Dragonfly Neo-V Cuisine is one of the most interesting restaurants in Columbus, and also strictly vegetarian. Chef Magdiale Wolmark has been creating food so imaginative, fresh, elegant and just plain good that even the most die-hard carnivores will be happy.

Alas, Wolmark is not always in attendance. At least that would explain why, on recent visits, the food was a notch below Dragonfly's usual high standards. But still very good.

The menu, which takes advantage of what's in season, is not huge. I'll give actual names, but there's a chance you won't figure out what the dish will be like from the description.

"Hon shemeji calamari style tomato olive stew" presented an unfamiliar but tasty mushroom, which was fried as if it were calamari; it was crisp and indeed vaguely reminiscent of seafood. But I couldn't detect any olives in the stew.

"Baby lettuces beet gastrique" featured good greens, and the rich and sweet gastrique was quite wonderful. Another night, the kitchen substituted soggy, lukewarm blinis for the beets. Once it was ramps on the blinis, and the blinis were great and the ramps memorable.

"Ravioli nachos poached pear salsa" offered a couple of tasty, mystery filled and slightly overcooked raviolis, which were dressed like nachos with apple, guacamole, micro greens and the OK salsa.

For a main course, there was "Pistachio portabella new v mac n'cheese." A tender, good-sized mushroom cap was fried crispy brown on a bed of quinoa instead of mac and cheese, with a small heap of greens on top. Come to think of it, all the main courses had a heap of greens on top. There also was "grilled tofu polenta, onion confit, daikon." The creamy polenta resembled mashed potatoes, with a smear of onion confit and allegedly daikon, which I couldn't taste.

The third main dish on the menu was "hand cut linguini v 'meatballs.' " The linguini was overcooked, but prettily interspersed with colorful veggie fragments: dried tomato, greens, diced cucumbers. I had no clue what was in the "meatballs," perhaps some kind of nutty-grainy substitute cloaked in tomato sauce.

Dragonfly also offered a nightly pizza, and it was often quite gorgeous; you'll recognize it as pizza at least, but some of the toppings were unfamiliar. Like the gray stuff that turned out to be pecan butter. And tempeh. I could at least identify eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms and red peppers. The crust was thin and really quite good. It was so tasty I didn't even think about pepperoni until I got home.

My dining companion and I also had all three desserts: a pleasing poached pear shortcake with great fruit, cookies with a wonderful mousse and little balls of ice cream covered with the best chocolate sauce I've had in years.

Dragonfly Neo-V Cuisine

247 King Ave.



Price range: Appetizers $9-$15, main plates $17-$22.

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 5 to 10 pm, Saturday brunch 11:30 am to 3 pm; closed Sundays and Mondays.

Reservations: Accepted.

Rating: *** 1/2