24 Small Plates in 24 Hours: Late-night snack

Shelley Mann, Columbus Alive

8:15 p.m.: Easton Town Center

We stagger through the mall toward Ocean Club. If it's possible to get drunk on food, then I am. Food is taking up so much room inside, it's becoming hard to breathe. The combined smell of Panda Express, Five Guys and Sbarro makes me want to hurl.

At this crucial point, though, encouraging messages start coming in via Instagram and Twitter.

"Go go go!"

"You can do it!"

"Four more small plates!"

Yes, we're nearing the end of our bizarro marathon. We can do it.

8:18 p.m.: Bar at Mitchell's Ocean Club

Happily, the swanky dinner spot is dark, quiet and empty at this hour. We settle in and peek apprehensively at the small plates menu, served in the bar area only.

I'd been hoping for some light seafood plates, but sadly it was not to be. The options: white truffle caviar deviled eggs. Calamari in a sweet chili sauce (unfortunately we'd just OD'd on calamari at G. Mike's, or this would've been a winner). Braised short rib sliders. Parmesan truffle fries. A cheese plate.

We settle on Tuna Tartar Tacos ($9) and Lobster Corn Fritters ($9). The tacos are small (yay!) and cute, served with guacamole and some pickled ginger. The fritters are another story. They're essentially oversized hush puppies flecked with corn kernels and lobster claw meat, served with a mayonnaise-based Crab Louis sauce. They're delicious, but they're also deep-fried.

"Oysters I could've handled," Pete says. "Not fair food."

As I bring the first fritter toward my mouth, my stomach physically shudders. It's as if my body is screaming, "For the love of God, why are you still eating food?" Defiantly, I soldier on.

I manage one fritter, then stare at the second one for a while, poking it around on the plate. I'm transported back to childhood, when I'd push my green beans around in the hopes they'd miraculously disappear.

During this stare down, our waiter swoops in and tries to take the plate. I would've let him, but Pete keeps me honest.

"Ah," says the waiter. "Still snacking?"

You don't even know, dude.

Fourth Meal >>