As weary guests lug their suitcases and collapsible travel saxophones up to the front desk of Best Western hotel, their senses are suddenly awakened to the scents of sizzling garlic, simmering coconut, and fresh basil. The source of the exotic aromas is the onsite Thai Lagoon Bistro—an elegant Thai eatery lauded by reporters from Crave Magazine as a hidden gem. In the restaurant's kitchen, chefs fold fresh seafood, meats, and vegetables into a sweeping variety of authentic Thai favorites and rarities—from the popular pad thai noodles to the lesser-known tiger cry spicy beef. They stir pots of soup peppered with lemongrass and chili before turning their attention to massaman chicken curry, which writers from The Columbus Dispatch praised as being “aromatic with allspice, clove, and cinnamon…” They even extend their culinary expertise to a selection of Chinese classics, including kung pao chicken and orange beef.
Diners await meals at white-cloth tables in the elegant dining room lit with soft candlelight and speckled with tropical plants. In the mornings, the restaurant transforms into a breakfast buffet with American-style dishes, including cereals and pancakes shaped like John Wayne waving the US flag.
Two Fish Bistro is the yang to the yin of Red, a sushi bar in the same building also owned by the Daeoh group. While Red draws out the essence of raw seafood, Two Fish unleashes the flavors of its flame-kissed counterpart to craft a menu that 614 calls "concise and approachable." To introduce diners to their distinct flavor parings, Two Fish's chefs assemble mini fish tacos from housemade crispy flour chips, sautéed whitefish, and garlic-parmesan aioli. Their entrees draw on wild-caught seafood purchased fresh daily, such as the specialty tuna, a walnut-crusted, medium-rare cut that perches on a pillow of fluffy wasabi mashed potatoes with a maple-butter reduction and treats diners to the satisfying crunch of a charred-scallion garnish. To accent its colorful, carefully plated cuisine, Two Fish keeps its interior sleek and simple. Several enormous windows marry form and function, bathing the square wooden tables and mixed wood walls in natural sunlight or the unnatural glow of bioluminescent snowflakes. Three flat-screen TVs watch over a gray stone bar, surrounded on all sides by minimalist low-rise chairs.
Q2 Bistro's menu of Cantonese-inspired dishes features family-developed recipes as well as flavor combinations hand-me-downed from the master chefs of China. Wake up your taste buds with spicy salty calamari ($6.95) and walnut shrimp ($6.95), or put a crabby tummy growl to rest with an appetizer platter of two crab rangoons, two spring rolls, and two egg rolls ($7.50). After taking down these edible opponents one at a time with flying forks of fury, entrust your taste buds to the man in charge by trying a chef specialty such as the Mongolian trio (tiger shrimp, beef, and chicken sautéed with white and green onions in a spicy Mongolian sauce, $11.25) or spicy pineapple fried rice ($10.55). Q2 also boasts a wide selection of signature rice pots, including the hoisin duo with tofu (tender slices of beef and chicken sautéed with tofu, broccoli, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots, $10.95), goncho beef with green beans (wok-flashed beef stir fry with green beans, $10.75), and eggplant with minced pork (served in a spicy Szechwan sauce, $10.55). For a more traditional standby, opt for a plate of kong pao chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp ($8.95–$9.95).
Founded in 1947 as a poker hall for traveling tycoons, The Clarmont became a steakhouse when it fell out of fashion to use grilled beef slabs as chips. Since then, the Columbus institution has added seafood and fresh fish offerings to its sumptuous menu. The culinary fireworks begin at dinner with the always-goes-fast prime rib of beef ($19.59), seasoned and roasted on-site each day, or The Clarmont's 50-year standby: 12 ounces of filet mignon ($30.99), which you can top with fresh mushrooms ($2.99), drizzle with port demi-glace ($2.95), and side with french-fried onion rings ($4.79/full order), among other things. Beyond the beef, discriminating diners can branch out into lamb osso bucco ($23.99), Long Island duckling in a bing cherry glaze ($21.99), or potato-encrusted salmon in an orange horseradish beurre blanc ($19.99). A wine menu featuring 17 by-the-glass options, such as Italian Al Verdi Pinot Grigio ($5.25), and more than 100 bottle options are available to pair with delectable dishes, as well as lubricate conversation that's been desiccated by too many office anecdotes.
Guests at Royal Ginger Asian Fusion Bistro can select from a staggering variety of flavorful meat- and seafood-laden dishes on the restaurant's sprawling menu. Diners can dive through reefs of egg rolls to spear a steamed or pan-roasted Chilean sea bass ($20.99) or cut up grilled filet mignon and shrimp ($22.99) into pieces small enough to inhale. The japanese eggplant garlic sauce or thai red curry sauce can be paired with meat ($13.99) or prawns ($16.99), or it can be easily veganized with tofu ($13.99) at the swoosh of a magic fennel wand.
A part-time college job turned into a career when John Ko married the daughter of China Dynasty's original owners. John, his wife, and his in-laws are content with maintaining the same traditions that have lasted more than 25 years. John's mother-in-law continues to work in the kitchen as head chef, cooking a familiar assortment of classic Chinese dishes that draws inspiration from various regional styles throughout the country. Chinese eggplant in garlic sauce, Cantonese-style roast duck, and spicy Szechwan green beans with chicken represent just a handful of dishes that have endured at China Dynasty over the decades.
A golden statue of a jovial, laughing Buddha greets diners as soon as they enter the restaurant's expanded space, which features two dining rooms as well as a full-service bar area. Lipstick-red chairs surround the tables that fill the intimately lit space, and red accent walls similarly add a splash of color amid the rooms' pale green and tan color schemes. In addition to the Buddha statue, China Dynasty features a small collection of traditional Asian artwork and artifacts on its walls, including silk clothing, oversized Chinese hanzi, and baby pictures of the restaurant's first lo mein noodle.