Taste of Belgium follows an authentic family recipe to make its waffles out of thick dough and coarse Belgian beet sugar. A specialized cast-iron press then crushes the dough into its distinctive waffle shape and caramelizes the sugar in the process. This gives the waffle a rich vanilla flavor and a delightful sweetness that doesn't require syrup. As such, you can eat waffles on the go without plates, forks, or Catholic guilt.
Since 1985, Alex's Bistro on Reed has charmed diners with its seasonal take on American and European classics. These days, under the leadership of German-born and -trained chef Daniel Kern, the bistro's menu narrows its focus to French and Italian flavors. Using natural meats and sustainable seafood, Daniel pairs 8-ounce filet mignons with blue cheese potatoes and crowns risotto with a full pound of Maine lobster. Both dishes, like a bulk of Daniel's menu, are gluten free, and several other courses can be prepared without gluten. Whether gluten free or full, all feasts unfold within a spacious dining room rendered intimate with soft, romantic lighting.
Craig and Laura Decker seem to have a difficult time making up their minds. They also seem to have a knack for turning this indecisiveness into an advantage at every turn. When it came to opening their new business, for example, they briefly wondered whether it should feature a wine shop, a wine bar, or a gourmet bistro. Their solution? All three.
This spirit of inclusivity pervades The Wine Guy Bistro, where the Deckers pair seasonal wine varietals with globally inspired cuisine. Rather than choose between European elegance and New-American pizzazz, they settled on a compromise they describe as “Old World chic.” This label suits a menu that features small plates of housemade meatballs and bruschetta alongside assorted cheeses from around the world. The focus on small plates is in keeping with the Deckers’ have-it-all mentality and gives diners the option to sample several dishes without having to barter with adjacent tables.
For generations, the Pfeifer family tilled the soil—originally tending to the land as Midwestern farmers after the Civil War. Even though the family eventually traded in the farm, these agricultural roots still run deep. At Hidden Lakes Winery, they tap into this instinctual knowledge of fruits and cultivars to create a host of wines made from grapes sourced from around the United States. Glasses of light riesling or heady pinot noir in hand, guests often pair their sips with the onsite café’s bistro-style cuisine. There, the kitchen boasts a full menu of Tuscan-inspired appetizers, artisanal pizzas, entrees, and desserts.
At C'est Si Bon Cafe, crepe-makers take the delicate, ultra-thin French-style pancakes and fold them over both sweet and savory ingredients while patrons look on. The buttery pockets hold everything from roast beef, blue cheese, sautéed mushrooms and onions, fresh arugula, and a bourbon sauce to Nutella, bananas, and pecans. The reviewer at Columbus Underground particularly loved the dessert crepes, calling the Banana "dynamite" and saying "its butter and brown sugar make the flavors blend into something akin to old-school dessert favorite, Bananas Foster."
C'est Si Bon Cafe's hand-scrawled chalkboard menu shows off the crepes, which can accommodate gluten-free diners. Staffers also assemble breakfast crepes.
The Short Story Brasserie is the gastronomic brainchild of owner James Housteau and Executive Chef Robert Harrison, whose shared love for fine wine and European cuisine translates into this escapist’s paradise set along a picturesque country road in rural Ohio. Short Story's seasonal menu invokes the comforting pleasures of fine dining with fabled small plates such as the crispy macaroni and cheese, featuring luxurious lobster and black truffle ($14). Larger plates include the pan-roasted sea scallops with truffled cauliflower custard and lobster hollandaise ($25), whose gussied-up presentation impresses sea-worn Ishmaels and grizzled gourmands alike. Pair the scallops with a chardonnay ($8) or dangle dangerously from a cliff of libations with the No No Martini ($9), a harmonious medley of Grey Goose vodka, pear nectar, and ginger liqueur.