Dining in Style

I love to eat, and always get really excited about interview pre-nights and similar events that involve a free meal.  It’s great to get the chance to talk to your potential employer over food while letting them pick up the bill!  One thing that always made me uncomfortable though was the etiquette…I mean who really knows what fork to use when they give you three?  Is there a correct way to be holding my silverware?  Who’s bread plate is that!?


Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending an Etiquette Dinner at the Blackwell.  Not only did I get a wonderful meal, but I had all of my questions above (and many more) answered!  I’ll share some of the tips below, but I don’t want to give away everything so you’ll go next year when you’re a student here!

I had to be sneaky...its bad etiquette to take pictures at dinner!

We began with placement and rolls.  Yes, there actually is a specific way to unfold your napkin and place it on your lap.  And which roll plate is yours – left or right?  It’s the one on your left.  What about glass of water??  On the right.  Here’s a helpful trick we learned to remember this…  take your hands and hold them out in front of you.  Now touch the tip of your thumb with the tip of your pointer finger, making little “o’s”, and let your other fingers extend straight out.  Your left hand looks like a “b” doesn’t it?  That’s for bread roll!  And your right hand…seems to resemble a “d”, huh?  Yeah – that’s for drink!

We moved on to soup (tomato basil, and it was excellent).  Did you know it’s not okay to stir or blow on your soup to cool it down (at least while dining professionally)?  I had no idea!!  And yes, there is a specific way to get the soup on your spoon (tilt it towards you after filing to let the excess drip).

Next up was the salad.  A few highlights here: when there are large pieces of lettuce, don’t try to fold them over onto the fork.  Use your salad knife to cut them into manageable pieces.  We also talked about how to handle olive pits and other inedible foods that may be in a salad…it is equally appropriate to discreetly spit them into your napkin or to spit them back onto the fork.  Needless to say, I think spitting back on the fork is incredibly difficult, and I failed miserably when I tried…

On to the main course – grilled chicken with peas and fettuccine.  First of all, yum.  But I know, I know…we’re talking about etiquette here…  There are two distinct and equally appropriate ways to hold your silverware:  Continental (European) and American.  I was inclined to the American style, where you cut with the right hand then transfer your fork to your right hand to eat.  In the Continental style, you hold your fork in your left hand and knife in the right the entire time, but must transfer the food to your mouth with the fork tines down!  We also discussed the best way to twirl noodles on to your fork without getting those pesky danglers.

The dessert was a chocolate mousse parfait.  Needless to say, it was also incredible.  This was probably the easiest course from an etiquette perspective.  Bite-sized pieces was the key takeaway, but we also learned that in between bites you should leave the spoon in the cup, not on the table or plate!

These were just the highlights of course.  We learned much much more (how to place your silverware to signal you are done, how to engage in conversation, etc) and I think everyone had a great tine!  (And yes, that pun was intended.)

Best Place in Town

I have always had a penchant for trying to find the best places to dine out.  For me, there is nothing like going to my favorite restaurant, bar, diner, cafe’ or sidewalk shack to get some amazingly delicious and succulent food.  I would almost consider dining out as a personal hobby of mine.  It’s really no big secret, I like food and food likes me.

This past week, after an early dismissal from class, a few of my fellow MLHR classmates and I decided to hit up one of those “best places” in town.  Now, I have only lived in Columbus for about a year and a half so I cannot say with much confidence that I know all the eatery “hot spots”.  But thank goodness I was introduced to this place – much kudos to fellow MLHR blogger, Shawn H.

So, what’s the name of this restaurant, you ask?  The name:  Tai’s Asian Bistro.  The game:  eating THE best Vietnamese/Thai food you have ever tasted in your life.

If you plan on dining at Tai’s, be prepared to bring your appetite with and leave with a doggy bag full of food.  The portions are more than enough for two people.  Whatever dish you choose to eat, it’s always served hot and fresh!  I must admit, I am a creature of habit and I usually stick to what I like (and won’t disappoint) so I haven’t tried any other dish than the fan favorite, ‘Tai’s Asian Chicken’.  It is a dish served with your choice of friend or steamed rice as well as deep-fried breaded chicken covered in a savory spicy sauce that’s accompanied by green peppers, onions, carrots and jalapenos (see picture at end of blog).  And if that doesn’t sound good enough, remember to show your BuckID at the counter and you will get a free soda!

