Monday, January 27, 2014

Robert Burns Dinner 2014 - Road Trip

On Friday afternoon I packed my bag, put my car under me and headed South on US 23 with a great deal of enthusiasm and anticipation of an excellent weekend.  I was going to enjoy three days of my brother Big Mike's hospitality and the Robert Burns Dinner at Barley's.

Keep reading for a restaurant review and general highlights.
The drive to Columbus was the usual, boring trip until I passed the Delaware Golf Club which marked my approach to I-270 West.  This is the stretch of highway that becomes over-crowded with drivers who spent their formative years on the short bus.  I'm beginning to think that allowing these idiots out of the house without a keeper is a violation of some kind of animal cruelty law.  Giving them an Ohio driver's license is very likely part of a conspiracy to keep the auto body shops in business, prove that the health care system is over-burdened and cull the populace by natural selection of the fittest.  This last, by the way, isn't working out as intended.  Any and all reasonably intelligent, competent people will forget that they must share the road with the blatantly incompetent, maladroit fat-heads who are only one or two short steps from slipping away from their normal torpor and knee-jerk reactions into a state of catatonia.  Additionally, we are also required to share the public highway with their counterparts, the choleric mental-midgets whose violent neurotic fantasies and homicidal impulses are only slightly curbed by the surety of higher insurance rates, jail time and the certain knowledge that the intended target of their self-justified wrath might well be armed.

Put these extraneous members of the population together on Friday afternoon, add gridlock and you won't have to ask why I pray while I'm driving, or why I keep my pistol with me.  I have no idea where all the Columbus cops are through all this, but I'm guessing they bag their time at a local coffee shop well off the beaten path.  In some ways I don't blame them.

I arrived at Big Mike's around six, where I was able to relax and enjoy a cocktail of Big Mike's own creation which I'll write about later on.  When we felt ready for dinner I suggested Italian, and Mike chose Marcella's in Polaris. 


Marcella's Italian Kitchen
1319 Polaris Parkway; Columbus, OH 43240
(614) 844-6500
Hours: Mon - Thr: 11:30 am - 10:00 pm; Friday: 11:30 am - 11:00 pm
Saturday: Noon - 11:00 pm; Sunday: Noon - 9:00 pm

There are two Marcella's restaurants in Columbus; one down on High Street, and the second is in the Polaris Towne Center shopping center.  Marcella's serves up some excellent food, as seen in the photos below.

Braised Veal Meatball

For appetizers we shared the Meatball, which is mandatory at Marcella's, and the Sweet Italian Sausage plate.  The Meatball never fails to exceed my expectations for a delicious appetizer.

I couldn't decide what I wanted for dinner, but as usual Mike was decisive and ordered the Pesto Shrimp pizza.  This is the best pizza Marcella's offers.  I got a chance to try it and the pesto sauce is perfect.  I ended up requesting penne pasta with meat sauce and a meatball.  Our server assured me that he would 'make that happen' for me.  An odd choice of words when it's applied to ordering dinner.  What was he going to do?  Cajole the chef into assembling my entrée?

Pasta, meat sauce and meatball
As you can see, our server was successful.  Or maybe it was the chef.  In any event, I enjoyed an excellent dinner.  Shown below is Big Mike's pizza, which is equally excellent - although Mike undoubtedly thinks his is just a little better than mine.

Marcella's could be a quieter, more refined place.  One woman at the table behind me had a raucous, cackle of a laugh that caused me to choke on my wine until I became suitably anesthetized.  Other than that, the place has a sort of dull roar to it that tends to detract from the dining experience.

The service at Marcella's is excellent, and will only be surpassed by a five star, exclusive restaurant that none of us can really afford to patronize more than once every three months.  Our server had perfect timing, but more importantly he was not one of those annoying types that return to your table every three minutes to ask brainlessly brightly, "Is everything delicious?"

The main attraction at Marcella's is the food, which is stellar without being overpriced or contrived.  You won't find a list of esoteric, specially created dishes that most epicures have never heard of, or ingredients that only a devoted outdoor survivalist will recognize as edible.  Edible in a real bind, that is.  This is all excellent Italian style food and well worth the price, which is not exorbitant.

We finished up dinner at Marcella's and Mike suggested we adjourn to a nearby bar for an after dinner drink.  Capital idea!

1554 Polaris Parkway #122; Columbus, OH 43240
(614) 781-7829

Caution! Use the provided link at your own risk.  My security system went nuts when I tried to connect, informing me that this site was full of malware and other nastiness.  Maybe they'll fix it, maybe they won't.  After all, one man's malware is another man's revenue source.

Round Bar
The Pub is a noisy, busy place.  The signature attraction is the round bar, which you can sort of see in the above photo.

Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Talisker
The round bar isn't just for show.  Big Mike ordered a flight of Scotch, as shown in the photo above.  I'm more of a Bourbon man, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that I could get a nice flight of Bourbon.

Blanton's, Four Roses and Woodford Reserve
When I can't make up my mind, Woodford Reserve is my poison of choice.  It has a nice, sharp flavor that cuts through most everything else I've been imbibing in and is available in most bars as a top shelf whiskey.  I've never had Blanton's, which turned out to be a very smooth bourbon with a nice after-taste.  I recommend Blanton's for anyone who doesn't enjoy strong flavored whiskey.  I haven't had any Four Roses in many years, and was pleased to rediscover it.  It has a very smooth, slightly fruity taste.

The service at The Pub is very good, but not excellent.  One bartender had a large question mark over his head that was guaranteed to be a permanent fixture until he got off work and found his way home.  We had servers attempt to deliver food we hadn't ordered.  Big Mike opined that the serving staff gravitated to us because we were better looking than the rest of the patrons.  Lost in his own ruminations, Mike then speculated that he wasn't sure he felt comfortable with a male waiter finding us attractive.  I agreed with him, but for completely different reasons.  Any male waiter that found me attractive was so completely blasted that he couldn't find a silverback gorilla at an English tea party.

The Pub and the bourbon did me in.  By the time we walked out to the car I realized that the wind was cold with that nice, warm detached feeling I generally get from watching the weather report while sitting in front of a fire.  Truly a fitting end to an excellent evening.

1 comment:

CWMartin said...

HA! The only thing that comes to mind (other than meatloaf as an appetizer? Since when is it not a meal?) is, "Tea party on the Planet of the Apes!"