Best of Columbus 2010

From the September 2010 edition

Around Town

1980s artifacts

One of most recognizable hats in rock-and-roll is on display at the Ohio Historical Society. An exhibit devoted to Devo (the new wave band from Akron) includes some items familiar to anyone who watched MTV in the early 1980s, including one of the group’s yellow jumpsuits and an “energy dome,” the iconic red headgear synonymous with the band.

View of the Oval

From the 11th-floor reading room in Ohio State’s renovated Thompson Library, folks can see the downtown skyline and the lights of Crew Stadium. But the most impressive sight is the Oval, which can be appreciated in all its leafy glory (without having to worry about getting hit by a Frisbee).

Downspouts

The Grange Insurance Audubon Center makes drainage cool. The eco-friendly prairie-style building on the Whittier Peninsula boasts attractive ridged downspouts that rainwater cascades down, creating a waterfall effect.

Impersonation of Star Wars lighting effects

The neon blue lights illuminating the underpasses on International Gateway leading to Port Columbus. Very cool at night.

Place to hear an artist dropping the f-bomb

During the successful Luc Tuymans retrospective at the Wexner Center, the Belgian artist participated in a Q-and-A at the Mershon Center in November. He treated the large crowd to imaginative, versatile and frequent uses of the f-word, seemingly employing it as a noun, verb, adjective, conjunction, adverb and in other ways most likely never heard before. A linguistic feat almost as impressive as his art.

Yo-yo spot

Jazz musician Jim Maneri, a longtime yo-yo enthusiast, found his favorite place to practice his hobby during a jog last summer. Wondering what was in the field next to the White Castle headquarters on Goodale Street, he discovered a highway overpass with six towering concrete walls and brightly covered graffiti, from obscene rants to gigantic complex shapes. “It’s a whole world of graffiti art you won’t believe until you see it,” he says. Plus, the overpass protects him from rain and wind, which makes it easier to work on intricate, looping yo-yo tricks.

Publicity gimmick

When the cooler with the heart inside arrived at Columbus Monthly’s office, we feared for a moment there had been a mix-up at the hospital, or perhaps it was an alternative payment for a subscription. Thankfully, the Valentine’s Day care package from Mount Carmel ended up being made of milk chocolate. “We thought, ‘What a fun way to promote the services at St. Ann’s,’ ” says Robyn Morton, Mount Carmel’s director of marketing. (The Westerville hospital recently announced its plan to unveil a new cardiovascular center within the next few years.) Additionally, the cooler contained an “I (picture of a real human heart) Mount Carmel St. Ann’s” T-shirt.

Mozart imitation

Gavin George makes other kids—and many adults—look like slackers. In April, about a month before his 7th birthday, the Granville-area piano prodigy played Mendelssohn’s “Venetian Gondola Song No. 2” before a packed audience at Carnegie Hall. One of the winners of an international competition for gifted children, Gavin also performed on CBS’s “The Early Show” during his whirlwind trip to New York City and so impressed host Harry Smith that the youngster played an impromptu second song as the show ended. “It was so great to be playing in front of all of these people,” says Gavin, who will perform with the Newark-Granville Symphony Orchestra on Oct. 31 in Denison University’s Swasey Chapel. But the trip wasn’t all music. His mother, Mary, mentions a stop at the legendary FAO Schwarz toy store in Manhattan and asks Gavin to tell a visitor what he got there. “Candy!” Gavin exclaims.

Anthropomorphic use of social media

“I’m awesome and gorgeous and smart,” says Brutus A. Brown Bear. “Who wouldn’t want my thoughts on life and everything?” Brutus, the cockier of the two brown bears at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, has been using his Twitter account handle, BrutusBBColsZoo, to keep his fans up to date on his life since last September. His followers read tweets about how he spends his day (mostly attempting to catch trout and rearranging his home), his favorite dance moves (the Vogue is a particular hit), his TV viewings (he likes “Glee”) and how he lovingly picks on his brother and roommate, Buckeye, who prefers communicating through Facebook. Brutus is flirtatious and a bit full of himself, but, he says, “I’m only being honest, after all.” Who knew bears could type?

Elvis impersonator

Before the outlandish costume competition at the Short North Business Association’s Highball Halloween Masquerade on High, there was a friendly event for four-legged participants, including one pooch getting his Elvis on.

(Rehearsed) flash mob

In May, 70 Ohio State students, who had been rehearsing for months, surprised bystanders when they broke into a dance routine in the Ohio Union. A video of the so-called flash mob—inspired by the TV show “Glee”—was posted on YouTube, and by early June it had received more than a million and a half views and was mentioned in blogs by the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post.

