13 October 2011

Victor's Review: Zeitouni's Off the Fucking Hook! - Post 15

I think the title says it all!  For the past few years, I've seen either the opening or closing show for our incredibly talented and very own Columbus Symphony - this year, I decided to go full in and purchase a subscriber package for all the Masterworks shows at Ohio Theatre.  Based on the opening performance, I'm not going to be disappointed.

The house was packed!  Hands down, this was the most people I've seen for a Masterworks show since I've been going.

There were three pieces to this evening's show.  Conductor / Music Director Jean-Marie Zeitouni opened the season with the US National Anthem (orchestrated by none other than legendary composer Igor Stravinsky).  This was a great, slow, well arranged version that the audience seemed to enjoy.

The second piece of the evening was a composition from 2000 by the American composer Jennifer Higdon (NYC) called blue cathedral.  blue cathedral was a beautiful example of how unexpected modern compositions can be.  Bear in mind, I'm not a musician - so eloquent in my review, I may not be...  Soft chimes open the piece and chimes and bells have a prominent place throughout the composition.  It gradually builds with the second section being very reminiscent of most large and well known pieces from the early 1800s before growing quiet and evocative of a grand funeral.  When the "funeral" is over, the piece again grows upbeat, the chimes and bells return and there's a very light, ephemeral feel to the end of it.  Cheery.  Happy - as if the "funeral" is a beginning to something more.

Finally, the show stopper, the ultimate rocker, the peak of German grandiosity - Carmina BuranaCarl Orff's (Munich, Germany) epic 1935-36 cantata based on the 13th century collection of Latin, German & French poems and songs by the same title.  Bookended by the instantly recognizable "O Fortuna!" this... wow!  Maestro Zeitouni did something to this work (which I love and have listened to versions from the London Symphony Orchastra & U.C. Davis, as well as the ballet "Carmina Burana") that I've never heard before.  There was a complexity & depth to this dearly beloved classic work that I've not seen in any production of it previously. Zeitouni was incredibly expressive and passionately into the work, singing along to every syllable of the composition and showing the physicality of some of the better conductors I've seen.  I'd put him on par with Alondra de la Parra as far as looking physically exhausted upon completion of the evening.

Just, wow!  This is going to be an insanely epic season & I KNOW I'm not going to have any regrets about becoming a subscriber and supporting our CSO.

09 February 2011

Victor's Review: Sage American Bistro - Post 14

Tonight I had the opportunity to try out one of Clintonville's newest restaurants - Sage American Bistro. Reviews thus far have been positive, for example, Alive! named Sage as the Best New Restaurant of 2009.

Sage is located just south of Dodridge Street on the West side of High Street, immediately south of Hounddog's / Ravari Room, so it's easily accessible from Campus, the north side and, generally speaking, most of the city.

Let's dive right in: Chef William Glover frequently changes up his one page menu based on seasonal availability of ingredients which leads to a healthy variety of dishes. Unfortunately, the website is not always current on the offerings - for example, I was heavily disappointed that there was no butternut squash soup today as I had been looking forward to that dish since last week when I read the menu.

The restaurant has a full bar with a variety of signature cocktails and an array of microbrew / craft beers. I went with a Breckenridge Vanilla Porter, which was a nice hearty beer with a dark color and a bit of a chocolaty hint to it while my friend tried the Vesper Martini - a tasty beverage, as it was relayed to me.

I skipped out on the starter and jumped right to the entree - Amish Chicken. There was a fair amount of seafood options on the menu, sadly, I've never been a fan of seafood, so I found the menu to be limited to the chicken dish, a steak or linguine. The Amish Chicken ($23) was fairly pricey for the modest portion of one piece which was served with a single inch thick disc of baked potato and red cabbage casserole.

I thought the chicken had a lovely glaze and the jus floating around the bottom of the plate made for a simple, yet elegant, dipping sauce. The chicken, unlike the baked potato - which was still hard, was well cooked and not dried out. My friend, being German, was a huge fan of the red cabbage and ate virtually all of the crunchy topped casserole.

For desert, I tried the Apple / Date Fritters ($6). These were served as 5 fritters, each atop a dollop of whipped cream and finished off with a slice of candied ginger. A nice crunchy exterior, deep, golden brown color and a soft interior made for a delightful after dinner snack.

Additionally, I was able to sample some of the Sweet Potato Brulee ($6), which was not as light as a cremé brulee, but was a great winter time dessert. Toasted, melty marshmallows topped this concoction which had a nice pumpkin-esque flavor to it and seemed very fitting for this frigid time of year.

