Hi gang! Last night Scott and I attended our first ever Dine Originals Taste of the Independents event. Dine Originals is an organization that puts an emphasis on eating at locally-owned restaurants instead of chains, like Applebee’s for example. Scott and I try to eat at local restaurants as much as possible. But as with anything it can be trial and error because until you go, you won’t be sure if you like it or if the restaurant suits your tastes. With an event like Taste of the Independents, local restaurants who are members of Dine Originals, come and set up tables with samples of their cuisine. As an attendee you are required to purchase a ticket and the proceeds from the event go towards a charity. Last night’s charity was The Buckeye Ranch. With samples of wine along with food from 40+ restaurants, there was plenty to see, drink, and eat!
When we arrived, it was a little busy in the front. People were everywhere sampling, chatting, and mingling. Like a good food blogger, I pulled out my camera and started taking pictures right away. It took Scott and I a while to find a groove and figure out a course of attack. While most people there seemed to have done this before and were chatting away like it was any normal cocktail party thrown by your friends. Scott and I were on a reconnaissance mission to gather intel and we just happened to be nicely dressed. I did get to wear my dress! Which I was happy about because it was cute but at the same time I was freezing cold during the event. Eeep!
I tried a lot of food, but this post would be very long if I tried to show you everything. Most things I just took a bite of and either it wasn’t my thing or I just wanted a bite to give it a try but didn’t want a whole serving. Instead I’ll post the dishes that I ate the entire portion.
Our first run was a little disorganized because I was trying to snap pictures and take food and listen to the servers at the same time. I was asking questions or trying at least, with all the attendees it was a bit hard to hear what the servers/chefs were saying.
The first item we got was presented by G. Michael’s Bar and Bistro.
It was shrimp and grits!
The grits were blue so I headed back over to ask about them. I asked if they were blue corn and the chef confirmed that they were. I ate my shrimp and the sausage but gave my grits to Scott. I’m not a big grits person; honestly it’s too gritty of a dish! I know, I know, that’s the whole point. But grits are not a texture I favor.
After this we headed over to another section and the first place we came upon was The Elevator Brewery & Draught Haus. Mostly because Scott wanted a drink and none of the wine stations had glasses available at that moment. They brought 3 of their beers with them and Scott started off with a lager.
For a sample, that was a really decent size! I had a few sips of it and it was very tasty. Had a nice finish and hearty enough to have with food. The Elevator Brewery was serving up two samples.
Pulled pork sliders with what seemed to be beets on top. I couldn’t really hear the gentleman who was explaining them to me. I loved the beets but didn’t really care for the pork, it seemed a bit on the greasy side. I gave my portion to Scott.
The next item sure was pretty! It was a crab salad on top of a fried wonton. I actually didn’t really like this either and neither did Scott. Sorry Elevator! That doesn’t impact anything though, we still want to check out the restaurant especially since it’s a local brewery.
I had my first sample of wine with these bites.
I believe this was a Bethel Hill Pinot Grigio. I know for sure it was the Pinot but I don’t have a picture of the wine description! Ooops! It was so yummy. Very light, crisp, and refreshing. It would be great with light meals and even a heavier dish because of the light citrus notes; it would cut through heavy stuff clearing your palate. We were outside at this point and that was a bad move. It was way too windy and chilly for me to be out. I was shivering, trying to eat, and trying to stop my dress from flying up! So we headed back inside.
Next up was Figlio Woodfired Pizza! We were most excited to try this one.
They also had two samples to hand out and the gentleman working the pasta station was extremely nice! He didn’t mind me taking pictures and had no problem with my questions. Thank you!
First up was a small slice of BBQ chicken pizza with homemade BBQ sauce on a regular crust and with peppers and onions. This was so good! The crust was perfect and the BBQ sauce was spot on. Exactly how BBQ sauce should be: sweet, spicy, and tangy. Scott and I have had the worst time trying to find decent pizza in Columbus. I am so picky about pizza. First of all, I like nice triangle slices and I want veggies! And lots of them! This place will deliver all of those I believe.
Next up was drunken pasta which was marinated and grilled chicken with penne in a vodka cream tomato sauce. Heaven! Oh goodness this was so, so good. The pasta was creamy, but not overly so, so it didn’t sit like a rock in your stomach. Plus it had a bit of a spicy kick in the background giving it just enough heat to make it interesting, but not so much that you were running for water. The chicken was outstanding and very flavorful. I had a few bites of pasta and all of the chicken. Then I passed the remaining pasta off to Scott.
