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Giveaway: Penn Station gift certificates!

Snap Advertising-Four Penn Station Subs[UPDATE: The contest is now closed!]

The kind folks from Penn Station East Coast Subs have provided a $20 gift certificate for my readers, so I’m giving it away today! Penn Station has about a dozen locations in the greater Columbus area.

I’m a fan of sandwiches in any form and at any time of day, although obviously my heart lies with breakfast sandwiches. To enter the random drawing, comment on this post and share your favorite sandwich. What type of sandwich is it, where to you get it, and why do you love it?

Comment by midnight Eastern time tonight to enter!

Beyond Breakfast: Marino’s Seafood Fish & Chips | Columbus, OH

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Marino’s Seafood Fish & Chips
(Facebook)

1216 W. Fifth Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 481-8428
Open Mon-Fri, 10:30a-9p; Sat, 11a-9p (all you can eat served 4-7p Mon-Fri, all day Sat)
Accepts cash & credit/debit

Visited: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 5:30p

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On a recent cold, weekday night, we found ourselves wanting to go out. We were thinking about supporting a local restaurant after seeing a post from Donnie Austin at House Wine. He had encouraged everyone to hit up a local restaurant, bar, or shop to everyone recover from rough winter sales. So we found ourselves cruising down Fifth Avenue heading into Grandview. As we came down Fifth, the yellow signage of Marino’s Seafood – a place we had never visited – caught me eye, and before we knew it, we were pulling into the parking lot.

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I didn’t eat a lot of seafood growing up, although I’m certainly trying to make up for lost time in adulthood. So I don’t have a history with any seafood spots (I think we had Long John Silvers and Red Lobster nearby growing up), but I do recognize the old-schoolness of fast food places. Take, for instance, the big bendy microphone at the ordering counter. This makes me think of a Burger King near our house growing up; I always found it funny how anyone could keep things organized with orders simply being called out over a scratchy loudspeaker.

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Although the big, yellow-lettered menu boards confused me at first (so many options!), I found a handful of picture menus and whiteboards helpfully suggesting specials or favorite combos.

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I’ll be honest: in places like this, I look for the word “platter.” If I can’t find it, the word “dinner” will suffice. That usually signifies a bulked up plate of nearly everything. I love me a big fried plate of everything.

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Let’s start small: sides of macaroni salad and slaw. Both simple but very likable. Slaw is the on sweet side.

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And then the baskets of golden fried goodness began arriving, starting with my seafood platter. The platter (technically a basket) included fish, shrimp, scallops, chips, and hush puppies. All of these pictures look a little yellow-ish. That’s in part from the batter, but more so from the yellow glass lanterns hanging around the restaurant.

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Then there’s Mrs. Bfast w/Nick’s clam platter, loaded with fried clams, chips, and hush puppies.

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Plus a couple crab cakes to boot.

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We ordered from the child combos for our boys. These combos include one piece of fish, chicken, or a battered hot dog, plus chips and a hush puppy. We picked one with fish…

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…and one with chicken.

Every piece we ate was fried well. Not too greasy or too heavily salted. Just right.

Does it taste good? Absolutely. Marino’s meals are baskets piled high with crispy fried seafood. Now, this isn’t fancy fish and chips. And this isn’t the completely fresh-off-the-boat type of stuff you find on the east coast (at places like this). The fish is simple whitefish (even the scallops are disk-shaped whitefish). The shrimp and clams are the best seasoned of the lot. The chips and hush puppies are crunchy without being dry.

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I have gladly added Marino’s to my list of easy comfort foods. I could honestly go for a big plate of their fried goods any time (and if you’re really hungry, visit during their all-you-can-eat hours!). On top of that, it’s all older, family-run business that deserves your patronage. If you’re out cruising for cheap eats, consider Marino’s instead of another fast food stop.

Marino's Seafood Fish & Chip on Urbanspoon

Photos: Brewing Beer at North High Brewing

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Where does a craft beer enthusiast go for his birthday? He brews some beer with friends! A couple weeks ago I gathered with a group of friends at North High Brewing to make our own batch. North High is Columbus’ first brew-on-premises shop, which means you can brew, ferment, and bottle beer under the guidance of experienced brewers.

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I’ve been to North High a number of times already – their bar has some great history behind it, which you can learn about on Columbus Brew Adventures downtown tour – but this was the first I’ve brewed there. The brewhouse is a separate room from the bar, with eight brew kettles centered around a chandelier with 21 bulbs symbolizing the 21st Amendment (the repeal of Prohibition).

