. Can you tell us more about that and what else is coming up for The Cheesecake Girl?

Yes! The store owner, Angie, is fantastic and I have loved being business partners with her! There is always cheesecake available inside her store along with every baking supply & cookie cutter needed. Up next for The Cheesecake Girl is hopefully another storefront! We’ve been working on it but it’s about good timing!

Take a peek at Sam’s website to see a small taste of the flavors she creates: https://www.thecheesecakegirl.com/. You can custom order your own culinary creation with creative crusts, toppings, and fillings. If you’ve tried The Cheesecake Girl, let me know your favorite find in the comments below!

Keep Connected,

Caroline

*All photos courtesy of The Cheesecake Girl

Want more dessert content? Sam’s cheesecakes are also featured in this post about some of my favorite local chocolate treats, or take a peek at some of the other Baker Babes interview features here.

Cravings Cafe

Cravings Cafe
114 N Front Street
Columbus, OH 43215
614-670-4439
http://www.cravingscafe614.com

It took a long time for Cravings Cafe to relocate from their original home in Italian Village to their current downtown digs. But having finally made it to the new site of the breakfast and lunch hot spot, it was entirely worth my not-so-patient waiting. Cravings is still on the smaller side, but don’t be shy about ordering your meal ahead or getting it to go. And although the shop isn’t huge, there are fun prints on the lovely exposed brick walls and it’s a cozy place to sip your morning joe.

There are so many menu items to discuss, but I’ll begin with brioche. The buttery dough is the base of cinnamon rolls, burger buns, and French toast at Cravings, and the stuff is sheer heaven. It’s even used in some unexpected ways. For example, the bronuts from the previous locale are still on the menu. Don’t be afraid, this isn’t a fraternity term; a “bronut” is a mashup of “brioche” and “donut.” Truly the best of both worlds, the bronuts are thick, chewy, and not too sweet. The flavors of this treat change often, ranging from blueberry to funfetti sprinkled to cinnamon sugar. They’re not available every day and sell out quickly, so call ahead to ensure you snag one of these beauties for yourself.

For main dishes, I’m not even the biggest fan of chorizo, but when I tried my husband’s breakfast burrito, I begged him to go halfsies with me and split entrees. This monster wrap is bursting with green chile chorizo, scrambled eggs, crispy taters, cheese, and salsa with just a hint of heat. The falafel burger is also tempting, or go traditional and try the Breakfast Roll, a morning sammie that hits all the right notes: thick bacon, a fried egg, cheddar, and rosemary aioli on the signature brioche bun. Add the Greek potato hash on the side for the ideal savory side.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how wonderful the daily specials are as well. These limited offerings are an ever-changing swirl of brunch entrees, such as loaded potato soup or a pork torta filled with braised pork, Swiss, pickled red cabbage, jalapenos, and tomatillo avocado salsa on sourdough bread. My last visit featured a brunch burger: locally butchered beef, cambozola cheese, a drippy egg, caramelized onions, and rosemary aioli, all on a house brioche bun with shoestring fries on the side. Just go ahead and order two if you see this on the menu.

Cap off your visit with a just-baked cookie or muffin, they’re just as craveable as everything else. Or pair your meal with a Thunderkiss coffee; I must recommend the coconut cream cold brew variety.

Have you tried Cravings Cafe yet? Tell me your favorite thing to order by sending me a tweet!

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Check out a few of my other favorite brunch joints:

1. Skillet
2. Forno Kitchen + Bar
3. The Market Italian Village

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

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

https://www.thecheesecakegirl.com/

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

https://tupelodoughnuts.com/

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

https://ohiyochocolate.com/

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

http://www.katalinascafe.com/

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

http://www.pistaciavera.com

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!

Keep Connected,

Caroline

Brunchin’ it Up: Vaso Dublin

Vaso
6540 Riverside Drive
Dublin, OH 43017
(614) 698-2525
https://www.vasodublin.com

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.

Keep Connected,

Caroline

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
https://www.thekeepcolumbus.com

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.