The restaurant itself was not very busy, though we did arrive at nearly 2000 on a Wednesday and well after the dinner rush. One could walk straight through from the back entry to High Street in a couple dozen paces and the room was only perhaps a third as wide, but the modest space was very well utilized and decorated.

Overall, while visually appealing with a friendly staff, I thought the quality was not up to the price level charged for it. Yes, the desserts were absolutely amazing and the chicken was tasty, but for the small portion sizes and the fact that the chicken was only "tasty" I'm going to have to give Sage one of my lowest ratings yet. I may try this one again when I know they have the butternut squash soup, just to try that, but until then, I would prefer to go to some of my more frequent haunts with lower prices and food that is at least as good.

Basic info:
Website - http://www.sageamericanbistro.com/
Location - Clintonville @ 2653 North High Street, Columbus 43202
Phone - 614.267.7243
Victor's Rating = 2.75 (0-5 scale)

18 January 2011

E's Review of Columbus Winter Beerfest 2011

Last May, 2010, Columbus, Ohio, had their first ever Beerfest, an event where breweries from all over come together so beer lovers can try out their wares. Despite a few kinks, the event was a sold-out success, and this city found out pretty quickly that we Columbusites love festivals and beer, and we especially love anything that combines the two things.

Fast forward eight months to January, and we’ve got the first ever Winter Beerfest. Apparently, the organizers felt it was such a success, that they plan on having it twice a year from now on. I attended both events, and, although I had a great time and discovered a couple of new breweries and some new beer from old favorites each time, I still feel like they need to work out some things.

This year, the event was held on two consecutive nights, Friday, January 14, and Saturday, January 15 from 7:30 to 11pm. I bought my tickets over a month ago, and opted for Saturday night VIP tickets, which, among other amenities, included being able to enter the event an hour earlier than regular ticket holders. VIP for both nights sold out well before the event, and eventually, regular ticket sales sold out as well. Here's a view of the room before the masses could enter:

One thing they fixed from last year was the table issue. It was nice to be able to get a tasting and find a stand-up or sit down table to chill out, mark down what you like and don’t like, and see what your friends liked and didn’t like. Despite having 4 and ½ hours and 30 tasting tickets, it’s really hard to get through everything you want to try. A lot of the microbrews were quite strong, some reaching 9% alcohol or more. If you used all your tickets, you would consume about 8 pints of mostly strong beer. So it’s best to bring friends who have good taste in beer. Still, it’s pretty much impossible to leave Beerfest without a good buzz going.

FYI, if you end up going to this event in the future, I suggest going to the official website and getting a printout of the breweries and their beers, and bring a writing utensil. Nothing like that is provided; all you get is a photocopied layout of where the breweries are located. I learned my lesson from the last one, and was glad I did. I had written documentation of what I wanted to hunt down and try again, which I didn’t have from last year.

Some highlights of my tasting (which favored Ohio Breweries, for some reason...)

Riverton Brewing Company - I tried the Hefeweizen, one of my favorite kinds of beers, and the flavor was amazing. I also was able to try the Hop Bomber and Oatmeal stout that my companions got, and have to say they were all amazing. They are from Cincinnati.

Brew Kettle - This brewery in Cleveland was recommended to us by a friend from the city up north, they did not disappoint! The two samples they had were Copperhead Red, a smooth ale, and Imperial 21, a hoppy IPA.

Barley’s Brewpub - There is a Barley’s near my house, and I’m no stranger to their microbrews, but I had the opportunity to try their Frambwah (a Belgium Lambic, Framboise, pretty much a fruity beer) which was better than expected, while my companion gave their Four C’s IPA a star and a smiley face on the beer list.

21st Amendment - Craft beer in a can? This brewery from San Francisco definitely does things a little differently. I first noticed their presence at Carabar (they have some pretty interesting can designs, too) and after trying their Watermelon Wheat at Beerfest, I am planning on trying some of their other brews next time I’m in Olde Towne.

We tried some pretty mediocre to bad beers too, and eventually it got so crowded, I gave up on trying to muscle my way to some other breweries I wanted to try, instead opting to retry some more accessible favorites. One thing that has been disappointing at both events is that, in most cases, the volunteer beer pourers aren’t given any information about what they’re handing out. We learned quickly not to bother asking anything about the beers or the breweries. There were one or two that provided good details about the beer choices on a (soon to be sticky and unreadable) handout, but that kind of thing was quite rare.

