At the Vienna Ice Café in Columbus, Ohio, you’ll find a decent selection of locally-made flavors and a friendly and helpful staff. This small ice cream and gelato shop is owned and operated by the same people who own Mozart’s Cafe just a few doors down. They’ve completely revamped the decor (this used to be Denise’s Ice Cream Parlor) so it’s much more clean and chic. With the enormous windows, the small selection of cookies and pastries from Mozart’s, and the relaxed atmosphere, the Vienna Ice Café is a must-visit for those hot summer days.
This case full of scrumptious round brownies literally made my mouth water! Sugardaddy’s is a local chain that serves up a host of specialty brownies that are not only ridiculously tasty, but also perfectly round. These “sumptuous sweeties” come in three different categories: brunettes, blondes, and fire & spice. A friend and I tried out two amazing desserts (pictured below): the Caramel Brunette (left) and the Tahiti Blonde (right). Paired with a small carton of milk, these treats were just the pick-me-up we needed in the middle of a busy afternoon. As if the food wasn’t enough incentive to get yourself down to a Sugardaddy’s near you, the decor was also very hip: multiple shades of pink, swirly designs, and trendy lighting accents created a really fun and contemporary feel.
I purchased and ate this delightful cupcake from the Global Gallery coffee shop in Columbus, but it was made by Melissa’s Incredible Edibles across the street. The frosting dissolved on my tongue and was the perfect balance of sweet/tart, and the cupcake itself was fluffy and light. It was a delicious treat, and was super-reasonably priced. If you get the chance to try out Melissa’s Incredible Edibles, you should go for it. I’m glad I did!
The seasonal flavors at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams are the best part of the Jeni’s enterprise. It’s a real treat to walk in and check out the seasonal selection and enjoy samples from as many flavors as you like before having to make up your mind on what you want in your order. I recently went in and chose the Rhubarb & Lime Cardamom Yogurt (pink, on the left) and the Pistachio & Honey ice cream (green, on the right). The tartness and spice of the Rhubarb & Lime was the perfect mate for the mild sweetness of the Pistachio & Honey. Jeni’s is always an adventure, and one worth the price and the wait.
I’ve been to Spagio before, but I had to write about the Brie Pizza I tried the last time I was in. It’s a taste-explosion in your mouth: apple butter, brie cheese, pears, and candied walnuts make this one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had…and incredibly innovative at that! The flavors were rich and thick, but the pizza itself was nice and light.
Every time I go to Spagio, I order their lemonade-of-the-day — this time, it was Kiwi Lemonade. The playful flavors were exactly the refreshing treat I needed on a hot summer’s day, and it was an oddly suitable complement to the Brie Pizza. The original combination of ingredients and tastes in Spagio’s dishes is what makes me keep coming back for more. Awesome, as usual!
The Northstar Cafe is one of my favorites, but I rarely make it there for breakfast. On this particular day, I not only had breakfast there, but also lunch. For breakfast, I started the day with their fantastic strawberry smoothie and a day-old oatmeal cookie. Both were fantastic, and together they were light yet filling. I’m addicted to this strawberry smoothie, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
I also stuck around long enough to have lunch (Northstar is the kind of place where you can eat, study, and eat some more — they don’t mind lingerers). I chose one of my favorites from the menu: the Square Meal. It’s spicy and flavorful, and loaded with veggies of all kinds. It’s also incredibly filling (I was only able to eat about half). I love Northstar, despite the sticker shock; if you go with a partner, a single meal is the perfect price and proportion. The large crowds during busy hours are an indication of how worth-it the food is, even for lone eaters.
This Cherry Boat is my absolute favorite treat from Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery in Solvang. Olsen’s is one of my all-time favorite places to eat, and with good reason. Their pastries are made by a real pro — you’ll be hard-pressed to find a crust more delectably flaky, fillings more perfectly formed, and sweets more visually appealing than these. Of course, there are definitely a number of good bakeries in Solvang, but this one is one of the best. In the winter, Olsen creates a giant gingerbread house (about 4 feet tall) elaborately decorated with icing and puts it out on display in the main eating area. But the sweets…oh, the sweets are available year-round. The staff is friendly (if a bit inattentive), and their laissez faire style makes lingering an acceptable activity. Give this one a try if you’re ever in the area!
The waffles at Mozart’s are amazing. They are fluffy and crispy, without being crunchy. The berry sauce you see is house-made and fresh, and adds a fruity splash to the already-delicious dish. Even with a whole case full of incredible pastries and sweet treats, these waffles satisfy any sweet tooth. Pair that with the friendly staff and eclectic decor at Mozart’s and your meal is guaranteed to be a pleasant experience.
Diana’s Sweet Shoppe is a beautiful old restaurant that Gibson Guitars has actually had dismantled and brought from its original home in Michigan to its new location in the heart of downtown Nashville. Their specialty is sweets, as exemplified by the unbelievably large cup (bowl?) of hot chocolate pictured above. Made from melted Hershey’s bars, this was a wonderful cup of hot cocoa. Of course, they also serve food.
While the soup was a bit on the thick-and-salty side, the grilled cheese with tomato was delicious and heated to perfection. The bread was nice and crispy, and the cheese was wonderfully melty. I think the best thing about Diana’s was the atmosphere — it’s a beautiful place to enjoy a meal away from the hustle and bustle of Broadway’s crowds and honky tonks.
When I went to Brewzzi, I couldn’t resist ordering the Brewzzi Brownie in a Cookie Jacket. Yes, you read that right — this delicious brownie, made from Ghirardelli chocolate, has a chocolate chip cookie baked around it. The entire delicious baked treat is served warm, topped with a generous helping of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream, and drizzled with chocolate and caramel drizzled. I know it sounds a bit overly-sweet, but with a tall glass of ice cold milk it was the perfect way to end a great day!
Bodega is one of my new all-time favorites. I went there in the dead of winter, freshly returned from a trip to California, and scored myself some of the best comfort food I’ve ever had. I mean, I like mac and cheese, but this was 3-cheese mac and cheese with a delightfully spicy kick! Almost enough to make my nose run, which is a good thing in my book.
Finish that meal — which came in a rationally-sized bowl instead of a massive dish like so many of the dishes in Columbus — with a light slice of pecan pie with a side of Jeni’s Salty Caramel ice cream and some impressively fresh strawberries (for January in the Midwest, this can be quite a feat), and you’ve got me hooked for life. I always check the specials menu at Bodega now, because they have some delightful surprises that crop up!