One person’s opinion

Jim McCormac, Ohio Division of Wildlife avian education specialist and co-author of Wild Ohio: The Best of Our Natural Heritage

Nature walk

Jim McCormac, one of the state’s leading naturalists, ventures to Dublin Kiwanis Riverway Park, 6245 Riverside Dr., when he wants a taste of wilderness close to Columbus. The park’s one-third-mile trail travels along one of the prettiest stretches of the Scioto River in Franklin County, boasting lots of wildlife, native flora and towering cottonwood and sycamore trees. “It’s a hidden jewel,” McCormac says.

Emerging international star

“I was like, ‘Is this for real?’ ” says BalletMet dancer Adrienne Benz. “Growing up, I read Dance Magazine. It’s part of you as a dancer.”

That was Benz’s reaction when she learned she had been named to the magazine’s international list of “25 to Watch in 2010.”

The annual roll call runs in the trade publication’s January issue and has become a who’s who in the dance world. The list is diverse in style and profession—classical ballet to hip-hop, performers to choreographers.

Benz says the anticipation was intense as she looked forward to the issue. It was worth the wait. She was one of only five allotted a full-page photo, and her mention started: “Combining superior athleticism with supple grace and elegance, the 5’2” Adrienne Benz is a picture of stylistic versatility.”

The 25-year-old has been with BalletMet for seven seasons; she came to Columbus right out of high school in New Jersey. Among myriad roles, she’s taken the stage as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Chosen One in Rite of Spring.

Although not a stranger to top industry recognition (she was a 2006 recipient of the prestigious Princess Grace Award for Dance), “I’ve always dreamed of making the list,” Benz says.

Audiences are consistently commenting on Benz’s performances, says BalletMet artistic director Gerard Charles, who was intrigued when he first saw her at an audition in New York. “From a crowded room full of dancers, standing almost shoulder to shoulder, she immediately caught my attention as a young dancer with great potential,” he says. “There appeared to be something unique about her.”

Benz attributes her success to a love of the game, so to speak. “I get sucked into it. I love being pushed,” she says. “I love my job.”

Sports

Highlight in a drab season

It was a rough year for Ted Ginn Jr. In his third season with the Miami Dolphins, the former Buckeye wide receiver saw his stats drop in just about every category except for dropped passes and was traded to the San Francisco 49ers for a fifth-round draft pick in April. But for one electrifying quarter, Ginn was the most exciting football player on the planet. During the third quarter of the Dolphins’ Nov. 1 game against the New York Jets, Ginn returned two kickoffs 100 yards for touchdowns, an NFL first.

High school football game

OK, maybe there were more important contests, even better played ones, but how can you resist falling for a shootout in which two City League teams combined for 145 points? Yes, 145 points—the highest total for an Ohio football game since the 1920s. On Oct. 16, West defeated Independence 74-71. West’s quarterback threw for seven touchdowns. An Independence running back rushed for 484 yards. Get this: Independence scored those 71 points even though it fumbled five times and threw two interceptions.

Memory buster

After Terrelle Pryor’s debacle during the Purdue loss, OSU coach Jim Tressel shut down the offense even more than usual, causing fans to grow restless and irritated—even doubting Pryor’s ability to play quarterback and Tressel’s acuity as an offensive leader. But after Pryor went 23 of 37 for 266 yards and two touchdowns in the 26-17 Rose Bowl win over Oregon, all doubts began to fade—that is, until Pryor’s first bad game in the 2010 season.

Kick, gridiron division

The one by Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount in the Rose Bowl. Late in the third quarter, with Ohio State leading 19-17, it appeared the Ducks were about to seize control of the game, driving to a go-ahead touchdown. Then on a second-and-2 at OSU’s 18 yard-line, Blount dropped a handoff and inadvertently kicked the ball, sending it amazingly enough into the end zone and then out of bounds. Ohio State was given possession and Oregon lost its momentum.

Leap

Only leading 19-17, OSU faced third-and-13 at its 45 during the fourth quarter of the Rose Bowl. Failure to get a first down would give Oregon a chance to take the lead. Terrelle Pryor’s pass sailed high, appearing to fall incomplete, but tight end Jake Ballard, rarely a passing target, jumped higher than expected, extended his arms and snagged the pass for a 24-yard gain. OSU scored a TD on the drive to effectively end the game.

