Taste of Dine Originals

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Pork was big Thursday night...and I'm not talking about myself this time. No, piggy was a featured player on many dee-liciously loaded tables at one of the best, if not the best party of the year. The blow-out in question takes place every May in the resplendently refurbished Smith Bros. building. That sensational soiree helps raise money for the Buckeye Ranch, and also helps bring attention to our wonderful consortium of locally owned, often locally sourced ingredient-driven restaurants that operate under the flag of Dine Originals. Basically, these are the best 43 eateries in town.

The good eats and drinks--and good times--roll over five areas, both inside and out. If you didn't make it this year, here's a few tips for next year: wear cocktail-nice but not formal clothes, because you'll be be-bopping with some of our fair city's beautiful people tonight; upon entering, scout out the area and pick out can't-miss food and hooch stations (for me these include Alana's, The Top Steak House, DeepWood, Luce Enoteca, Pistacia Vera, Basi Italia, the Worthington Inn and Rigsby's); don't wait in long lines, instead, move on & check back later; when you can't stand the heat, head to the air-conditioned areas; eat too much and diet tomorrow. Here's a look at a few of my favorite, friendly chefs and some of the the unforgettable revelry that took place:

Thomas Smith of The Worthington Inn

One of the best bar commissars in town, Burgundy Room's Jenni Shindler, with BR Chef Andrew Brannin

Colleen Braumoeller (the "Fearless Leader" of Slow Foods Columbus) and Michael Jones, executive director of Local Matters and owner of the Greener Grocer in the North Market. The always-ahead-of-the-curve Jones was the chef who opened G. Michael's, and nowadays is like Columbus' answer to Michael Pollan. I've had a few conversations with this kind and extremely smart, fighting-the-good-fight, innovative cuisine warrior and every one of those chats makes me want to start composting the next morning.

The irrepressible Johnny Dornback of Basi Italia (not shown: Trish Gentile, his considerably better half).

Johnny's lovely fresh pea and parmesan pastry

The one and only Alana Shock (her station's always great and, unlike most others, changes fare several times over the evening).

If you can't read the fine print, it says SOFT SHELL crabs, currently featured at the restaurant.

Loved these octopi from Alana!

Where's Waldo?

Q: How do you know you're at a fabulous party? A: Girls on Stilts...one of whom is masquerading as Yosemite Sam!

See you at the Smith Bros next year!