Table Talk: Blue Turtle Tea & Spice Co.

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

As of five months ago, Gerald McGuffin had never even been to Ohio. On Saturday, he rolls out a new dinner menu at the Blue Turtle Tea & Spice Co. in Westerville.

He figures he's in tune with the tastes of his guests.

"I believe when it comes to health and flavor, anybody's ready for anything," he said. "So I'm going full speed ahead."

A graduate of the Baltimore Culinary Arts program, McGuffin has spent the last 20 years traversing the country, working in the restaurant industry or owning his own restaurants. After he sold his latest eatery, Chef Gerald in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, his sister Amanda McGuffin-Noll called and needed a chef. The owner of Blue Turtle, she had food service in mind since her store opened in October.

A few months ago, the place started out with a small menu. McGuffin is within reach of 400 organic herbs and spices, not to mention nearly 100 loose-leaf teas.

"It's pretty easy to make everything taste good," he said.

The familiar lunch menu has a few of McGuffin's trademark touches: "ghost chile" made with bhut jolokia peppers from India, lemon dill shrimp salad, pulled pork quesadillas and roasted curry apricot chicken salad, which also comes in sandwich form. Most prices are $5 to $7.

The dinner menu will focus heavily on seafood, which will be flown in fresh from a variety of sources. Other dishes will include braised lamb with rosemary jus and saffron rice, a roasted duck burrito with red chili sauce, black bean, cheddar and sour cream, and an exotic greens salad. With the weather warming, McGuffin is going to try to establish relationships with local producers. Dinner entrees will run in the $9 to $14 range.

"Everything's going to be healthy and fresh," he said.

Portions, however, do not suffer. "Our portions are big," he said.

"That's why we have to go (take-out) boxes," his sister added.

The place is open for lunch and dinner six days a week, closed Sunday except for special occasions. For more information, call 614-890-2400.

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