Plug for Waffle House

Months before he decided to skip his senior year at OSU and head to the NBA, Evan Turner, when asked about making big bucks as a pro, said, “The only thing I’m really worried about in regards to money is just for my family. All I really like is just gym shoes and Waffle House. If I have a lot of gym shoes and I eat a lot at Waffle House, I’m perfectly fine.”

Quote

When Claude Noel took over as interim coach of the Blue Jackets after Ken Hitchcock got fired in early February, many reporters were struck by Noel’s quirky answers at press conferences. Asked about an upcoming opponent, the Vancouver Canucks, Noel responded: “We know a lot of things about [Vancouver]. One of the things that worried me before this was, should our team know that they played [Thursday] night or should we tell them? So I asked our team who we play tonight, and I was thankful that they knew. Then I said, ‘Do you know where they were?’ And somebody said, ‘Yes.’ And I said ‘OK, do you know the score? Put your hand up if you know the score,’ so then I chose not one of those people. And then [he] said, ‘I don’t know the score,’ and I said, ‘Can somebody help [him]?’ And somebody helped him. Vancouver? They have a good team.”

Misleading stat sheet

During a late May meeting of the MLS’s only two unbeaten teams at Crew Stadium, Columbus outshot Los Angeles 21-3, was called for only four fouls to L.A.’s 12, had 15 corner kick chances to the Galaxy’s zero and held its opponent to no shots for 67 straight minutes. Yet, the Crew lost 2-0. “That was probably the most dominant game we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Crew defender Andy Iro said.

Response to critics

Although Jared Sullinger was one of the top high school basketball prospects in the country, he was taking a lot of heat for his weight (260 pounds) and what many analysts were calling a lack of athleticism. The 6-foot-8 Northland High School graduate responded by scoring a game-high 22 points in the McDonald’s high school all-star game, where he was named co-MVP. Afterward, one ESPN analyst wrote about the OSU recruit, “The common thought is that you can’t teach athleticism. Well, you’d have a hard time teaching a big man the kind of skills Sullinger possess. . . . Sullinger can play.”

Spurt

The 14 straight points Evan Turner, in his third game back from a serious back injury, scored late in the second half to lead OSU to a comeback 70-66 win on the road against No. 6 Purdue. If the Buckeyes had lost, they would have fallen to 1-4 in league play. Instead, the victory propelled OSU to win 16 of its next 18 games to capture the Big Ten title and the conference tournament championship.

Soccer statement, high school division

Teams from Franklin County won all three division state championships in November (over, as it turns out, Cleveland-area opponents). Gahanna defeated Cleveland St. Ignatius (ranked No. 1 in the nation) 1-0 in Division I, DeSales beat Bay Village

1-0 in Division II and Worthington Christian triumphed over Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy 2-1 in Division III.

Kick, swimming pool division

The one belonging to Watterson High School swimming star Gracie Finnegan. She graduated this spring with eight state titles in her career, including four at her last championship event: in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle and as the anchor in two relays.

Fluke goal

Blue Jackets defenseman Milan Jurcina scored his only goal for the team completely by accident during an early February game against the visiting Buffalo Sabres. Jurcina, who was acquired and later returned to the Washington Capitals, dumped the puck into the corner of the Sabres’ zone and skated off to the bench. The puck bounced awkwardly off the boards right into the skate of goalie Patrick Lalime and into the net.

Moment

It’s hard to beat the Hollywood ending of Ohio State’s football win over Iowa at Ohio Stadium. A win by OSU would clinch the Big Ten title and a trip to the Rose Bowl. The score was tied at 24 in overtime after the Buckeyes lost a late lead against Iowa, also playing for a shot at the championship. OSU could win with a 39-yard field goal, but the regular kicker was out with an injury. The only hope was backup Devin Barclay, a 26-year-old walk-on and former Columbus Crew player. Yet, he drilled it perfectly through the uprights to become the hero of the day.

One person’s opinion

Mindy Drayer, Channel 4 morning weekend anchor

Coach

The Ohio State grad and devoted Buckeye fan has never let journalistic objectivity keep her from openly rooting for OSU on the air (or even bad-mouthing that school from up north). Still, when asked to name her favorite coach in town, Drayer didn’t pick Jim Tressel (though he was a close second). Her choice was Randy Kortokrax, the varsity boys’ basketball coach at Bishop Hartley High School. Kortokrax also happens to be Drayer’s husband.

