Look out the windows folks. Porcine aviators in sight. I've been proven gloriously wrong about Columbus, GA restaurants. Even if it *is* a singular anomaly in our town, I don't care -- good food is good food no matter where it is.
Hubby and I went out to dinner Saturday night and I had the most outstanding meal I've ever had in Columbus (which isn't saying much since we have four hour waits for Olive Garden) but it was also one of the most best meals of recent memory for me (which is, since you read about my foodie obsessions in Vegas).
Allow me to bring to your attention Miriam's Tapas Bar. Say that real fast and you'll understand why Fay Simmons (the new owner who bought the entire operation from Miriam) now calls the restaurant Tapatinis at the Village. Apparently she had several people call, offended. They used to have T-shirts that defined the word "tapas" on the back and said, "TAPAS, not TOPLESS." That you'd need a t-shirt at all speaks volumes about the confusion. On the other hand, we do have a nice concentration of shirtless bars in town so I suppose it was a necessity.
The new chef, John Melton, is a graduate of Johnson and Wales, one of the top culinary schools in the country. Other graduates include Emeril Lagasse (feh) and Tyler Florence of the Food Network. Melton is from Auburn and did his externships throughout the south, mainly in South Carolina. His cooking, however, is world class.
Tapas are simply appetizer-sized dishes meant to share. It's a great way to try different things and Hubby has no choice but to share (normally I have to move quickly to avoid getting forked in the hand if I try to eat something off his plate. The serpentine weave and wave method of stealing food works well. However, his hand-eye coordination is getting better).
This is a sampling from memory of the 6 dishes we had Saturday night:
- Spring risotto with peas and carrots and roasted chicken
- Veal medaillions in Zinfandel sauce with leeks
- Squash blossoms stuffed with mushrooms in fried tempura batter with white truffle emulsion
- Horseradish encrusted tenderloin with roasted fingerling potatos
- Andouille encrusted sea bass with white bean salad and heirloom tomatos
- Grilled cornish hen on polenta pancake
We also got two desserts, the chocolate crème brulee (which was QUITE good) and the Neapolitan mousse (chocolate, vanilla and strawberry mousses in a cocktail glass) which was exceptional.
They also have one of the nicest wine selections I've come across in some time. They carry bottles I don’t normally see in restaurants much less in Columbus. Fay also pours by the glass -- even the fabulous bottles. Hubby and I love pinot noirs, particularly Oregonian ones. Fay had a bottle we'd never heard of called Archery Summit on the menu. We thought we'd try different pinot noirs, but when she came back and said how excited she was that someone had ordered a glass so she could taste now (she was going to open the bottle just to pour my ONE glass), we thought, man this is probably good. So Hubby decided to have a glass too. Right out of the bottle on the pour, the wine was so fabulous that we decided to buy the entire bottle. They also have a great martini selection. I may have to rethink my problems with vodka (this relates to the vomiting-every-time-I-saw-my-husband episode).
Without that bottle, we would have paid the exact same amount for dinner for two at Carrabas with appetizers and entrees. This was FAR superior and the environment was gorgeous. The bar is located upstairs (our first test, which we failed miserably since we tried to go in downstairs) and overlooks the first floor which gives the place an odd upscale treehouse sort of feel. Very stylish in a San Francisco / New York hip kind of place. Dark woods, high tables with dark wicker and rattan chairs (not good to sit Indian style because your feet can't touch anything as I did, unless you want waffle weave patterns on your ankles) and soft lighting. Perfect date night location. Or girls' night hang out.
Needless to say, I loved every moment of my experience. The ONLY thing I don't love is the fact that they're only open Fridays and Saturday nights (6 pm - 11pm).
But who cares? I now have a place to go on the weekends. Which means, that when the guys decide to go play poker, WE can go out and have martinis and tapas. Can't wait to share it with you all.
Tapatinis at the Village
1350 13th Street