Oh, honey!

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The first thing you should know about Tupelo Honey Cafe is that they will offer you a free biscuit when you arrive. Say yes. Oh man, say yes! Their food is delicious, but that big fluffy biscuit is like 75% of the reason I brave the lines and take out-of-town guests to Tupelo. It’s indescribable (and if you buy their first cookbook, the recipe for the biscuits is in there but you don’t get the secret to the herb & butter deliciousness they spread on it in the restaurant) and totally worth the wait.

But their food is no slouch — I tend to go for the Breakfast Bowl (pictured below), but on occasion I get their famous Sweet Potato Pancakes (pictured at end of post). To be honest, I only order one because it’s the size of a dinner plate and as thick as two ordinary pancakes combined. Still, it’s delicious. Everything here’s delicious. Nom nom nom. I mean, this is a great place for foodies looking to experience some Appalachian-inspired cooking.

*Note: I’ve categorized this restaurant as a “Local Chain” despite the fact that Tupelo is spreading to multiple states; given its roots in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I didn’t feel right lumping it together with the really big chains that have lost their region-specific flavor.

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Tupelo Honey Cafe on Urbanspoon

Southern Comfort

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First and foremost, The Southern has one of the best patios in Asheville. Additionally, their food is premium quality. (Oh, and they also have a full bar.) You’d think a dish like mac ‘n’ cheese would be, well, fairly generic. Honestly, I ordered it because I wanted something hot and cheesy, and that’s exactly what I got. What I didn’t expect was the waitress’ *amazing* suggestion: that I try adding some sriracha to the dish. Let me tell you, that one tip revolutionized the way I eat mac ‘n’ cheese — it’s delicious. This is pretty much what you can expect from The Southern: classic food served up quick and well, plus some friendly advice from your server. A happy surprise!

The Southern on Urbanspoon

Marvelous Maribelle’s

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While in Cincinnati I ended up at a trendy restaurant called Maribelle’s Tavern. The service was speedy and good, with friendly and happy staff. And the food was delicious. I ordered the Black Bean Burger (which is just what it sounds like), and it was really tasty. I mean really tasty. I’ll remember this burger for a while. For the included side, I ordered the Roasted Sweet Potatoes which are served up with whipped goat cheese and candied pecans. For dessert I grabbed a slice of carrot cake (to go), and it definitely didn’t disappoint. It was moist and flavorful. I can’t explain in words how delicious this meal was, but if you have the opportunity to find out for yourself you should swing by Maribelle’s and do so.

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Maribelle’s in Cincinnati
-Roasted sweet potatoes with whipped goat cheese and candied pecans
-Black bean burger

Quiche, anyone?

20121217-130354.jpgI made this quiche from a recipe my mom got off the internet, and it was really delicious. I put spinach and black olives in it, along with garlic and green onions. It turned out really well, and it gave me the opportunity to use my pie dish for the first time.

This brings me to an interesting point: I am going to broaden the scope of Eat | Food | Yum to include dishes I cook (and most of the time I’ll cite the source of the dish, but in this case it came to me through my mother and I don’t know the source).

Afta Dinnah Special

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While visiting some friends-of-a-friend who live in Vassalboro, Maine, I wound up at the Pointe Afta in Winslow, Maine (no website). The restaurant was definitely a local hangout, with a majority of the patrons milling about, untethered to their tables as they wandered through the dining area visiting with friends. The Pointe Afta is casually decorated and immediately comfortable, and even though there aren’t a lot of vegetarian options on the menu, their choose-your-own-toppings pizza provided the opportunity I needed…and the pizza was delicious. While this is one of those “local hangout” establishments, I never felt out of place or alienated in the least. It was a laid back and easy dining experience.

Pointe Afta on Urbanspoon

Knead More?

I’ve been wanting to try out the food at Knead for several months now, and finally made it downtown for the experience. Knead is a comfortable and friendly restaurant with helpful staff and good food. I split this salad (pictured below) with a friend, and loved the fresh yellow beets and avocado. It was a refreshing appetizer on a hot and humid summer day.

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After the salad, we moved on to the Easy Cheesy pizza (pictured below), which came on Knead’s house made whole wheat crust. It was delicious, and we devoured it in less than ten minutes. The cheese was nice and melty, and all the ingredients were well-proportioned (you know how sometimes pizza can come out imbalanced, with so much cheese it’s gloopy, or too many/few toppings — this pizza wasn’t like that).

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Perhaps my favorite part of the meal was the beverage: I ordered the root beer float, and it came with Boylan’s root beer (a personal favorite of mine). Again, the portions were right, as they gave me enough ice cream for it to be a true float, but not so much that the vanilla overpowered the root beer. If you’re in town and looking for a good meal at reasonable prices, Knead’s a great option for you.

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Knead on Urbanspoon

Toast?

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Toast is a cute little breakfast diner in Lincoln Park (although there’s another location in Bucktown as well). We went there on a Sunday morning, and even though there was already a 45 minute wait, the hostess told us we should feel free to wander around the neighborhood rather than waiting right outside. It was a gorgeous sunny day, so we did just that.