Goods & Services

Bike ride for foodies

The Market to Market bike tour, launched in 2009, combines culinary delights with vigorous exercise. Connecting two of Central Ohio’s favorite gourmet destinations—the Hills Market near Worthington and the North Market in the Arena District—the 13-mile cycling event (in May and October) along the Olentangy bike trail offers breakfasts at both locations and ends with free treats from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.

District for brides

The Short North is garnering a new status in addition to being the art heart of Columbus—the go-to spot for planning nuptials. Nine boutiques on the High Street strip have married forces to create the biannual Short North Wedding Walk. It’s similar to the district’s Gallery Hop, where visitors walk from store to store perusing the goods, but this afternoon promenade swaps hipsters for fiancées. Brides can find vendors for the majority of their needs in one Wedding Walk: On Paper for invitations, Bliss for consulting, Big Rock Little Rooster for dresses, Bakery Gingham for confections, C Studios for photos, Collier West for gifts, Marcella’s for dinner, Max the Salon for hair and makeup and Rose Bredl for flowers. Next stop, the chapel.

Gym for carb lovers

Forget Jacuzzis, personal trainers, massages and other amenities. Planet Fitness, 3614 Indianola Ave., offers the best food perk in the Central Ohio fitness business—monthly pizza parties. The little Clintonville health club gives away bagels one morning every month, too.

Helping hand

The LEGO Store at Easton offers kids ages 6 to 12 the opportunity to put together their own miniature model at no cost. Store employees guide the youngsters through the process of assembling the blocks and allow one model per child. Store manager Aaron Duty says June’s model was a small barbecue grill.

Indie dance party

At about 11:30 pm on the second Saturday of every month, a swarm descends on the Ravari Room, 2661 N. High St. The north-campus hard rock bar hosts Clampdown, a dance party that shuns the Top 40 beats and features a playlist of everything from Elvis to the Strokes to MGMT. The event started six years ago, and since then Clampdown has been embraced not just by the indie kids—partiers span the social circle spectrum from grunge to Goth. The name pays homage to a Clash song from its epic London Calling, an album frequently referenced at the event. A party like this could be a cesspool for musical elitism, but sound snobs need not apply. The only rule is that if you’re not sweating, you’re not having a good time.

Restaurant deal for the socially conscious set

Tanisha Robinson started Fudha earlier this year to help friends in the restaurant industry. At fudha.com, you have access to two discounts at locally owned restaurants every week. (A recent deal includes paying $10 to get a $20 certificate at the Burgundy Room.) Meanwhile, for every Fudha purchase, $1 is donated to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. As of mid June, more than $3,750 had been raised for the nonprofit. “This is a good deal and it helps families in the community who need it most,” she says.

Two-wheeled perk

Everyonebikes.org, a free bike-sharing program launched by several Short North businesses last year, gives folks a convenient way to get around the popular neighborhood without burning fossil fuels. People can borrow a bike at participating businesses—including Tigertree, Undone, Vino 100, Sandbox and Milk Bar—and use it for up to four hours as long as they leave a credit card number and driver’s license. The program isn’t a money maker, but Josh Quinn, the owner of Tigertree, says the approach—which is expanding into German Village and downtown this summer—helps make dense parking-challenged neighborhoods more navigable for residents and visiting shoppers.

Place for some ’za and a show

Late Night Slice, 1030 N. High St., is little more than a small hut in a tucked-away parking lot in the Short North, and the joint sells roughly a half dozen varieties of pizza for $3 a slice and specialty items—such as the pizza dog—for $4. But that’s not what makes the place unique. A projector displays films and TV shows onto the wall of a neighboring storage building. Recently, the series finale of ABC’s hit “Lost” was played. “Come on out and hang out and watch whatever is on,” says owner Mike Sorboro.

Miniature golf course

In March, the Couchfire Collective and myriad other grassroots art groups set up a miniature golf course at the Event Place in the Gateway Film Center. Each art team designed one of the 18 holes, ditching the standard windmills and booby traps of Putt-Putt. There was a pirate ship, “The Price is Right” prize wheel, comic book references, a mini model of the Columbus College of Art & Design campus and more. The one-weekend event’s name? A-Holes.

Animal-friendly haircut

Virtue Salon, 3333 N. High St., is a salon with a mission. Owner Melanie Long says the shop, which opened in early February, uses botanically based products, most of which are rain-forest certified, meaning they are made from sustainable ingredients. No products are tested on animals, either, and the salon is a big supporter of Matter of Trust, a nonprofit that makes hair mats used to clean oil spills, a practice that has taken on special meaning in light of the recent Gulf of Mexico disaster. “I have people come in just to donate for the Gulf spill,” she says.

