When Basil Restaurant opened in 2009, the Columbus Dispatch reported on owner Rhome Ruanphae's inspiration: his mother?s string of successful Thai restaurants?beginning with Thai Village in Chicago?s Wicker Park neighborhood?that she ran with her husband while he was growing up. Rhome borrowed his mother?s culinary mastery for Basil, which teleports taste buds to Thailand with a menu of authentic Southeast Asian cuisine. Chefs gather rice or egg noodles to lay the foundation for many entrees, such as specialty kee mow, a soft or crispy maelstrom of rice noodles with thai basil, tomatoes, and bell peppers. The menu also features a rainbow of curries, soups, salads, and appetizers to keep ravenous diners from eating their napkins.
The seasoned confines of a former antique shop welcome diners to Basil Restaurant, decked out with bare brick and a retro advertisement for ice painted on the back wall. As a glittering chandelier casts light on colorful curries, wine-dark panels of varnished wood gaze at diners from the wall, and exposed lengths of ductwork add a neoindustrial aesthetic without the overkill of steam-powered dessert trays or austere Orwellian maitre d's.
Deep-fried sweet potato, jalape?o aioli, honey-infused wasabi. These aren?t ingredients found on the traditional sushi menu, but the chefs at Red Bar & Sushi somehow incorporate them into their lengthy repertoire of specialty rolls. The team puts their imagination to good use, designing innovative maki such as the UFC roll?crab, eel, jalape?o, and cucumber rolled together and deep-fried in a tempura batter?or the simple, but sophisticated, Samba roll made from tuna, cilantro, and avocado. Red Bar?s chefs offer the classics as well, including fresh servings of salmon, yellowtail, and octopus sashimi, and what they call ?standard? sushi rolls, like the california roll crammed with crab and avocado or the philadelphia roll made with cream cheese.
Nestled in the heart of Columbus' Short North Arts District, The Rossi Bar + Kitchen offers an eclectic menu whose creative offerings include Smoked Ohio Pork Belly, pastrami-cured New York strip steak, and Cocoa Braised Short Ribs, as well as the Rossi Burger and Authentic New York-style pizza boasting fresh mozzarella cheese and hand rolled dough. Luckily, there's ample time to try different things: the kitchen serves food until 1 a.m. At the bar, patrons share conversation and libations including craft beers, creative cocktails, and an extensive wine list served until 2:30 a.m. Reminiscent of a big city bistro, The Rossi Bar + Kitchen is complete with a vintage 1940's era bar, discovered in Brooklyn, refurbished and brought back to life in the Short North.
The independently-owned Mayday offers a variety of unique burgers, made from turkey, black bean, or beef patties with toppings such as Korea-style kimchi and cilantro chili sauce. Patrons pair the burgers with oven-baked fries and draft beer at this hub of the Northside neighborhood, along with trivia, comedy, and live rock and roll, and a two-tiered patio provides a fun atmosphere for the whole family.
The boldness of burgers isn't all Mayday specializes in, however. The subtle flavors of fine whiskey and charcuterie reward more ambitious palates, while a full array of hotdogs?served on homemade pretzel buns?add an upscale spin to comfort food. To top it off, customers can add a fried egg to anything on the menu, just like when we were kids, frying eggs on the sidewalk to top off our summer ice cream cones.
Mixologist Molly Wellman and chef Dan Wells combine their expertise at Japp's Cocktails and Candy Classes, where they teach groups to concoct their own cocktails and candies. In classes that are half hands-on learning and half demonstration, students twist handmade candy canes or make sheets of nutty peanut brittle. Glasses brim with virgin cocktails mixed with ingredients such as plum cider or root beer bitters; for an additional fee, a bartender will splash in shots of liquor. After classes have ended, students leave with their own printouts of the day's recipes.
Smoke scented with flavors such as mango, pineapple, and cherry wafts through Aladdin Restaurant and Hookah Bar as patrons linger over waterpipes as late as 3 a.m. Besides Al Fakher and Starbuzz tobacco, skilled staffers also blend house mixes with names such as Bubble Yum and Candy Drop, and can even fit hookahs with heads made from hollowed-out pineapples, watermelons, and other fruits. The kitchen also crafts a full menu of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare, including kebabs, gyros, and Turkish coffee.