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.
Blue Ginger’s chefs have no shortage of sources when they need inspiration for their next dish. Rather than limit their scope to a single region or country, they scan recipe books from across Asia and pick out their favorites as starting points. Some of the recipes they dig up date back centuries, but they’re more interested in looking toward the future than dwelling on the past.
It’s certainly a bright future they envision—one in which the best elements of various Asian cuisines have joined forces in the same dishes. There are even some influences from outside Asia that make it into the mix, as the duck fajitas and pan-roasted chilean sea bass will attest. This inclusive spirit isn’t just limited to the food. An extensive drink menu features imported beers, martinis blended with sake, and cocktails stirred with miniature world flags.
When the sun cracks through the night sky, the chefs are already busy at The Best Breakfast and Sandwiches. They pop biscuits into the oven and stir pots of country gravy. Customizable omelets are stuffed with each customer’s choice of meats, cheeses, and veggies. Lunchtime hours find the grills and stoves lit for slabs of chicken or reuben sandwiches featuring in-house corned beef. Chefs also mix their own chicken and tuna salads, which are tucked into sandwiches or ladled atop salads.
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.
Sweet frosting on a layered petit four. Intricate notes emanating from a nearby piano. Steam rising off a teacup as it sits on a delicate saucer. Signs of old-world elegance permeate every corner of Mozart's Bakery and Piano Cafe, and owners Anand and Doris Saha wouldn't have it any other way. The European-trained couple had been slinging their famed tortes and sugary delicacies in the Columbus area for more than 17 years, having learned the ins and outs of pastry making when training in some of Europe's best restaurants and hotels. Mozart’s has more than 80 authentic European delicacies, which have snagged them titles including Best Dessert from Columbus Alive and Best Bakery from Columbus Monthly. Petit fours and truffles are created using imported ingredients from Europe. Continental favorites ranging from beef stroganoff and chicken cordon bleu to bavarian-style wiener schnitzel reproduce the timeless flavors found in dining rooms from Marseille to Munich.
During their European-inspired afternoon tea, a mini meal of pastries parades to tables arm in arm with a steaming cup of 1 of 16 different loose-leaf teas. Alongside decaf and herbal blends, english-breakfast, earl-grey, darjeeling, and rose-petal teas steep in mugs, letting mitts warm up after stealing the noses of arctic explorers. Canapés come in one-bite flavor explosions crowded with curried chicken salad, tomato and provolone, and smoked salmon with cream cheese. Miniature scones cloaked in devonshire cream and fruit preserves serve as diminutive feasts, and peach marzipan and chocolate petits fours, gluten-free truffles, or tea cookies drop a sweet curtain over the afternoon snack.
Soon, Mozart's culinary team will pair this commitment to European elegance with an equally stately local landmark: beginning in early 2013, the cafe will occupy a new spot in the historic halls of High Street's iconic Cord Camera building.