Under the Table

A chronicle of gastronomic adventures by G.A. Benton

Apr 20

A couple days in the life of G.A. and wife

Bored last week, we found ourselves shopping for bargains at the amusingly downscale Marc’s, where smart consumers can score big on great deals.

In search of yet more econo-wise fun in the same strip mall, we decided our next diversion should include things that were swallow-able; cue to this meal-in-itself appetizer platter.

This assemblage of mostly fried stuff kicked off a breezy and take-it-easy evening of eating cheaply, having drinks, and casually catching some sports outside on an early spring night. We ordered the above starter at…

Banh Thai Bistro, which has gotta be one of the oddest eateries in the area. Wild looking  inside (even borderline psychedelic), it’s also got a wacky little patio where you can leisurely sip Singha beers while your baseball team does a stink-up job on convenient out-of-doors TVs. Oh yeah, and you can eat other decent Thai food out there, like the above larb, which tasted good even if the ground chicken meat was a bit overcooked.

Now cut to a scene Downtown.

"You keep your wife’s name out of this, Ashby!" is surely timeless and sage advice. However, since I’m not Ashby, it doesn’t pertain to me and this post. 

This is one of many classic New Yorker-style cartoons (BTW: I’ve been reading and loving that magazine since I was in junior high school) penned by James Thurber, whose name has been appropriated by the restaurant in which it hangs inside of the Great Southern Westin hotel (where a wealth of  other Thurber ‘toon prints are also viewable; note the grand old Great Southern was originally built in the late 19th century). Said restaurant—Thurber’s bar—was the subject of my review in this week’s Alive.

Thurber’s Bar has recently rolled out a new menu, and it’s definitely got some worthy stuff on it. For instance, calamari has obviously been done to death, but the above version stands out for its pleasantly salty crunchiness and for the sheer meatiness of its perfectly fried big, juicy and thick hunks of squid. It comes with a fairly sweet fig and cinnamon sauce it doesn’t need, and in fact was the kind of thing I’d occasionally re-dunk the sea-meat into just to revisit the weird sensation it created in my mouth. (Unless you’re easily amused by things that mildly put you off, like I am, I suggest you skip it and opt instead for a more appropriate squirt of lemon)

The spinach salad here also rose above the norm—we also dug the bitter brightness of the preserved lemon garnish it comes with. 

A couple days later on a Saturday afternoon, our salads came from the great Harvest Pizzeria. Both of these (arugula with housemade ricotta and a Greek-ish “chopped”) were top-notch, plus they’re steals at only $2, when ordered with a $7 (another steal) lunchtime pizza. And they go swimmingly with…

…Mason jars (still au courant, n’est pas?) filled with relaxing Saturday afternoon beers…

… which also hit the sweet spot with our Saturday afternoon pizzas.

This was a halftime refresher between visits to the Riffe Center’s smartly curated 100 Years of Columbus Art show and the terrific—and fairly comprehensive, and thus very rare—David Smith exhibit at the Wexner Center (whose intriguing premise was that the titanic Ohio-born abstract sculptor was more influenced by the social and geometric idealism of the Russian constructivists than he was by his AbEx contemporaries, as is often contended); both the “100 years” and David Smith shows have just concluded their runs (you missin’-out slackers).

OK, by now you must be ready for some canine cameos, right? Well then, you’re in luck.

What? Do you have something for us? You can see us, right? 

This was yet more Saturday afternoon art—a “drive-thru” performance that was part of a dog-sitting day my wife happily called the “Flo & O Show” aka “A Visit from Cousin Oliver.”

In lieu of applause, the wife and I generously handed out much-appreciated biscuits.