The oddest thing at Beerfest, though, would have to be the Miller Light stand amid all the real Microbrews. Thankfully, I never saw anyone “try” their beer.

Another highlight of the night was the live music. It broke up the night a little bit, in case anyone was in danger of getting bored at a beer tasting, and they chose local favorites to fill out the schedule: Friday had Two Cow Garage and Ghost Shirt playing, while Saturday included The Receiver and the break-out band from last year, The Phantods, to provide entertainment (sexiest band in Columbus, as my companion calls them...see for yourself!):

Hopefully the terrible acoustics of the convention center didn’t turn anyone off to these amazing bands.

All in all, this is a fun event that I would recommend to any beer lover in Columbus.

Basic Info:
Website - http://columbusbeerfest.org/
Location - Columbus Convention Center (Northern part, Near the corner of High and Goodale.)
Contact Info – Email: cj@columbusbeerfest.com .
E’s Rating - 3.5 (out of 5)

12 December 2010

Victor's Review: P.K. O'Ryan's - Post 12

Located in Ye Olde Worthington, PK O'Ryan's is an Irish restaurant / pub with quality food and a decent beer selection. For the purposes of this review, I will only be focusing on the pub, as I've never eaten in the other section.

The pub is most easily accessed from the parking lot behind the establishment. Due to it's location directly next to Scottie's Coffee Shop, the parking lot is often pretty full - but there is another lot adjacent to this one (just to the south) and there is a public parking lot behind the Grand Lodge of Ohio (Masonic Lodge just south of New England Street).

As is typical of an Irish pub, the bar is a nice dark wood as are the chairs and tables. The food is fairly standard bar food: appetizers, burgers, wraps and the like. Most selections are priced around $10 and the majority of beers are in the $5 ballpark. Additionally, they keep a pretty solid selection of Irish Whiskeys and Scotches behind the bar. Unfortunately, Scotch isn't really my thing, so I can't tell you much about the quality of the ones they have.

My personal favorites are the burgers: three of the best are the Hickory burger, Black & Bleu burger and the cheeseburger wrap. All burgers are served with PK's signature beer battered fries and a pickle spear.
  • Hickory: comes w/ BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion & cheese
  • Black & Bleu: blackened cajun style and blue cheese crumbles melted over it
  • Wrap: for the carb conscious, this is served burrito style in a large wrap instead of on a bun. I recommend ordering it with both American & Mozzarella and adding some A1 sauce to it!
One of my favorite parts of PKs is the constantly changing beer selection. Of course the good old standbys of Guiness, Harp & Newcastle as well as Strongbow Cider in a can. The tap selections change throughout the year based on what's available seasonally. Last night I ordered Thirsty Dog Brewing Co.'s (Akron, Ohio) 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale. At present, I'm going to say this is one of my favorite Christmas Seasonals. 12 Dogs had a lot of nice holiday seasonings to it - nutmeg, honey, cinnamon and the like - nice and smooth with a clean finish.

PKs has become one of my favorite haunts over the past couple years, though my number one gripe is how early they close, but this is likely due to the Worthington location. During the week, the kitchen closes at 10p (bar is open until midnight) and both (kitchen and bar) are open an hour later on Friday & Saturday (11p & 1a, respectively).

In all, the food is pretty quality, but a little pricey. The service is generally pretty good, but can be slow when they are busy, and most of the servers / bartenders will get to know you by name within a couple of times.

Basic info:
Website - http://www.pkoryans.com/
Location - Old Worthington @ 666 High Street, Worthington 43085
Phone - 614.781.0770
Victor's Rating = 3.5 (0-5 scale)

24 August 2010

Victor's Review: ZenCha Tea Salon - Post 11

A relaxing oasis in the Short North, ZenCha has a very simple charm with plenty of natural bamboo and other wooden furnishings to evoke a sense of serenity stereotypically conjured up at the thought of the Far East and its teas.

For those who are not tea aficionados (a category your humble guide falls into), the tea menu can appear quite daunting. Approximately 100 choices are listed on the 2 sided fold out tea menu, many similar to the one directly adjacent to the other, but each unique & subtly different. Fortunately, the items are grouped in a manner that allows the diner to chose a type that they're familiar with or to try something related to another choice they've previously enjoyed.

ZenCha touches on virtually all manners of tea that I can think of - iced, hot, Indian Chais, English, Arabic, milk teas, bubble teas, herbal "teas", seasonal fruit teas, and so on. Additionally, the Salon offers two menus - one for brunch and one for the remainder of the day.