Photo op for Buckeye fans

If you love the scarlet and gray, it’s pretty much impossible to resist posing with the Brutus Buckeye statue inside the new Ohio Union. The bronze Brutus, made by OSU alumnus Renate Burgyan Fackler, has a permanent seat on a bench in the first floor Great Hall. He sits with his legs crossed, one hand giving a No. 1 and an arm stretched across the top of the bench, just begging for someone to snuggle up next to him.

Place to buy a table made out of a traffic sign

ReFINDesign Workshop, 1122 N. High St., specializes in “upcycling.” Since opening in May, the small Short North art gallery/store has offered a slew of repurposed products—bags, tables, chairs, clothing, light fixtures, clocks, to name a few—made out of a shopping cart, a traffic sign, beer bottles and metal tubing, among other things. Carlos Arango, ReFINDesign’s creative director, says the goal is to breathe life back into other people’s trash and show Central Ohio that with a little care and creativity, discarded or broken items can be saved from the landfill. “The only thing that limits us is our imagination or lack thereof,” he says.

Kids' Stuff

Teen hangout

With mall and movie theater security personnel discouraging teens from congregating in one spot, middle- and high-schoolers don’t have many places to hang out unless it’s a private residence. That’s where Club Seven, 1155 Old Henderson Rd., steps in. The nightclub for teens (adults aren’t permitted inside, except for employees) offers a venue for 8th through 12th graders to party like it’s, well, 2010. Student IDs are required and so is adherence to a dress code. Off-duty Columbus police officers monitor behavior inside and outside the club.

Place to find your inner princess

The Glass Slipper aims to make your little girl’s dreams come true through themed birthday or tea parties for ages 4 and up. Activities include playing dress up with fancy gowns, boas, crowns, gloves, jewelry and crafts, such as a make-your-own tiara. In a 100-year-old house in Powell’s downtown business district, the Glass Slipper also hosts “spa” days (for 7- to 12-year-olds), which include donning a robe in preparation for an afternoon of pampering.

Camp for aspiring Donald Trumps

In July, the city of Dublin will offer the Dublin Apprentice Teen Entrepreneur Camp, a three-week program that focuses on marketing, sales, networking, capital, franchising and other business topics. Like the reality show “The Apprentice,” two teams will compete in challenges, though no one will get booted from the camp if they do poorly. Scott Hanks, Dublin’s recreation supervisor, says participants (ages 11 to 15) will create mini-Tim Hortons franchises in city buildings and conduct market research for Barbasol, in addition to developing business plans that experienced entrepreneurs will critique. It’s a serious, weighty program—and kids will have to forgo flip-flops and shorts for proper business attire. But not always. “There will be a day when we have them dress down, too; Barbasol wants them to do a big shaving cream fight,” Hanks says.

Schoolyard trend

Rubber bands in a variety of bright colors and shaped like penguins, guitars, tulips, baseballs, seahorses and unicorns are sweeping the nation’s—and Central Ohio’s—elementary school playgrounds. Silly Bandz, or any of a host of imitators, were the must-have accessory of the end-of-school season. Girls and boys wear the squiggly looking shapes on their wrists like bracelets, taking them off to trade and revealing their original incarnation. So hot is the trend that local Hallmark stores field phone calls and provide waiting lists to send e-blasts when a new shipment comes in. A clerk at Walgreens, which offers a knockoff version, said, “It’s big trouble when we run out.”

Place to get into the game

Like the popular Dance Dance Revolution and Wii gaming system, Exergames aims to combine exercise with video games. Part of Circuit Wellness, 6754 Cleveland Ave., Exergames gives kids the sensory experiences they like, while throwing in a little movement to keep them in shape. For instance, “Exerbikes” have kids riding exercise bikes, while playing video games on a Playstation system—the faster they pedal, the more they move their car, boat or motorcycle on the screen.

Kiddie rock band

Other musicians around Columbus specialize in children’s music, but no one takes it quite as seriously as the Shazzbots. With their matching jumpsuits, energetic live shows and space-age back story (a rocket-powered Winnebago is involved), the group is perfect for the preschool set. Ian Hummel, a veteran of the Columbus music scene, launched the group about a year ago. Since then, the Shazzbots have put out a CD of original music (songs include “Bugs, Bugs, Bugs,” “Tugboat Parade” and “My Cat’s Name is Peanut Butter”) and played gigs such as Red, White & Boom!, the Nelsonville Music Festival and ComFest (not to mention schools and birthday parties).

