Restaurant review: Dragonfly Neo-V

G.A. Benton, Columbus Alive

Do you want local and seasonal? Healthy and delicious? Creative and fastidiously scratch-made? Then you want Dragonfly Neo-V, especially during this veggie-heavy harvest season.

Thematically linked to the shattered chrysalis shell facsimile on its ceiling, Dragonfly's cuisine is in a constant state of becoming. In other words, the all-vegetarian dishes tempting from Dragonfly's always-morphing menu will be assembled daily with whatever excellent and fresh ingredients happen to be available.

Before digging into that artfully plated food, though, you should alight on one of the "Fly" cocktails, like the Whiskey Daisy ($9). Often concocted with grenadine and soda water, daisies are an old-fashioned style of cocktail that deserve more awareness in our libation-enlightened era. Dragonfly's lovely garnet-colored rendition stands out for its OYO whiskey and terrific homemade grenadine (most commercial grenadines are awful things frequently produced with high fructose corn syrup but without the essential pomegranate juice). Served in a coupe, Dragonfly's delightful daisy is eminently refreshing, with a taste reminiscent of tart cherries.

Peppers are popping out in farms and gardens all over Ohio now, and they're also showing up in Dragonfly's current crop of boldly spiced offerings. For instance, the Chilled Soup special ($9) I demolished last week was a like a fire-and-ice gazpacho. I particularly enjoyed how its chili-walloped broth - which was punctuated by rustically chopped first-rate cucumbers and tomatoes - played off a scoop of semi-sweet cucumber sorbet plopped down in its chunky center.

An okra seasonal Veggie Board ($8) was especially inspired. In fact that tripartite study of the oft-maligned vegetable was nothing short of an edible work of art. On a wooden board, okra (ungooey!) was brought to me in the following forms: Pickles; lightly tempura battered and slathered with a hot peppery, pungent and remarkable remoulade sauce; and an absolute knockout of a rich, zesty and gumbo-like okra stew I'm still thinking about.

The four-slice Flatbread of the Day ($16) was another meticulously crafted masterpiece. Basically a Provence-style pizza (i.e. pissadaliere), it's the opposite of cheap late-night grub for stumbling drunks. No, this was high-falutin', savor-every-intensely-flavored-bite stuff created with housemade puff pastry (delicate, yet with heft) layered with: "Amish paste" tomatoes; a vegan roasted pepper "cream"; concentrated oven-dried local veggies (zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes); fresh basil; plus diced black olives and sea vegetables that lend a racy and marine salinity that effectively substituted for anchovies (which are traditional components of a French pissadaliere).

Long story short: Dragonfly is always great, but when Mother Nature's in her most giving mood of the year, why not take what she's offering at the best vegetarian place around?

Photos by Jodi Miller

Dragonfly Neo-V

247 King Ave., Campus