Kitchen Ink: Signs o' the times

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Attention multi-course diners with tastes more costly than the contents of your wallets: Even though Columbus' successful Restaurant Week has come and gone, there are still eateries offering prix-fixe meal deals.

On the haute end of this spectrum would be Alana's. Throughout April, the restlessly imaginative chef is offering a Saturday night special $25 Early Bird menu between 5 and 5:45 p.m. It's a three-course spread, with dishes to be determined at the chef's "whatever's fresh that day" whim (and no ordering off the regular menu until 6 p.m.!).

The inaugural seating's three courses featured a choice of salad or soup (including "Light & Lovely Gingered Miso Carrot"), plus an entree (like spaghetti carbonara with Blues Creek ham, duck risotto with lavender mirepoix, seared shrimp with Moroccan ratatouille and a killer-sounding chile relleno) and, of course, "something sweet."

Sure you have to jump through a few hoops, but isn't it worth it to enjoy Alana's inspired locally based creations for such short-end money? See you there soon.

Downscaling a bit, but with fewer stipulations, Ted's Montana Grill has been offering a "Real Deal" for a few months now. At dinnertime, $15 scores an appetizer (decent house salad, cup of soup or five doughnut-sized onion rings), an entre with two sides (woodsy-scented cedar plank salmon, "beer can" chicken, or homey, sturdy and herby bison meatloaf) and a fresh-baked, grandma-style "Scratch" cookie (can't go wrong with any of them, but the peanut butter was especially good).

On top of saving diners some dough, Ted's team is also committed to doing their green part to help save the planet. Thus Ted's does a lot of little things right - from water-saving dual flush commodes to bringing back the paper straw in an effort to stay "99 percent plastic free." And the bison mogul makes a hell of a cocktail, too. Try the fruity and focused Buffalo Margarita, made with Bombay gin (yes, gin).