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Weekend Adventures

This past weekend Jen and I went on a journey to Columbus (Ohio) to watch the musical Spring Awakening at the Palace Theatre.  We ate dinner at Lemongrass, an Asian-and-other-fusion restaurant in the heart of downtown Columbus, and stayed overnight at the La Quinta Inn in Grove City.  As part of our adventures, we found ourselves also drawn to two other places, the Jolly Pirate Donut Shop, and Yosick’s, an artisan chocolate shop.

So to begin, the show itself was, in my opinion, fantastic, and the Palace Theatre is a excellent venue.  The seats I had ordered ended up being about 7 rows back, however they were on a far side of the stage (stage right).  That really didn’t end up being much of a problem, though, as most of the action was center stage.  My brief notes about the performance:  one, the dude that played Melchior was fantastic.  He pulled the part off nicely, making it seem like he really was “Melchior”, and he was pretty attractive (in that dark troubled way).  :)  And what made it even better was the fact that the guy is the understudy.  Makes me kinda want to see the show with the regular guy to see how much better he has to be….

Two, the guy playing Moritz did a excellent job as well.  The part could have easily been turned into something that was either too dark and brooding or too laughable, but he split the difference well, giving us a insight into a character that just doesn’t fit in life but really wants to.  And three, I don’t know what she’s on, but someone needs to cut down the supply of whatever the conductor of the band was taking.  The music was very good (I think I’m going to hunt down the soundtrack), but in some ways the musicians need to be heard, not seen.  Her frantic arm movements actually detracted from some of the musical numbers, as my eyes were drawn away from the main action to her conducting musicians that didn’t even seem to be paying attention to her.  A minor point, though, about a show that actually depicted the struggles of sexually repressed teens very well.

For dinner that evening we had chosen Lemongrass, a fusion restaurant that looked (via the website)…….intriguing.  For anybody who plans on going (at least on a Saturday night), I would advise one thing: use the valet parking.  We ended up circling the block a few times vainly searching for a parking spot to no avail.  Columbus may be a nice city, but their public parking frankly sucks, at least in the area of the restaurant (there was a garage right behing the Palace Theatre).

Once we got into the restaurant, though, things were much better.  We were greeted promptly at the door, and after confirming our reservation we were seated immediately.  The wait staff were both polite and knowledgeable, and though the restaurant itself was pretty busy I never felt like we were being rushed (in fact, far from it).  Jen chose the Tri Colore pasta for her dinner, and I chose the Champagne Shitake Duck, which is 8 oz. of cut honey glazed roasted duck sautéed and served over whole shitake mushrooms, tangerines, spinach, their signature biscuits, and their champagne shitake sauce.  In a word, delicious.  The duck was cooked perfectly, with just a thin layer of the fat remaining over the tender meat, and the flavors paired very well with all the components on the plate.

For dessert, we chose to split one of their Almond Cream Cakes, which is a rum soaked almond pound cake frosted with amaretto mascarpone and garnished with caramelized almonds and powdered sugar, served on a plate with swirls of raspberry sauce on it along with small “ponds” of chocolate sauce.  It was as good as it sounds, if not better.  Overall dinner was excellent and Lemongrass is definitely on my list of places to try again sometime.

For our accommodations, we had chosen the La Quinta Inn in Grove City, which is just 10 minutes away from downtown Columbus.  Our experience with the accommodations was definitely a mixed bag.  When we arrived, it turned out to be a very good thing that I had printed out our reservation confirmation, as their computer system was down and they had no way to verify our reservation.  Once presented with the confirmation email, though, the attendant took our information down quickly and presented us with our room key cards.

The room was fairly nice.  It was clean, which is very important, and it even had a sink, microwave, and refrigerator that we could use (not that we were going to be staying long enough to need them, but ::shrug::).  I, however, don’t know what is up with either the pillows or the beds at this La Quinta.  The pillows…….::shudder::.  I should have brought my own.  My head wasn’t very supported with one pillow, and with two it felt like I was going to have a permanent crick in my neck.  As for my bed, for some reason there was a plastic cover over the bed itself (under the sheets).  The crinkling as I moved around was only slightly annoying.  Rolling over onto cold plastic in the middle of the night because the bottom sheet wasn’t actually tucked into the mattress….  Argh.

After Jen and I got up the next morning, we went to the lobby for breakfast.  ::sigh::  Breakfast, to put it mildly, was a disappointment.  There was cereal in boxes (next to milk that wasn’t actually cold), a couple of bagels, a few pieces of fruit, some scary looking boiled eggs, and a lone English muffin.  We foraged as best we could, while surrounded by a bunch of rowdy kids whose guardians were just sitting at a table chatting, not paying much attention to them till one of them burned his hand at the hot chocolate machine (the mother of whom then tried to make it sound like it was the hotel’s fault).  We quickly decided that perhaps breakfast was not best found at the hotel, got our stuff together, checked out, and then headed out in search of doughnuts.

Doughnuts are apparently harder to find in Columbus than we thought.  Well, let me amend that.  We wanted to find doughnuts in Columbus that were from a local shop and not from a major chain.  So we consulted my GPS and iPhone, and came up with a likely place:  Buckeye Donuts.  When we got there, we both had the same thought:  back away quickly, not slowly.  The pace looked like its day had come….and went.  So we consulted the GPS/iPhone again, and came up with a place with stellar reviews….

….which must not have been good enough, because when we got there we found that the place was closed.  As in closed down.  Slightly frustrated and eager for some deep fried sugary goodness, I took one more stab at searching, and what popped up?  The Jolly Pirate Donut Shop.  I blinked when I read the name, then said F it, it’s only 2 miles away, and headed there.  It was great.  The waitress staff consisted of two older ladies in pink dresses who had a definite charm about them (and one of them had a laugh that was somehow infectious), and though I can’t say the doughnuts were the best I’ve ever had, they were definitely tasty.

Now that we had eaten our fill of doughnuts, we had one final stop to make in Columbus.  We had both spotted an add in our playbill the previous night for a “artisan chocolate” place.  I had to admit, I was curious.  The only chocolate that I had seen before that could be counted as “artisan” was on the Food Network, and since Jen was amenable to the idea we went in search of this place (with the help of my GPS).

We arrived at Yosick’s in Columbus’s historic German district (very pretty place), and as soon as I saw what was behind the counter I knew we had found someplace special.  We got to chat with one of the chocolatiers, a kind lady who definitely knew her craft.  After choosing some to be boxed up to take with us, we chose a couple to be consumed while we waited.  That was almost a mistake.  That was some of the best, it not the best, chocolate I have ever put in my mouth, ever.  It was the perfect blend of lighter and dark chocolate (I think she said something like 62% cocoa), just a hint sweet, just a hint bitter.  I very nearly got up and doubled our order.  I think the only thing that saved me were the words “we do ship”.

After we left Yosick’s, we decided that it was time to head back home, and so we did, the end of a very enjoyable weekend trip.  I’ll leave you now with a image of some of the chocolate that I brought back for Sara.  Pictured from left to right:  windmill toffee, cinnamon stick, dark chocolate ganache, vanilla creme, and salt caramel.  Enjoy.  :)


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