Keep Connected,

Caroline

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

http://flowersandbread.com/

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

https://www.foxinthesnow.com

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

https://daristadips.com

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

https://jenis.com

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

https://capcityfinediner.com

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: caroline@columbusculinaryconnection.com

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

Getting to Know: Mollie and Kelly of Kittie’s Cakes

The Columbus Culinary Chronicles continue with a feature of one of my favorite bakeries in the city, Kittie’s Cakes. I’ve had an obsession with Kittie’s for a few years now, especially their cupcakes and biscuit breakfast sandwiches. When a second locale opened in Bexley even closer to my house, I was even more hooked on their brand. As a result, I was very interested to learn more about the owners Mollie and Kelly, as well as the pair’s dog Linus.  Give Kittie’s a follow on Instagram (@kittiescakes and @kittiesbexley) or check out Linus’ account for cuteness overload at @linus_the_golden_retriever. Mollie and Kelly met while on tour as professional golfers, and later made the leap to open Kittie’s together. Learn more about this baking duo below, from Mollie’s perspective:

What motivated the two of you to start a bakery? 

We always enjoyed cooking and baking together during our time off from playing on tour. Opening a bakery seemed like something we could take on just the two of us. Or at least we thought!

How did you make transition from professional golf to being a small business owner?
We just kind of jumped right in. The day after my last golf tournament we came home and started experimenting with my mom (Kittie) and grandmother’s recipes. We knew that we wanted to differentiate ourselves by making our baked goods fresh every day and from scratch.

Photo Credit: Kittie’s Cakes

What’s it like working with your significant other?
We love working together! Kelly was my caddie on tour for 5 years and we really worked well together on the golf course. We were able to make it work in the kitchen as well. We really balance each other out and we naturally fit into our different roles in our business. We have a really strong respect for each other which helps from having those petty arguments.

What is your favorite food item on the Kittie’s menu?
That’s a tough question! Kelly’s favorite is our new maple egg sammie and the chocolate chip cookie. My favorite is the cinnamon roll, biscuit & jam, Micky-O [a sandwich cookie] and the peanut butter cookie.

Can you tell us about your worst kitchen disaster?
When we first opened just the two of us, everything seemed like a disaster! We were really struggling trying to make enough baked goods and then wait on customers throughout the day without any employees. We’ve been lucky to not really have any disasters.

What cooking tool can you not live without?
Mollie definitely can’t live without a KitchenAid Mixer. Kelly can’t live without a good offset [spatula] for icing!

Which Columbus establishment do you frequent more than any other?
Man, we have some core places we love to visit! Paulie Gee’s is definitely a visit for us a couple times a month. We really love Rockmill Tavern’s chicken sandwich. The Service Bar has a killer burger! Land-Grant [Brewery] is one of our favorite places to hang out with Linus outside.

What is your favorite locally made product?
Favorite locally made product would be the Bourbon Maple Syrup from Middle West Spirits. Also, the nut butters from Krema are killer too!

What is your adult beverage of choice?
We both love beer and old fashioned’s!

Can you share your go-to recipe to make at home?
Our go-to recipe to make at home is either pizza or pasta.

Do you have a favorite local charity that you love?
We love working with The Humane Society of Columbus.

Photo Credit: Instagram – @linus_the_golden_retriever

Your Golden Retriever Linus is also your brand ambassador. How did you teach him to do so many tricks, like balancing a cupcake on his nose?
Linus is just a really good boy! We worked with him in puppy classes and then Therapy Dog classes for the first year we had him. We like to think all the cupcake tricks just come naturally.

Last winter you opened a new location in Bexley. Are there any plans for further expansion in the works?
Kelly and I talk a lot about expansion and we are both in agreement for now. No more locations for Kittie’s. Kelly and I really love being able to be around our employees and customers. One of the reasons we wanted to open Kittie’s in German Village was to be a part of our community. We are afraid if we opened more locations we’d lose that experience with everyone.

Make sure to follow Kittie’s Cakes on social media to catch up with Mollie, Kelly, and Linus’ bakery adventures. Have an idea for who I should interview next? Shoot an email to caroline[at]columbusculinaryconnection.com and let me know!

Keep Connected,

Caroline