The afternoon / evening menu consists of a satisfying array of food from soups & salads to Asian noodle dishes to English Tea snacks (scones, cookies, cakes & the like). As I did not go during brunch, I didn't inspect the menu that closely - but you can find the full menu here.

Since Chai is the tea that I am most fond of, I started with a pot of the Indian Vanilla Chai (~$5). This was a very welcome departure from the mass produced mixes most of the coffee shops use. Black tea and milk mixed with subtle vanilla & honey undertones produced a sweet & flavorful beverage that was not overly sugary - as many of the prepared mixes are.

Accompanying my Chai was a decent sized ginger scone (~$2), served with a whipped butter concoction such as one you'd use with a cinnamon roll. In all, it was a satisfying snack.

Following this combination, I decided to try another variety - after all, with ~100 to choose from, you may as well, right? For my second pot, I traveled to the Arabic section of the menu for the Cinnamon Orange variety. This was a black tea mixed with fresh ground cinnamon & a generous amount of orange peel. The cinnamon had a nice strong bite to it, evocative of the childhood candy Hot Tamales, but the orange was a subtle background note adding its citric sweetness. Unsullied with sugar & milk - this is the way flavored black teas should be enjoyed.

Basic info:
Website - http://zen-cha.com/
Location - Short North District @ 982 N. High Street, Columbus 43201
Phone - 614.421.2140
Victor's Rating = 4.0 (0-5 scale)

30 July 2010

Victor's Review: Jazz & Rib Fest - Post 10

First up - I just want to say the URL for the Jazz & Rib Fest is EPIC! http://www.hotribscooljazz.org/

According to the website, the festival traces its roots back to 1979 but it wasn't until 1990 when the separate jazz (Riverfront Jazz Festival) and rib (UpDowntowners' RibFest) festivals merged together into one event. Recently, Columbus Recreation & Parks took over the production of the festival in 2006.

For years I've been saying that I was going to go to this, but something has always come up. This year, I finally had the opportunity to go.

There were two separate stages for bands to play on, but the sound didn't travel too far into the rib smokers' area, so you had to stake out a piece of real estate closer to the stage if you wanted to hear the bands. A lot of people brought those little canopy tents to give themselves some shade. Needless to say, with the temp approaching 90F and fairly high humidity and full sun - this was a pretty good idea!

One of my biggest complaints was that most places considered their rib 'sampler' to be 3-4 rib bones. Four is 1/3 of a full rack, and for me, that's a meal in and of itself. Walking around, it was tough to choose whose ribs I should sample - all of the vendors had large vinyl signs stating how many 1st place awards, peoples choice awards, etc. they had, so looking for these to make a determination wasn't going to work. Another option was to look for the place w/ the longest line - but that would involve standing in that line.

I decided to go with the "distance traveled" method. I looked where every vendor was from and chose the one who traveled the furthest - they have to be pretty confident in their product to travel so far, right? With that methodology set, I tried a sampler from the Aussom Aussie Australian BBQ from Sydney, Australia.

The Aussie's pork ribs weren't smothered in sauce (a good thing) and I didn't add any - but they were dripping with the juices of the animal as you bite into them - proving that they were not over cooked and adequately moist (Rib 'Sampler' - 4 bones, $7). A nice crusty 'bark' had been grilled into one side of each rib that offered a solid, crunchy texture as well. I felt the ribs weren't quite as "falling-aparty" as I thought they should be - but they were still pretty epic.

Additionally, the Aussie offered a cornbread hunk as a side ($3 per piece) that had full kernels right off the cob cooked into it, adding a nice texture and helping to keep the bread from drying out in the cooking process.

Since this was late July and approaching 90F - drinks were a must. For the short time I was at the festival, I went through a number of the fresh shaken lemonades that were sold everywhere at the event. A small ($3) consisted of 1/2 a lemon freshly squeezed into an ice filled shaker, a scoop of sugar, and water to top it off shaken right when you ordered it. The large ($5) used an additional 1/2 of lemon and more of each other ingredient. They were not as tart or lemony as I anticipated and were just the thing to deal with the heat. Though I would have probably used an extra 1/2 lemon for each size.

Considering the lessons learned this year about the amount of choices, the size of the "samplers" and the heat - next time I plan on spreading my trip out over the full 3 days of the festival (admission is FREE) and trying to research the participants a little better. In all - I was satisfied that I made it down, but would like to spend more time listening to the music and sampling a larger variety of ribs.

