No Reservations Columbus

July 13th, 2010    •  by Bethia    •   21 Comments »

michael kimura kihachi columbus

Columbus made a brief appearance in Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations ‘Heartland’ episode this evening. The fly-by visit was great exposure for two of our local talents but caused much consternation in the twitter-facebook-CU sphere, mostly due to Michael Ruhlman’s comments about Applebee’s and his apparent surprise that good food was to be found in Columbus. (he should know better, he’s from Cleveland)

mike kimura sushi columbus

The two local talents featured were Chef Michael Kimura of Kihachi, and Gary Robinette “the MacGyver of Pizza” from Clever Crow.

kihachi columbus no reservations

Kihachi, far from being in the middle of nowhere, Mr Bourdain, is found very close to 270 and Sawmill, tucked in a strip mall at Federated Boulevard. Anyone who reads alt.eats, knows that I am a fan of obscure restaurants in strip malls and Kihachi is one of many that are worth seeking out. Kihachi is one of the most authentic Japanese restaurants in Columbus. It is also one of the best restaurants in Columbus and so it was no surprise that Bourdain gushed about the food. Coincidentally I went to Kihachi for dinner later on the very same evening that Bourdain was there. You can read about that dinner, and several previous Kihachi dinners on this blog. The photos in this post are from my most recent meal there, and one that I have thus far neglected to blog about. On that visit we ordered from the menu, choosing mostly from the exceptional daily specials.

clever crow, gary robinette, circus bar, pizza

Clever Crow, working out of the kitchen at the Circus Bar, had only been open a few weeks before Bourdain’s crew came to town, but it has received accolades from day one. It’s pizza but not as you know it, so put your pizza preconceptions aside before you try it. Its distinctions include the crispy yet thick cornmeal and 200-year-old sourdough base, the housemade sausage and pepperoni, the unusual and creative flavor combinations and the sheer weight of toppings. It amazes me how the crust manages to stay crisp and firm even when loaded down with cheese and sausage. Gary places an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients and offers weekly specials such as the Greek: Mozzarella, Roasted Red Pepper, Kalamata Olive Tapenade, Feta and Fresh Rosemary.

My current favorite (pictured above) is the corn pizza with lots of cheese, sweetcorn, purple (yes, purple) potatoes and caramelized onions. You can order full or half pizzas or just a slice, or you can get two different halves in the same pan, which is what we usually do. Half a pizza is really filling. The only downside of this great-artisinal-made-to-order-thick-crusted pizza, is that it isn’t quick to make. Luckily it’s located in a bar, so take some friends and plan on drinking a couple of beers while you wait. This is definitely not fast food.

clever crow, pizza, circus bar, Columbus, no reservations


Kihachi, Federated Boulevard,  2667 Federated Boulevard, (614) 764-9040 (closed Sunday)

Clever Crow, Circus Bar, 1227 N. High Street 614.421.2998 Tue-Sat 4-10pm

21 Comments to “No Reservations Columbus”

  1. Not to sound condescending and take anything away from a few of the top spots in Columbus, but the city has nothing on the food in Cleveland. To say, he is from Cleveland he should know better does not make any sense. While I love good locations in Columbus, there is no comparison. If you have been to Cleveland and dined, it is obvious why Ruhlman said what he did.

    • hungrywoolf
      July 13, 2010

      Chad, I think Ohio in general and Cleveland in specific often get unfairly bashed and I do think Ruhlman could have shown a bit more solidarity for his home state or just played less to stereotypes. I don’t think this is about comparing Cleveland and Columbus. I have been to Cleveland and dined and yes, there is some great food there but there is also some great food in Columbus and there are some things that we do have better – ice creams, Japanese food and taco trucks for a start.

      • Joepalooka
        February 9, 2015

        Ruhlman’s snobby bias got quickly tiresome. NOT a Columbus or Cleveland resident, I’ve had ‘unusually good’, very good food in both cities.

    • Yeesh, Chad.

      I could fairly be quantified as a fanboy of the Cleveland food scene.

      I’m really happy to hear that there’s some cool stuff happening in Columbus. My foodie friends in Cleveland would totally be up for a road trip to Columbus to experience what Bourdain described.

      Why the chauvinism? I’m happy to see people doing good food, any place, any time.

    • I read somewhere that he suggested Applebee’s here in Columbus. If that’s true, then he’s ignorant, because there are too many restaurants here taste way better than Applebee’s.

    • Columbus is number 15 in the top 100 largest cities in the U.S.,Cleveland is 48.I think Columbus has established itself as fine dining.Melt started in Cleveland and now its in Columbus ,they obliviously know where to go to increase business.Plus Cleveland is low brow and all blue collar.Columbus is a mix of both .That’s why Michael Ruhlman brings his friend Anthony all the way down from Cleveland .There are just some high quality food places in Columbus that no matter how hard they try just can’t exist in Cleveland

  2. tacodrew
    July 13, 2010

    Chad –

    You don’t sound condescending, but you do sound a bit ignorant. No doubt, Cleveland has a good food scene, but it’s faaaar from a complete food scene.

    Often, in areas where Cleveland is lacking, Columbus shines. Ruhlman SHOULD know better – that is his job as a consultant on the show.

  3. I’ve never been to Cleveland. I have lived in Orange County and spent a lot of time in LA, though, and I have to agree that there’s really no reason to disparage the Columbus food scene, especially since Anthony Bourdain isn’t after trendy, he’s after delicious. And we have delicious. It may not be in places that make for good television, but we definitely have it.

