i flew into Dayton for the express purpose of attending the Cal-Ohio St football game in Columbus for the weekend. i didnt have particularly high expectations on food, but i did manage to find a few gems along the way. it was my first time in the area in almost 20 years when some friends from grad school and i had driven from Bloomington to see the Columbus Crew play in the inaugural MLS season at the Horseshoe.
i need good coffee every morning and the stuff they give you with the free hotel breakfasts is almost not worth it even being free. i found a little coffee shop in the Oregon District in Dayton called Press. they dont seem to have website yet so i will just refer to this blog post as a reference >> Dayton Coffee shop ranked among coolest in the nation.
UPDATE >> official website for Press Coffee
it was every bit as good as suggested in the post. normal brewed coffee is all French pressed. they have several single origin roasts that they will pour-over for you and they make mean espresso drinks with the signature latte art that tells you they know what they are doing.
the only “drawbacks” at Press is the fact that they dont have wi-fi and they dont have much to eat.
after my morning coffee i needed some real food. chatting with the barista at Press i found out that the Dublin Pub almost across the street has some pretty good food. they use nitrogen to carbonate the Guinness that they have on tap like they do in Dublin. also their signature sandwich, the Ruck, was pretty good; a pretzel bun piled high with BBQ brisket and melted cheddar cheese. i refrained from also ordering the pub fries with some oozy cheese sauce that also came highly recommended.
on to Columbus…
my bro-in-law who went the hated school in Ann Arbor warned me not to expect much of the town or the people. i found just the opposite. people were mostly friendly and nice and it was pretty obvious from my attire i was from the opposing school.
i found great food at Alanas on High St pretty close to campus. aside from using fresh, local and seasonal ingredients every course has something called “Surprise”. they really do a good job of keeping you in the dark about what the surprise is. i ordered some tomato soup and the surprise salad since i wanted to be part of the experience there. all the food was excellent. the entrees all looked very good as well but were super-sized so i stayed away especially since i was dining alone. they had a few inventive cocktails as well as a particularly good selection of wines by the glass. in the end, the family i was sitting next to at the bar bought me dinner on the premise that were thanking me for “keeping the wife entertained”.
after the game (we barely lost 35–28 on some suspect officiating and some suspect pass coverage) a bunch Cal fans congregated at Matt the Millers Tavern in the Grandview part of town. a good place for burgers and a good selection of local brews on tap. the Bavarian pretzel bites and the flatbreads were probably the best things on the menu.
just down the street was really good ice cream at Jeni’s. it looks like a very mom-and-pop business and i was surprised to find it was a southern ice cream chain. regardless, the variety and the novelty of the flavors was quite impressive. most of my ice cream eating these days is limited to what the kids want, so it was nice to pick out something for myself for a change.
one last note on regional micro-brews. i found a pretty awesome beer, Angry Goat by Elevator Brewing Co. at a random liquor store in Columbus. it is a Nut Brown Ale aged in whiskey barrels. i took it to the 900a tailgate before the game and i can certify that it makes a particularly good breakfast beer.