Basic info:
Website - http://www.hotribscooljazz.org/
Location - Downtown / Arena District at NorthBank Park (Junction of Neil Av. & Spring St.)
Phone - 614.645.7995 (Columbus Recreation & Parks Office of Special Events)
Victor's Rating = 3.50 (0-5 scale)

01 July 2010

Victor's Review: Little Palace - Post 9

Little Palace is a newer establishment owned by the same individuals as Club 185 in German Village and located fairly close to it, though north of I-70 / I-71 in the downtown area. As I understand it, there was something there before and the owners liked the sign, so they kept the name. The menu is sparse and everything is a la carte - though my sampling was simply delightful.

Much like Club 185, the decor is dark and comfortable. Molded motifs around the ceiling, dark gray & comfortable benches, dark red paint & metal bar stools. The kitchen is at the end of the bar & has large, open pass-through windows - short order style. Located directly next to Dirty Frank's (of the Betty's Family of restaurants), Little Palace was far less crowded and had a very friendly staff.

The menu consisted if appetizers, pizzas, mini burgers and sides - all seemed to be pretty reasonably priced.

I chose the double burger ($3) without the pickles. The onions were of the grilled shoe-string variety and nicely caramelized. Each patty was around 3oz, so the double made for a satisfying serving size, though with the mini buns, it was a little too tall to eat comfortably. Nicely cooked medium with lots of clear juices running with every bite, the burger was stellar.

A side of fresh-cut fries ($2) was my choice of a side - though Brussels Sprouts were another offering on the side-dish menu. A nice, hot, fluffy interior was a welcome surprise when biting into the fries. Rounding the meal off was a simple Sprite - though the bar appeared to be well stocked.

For a total cost of $7.20 + a $2.80 tip ($10) this was a welcome change from some of my usual haunts & I'm pretty sure I'd like to check it out again.

Basic info:
Website - http://littlepalacerestaurant.com/
Location - Downtown - 240 S. Fourth St (North of I-70 / I-71 & German Village next to Dirty Frank's)
Phone - 614.460.8888
Victor's Rating = 3.75 (0-5 scale)

28 March 2010

Reviews from Victor's Winter-To-Do-List - Post 8

welcome back!

MetroParks Winter Hike Series: I failed out loud on this one. I did go to the hike @ Sharon Woods which was pretty solid. There was a fair amount of snow on the ground, which made the hike difficult, but it was very satisfying. The hike was a decent length (roughly 4mi) and moderately challenging. A few hills broke up the flat surfaces and the addition of the unpacked snow helped to increase the difficulty rating on the route.

The end of the hike found us rewarded with a white chicken chili. Nice spice content to it & the warmth from it helped immensely considering the cool weather. My only complaint was that they ran out of hot chocolate :-(

Carmina Burana: My date to the show described it as "80% tribal dance & 20% orgy". This piece was not as evocative of my opinions of 'classical ballet' as I had anticipated. The costumes & movements were designed to show off the strength, musculature, & athleticism of the dancers. Dance moves consisted of a lot of intricately choreographed movements & work on the ground and far less leaps & throws that I think of in relation to ballet. Unfortunately, the work was performed to a recording of Orff's classical work and not with a live corps of musicians. As I understand it, BalletMET had some funding issues this year - but is looking to see sufficient increases in their funding to hire on 2 more full time dancers & bring musicians (many from the CSO) in to perform live.

The other piece of this performance was entertaining & more in line with what I expected from a ballet. Overall, both pieces were enjoyable & I found myself baffled by the incredible display of athleticism and the stunningly muscular / athletic builds on the performers. As a huge fan of this work by Carl Orff, I hope he would've been proud of this very primal, athletic & intense performance to his most amazing piece.

Columbus Symphony - Violin Concerto: I've been to a few CSO performances already this year, but I'd like to write on this one in particular. First, the conductor was stunning. Ms. Alondra de la Parra (Alondra's Website) was absolutely amazing & legitimately looked exhausted following the Mahler Symphony. She was incredibly expressive & exuded a passion and intensity I've seen in very few conductors.

The guest violinist - James Ehnes - who won a Grammy in 2008, played sublimely in the Barber Violin Concerto & treated the audience to one of Paganini's Caprices - which was both stunning to watch and musically complex. In all, it was a beautiful show & the entirety of the CSO played delightfully.

28 December 2009

Victor's Winter To-Do List - post 7

As 2009 draws to a close, I've been searching for things to do in the 1st quarter of 2010.

These are in no particular order and I put relevant links where I could.