  4. Amanda
    July 14, 2010

    Totally agree with Chad, he doesn’t sound like a snob he’s just stating what he believes.
    Cleveland may have sucked dealing with the whole Lebron situation but they know how to do food much better than C-bus. Jeni’s is great but $10.00 plus a pint is pushing the envelope even if it’s local and artisanal.

    • tacodrew
      July 14, 2010

      Nobody said he sounded like a snob.

      And… it’s exceptionally odd to think that either LeBron James or the price of a pint of ice cream has any bearing on either city’s food scene. Do you really believe that anyone actually thinks that way?

      BTW, If you want to know what Ruhlman actually believes, read his twitter stream. For example, a direct quote:

      “@michaelcoyote et al, YIKES, I think I’ll have to watch the show! I don’t know Columbus well enough to have an actual opinion about it!”

      • Amanda
        July 15, 2010

        Dude, Chill……How can you not talk about Lebron when the city Cleveland is mentioned 🙂 Guess that’s the sports fan in me.
        Jeni’s is great but just too $$$$
        Sorry , no twitter here-don’t have time.

        • tacodrew
          July 15, 2010

          Sweetie, once again I ask you – who cares about how much Jeni’s costs? How does that actually reflect upon anything other than what one business charges? Do you actually know anything else about Columbus’s food scene apart from the cost of a pint of Jeni’s?

          -Chillin’ like a villain, TacoDrew

      • Amanda
        July 16, 2010

        Good Gravy,looks like someone woke up on the wrong side of his tortilla…. which reminds me I would have to say one of the best Mexican restaurants in Columbus is Cuco’s (my favorite). It is unfortunate but I won’t get Jeni’s for myself but I have no problem sending $70 on six pints of Jeni’s to my friends/family who live across the US to let them know Columbus has fantastic Ice cream. If I have $10.00- 90% of the time it most likely will go towards 2 pints of Graeters. I think Columbus is really getting started to get some serious props for food especially with three of the Chefs in town being nominated for James Beard awards but I’d have to say when Mike Symon was getting popular on the Food Channel then won the Iron Chef competition that really gave Cleveland the edge and a lot more media. When Ruhlman said something along the lines of “Columbus is Applebee’s territory” that was really disappointing, and if he makes a foolish statement like that….I’m going to have to assume out of towners might feel the same. I remember seeing John Stewart a few years ago and he started out saying ” You (mid-westerners) eat like Mother Fers! “then at the end of the show he thanked us for being a great audience and said “We should All go out to Applebees” Trust me I’m not knocking chain restaurants, it’s the nonchalant attitude folks have about C bus food when there are so many folks out there trying to make a change. Now that we have our own “Edible” Columbus that’s really saying something about how this city is evolving. I’d stop into Pistacia Vera everyday if I could. So there you have it…in my humble opinion.

      • To those who prefer Jeni’s ice cream to grocery store ice cream, or even Graeter’s, $10 a pint is a fair price to pay. I don’t buy it by the pint very often–much rather get a trio of flavors–but I’ll never say that it’s overpriced because it’s worth every single penny to me. (Actually, we got two pints for $17, so I don’t think it’s quite cashing in at $10 per pint.)

        Graeter’s is fine, but it’s not in the same class as Jeni’s. It’s more on par, for me, with Ben and Jerry’s.

        If you watch No Reservations frequently–I, myself, marathoned it when it became available on Netflix, and I’d been a fan of his from long before–then you know that Bourdain doesn’t base a food scene on a city’s Michelin-star James-Beard-award-winning chefs, although they certainly add to it. On a show where street food is generally the prominent source of the host’s bliss, I don’t think the high-powered chef scene is really what should be the measure of a show. There have always been good holes in the wall where you can get awesome food, you just have to look beyond the chain restaurants.

        (Which, other places have just as many chain restaurants.. they just aren’t known for creating them, like Wendy’s, White Castle, and Max & Erma’s..)

  5. Michael Campbell
    July 14, 2010

    Hey, I was just glad to see my hometown on Bourdain. Living in Houston, I laughed my butt off and paused the DVR to catch the shot they took of the Wendy’s across from Franklinton Square Shopping Center on the West Side.

  6. Nicely said – heading back to Kihachi this Tuesday – been a while. 🙂

  7. nick b
    July 19, 2010

    Looks great. Its a shame Robinette has given scant credit for “his” recipes to his former employer, Dove Vivi (Cornmeal Crust Pizza), in Portland, OR. My favorite is their Corn Pizza which it looks like Robinette tweaked by tossing on Purple Potatoes as an extra topping. I’m sure its good. Its just not his.

  8. nick b
    July 22, 2010

    @ Bear. Both of those “mentions” refer offhand to working in pizza in Portland. In what “interview after interview” does Robinette specifically credit Dove Vivi for recipes?

  9. @nick b. Gary was asked by Dove Vivi specifically not to mention their name and he is following their wishes. As far as the corn pizza goes, pizza toppings are just that, toppings. Any further discussion will lead you to wonder who was the first to put pepperoni or sausage, green peppers or onions and so on, on a pizza.

    What it boils down to is skill and a love for food. Gary has both. He was definitely inspired by Dove Vivi, and they should consider that a compliment. But he has completely reworked all the ingredients. Made everything his own and is an inspiration to other cooks everywhere!

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