22 July 2008

RIgsby's Kitchen, 698 N. High Street, Columbus, OH

When I arrived in Ohio just a few short weeks ago to meet up with my father and sister for a weekend extravaganza, where the only goal was to spend our economic stimulus checks, I would be lying if I told you that I didn't know there would be good food on that trip. But would the food be just "good", or good? As you know I'm a bit of a biased NYC restaurant snob, and I happen to believe that I live in the best city in the world (what what), that has the best and most diverse food in the world. With this in mind, I figured that at best, the restaurant that my sister and I would end up treating my dad to would maybe rank 2.5 forks, or 3 at best.

Allow me to tell you about where my skepticism stems from - upon touching down into Columbus airport, collecting my luggage, and causing the airport traffic director to yell at my dad for the (as I was informed) fifth time that night, we headed to McDonald's for a quick snack (of a snack wrap). (And later that night, had zombie dreams as a result.) Granted, it was late, and everything closes in Ohio around 4pm (just kidding), but McDonald's? Really? At least a bit of redemption occurred when my dad brought out some of his delicious home made wine.

On Friday, we shopped, we ate, we drank....and on Saturday, lather, rinse repeat. Until Saturday night.

While my dad was shopping in a *cough*interesting*cough* store, my sister and I tore off through the rain, running down High Street in the Short North arts district of Columbus to a restaurant named Rigsby's Kitchen. We finally made it, albeit slight wrecks, and sat down to enjoy a quick drink before my dad came. My drink was incredible, my sister's not so much.

Soon after my dad arrived, the festivities began. My sister sprung for the cold cucumber dill soup with smoked salmon. To be honest, I really really wanted to try a bowl, but I was too chicken (salmon? haha wow that was terrible) to order my own, so we shared. I swear, I've never tasted a cold soup that lovely, creamy and smooth. The combination of cucumber and dill is timeless, but the salmon gave it an extra kick of saltiness - amazing.

My dad ordered a simple salmon carpaccio with cucumber and onion salad, my sister the sweet meadows pork cutlet seasoned in aceto manodori and red pepper mustard, with fingerling potatoes and string beans, and myself (off my dad's recommendation), pan seared scallops with a fennel and orange salad drizzled in chive oil.

Let's start off with my father's dish - very simple, very plain, yet each component of the dish showcased not only it's own flavor, but truly brought out the essence of and best part of each other part as well. My scallops were incredible as well - perfectly seared, with the light and sweet salad along side - scallops and oranges are incredible together!

But let's not lie, what really took the cake was my sister's pork chop. Please note that when she chose it, we didn't know what aceto manodori, or the pepper mustard was (turns out just balsamic vinegar and mustard), but, being true forkers, are always up for something exotic and new. The pork chop was AMAZING. The cut of meat itself was excellent, thick and juicy, and the flavoring, spices, and apple-y taste was nothing short of incredible. I won't lie to you - I might be drooling now just a little thinking about it. The sides were also perfect to pair with the complex flavors of the pork chop.

One thing I really enjoy is when chefs use truly unique or ridiculously high quality ingredients in their food, yielding an incredible dish of such simplicity, yet complexity. I try to class it up with some truffle oil every now and again when I cook, but it's just not the same. I feel that the same thing applies for drinks too - the weirder the ingredient you put in your drinks, the better it becomes. Who ever thought of combining Henderick's gin, cilantro, muddling cucumber and splashing some tonic? An alcoholic who wanted to be healthy and eat a salad, I suppose, but damn is it tasty.

In any event, although my dad might disagree, I made the wrong choice in not ordering the pork chop. But please don't be sad - this story has a much happier ending.

After we had finished, we figured we might as well peruse the dessert menu - and I found the dessert of my dreams. It's the kind of dish you know is going to be absolutely incredible before the first bite hits your mouth.

Allow me to introduce you to the butterscotch budino - a light, airy butterscotch pudding with crème fraîche & fleur de sel.

How could combining butterscotch, whipped cream, and sea salt that is mined in limited quantities from Brittany, France ever steer you wrong? How could it not be absolutely ridiculously incredible? How could it be so incredible that I just might dream about it every night?

Readers, I've grown up with Jello brand butterscotch pudding with some redi-whip out of the can my whole life, and let me tell you, I've had my mom SHIP me butterscotch pudding because I've been unable to find it in stores here. Mom, no knocks on you, but this far surpassed any of that. The combination of sweet and salt was to die for, especially with the slight crunch that the salt gave. My only regret is that we have no photo to show for it.

Because of this meal....I'll never look down on dessert again.

5 Forks.
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