Since she’s always coming up to Cleveland, I owed my favorite foodie friend Erin a visit. I talked our friend Kristen along for the ride down to Columbus one weekend in December. Want to know how the road trip started? Then you should watch this video:
Erin was too kind and researched several gluten-free options in the Columbus area. She also included one of her favorite Asian bistros on the list. After far too much online menu reading, Erin made a reservation at Lemongrass Fusion Bistro in the Short North Neighborhood.
From their opentable.com description: Upscale/casual dining. Serving Thai Fusion cuisine in a Eurocentric atmosphere. Voted Columbus’ BEST Asian 2008 by AOL Cityguide. We also serve fresh Sushi and offer a Full Bar.
Um, let’s see: Thai? Sushi? Full Bar? Sounds good to me! Brian, Erin’s hubby, was kind enough to drive us to the restaurant in case we wanted to live it up and drink it up post-dinner. (Brian, I thought you knew that I am an 83 year old stuck in a 27 year old’s body.) Our chauffeur dropped us off on time for our 7:30PM reservation. We were seated immediately at a table near the front window which made for some interesting people watching. Apparently the Columbus Santa Con was that evening – there’s nothing quite like eating sushi and watching 25 grown men in Santa suits stumble by.
After our fabulous journey down I-71 in the Chevy Cruze, we needed some wine and agreed to split a bottle for the table: Chilean Sauvignon Blanc from Casa Lapostolle. Described as “refreshing, citrus” taste, Erin approved of her sample so I knew we were in good hands. And don’t worry – Brian took good care of us!
Even though it wasn’t on her “gluten friendly” options list, I find “Asian bistro” types to be a gluten-free eater’s friend. Since so many dishes are made with rice, I have far more options than at other dining options. Another plus is the fact they tend to have rice noodles on hand – makes for substitutions much easier.
I saw sushi and I knew how I wanted to start the meal. We started by order the shrimp tempura roll and the three’s company roll for the table:
The whimsical presentation of the rolls made for an eye catching moment as the plate was placed in front of the group. I stayed away from the shrimp, but both Kristen and Erin loved the crunch of the tempura in the roll. As for the three’s company roll – a California roll, made with 100% real crabmeat and avocado, and covered with tuna and salmon – was delicious. All of the ingredients were very fresh. The roll pieces were just large enough to be substantial without feeling like your mouth is going to explode with the amount in one bite/piece.
Erin ordered the lemongrass soup with vegetables: a spicy lemongrass broth, mixed veggies and shell pasta accented with a spicy chili paste:
Erin LOVES this soup, and LOVES that elephant ear type bread that came with it. Oh, fried dough, how I miss you so… Hot in both temperature and spice, this is Erin’s go-to starter option at Lemongrass. It smelled amazing from across the table!
Kristen and I both ordered the lemongrass salad, with baby field greens and romaine lettuce topped with pineapples, tangerines and crispy noodles, served with signature lemongrass dressing. (Note: I opted for no noodles or additional elephant ear treat.)
Nicely plated, it looks like your standard starter side salad. What took it to the next level was the signature lemongrass dressing. The dressing was flavorful and would have been divine with anything that needs a dipping sauce! I could see Hans dipping everything from chicken wings to veggies in it! Brian later admitted that he’s purchased the dressing to take home in the past. Get this salad and bathe in the dressing, my friends – you won’t regret it.
For her main entree, Kristen ordered the tofu pad-thai with rice noodles, snow peas, carrots, bean sprouts & crushed peanuts stir-fried in a semi-spicy lime sauce:
On the presentation end of things, I loved the addition of the cabbage, giving the plate a great color pop. My table mate highly enjoyed her entree, noting she was glad that the kitchen didn’t spice the dish up, just as she requested. Kristen was incredibly happy to arrive home Sunday afternoon – so she could enjoy her leftover pad thai from the evening before!
Erin and I split the choo-chi kebab for our main entree: three kebabs of fresh tofu and seasonal veggies topped with our spicy choo-chi chilli paste and coconut milk. served with rice:
Erin was giddy to split a tofu entree with me as Brian would never agree to split it with her in the past! I have the same trouble with Hans, so this was quite the treat and experience for us. We weren’t strangers to tofu, but we definitely made friends with this dish. The choo-chi sauce was spicy enough to give the veggies a great kick without blowing out our palates. We happily ate all the tofu and veggies, leaving us satisfied but not feeling heavy.
LONG STORY SHORT: When we made our plans for a Chevy girls getaway weekend, I knew Erin would lead us to some excellent dining suggestions. I’m happy to report that this Cleveland foodie was very pleased and impressed with her Columbus foodie’s choice! If you find yourself in our state’s capital and are hankering for some solid Asian fusion, check out Lemongrass Fusion Bistro ASAP!
You only have a few days left to enter the Girlfriend Getaway Sweepstakes: you can win a trip for two to New York City! Who doesn’t want that?!
Disclosure: The Girlfriend Getaway program is being sponsored by Northeastern Ohio Area Chevy Dealers who are giving me a 2011 Chevy Cruze to test drive for one month and blog about my experience. Through this program, I will be asked to complete missions, and will be provided with gift cards to do so. My thoughts and opinions are my own.