Readers' Choice

SHOPPING/SERVICES

Shopping complex: Easton Town Center.

Bike shop: Roll:, in a close vote over Trek.

Garden Center: Oakland Nurseries over Strader’s.

Bookstore: Barnes & Noble.

Store at Easton: Nordstrom topples Apple and Anthropologie.

Store at Polaris: Von Maur over the Great Indoors, Saks and Macy’s.

Store in the Short North: Jeni’s edges Collier West and Tigertree.

Place to buy Ohio State gear: In a landslide . . . Buckeye Corner.

Spa: Charles Penzone.

Consignment shop: Rag-O-Rama over One More Time.

Pet store: PetSmart.

Grocery store: Kroger is the champ, over Whole Foods and Giant Eagle.

Department store: Macy’s bests Nordstrom.

Jewelry store: By a wide margin, Diamond Cellar.

Furniture store: Value City Furniture wins.

Auto dealer: Germain over Byers.

Carpet store: Rite Rug easily.

Cable company: Time Warner Cable over WOW!.

Smoke shop: Tinder Box burns up the category.

PEOPLE

Columbus City Council member: Andy Ginther edges Charleta Tavares.

Franklin County commissioner: Paula Brooks barely over John O’Grady.

OSU male athlete: Basketball trumps football, with Evan Turner topping Terrelle Pryor.

OSU female athlete: Jantel Lavender over her b-ball teammate, Sammy Prahalis.

Former OSU athlete: Archie over Eddie again.

Crew player: Guillermo Barros Schelotto races past Duncan Oughton.

Blue Jackets player: Rick Nash.

Coach: OSU football’s Jim Tressel.

Evening TV anchor (male): Channel 4’s Cabot Rea over Channel 10’s Jerry Revish.

Evening TV anchor (female): One more time . . . Channel 10’s Andrea Cambern.

Morning TV anchor (male): Chuck Strickler of Channel 10 eases past Mike Jackson of Channel 4.

Sportscaster: Dom Tiberi of Channel 10 in a rout.

Weatherperson: For the kazillionth year in a row . . . Jym Ganahl of Channel 4.

DINING

Romantic restaurant: Refectory over Barcelona and Lindey’s.

Outdoor dining: Barcelona over Lindey’s.

Breakfast: First Watch wins for the seventh year in a row.

Fast casual: Chipotle over Northstar Café.

Cheap lunch: Chipotle edges Subway.

Bakery: Resch’s nips Mozart’s and Pistacia Vera.

Brunch: Northstar Café over Worthington Inn and First Watch.

Steakhouse: Hyde Park comfortably finishes ahead of Mitchell’s and the Top.

Kids’ menu: Bob Evans by a wide margin.

Chinese: China Dynasty slides by P.F. Chang’s.

Sushi: Haiku, although newcomer Sushi Rock turns in an impressive showing.

Mexican: El Vaquero once again.

Seafood: No surprise, Columbus Fish Market.

Vegetarian: Northstar Café easily defeats Dragonfly Neo-V Cuisine.

Italian: In a category with several top contenders, Basi Italia topples defending champ Moretti’s.

Tapas: No small win for the Burgundy Room.

French: The Refectory repeats, over La Chatelaine.

Greek: Happy Greek.

Middle Eastern: Aladdin’s over Lávash.

Indian: Indian Oven.

Diner: Cap City Diner.

Pizza: Massey’s is the big winner.

Hamburger: The Thurman Cafe takes a big bite out of Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Max & Erma’s.

Wings: A new champ, Rooster’s, knocks off perennial winner Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar.

MEDIA

Local news website: NBC4i.com for the third straight year.

Morning TV newscast: WCMH is a favorite of the breakfast crowd.

Evening TV newscast: WBNS-10TV claims the nightshift.

Talk radio station: 610 WTVN.

Music radio station: Guess who? CD101 wins for the 16th straight time.

Public radio station: WOSU-FM takes the high-brow crowd.

Morning radio show: WNCI’s Morning Zoo is the clear favorite.

Local blog: Columbus Underground wins.

ENTERTAINMENT

Movie theater: Arena Grand over Lennox and AMC Easton.

Performing arts organization: CAPA breezes past Shadowbox and BalletMet.

Wine bar: Burgundy Room takes the title back from House Wine.

Brew pub: Barley’s wins easily.

