My mind was not focused on food. I had a more important task at hand. My Boss and I were driving to Columbus to meet with a client. It hadn’t even occurred to me I might get to have a blog-worthy adventure. When our meeting was over we decided lunch was not only needed but deserved and headed for Polaris, a shopping center on our way home. We pulled into the center and glanced over the directory. Still coming down from the meeting I didn’t have an opinion so I picked a name from the board that I hadn’t heard of before.
Lunch – Molly Woo’s Asian Bistro www.mollywoos.com
That’s right kids – even in a blind guess I have magically found the Asian restaurant. This felt oddly like a PF Chang’s. Large central bar, generic asian artifacts and decor. But it was as if all they did was moved into an old PF Chang’s and change the name on the door. The only thing that was different was the hospitality. Molly Woo’s was friendly and I felt like a valued guest. We were admiring the wind chimes on the patio tables when the server came over to review the menu and take our drink orders.
The hot day demanded iced tea. The menu selections include some standard asian favorites like crispy beef or stir-fry options as well as couple of noodle bowls. She chose the Pad Thai and I went with the Mongolian Seafood Hot Pot.
Faithful readers know my feelings toward tea. I am a fan of good tea. We were each brought a carafe of fresh brewed hot black tea and a large glass of ice. This was an example of how a simple thing, executed with precision and care can be elevated into something wonderful.
Lunch arrived quickly with an aroma that told me it was time to start writing. The two dishes complimented each other with sweet notes of shrimp and scallops with the subtle note of spice and earthyness in the sauces. My boss’ Pad Thai mirrored the thought from the tea. This was not a flashy Pad Thai, this was a very classic version of the dish executed beautifully. The noodles were soft, shrimp perfectly cooked and veggies fresh and crunchy. She was surprised at the number of large, plump shrimp hiding in the noodles.
My turn! Let’s start with the presentation – The Mongolian hot-pot is served in a bowl bigger than my first apartment! A mound of lo mein noodles, seared scallops, sweet shrimp, tart tomatoes and super tender shiitake mushrooms with a sake, garlic, ginger broth. In the menu description the mushrooms are barely mentioned, like an afterthought or a light warning. Like “Oh by the way if you don’t like mushrooms, don’t order this because we throw a couple in”. What I was not expecting was for the mushrooms to stand up and be the star. Tender, warm and meaty, the delicate flavor permeated the noodles through the broth. Recharged from lunch, toting our leftovers as a prize we hopped back in the car and headed for the office.
Since I was out of the office all morning I needed to stay late to wrap up. By the time I got home to Akron, Matt and I realized that nothing was thawed for dinner and we hadn’t been to the grocery for a while. Rummaging through the Entertainment Book, Matt found a coupon for The Noisy Oyster.
The Noisy Oyster www.thenoisyoysterpub.com
Jeff and I had been here once before. We saw the coupon in the book and went to check it out. Mediocre bar, ok, food. We didn’t regret the decision but it wasn’t great either. Matt and I decided to give it a shot. We walk in and it all comes back. The bar is awkward to pull up to and the stools uncomfortable. The bartender is a bit shy and the tap selection is not worth mentioning. I asked what the darkest beer was in a bottle and am given the same answer I always get. “Oh we have Guinness”. I gave him the “Of course you do, everyone does” look and try again. I ask what else he has. His next answer does not make sense in the context of this conversation but it is as if he had read my personal history and knew what to mention, “Uh, we have Harpoon IPA?”. Sold! Tonight the special is 1 lb of crab legs for $9.99 we get a pound each and a basket of Cajun fries to share.
The bartender is starting to warm up to us, we might be ok after all. He pulls out two Harpoons and two frosty mugs. Matt pours his beer and it freezes to the sides of the glass as he pours. The foam is frozen and he can tap the top of it. A funny thing happens to foods and drinks when they get cold – the tastes get lighter. This is why as Budwiser warms up it tastes like crap – you can taste the inferior quality. This is also why a good white wine can be better closer to room temperature. The harpoon is almost astringent this cold. I let it sit for a few minutes and it regains its honey-hops flavor.
We move from the bar to a table to await our crab feast and feast it was. The special is for only 1 pound. Either they decided the night was slow or the cook can’t measure but we each got well over a pound, more like 1.5. Each plate had 3 full sides of crab plus a stray leg or two. The crab had a light smokey flavor. The bartender insisted it was just boiled in plain water but it tasted like a good New England beer boil. Cajun fries were exactly that fries tossed in copious amounts of standard Cajun season. The fries were a bit strong handed for me but Matt was in heaven.
As the bartender came to check on us he complimented us on our crab cleaning skills. Saying most people waste the best part in the ends. Finaly we were accepted. The final wonderful note of the evening was the check. 2 lbs of snow crab (more likely 3 lbs), 2 beers and a mountain of Cajun fries – $31.42.
While the Entertainment Book coupon was not valid for the special it was still a great dinner and worthy of another visit.
Until we eat again,