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The process took about three hours total. We began by copying down the recipe, then heading into the brewhouse to be begin boiling water. North High lets you brew in 15 gallon batches; their system uses steam to heat the kettles, which speeds up the process.

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Another streamlining step is the use of extracts in brewing. Extracts are concentrated syrups that save on boiling time. North High uses primarily extracts, but not exclusively. We added about three pounds each of caramel malts and peat smoked malts.

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These were measured out…

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…and then milled right there are the brewery.

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We loaded the grains into muslin bags.

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And then these were steeped in the hot liquor (aka the hot water), much like tea.

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Then the extracts go in. On the right are the thirty pounds of amber malt extract. On the left is the five pounds of Ohio honey. The honey helps round out the big, malty body of the wee heavy. It gives the yeast something feed on during fermentation, and it just plain tastes good.

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Honey and extract into the tank!

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Throughout the boil we added pelletized Fuggle hops in small, calculated amounts. Fuggle is a sweeter English hop – appropriate for a Scottish style like the wee heavy.

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While you’re brewing, there’s down-time to check out the bar and order some food or drink.

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North High usually has about 10 of their beers on tap, plus a good selection of other breweries. They also run special brews like this one: their wee heavy on firkin with vanilla bean, cocoa nib, and bourbon-soaked oak chips.

By that point, brewing was done. The beer just had to cool and get filtered into the fermentation container. We’ll be coming back soon to bottle it.

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But the fun didn’t stop there! As it was dinner time, we hit up Marino’s Seafood Fish & Chips in Grandview (look for a separate post on that soon). It was lots of fried goodness.

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And then we rounded out the evening by hitting up Zauber Brewing just down the road. All in all, a great birthday celebration – especially getting to hang out with friends and make something together.

North High Brewing on Urbanspoon

Photos: Cravings Carryout Cafe relaunch

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One of our favorite discoveries from last year – Cookie Cravings Bakery – celebrated a re-brand and a revamp this past weekend. Newly christened Cravings Carryout Cafe, the cafe has new signage, branding, and a new menu. They dropped the “Cookie” from their name because they do so much more. The cookies are still there, but the focus is now on sandwiches, wraps, and  other sides, all highlighting the neighborhood carry out element.

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Owners Matt, Lindsey, and Joan Tewanger have made some small changes to the space. You’ll see new equipment, shelves, and menu boards.

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This includes a new retail shelve with T-shirts, granola, plus growlers and bags of Thunderkiss Coffee.

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The boards showcase the new menu, replete with rolls, burritos, sandwiches, and sides.

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There’s iced and hot coffee, plus juice and tea. I completely forgot to photograph the third board that highlights specials.

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We stopped in about half an hour after opening on Saturday, and already they were busy. Matt was working his magic in the back.

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Cravings added some more seating in the side yard, with has great promise for spring, summer, and autumn breakfasts, especially when there’s a welcoming fire in the fire pit.

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We knew we were going to visit over the weekend, but the promise of bronuts pretty much guaranteed we’d come searching. What’s a bronut? It’s a brioche donut. Cravings makes killer brioche, and they’ve mixed the dough with lemon and rosemary, fried it, and iced it. The donuts were perfectly soft, fluffy, and warm. Ours disappeared in a matter of seconds.

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And then it was on to the sandwiches. Oh, the sandwiches. They were beautiful and delicious, stacked high on golden brioche rolls.

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We started first with the Breakfast Roll, featuring cheddar, bacon, a fried egg, and a rosemary aioli. We barely managed to sneak some bites while our boys devoured it. Our five-year-old (who is not picky, but knows his stuff) said it was one of his favorite sandwiches.

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We also snagged a plate of the sausage biscuits and gravy, made using Bluescreek Farms sausage. It was thick and chunky, served with a soft biscuit, and just what you would ask for in biscuits and gravy.

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Our favorite of meal was the BLT. Like the breakfast roll, it was served on a beautiful brioche roll.

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The sandwich was stacked high with thick-cut bacon, greens, a basil mayo, and these stunning tomatoes. We did not expect to find tomatoes like this in March. Usually  you get those sad, tasteless, translucent ones in the winter, but these were dark and red. Matt roasted them to perfection.

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With the firepit going in the side yard, they set out a cute little smores kit.

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So after brunch we enjoyed some smores roasted over the fire.

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All in all, it’s an exciting new stage for the restaurant! Congrats to Matt, Lindsey, Joan, and the crew!