Concert venue: Lifestyle Communities Pavilion is a big winner.

Festival: ComFest romps over the Dublin Irish Festival and the Columbus Arts Festival.

Parade: Doo Dah over Columbus Pride.

Cover band: Reaganomics has the most fans.

Bar to hear music: Skully’s is the favorite.

Place to dance: A two-fer for Skully’s.

Jazz musician: Pianist Bobby Floyd.

Martini menu: Readers toasted Martini Park before it closed in early June. The runner-up is Hyde Park.

Bowling alley: Columbus Square Bowling Palace rolls by Sawmill Lanes.

Coffee shop: Cup O’ Joe edges Stauf’s and perennial champ Starbucks.

Arena District bar: Frog Bear & Wild Boar repeats.

Short North bar: Short North Tavern barely defeats Surly Girl Saloon.

MISCELLANEOUS

Columbus neighborhood: Clintonville gets slightly more love than the Short North/Victorian Village.

Suburb: Dublin by a few blades of manicured grass over Worthington.

Corporation: Nationwide dominates.

North Market vendor: Jeni’s by more than two scoops.

Place to take out-of-towners: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium by a width of a polar bear hair over defending champ Easton Town Center.

Metro Park: Highbanks by a long walk.

Gallery: Arts patrons prefer Hawk Galleries.

Public artwork: Malcolm Cochran’s “Field of Corn” in Dublin one more time.

Building: The LeVeque Tower soars above the competition.

Body of water: Hoover Reservoir splashes over the field.

Historic attraction: History buffs go for the Ohio Statehouse.

Holiday attraction: Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo is the seasonal choice.

Place for a picnic: Lay your blanket down at Goodale Park.

Condo development: Tie between Miranova and the Condominiums at North Bank Park.

Hospital: Riverside rocks the healthcare crowd.

Radio personality

WNCI’s Jimmy Jam over his Zoo-mate, Dave Kaelin.

Morning TV anchor (female)

Channel 10’s Anietra Hamper edges Mindy Drayer of Channel 4.

Ice cream

In a classic match of David vs. Goliath, the little guy (or woman, in this case) wins: Jeni’s ousts Graeter’s.

Charity event

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is the fave.

WINNERS

Thanks to all the readers who cast votes for their favorites. As promised, a few of you were rewarded for your efforts. We randomly chose three participants to receive a $100 gift certificate to any one of the restaurants voted “Best” in the readers’ poll. The winners are Sara Hart, Ron Hayes and Jill Peck.

Food & Dining

Decadent delight

Who doesn’t love bacon? Who doesn’t love sugar? Imagine the two together. That would be heaven or, if not, close enough. Well, nirvana can be found at Scioto Country Club, which offers caramelized bacon as an hors d’oeuvre. The bacon is baked on cookie sheets and topped with mustard and brown sugar. Forget the world-class golf course, no wonder the fees are so high to join the private club in Upper Arlington.

Use of figs

The crisp, pancetta-wrapped figs as part of the antipasto at Martini Modern Italian. A memorable and unusual addition to a common dish.

Combination of lobster and risotto

We love the delicious lobster and risotto appetizer served at C. William’s Bistro. The risotto is cooked just right and the peas, Parmesan, prosciutto and lobster blend together perfectly.

Fusion, sandwich division

Skillet serves the darndest thing: a braised beef short rib and smoked Gouda sandwich with fried sweet peppers and, if you want it, some apple-horseradish sour cream. It tastes darn wonderful.

Real Caesar salad

The one made at Rigsby’s Kitchen. Maybe it’s because no place else makes a real Caesar anymore. The key distinction is that Rigsby’s uses partially cooked egg in the dressing, which makes all the difference. (And it should be stated that a notice on the menu warns you about the condition of the egg.)

Use of clothing

Well, not actually in the preparation of a dish, of course. But the Plantain Café serves a sandwich with ropa vieja beef enhanced with garlic, onion and peppers. Ropa vieja means “old clothes” in Spanish, and in this case refers to meat so shredded it resembles rags. That’s interesting, but what matters most is the dish tastes delightful.

Subversive social media comment

The Taste of Belgium sent out this message on Twitter the day before Easter: “It’s not a joke. Our special crepe today @northmarket is BBQ Bunny! Free range rabbit, tangy BBQ sauce, fresh arugula.”

