New foodie destination: Market District
I can't ever remember needing or being handed a map upon entering a corporate grocery store before, but clearly the new Giant Eagle - whoops, make that Market District - was a different and bigger beast. A hybrid between a standard Giant Eagle and a gourmet food outlet, visiting it was turning out to be an intriguing one-stop shopping experience for me.
I had just passed a circus-type performer balancing atop a giant ball outside, and to the immediate left of the store entrance was a lady playing "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" on a golden harp. On the far other side of the mammoth store - which is approximately the size of the Pentagon - was an oldies band playing "Mustang Sally." In between was about everything else you could possibly think of. Maybe I'd be needing that map after all, I thought to myself.
It was opening day at the Kingsdale Market District, and the place was pulling out all the stops to attract a crowd. The stops were working. A long, winding line had formed in the middle of the congested mega-grocer to meet and greet that dude who eats huge amounts of chow on that "Man v. Food" TV show. But he wasn't the only attention-grabber there.
Also standing out was a bas-relief carving of Ohio Stadium in a massive wheel of cheddar cheese; a 10-yard-long olive bar; a charcuterie and deli shop that sold D'Artagnan products; a fairly serious cheese shop; a mini candy factory; a butcher case that sold meat from high-grade lamb, grass-fed beef, elk and python snakes; a nook where you could buy black truffles at $140 per pound along with a fine selection of mushrooms, some of them still growing; and a large wine shop with a high-tech Enomatic sip-dispensing machine.
There are only four of these Gigantic Eagles in the United States and like the others, the Kingsdale version (the only one outside the corporation's Pittsburgh headquarters) supplements its extra-large salad bar with a multi-themed (barbecue, Indian and Asian takeout, pizza) food court "restaurant."
This hot grub can be eaten - with a glass of wine if so desired - at one of the table setups positioned on two floors. Here's a sampling of what I tried:
• Pizza: These scratch-made pies were impressive in texture, taste and price ($3.50 bought 8-inch, four-slicer 'zas of pizza-of-the-month or four-cheese; $4.50/two toppings; $5.50/3 toppings)
• Rosti: Fistloads of thickly shredded potatoes loosely "pancaked" together in a butter-loaded skillet. Simple and good, if upstaged by a pretty great chicken sausage ($6)
• Penang Curry: A surprisingly spicy and certainly servicable Thai-style coconut milk curry with chicken and potatoes ($6, with brown or basmati rice and overly dense naan bread)
• Beef Brisket meal: The meat was unsmoky, chewy and not particularly juicy, but the oniony, lacy slaw and sweet and oniony baked beans were quite nice ($5.50)
For more local food news and reviews, click to G.A. Benton's blog at blog.columbusalive.com/underthetable
3061 Kingsdale Center, Upper Arlington