If you want to visit & connect:
Cravings Carryout Cafe
227 E. Third Ave. (off Fourth St. in Italian Village)
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 725-0090
Find them on Facebook and @CravingsCafe614
New hours are Tues-Fri, 11a-7p; Sat & Sun, 9a-3p

Video: Breakfast With Nick & Karina at South of Lane

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We discovered South of Lane late last year, and last week Karina Nova and I visited for our latest Breakfast With Nick spot on 10TV! I’ve mastered the art of taking small bites on air, now I have to work on not drinking my coffee awkwardly. You can watch the clip here.

Photos: Brunch at The Torpedo Room

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One of the latest Columbus Food League arrivals, The Torpedo Room, launched a limited brunch menu this past Sunday in conjunction with a monthly event of brunch + a classic movie at the Gateway Film Center. I took my five-year-old to go check out the brunch (although I don’t think he’s quite ready for Goldfinger). The Torpedo Room is located on the main floor of the GFC; you’ll see the signs just to the left of the concession stand.

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As you might expect, the single-room restaurant uses a heavy nautical theme, with round portholes, heavy draped curtains, and a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea feel.

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There’s a good amount of seating, and the restaurant includes a full bar. It’s a cozy and quiet spot.

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The current brunch menu (it may change) features seven items, lots of sides, plus drinks (including the bar). There’s a heavy southwestern theme, with burritos, enchiladas, and huevos rancheros taking the lead. Like every CFL restaurant, you can rely on solid vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options.

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I took the opportunity to finally try a Rambling House ginger beer. Rambling House produces their own natural sodas out of a small space in southern Clintonville (where they host a LOT of live music), and their sodas are showing up on tap around town. The ginger beer is bright, fizzy, and a delightful balance between sweet and a nice gingery pucker. The last few gulps were especially strong with the ginger. You could make some great cocktails out of this.

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I chose the egg and cheese enchiladas, because you don’t see many breakfast enchiladas out there. The two enchiladas are filled with eggs and cheese, and topped heavily with a spicy verde salsa; I added the optional chorizo, because… well, chorizo. They’re served with a small plate of hash browns.

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Will asked for the breakfast burrito, a good-sized one filled with eggs, cheese, beans, sausage, and salsa, plus a side of potatoes.

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It was as filling and tasty as you would expect from a breakfast burrito.

Overall, it’s a solid brunch that’s just getting started. Expect the menu to change and hopefully regular hours to be established.

If you want to visit:
The Torpedo Room
1550 N. High St. (inside the Gateway Film Center)
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 247-4433

Currently brunch is just served with this event. Upcoming movie brunches (cost is $15 for both your meal and the movie ticket) include:
April 6th: Breathless
May 4th: Annie Hall

UPDATED: Regular brunch hours are Sat & Sun, 11a-2p; Cinema Classic brunches start at 12p, movie is at 2.

The Torpedo Room on Urbanspoon

Event: Brunch & A Classic at Gateway Film Center

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I know dinner and a movie is a thing, but what about brunch and a movie? Well, the Gateway Film Center is trying to rectify that. Starting this Sunday, March 2nd, the GFC is hosting a monthly brunch + movie series, starting with Goldfinger. The event will pair a classic movie with a special brunch at the new Torpedo Room, one of the latest openings from the Columbus Food League group of restaurants.

Brunch kicks off at noon; the movie starts at 2pm. $15 gets you brunch and the movie ticket (or $7.50 if you just want to see the movie). You can pair your meal with all sorts of Ohio beers and specialty cocktails. The event will be hosted by Johnny DiLoretto (director of ops at the theater) and John DeSando, known for their Cinema Classics program on WCBE. Expect to see participation from other local businesses like pur-suit as well. Once you’re impressed by Sean Connery’s gray three-piece suit in Goldfinger, talk to Nate DeMars about buying your own.

I always enjoy pairings like this. I love the theater, with its combination of first run movies, independent films, and classics. (We recently took our 5-year-old there for his first movie-in-the-theater ever, The Lego Movie.) Plus, their beer and cocktail list is solid. And I’m a big fan of Liz Lessner-led Columbus Food League restaurants. The match-up of Gateway + Torpedo Room is brilliant. I got a sneak peak at the brunch menu, and it’s looking pretty awesome. It’ll include things like bourbon-glazed French toast with toasted almonds and maple syrup, egg & cheese breakfast enchiladas, huevos rancheros, and bottomless silver dollar pancakes. True to CFL form, expect to see lots of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options, too!

If you can’t make it this month, you can catch Breathless on April 6th and Annie Hall on May 4th. Look for more offerings to join the list in coming months.

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