First up, the annual MetroParks Winter Hike Series. Taking place weekly from 02 Jan - 27 Feb (some weekends have 2 hikes, one Saturday and one Sunday), this annual series features 13 hikes, post hike refreshments, and a natural and interpretive history discussion by trained MetroPark naturalists and volunteers. Those who complete 7 of the 13 hikes will receive an embroidered patch. Start times are either 10:00a or 2:00p depending on location and lengths vary from 1mile to 7miles depending on the trail system at each park.
Next, is one particular Columbus Blue Jackets game - CBJ vs. The Buffalo Sabres, Saturday 06 Feb @ 7:00pm @ Nationwide Arena. Being from the greater Buffalo region, I maintain myself as a Sabres fan (as well as a Jackets fan).
CBJ homepage:
Switching gears to a bit of culture, BalletMet is putting on a production of Carmina Burana. Based on the 13th century collection of Latin poetry turned into the classic 1937 Opus by Carl Orff, this production will run from 05 - 13 Mar.
From the BalletMet website:
"The Cleveland Plain Dealer said of Carmina's world premiere, "Fiery ensemble dances develop into a violent orgy that ultimately resolves into a joyous celebration.""
BalletMet Link:
Finally on this abbreviated Winter preview - what would Columbus Reviews Et Cetera be without food? Leo and I have been contemplating a rekindling of our 'bromance' and have a long list of fine eateries in the Greater Columbus Metro Region that we'd like to sample. Of course, I can't divulge the full list, but one high on the list is the Cowtown staple Thurman's.

Stay tuned for some reviews and suggestions of events for this coming quarter.


30 July 2009

Victor's Review: BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse - Post 6

Sorry it's been a while, but life has been insane.

Generally, I will not review national chain restaurants, but to get things moving along again - I will do so here.

The first thing that struck me about BJ's was a feeling of similarity to Cheesecake Factory. I felt the environment was very similar, the menus had a similar design and layout, and the entryway and basic layout was reminiscent of visits to Cheesecake Factory.

I went on a Wednesday around 6:00pm and it was sufficiently busy, but there was no wait. There was an efficiency to the service that bordered on being rushed. Virtually as soon as we ordered appetizers or our meal from our waiter there was another server arriving with our food.

The food was satisfactory and reasonably priced for this type of restaurant. For two splitting an appetizer, each with an entree, splitting desert, and beverages (including two "tasters" of their house brews) came to approximately $45 + tip.

For an appetizer, we had the Santa Fe Spring Rolls made with chicken and a variety of vegetables. To complement this southwestern fare were two dipping sauces including an avocado cream and their Santa Fe dressing. The avocado was creamy and flavourful with green onion bits and red peppers in it. A light spicy after taste would best describe the Santa Fe dressing - both complemented the Spring Rolls wonderfully.

I chose the Knife & Fork Pot Roast sandwich. A respectable slice of bread served as the base which was piled with mashed potatoes, tender pot roasted beef, and a beef gravy. An array of cooked vegetables surrounded the sandwich, including carrots and onions. This sandwich was filling and as indicated, a respectable size.

For desert we split the Cookies 'n Cream Pizookie. A warm chocolate cookie in a round pan topped w/ 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream and an Oreo whipped cream topping proved to be a delightful way to end the meal. The cookie was definately the best part of this dish. The ice cream went well with the hot cookie, but I felt that the Oreo whipped cream topping was unmemorable.

For my two "tasters" - 5oz samples of BJ's House Brews - I tried the Wild Berry Cider and the PM Porter. The Cider was refreshing and enjoyable to drink, and if not there to sample, I would have ordered a pint. The variety of berries provided a comforting, refreshing complexity that was smooth and easy to drink. As for the PM Porter, this was a beautifully dark beer with a creamy head (hold in mind that I am NOT the beer drinker here, and rarely partake in the beverage). There was a delightful hint of chocolate and a more noticible taste of caramel. This beer was somewhat dry, but the first half of the glass was very enjoyable for me. I do not know if it was the fact that it had warmed up a bit or if it was because I tried to finish it following the chocolate desert, but I did not enjoy the remainder of it. I would be willing to try it again and drink it all before eating to see if this was the case.

Aside from a rushed feeling, the service was adequate and the atmosphere is what one would expect at a medium priced, casual, chain dining establishment.

Basic info:
Website - http://www.bjsrestaurants.com/index.html
Location - Polaris (1414 Polaris Pkwy. North side of SR 750, West of I-71)
Phone - 614.885.1800
Victor's Rating = 3.5 (0-5 scale)