We sat at the bar where I ordered the Stuffed French Toast — one each of the strawberry, mascarpone, and Mexican chocolate stuffed french toasts. They were all delicious (the strawberry was my favorite), and the friendly server who joked with us all through breakfast made the experience even better. In fact, for a crowded and trendy breakfast spot, Toast was really pleasant to hang out in. The staff was friendly and jovial, and the food was reasonably priced and served up unexpectedly fast. It’s definitely worth the wait!

Toast on Urbanspoon

Hollywood in Ohio?

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It’s taken me a few years, but I finally made it out to Third & Hollywood in Grandview, Ohio. As soon as I walked in, I loved the place. The lights were dimmed, and the warm glow of candlelight and rich woods gave the place a romantic and cozy feel. The classic lounge music (c. 1940) also contributed to the great ambiance. Good thing I was there on a date with my husband! We started our order with an order of the Cheddar Herb Biscuits (pictured above), which were indescribably delicious. My mouth is watering just remembering them. You can see the light layer of melted butter on top of these biscuits, and the flavoring was just heavenly.

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I also ordered a house-made ginger ale, and while the bar service was on the slow side, the drink was well worth it. It had a pronounced ginger flavor that managed to still be mild, and had a nice sweetness to it that kept the drink from being too dry. For my entree, I ordered the Hollywood Burger (a fairly standard cheeseburger), but I had them substitute their house-made veggie patty to make it a vegetarian dish. They were happy to do this for me and automatically subbed in the bell peppers for the fries (not something I’d asked for or necessarily wanted, but it was okay because the burger was soooo good). I know some Columbus locals will probably get mad at me for saying this, but their veggie patty was even better than the one they make at the Northstar Cafe (and that one’s pretty damn hard to beat). I’m not sure if it was the perfect amount of smoky flavoring from being cooked over an open flame (I’m assuming) or what, but that veggie patty is amazing. It looked so much like meat I made my non-veg husband take a bite first, and when I tasted it I was blown away by the texture and the complete lack of crumbliness. I’ll be back, I can tell you that much.

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Third & Hollywood on Urbanspoon

Creative Pizza

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The Brewery at Lake Tahoe is one of those places I end up visiting every time I’m in town even though the service is unbelievably slow. There’s just something about the place — the casual, happy atmosphere; the vast menu full of comfort food; the noisy cheer and of course the house-brewed beer — that keeps me coming back for more. Even though we had an hourlong wait this time (we did, after all, walk in during the peak dinner rush with a group of 10 people), the staff was friendly and helpful. Our waiter even got up on a chair and took some pictures of our group for me (twice!) and smiled and joked the whole time. I couldn’t resist the Bad Ass Loaded Baked Potato Pizza (pictured), and I was not disappointed. The pizza comes with spicy white sauce, garlic, diced baked potatoes, parmesan cheese, peperoncini, green onions, bacon (I subbed tomatoes), and a drizzle of sour cream ranch sauce. It was perhaps the most delicious pizza I’ve ever eaten…and I could have split it with at least two other people, because there was no way I could eat any more than a couple of slices. So if you go to the Brewery at Lake Tahoe, you can expect some slow but friendly service, and some really great comfort food. It’s worth the trip, even if it does take a while.

Brewery At Lake Tahoe on Urbanspoon

French fare

Photo by Anne Jansen

One of my favorite little restaurants in Columbus is La Chatelaine, which is why this is my third post on their food. Above is a cup of their tomato bisque soup, covered with the cheese shavings and croutons you can purchase to top off any cup/bowl of soup. My personal favorite soup (which I don’t have a photo of yet) is the Friday soup du jour: Cream of Potato. It’s delicious! My other favorite dish at La Chatelaine is the spinach, feta, and artichoke briquette (pictured below). Encased in a flaky pastry crust, this baked meal is the perfect size for one person to enjoy a light lunch. I’d recommend La Chatelaine to just about anyone — for both food and ambiance — and am a regular customer there myself. Bon apetit!

Photo by Anne Jansen

La Chatelaine French Bakery on Urbanspoon

corn chowder!

Photo by Anne Jansen

The Tip Top is one of the most popular downtown restaurants in Columbus, and for good reason. The Spicy Vegetarian Corn Chowder is a real treat — it’s rich and creamy, and packed with flavor. It’s one of those vegetarian dishes that makes you do a double-take and wonder if they’ve slipped you something with meat in it (the flavors are so strong). But it’s 100% vegetarian, and boy is it ever delicious! The Tip Top may not look like much from the outside, but it’s really cute inside (tin ceilings, beautiful wooden bar, and cute booths…not to mention the theater-themed art on the walls. The food and the decor are both a real treat!
Tip Top Kitchen and Cocktails on Urbanspoon

a crock o’ mac

Photo by Anne Jansen

This mini-croc of macaroni and cheese, served up in all its cheesiness at La Chatelaine. La Chatelaine is a French patisserie and restaurant with a few locations throughout the Columbus area, and their food is delicious. The ambiance in the restaurants is comfortable and warm (perfect for a snowy day, actually), and the waitstaff are friendly and jovial. It’s a gem of an establishment, and one I take out-of-town visitors to almost without fail. And this little serving of mac and cheese was among the best I’ve had!
La Chatelaine French Bakery on Urbanspoon

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