Restaurant row

There are many contenders in town, from hot spots in Grandview to Easton, but it’s hard to beat the 600 block of High Street in the Short North for quantity, diversity and high quality. You’ve got your choice of Marcella’s (Italian), Burgundy Room (tapas/wine bar), Lemongrass (Thai), Rigsby’s (five-star contemporary), Bernard’s Tavern (casual American), Happy Greek, the Short North Tavern (bar food) and Betty’s (eclectic)—not including Tasi (upscale breakfast/lunch) just a few steps to the east of High Street.

Cheap lunch at a sushi joint

Yes, we realize Moshi Sushi Bar won our taste test for Best California roll, but that won’t stop us from also raving about its lunch deal for less than $10—a bento box with all kinds of tasty stuff, from a Korean stir fry to shrimp and vegetable tempura, plus a soup or salad and a nice piece of chocolate.

Presentation of guacamole

The version served at Cantina Laredo is prepared tableside, allowing you to help the server custom-concoct your dish from a mixture of salt, pepper, spices, diced jalapeños, onions, tomatoes and minced cilantro. And the stuff tastes great, too.

TASTE TEST

Chocolate torte

Several Columbus Monthly staffers gathered for a good cause: to find the best-tasting chocolate torte in town. The competition was tough, but Bravo! Cucina Italiana won with its torta di cioccolata. (It even sounds good.) While Bravo’s was the best, the most interesting comments from tasters were inspired by the worst of the bunch. One taster thought a particular torte tasted like “my grandma’s birthday cake.” But Bravo!’s version of the dessert—fudge in the middle with a wafer and vanilla bean gelato—moved one highly impressed reviewer to remark: “I don’t even know how to express this in words.”

TASTE TEST

California roll

While taste testers enjoyed an assortment of California rolls, those in the Columbus Monthly office not taken with the Japanese cuisine weren’t exactly enamored with their presence. Their loss. Each contender made a strong bid (a good sign about the quality of the town’s sushi shops), but Bexley’s Moshi Sushi Bar won by a strong margin. This roll impressed tasters in many ways, including its appearance (coated with a bright orange fish roe). “It definitely wins the beauty prize,” said one taster.

Pad Thai

I am in love with pad Thai. The stir-fried dish is made with rice noodles, egg, bean sprouts, plenty of veggies and spices and typically a choice among chicken, shrimp or tofu. But to me the key ingredient that brings it all together is the simple peanut. Too much can be overpowering. Too little and you might as well be eating linguine. I set out to put the versions at five Thai restaurants to the test. (I ordered it with chicken to be consistent.)

Thai Taste, 1178 Kenny Centre Mall, is wholly responsible for my obsession with this dish. The pad Thai here is the bar I hold all others up to. But on this recent visit, it somewhat lacked its consistently peanuty taste. I have little doubt that if I were to go back today, it would be just as good as I remember. $11.95

The pad Thai at Chi Thai, 5577 N. Hamilton Rd., came with chicken and shrimp. However, the noodles lacked any spice; rather, they were richly flavored with a nice tangy sauce. $11.95

The version at Tyfoon, 106 Vine St., was just OK. The menu says the dish is served in a “special” coconut sauce, though I didn’t detect the tropical fruit. The chicken was dry and tasted as if it had been grilled instead of stir-fried. $16

The noodles in the pad Thai at Lemongrass, 641 N. High St., were delightfully gooey and, in addition to the crunchy sprouts, plenty of crackling snow peas helped give the dish a wonderfully balanced texture. $12

The delicious noodles at Nida’s Thai on High, 976 N. High St., were incredibly soft, and the abundance of crunchy bean sprouts offset that buttery consistency. The plentiful chunks of chicken were moist and well-spiced, and the peanuts acted as a flavorful fire extinguisher for the red pepper flakes sprinkled about this sumptuous dish. $10

It’s telling that my least favorite of these versions also happened to be the priciest. It’s also interesting that my favorite happened to be the cheapest. My choice for the top variation of pad Thai goes to Nida’s. Lemongrass finished second only by the width of a rice noodle.

—Ben Zenitsky

One person’s opinion

Sandy Theis, political consultant

Business lunch

The former Plain Dealer reporter frequently meets with clients at Surly Girl Saloon, 1126 N. High St. She praises the diverse and interesting food—especially the spicy Salad from Hell—and likes the location that’s a bit removed from the downtown political scene. “If you go to a place downtown and you’ve been around awhile, you are going to run into a bunch of people you know,” she says. “This is a nice place to get food and not get distracted.” Plus, the name is a perfect fit for the feisty Theis. “People don’t mind if me or my guests get surly.”