We had some other fun excursions from the hotel. Twice we went to Easton Town Center. It's a sprawling batch of stores and restaurants with some very nice social infrastructure. The public restrooms are tucked into a little niche, all dotties. Mine had a toilet, sink with marble top, blow dryer, changing table, and two mirrors. Set into the middle of the one over the sink was a viewscreen showing a short-loop video of a cardinal in a snow flurry. It's the fanciest dottie I've seen yet, a little slice of Terramagne. The Center also has a plaza with brick paths through it, large and small benches, patio tables and chairs. We sat out there to eat dessert on Friday. It's a good place to go if you have plenty of spending money.
For our first visit, we stopped at Piada Italian Street Food. Admittedly I was curious because I had only read about Italian street food. Now that I have tasted some, I am more impressed! I think our favorite was the piada stick. Think of very thin bread, like a tortilla or a crepe, rolled around pepperoni and toasted. Delicious, affordable, convenient, and not messy if you wanted to eat it in a car. The potato chips came topped with fresh-grated parmesan cheese, which I hadn't seen before and quite liked. I got a porchetta sandwich with slow-roasted pork loin bits flavored by Tuscan spices, topped with pickled red onion and fennel (usually basil aioli too, but I skipped that). It was tasty stuff, and the spices very interesting, not Americanized. Doug got the Italian trio on piada dough with capicola, pepperoni, and Genoa salami, mozzarella, tomatoes, balsamic aioli, sweet & spicy peppers, arugula, and lemon basil dressing (usually sweet & spicy pickles too, but he dislikes pickles). They had several varieties of Italian soda on tap, of which we got the berry flavor that was really good. If this place were local, we'd hit it repeatedly for lunch just because they've got portable food that's different from the usual. Highly recommended.
Then we went to the Cheesecake Factory for dessert. Doug picked out a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup cheesecake that was just splendid -- layers of cheesecake and chocolate cake and other things with a whole handful of whipped cream on the side. Pricey, but we couldn't finish it all, so we got two desserts for two people out of one slice which brought the per-serving price down to a very reasonable level. Most highly recommended. They had a couple dozen varieties in the display case. We joked about my character Leelah (who backloads after healing by devouring whole cheesecakes) placing a weekly order for one of each flavor. It would certainly keep her from getting bored.
On Saturday we went back, but the weather was chilly and wet, and we couldn't agree on a restaurant for a long time. Eventually we settled on Café Zupas, which made tasty sandwiches and gave away free chocolate-covered strawberries. Recommended. We also stopped at Godiva for some seasonal truffles. Always a good choice!
We had spotted a Middle Eastern restaurant called the Grape Vine that we wanted to try, but it was closed at lunch and still closed at supper. >_< However, that led us to discover Yanni's Greek Grill and Deli. It's a tiny little restaurant with affordable prices and some of the best Greek food we've ever had. The walls are all done in murals of Greek scenery, like the Colossus of Rhodes. Our waiter kept chatting with us and the folks at the next table, which was adorable. We got the dolmades to start with, which came topped with a creamy lemony sauce, and were very generous in the ratio of ground lamb to rice. Not sour at all, but rich and a little tangy. We devoured both of them quickly, and most of the little wedges of homemade pita bread that came with them. Doug ordered pastitsio, a layered pasta dish that's basically a Greek lasagna. I ordered a plate of marithes, fried smelts. These are tiny finger-sized fish that I had heard of but never seen on a menu before. Doug says that family friends used to catch these and bake them. I've heard them compared to tuna or sardines, and I get why, but the flavor and texture are different. They're quite fishy, but mellower, with a delicate flaky white flesh inside. I ate far too many of them, not fond of the salad-dressing-like dip they came with but avidly scooping up what was left of the dolmades topping. For dessert, Doug got the rizogalo, a rice pudding that was much more puddinglike than usual, and utterly scrumptious. I got kourabiethes, almond cookies shaped like crescent moons and covered in powdered sugar. Now these things are enormously popular with Pagans, where they're called moon cookies or cakes, but they're difficult to make properly. They're a light, crisp cookie that should just about explode into crumbs when you bite down. Trouble is, they tend to come out either soggy or rocklike, because almond is kind of a finicky ingredient. These were excellent. Alas that the restaurant is so far away. If they were local, Yanni's would be a favorite and we'd probably stop there every month or two -- and at that, it'd take us a few rounds to get tired of our favorites and go try other things we like, such as gyros or kebabs. If you are anywhere in the Columbus area of Ohio and you like Greek food -- or haven't tried it but wish to -- Yanni's is absolutely worth your time for a day trip. Most highly recommended.