All in all, if you are looking for an excuse to ditch your packed lunch or just need a break to catch up with some friends while enjoying some great food, Tai’s Asian Bistro is a great place to check out.  As you can see, MLHR 2012 students Shawn, David, Sultan and Sarah love it 🙂

Eating in the suburbs…

I am a big, HUGE proponent of furthering Columbus’ reputation as a foodie town.  So when I saw this article in the Washington Post about Columbus and our burgeoning (and I can’t think of a better word for it) AGGRESSIVE food scene, I was very impressed and proud of our big town/ little city.

And while I must thank the author of this article, Jane Black, for playing her part in expanding our reputation, I invite her to leave the epicenter of the city’s food scene (Arena District, Short North, German Village) and venture out into the suburbs for a bite to eat.

People are raving about the Clever Crow and its two locations downtown, the newest one in North Market.  And as much as I hate to go to Polaris and recommend people to go to Polaris, it has its benefits.

One being the Mellow Mushroom.  They have an astronomical number of beers on tap and have fantastic pizza combinations, most of which can be made vegetarian or vegan.  Try the pesto pizza with tofu.  Yum.

Polaris also has Cuisine of India, a well-priced restaurant that has a fantastic korma and a reasonably priced buffet that serves a la carte quality portions of their standard menu.

Speaking of Indian food, I have to recommend Indian Oven in the Market Exchange District, an emerging neighborhood that most would recognize as Olde Town East.  It’s on Main Street and within walking district of my townhouse.  They have an excellent wine selection, amazing dishes that cross the borders of Northern and Southern Indian cuisine and a to die for goat rezala.  Yeah, I said goat.  If you love lamb, goat is like lamb on steroids.  I go every year for my birthday and the Indian Oven neophytes that I expose the restaurant to love it and rave about it and pass the word on.  Please give it a try.

Moving further east into Asia, we have Restaurant Silla up in the Northwest Shopping Center off Henderson Road.  Go during the weekends at lunch time and enjoy their unbeatable lunch specials that include 7 or 8 classic Korean dishes at 5.99 and even decent sushi.  I prefer the soondooboo, a spicy tofu stew with seafood and the beef boolgogi, a slightly sweet, smoky and tender beef barbecue.

Korean food has yet to garner the following that Japanese food has as upscale Asian cuisine, but most Korean restaurants attempt to use the same price point.  For this reason, I stick to this special menu and avoid places like Min-Ga on Bethel that charge insane prices for just decent Korean fare.

Speaking of other overpriced Asian restaurants, some of you may experience Lee Garden at the Chinese New Year Celebration that will be thrown on 2/4/11.  Lee Garden, while fine, demonstrates an inability to properly price their dishes proportionately to their quality.  Opt instead for Sunflower at the corner of Sawmill and Hard Road and indulge in their weekend dim sum, which is served in the traditional Hong Kong style: in carts that circulate the restaurant.  It’s nearly as good as the dim sum I’ve had in DC.  Try the turnip cake and the savory roast beef buns and the egg tarts for dessert.  You won’t be sorry.

I’m thinking this will be a two-part at least blog, so I leave you with one more recommendation for now.  Try Coco’s Grill on 5th Avenue, off of Olentangy River Road.  It’s in the same plaza that has Jimmy John’s and the liquor store, next to Burger King, across from the Meridian apartments.  Sounds like it should be soul food, right?  Well, it’s not.

The family is Chinese and Korean and serve up extremely authentic and delicious dishes.  Try the salt and pepper pork and beef flat noodles.  Also try asking for the Chinese menu.  (Yes, a lot of restaurants will have a separate menu for their Asian clients that do not include dishes with crinkle cut carrots, celery or water chestnuts in brown sauce.)  There are some tasty treasures in there if you are willing to take the leap.

To be continued!