By this time we had an established plan. We found a table and we worked the room as a team. First I went through and took pictures of everything. Then I went back around and started picking up samples of things I wanted to try. This worked so much better! With one of us always at the table holding down the fort, the other was able to move about the room.
After finishing my pasta, it was time for another wine sample. This time I went with a red.
I ended up with a Bordeaux.
Unfortunately, I don’t know too much about this wine. It was tasty though! Scott went back for another beer.
He wanted to try a beer from Columbus Brewing Company but they didn’t have any which was a bit surprising. Being resourceful, he tried a red from Elevator. I had a sip but didn’t care for it too much. It had a nutty finish which was nice though.
My next stop was Barcelona for some scallops.
These smelled amazing as I was taking the picture.
These were in a cream sauce with edamame, bacon, mushrooms, and dates. It was interesting for sure. It was a bit too sweet for me but I did eat my portion! I had the edamame and the scallops. The scallops were perfectly cooked and very light, the way scallops are supposed to be.
After the scallops, I decided to be brave and try The Burgundy Room’s duck dish.
I’ve never tried duck before. For some reason I had it in my head that it would be very gamy, heavy, and greasy. But I’ll never know unless I try, right? And since these were samples, I felt comfortable enough testing the waters (See what I did there? Duck, waters. You love it.).
This was duck leg confit with bowtie pasta and topped with goat cheese. Oh my goodness this was amazing! I loved it! I had a few bites and then made sure to save some for Scott so he could try. I was on cloud nine. The duck was not heavy or gamy at all. It tasted like chicken honestly, a nice perfectly cooked dark meat piece of chicken. I liked it so much that I went back over and told them so. I said it was my first time with duck and their dish was superb!
After my affair with the duck, I tried some samples from Blackcreek Bistro. They had two samples, one a dessert and one dish.
First up was a salmon patty topped with a creole mustard. This little patty was fantastic but it didn’t taste like salmon. Honestly it tasted like a crab cake. The mustard was creamy and cool on the cake. I wouldn’t mind if it had a bit more spice to it.
I’m not sure if this had a specific name to it. It was described to me as a shortbread cookie base, raspberry cream layer, and then on top caramelized slivered almonds. I loved this little dessert! And you know that I am not a big sweets person but this was such a great little bit of goodness. I saved some for Scott who only thought it was okay so I finished it. It was the perfect size for me. Just a wee little square of dessert.
I headed over to The Clarmont to pick up some samples for Scott. They were offering two dishes that were more geared toward his tastes.
I bring this up because I ended up eating most of a sample!
This was a lamb slider and it had a sort of mustard sauce with it but I don’t remember the name. Normally I’m not a fan of lamb. The taste and smell are too potent for me. In full disclosure, the smell of lamb turns my stomach. It reminds me of venison (deer meat) which has a very gamy distinct smell.
But, again in the vein of trying something new, I gave it a wee little taste. And it was awesome! So I had more. It was a bit too raw/pink for me in the middle so I ate the outer edges. I’m not a huge meat eater (I much prefer seafood and rabbit food) but I do eat it on occasion. When I do, I like it to be fully cooked. I was surprised how delicious this slider was! Very moist, well seasoned, and so tasty. Not gamey or potent at all. Great size too!
Next to it, you can see some seared Ahi Tuna. I did not eat this aside from a very very small bite. Again, I like things to be fully cooked. That portion was for Scott. Two thumbs up for The Clarmont Slider though!
One last little portion in this section of the event put out by Cafe Corner.
This was tandoori chicken salad on top of organic spinach and lavish bread, topped with a wee slice of tomato. This was really tasty and I could definitely pick up the curry flavor. It looked very pretty as well and made a great presentation. Scott also had a portion and enjoyed it.
By this time Scott wanted a sample of wine and I was ready for another small splash as well. This was a chardonnay but I don’t have a picture of it nor do I have a name. Sorry guys! Moving and organizing, some things got away from me.
This wraps up the first building of samples. There were two more buildings to walk through! I know, it was a blast! The next two buildings of eats will be covered in Part II of my recap tomorrow. Stay tuned!