Sunday, January 07, 2007

Columbus Calamari Showdown 2006

Throughout 2006 I visited some of the best recommended restaurants serving calamari in and around Columbus, OH. With the constant expansion of Columbus and it's importance as a retail shipping hub has also expanded Columbus as a restaurant test bed. Columbus boasts the home of Cameron Mitchell restuarants, Wendy's and White Castle burgers and our own Bocuse D'Or winner, Harmut Handke.

I chose calamari mainly because I can never get enough of this succulent little ocean dweller (though I'd also love to see more cuttlefish use as well), but also because it seems to be a ubiquitous appetizer on menus. With the wrong preparation calamari can become tough and chewy, but when done right it has a nice bite and a rich softness.

The main criteria in my ranking was the desire to have more. Would I immediately order another dish of this food after finishing off the first dish? Secondly is how it's prepared. I am disappointed in the number of identical Calamari Fritti offerings at many top restaurants. Sure, for most folks the ever familiar breaded and fried calamari is comforting. But that's not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for new preparations, ones with lots of forethough and experimentation.

So, here's the best of 2006:

  1. Cameron Mitchell's Ocean Club - Fried Judith Point Calamari

  2. Elevator Brewery - Fried Judith Point Calamari

  3. Q2 Bistro - Spicy Salted Calamari

  4. Cameron Mitchell's Cap City Fine Diner & Bar - Hot & Sour Calamari

  5. Ha Long Bay

Notable restaurants that did not make the top 5 are Smith & Wollensky (overly salty), McCormick & Schmick (ordinary), Brio Tuscan Grill (ordinary), Bucca Di Beppo (ordinary).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the list, JR! Need to try the Cap City variety soon...