A sweet surprise

When you order cheesecake at Figlio, don't be surprised when it's served in a Mason jar. Owners Peter and Laurie Danis traveled to Napa Valley on a wine expedition last spring and discovered cheesecake in a jar while dining out. They loved it so much that they started to offer it at both the Arlington and Grandview locations.

Peter says a tart crème filling is on the bottom, and then it's layered with diced strawberries and a merlot reduction sauce with raspberry purée. To top off the dessert, there's a graham cracker and pecan-baked crumble with whipped cream and a sprig of mint. The fruit will change seasonally, but the concept is here to stay, says Peter, adding, "Who can resist a dessert with that name?"

-Taylor Swope


Historic Dublin Restaurants is planning to open a second location of Matt the Miller's at 1400 Grandview Ave. next spring, says Dublin general manager Rob Hoersdig. "We looked at a lot of different areas, but we just feel like for our concept, Grandview is perfect for us," he says, estimating there will be around 200 seats and a patio similar to Marcella's in the Short North.

Sheri Perez, co-owner of Louie's Grill in Hilliard, says a second location should have opened in late August at the Kingsdale Center in Upper Arlington. "We added new burgers, fajitas, pastas and salads . . . a little bit of everything," she says. There also will be a patio and full bar.

News bites

There's a new bar menu at J. Gilbert's Wood-Fired Steaks & Seafood, 1 E. Campus View Blvd., says general manager Dan Gross. Items include short rib pot pie, fondue, barbecue pork belly sliders, pretzel crusted onion rings and an eight-piece bucket of maple-bourbon glazed wings. "This is definitely an update for where bar food is going," Gross says.

New menu items at Mitchell's Ocean Club, 4002 Easton Station, include lobster bisque and Dutch Harbor king crab legs, says vice president of culinary development Brian Hinshaw. "We always try to stay relevant and listen to what diners are telling us. We changed several things on the menu based on feedback from customers."

If you're searching for cooking classes, you might find what you're looking for at Franklin Park Conservatory. Food education courses were introduced at the community garden campus, located on the main property, in late July, says education manager Julia Hansel. September classes include jams and jellies, Memories of Tuscany (Italian cooking), cooking grains and wood-fired pizza for kids. "We're trying to help people experience food from start to finish," explains Hansel. For more information, visit fpconservatory.org.

Alt eats

I recently tagged along on an "Alt. Eats" journey with Columbus Food Adventures, a new company providing guided tours of food destinations around the city. The owner, Bethia Woolf, is known for her food blogs, such as Taco Trucks Columbus and Hungry Woolf. She purchased a 14-passenger van, and since it's complete with the company's logo, it was impossible to miss as I pulled into the Columbus Historical Society parking lot to meet the group. (Woolf secured free parking there.)

The first stop was Salam Market & Bakery, 5676 Columbus Sq., which serves Middle Eastern fare. We tried several variations of pita pies, and while we tasted, an employee a few steps away was cutting goat meat straight off the bones. (I'm now contemplating a vegetarian lifestyle.) One of the workers engaged with several tour members about how the bakers prepare falafel, which Woolf claimed is the best in town.

Next, we walked to Mi Li Cafe, 5858 Columbus Sq., and had a bánh mi, a traditional Vietnamese sub with mayonnaise, pâté, cucumbers, jalapeños, cilantro and julienne carrots. It was served on French bread that's baked immediately before serving so it's warm and crunchy.

Located at 2263 Morse Rd., west of Cleveland Avenue, African Paradise offered us essentially a four-course meal. After potato soup, jabati bread, chicken KK and beef kalankal, plus seasoned noodles and rice, we left stuffed, wondering how we could eat at two more stops.

Jeddo Kabab, 2448 Home Acre Dr. (south of I-270, off Cleveland Avenue) followed, where we were greeted with two appetizers: mast-va-khiar, a yogurt/cucumber dip, and kashk-o-bademgon, a traditional Persian eggplant spread-both intended for dipping with pita bread. While we waited for our chicken kebabs, Woolf mentioned that the restaurant's owner is originally from Iran. He moved to Romania, working as a dentist before coming to the United States.

Our final stop was Panaderia Guadalupana, a Mexican bakery that opened in July at 1979 E. Dublin-Granville Rd. We sampled fruit and cheese-filled pastries that were a great ending to our day.

While I loved the food, I enjoyed the conversations and company on the tour more . . . almost. Topics in the van and at each stop revolved around food blogs, taco trucks, the best west-side restaurants and how to properly prepare and eat chicken feet. As we drove north on I-71 toward our first destination, we ran into Ohio State Fair traffic. Woolf said, "It's a great day for the fair, but we'll be eating better." I must say, I agreed.

For more information, visit columbusfoodadventures.com.

-Taylor Swope