Friday, 15 March 2013

Dine Originals 10: Hubbard Grille and Another Unintended Taste of Argentina's Culinary Influence

Hubbard Grille on Urbanspoon

Of all the words I have come across in the last few years to describe food, I'm going to put it out there that my favourite to date is "unctuous." As of this post, I've never actually written the word, primarily because I wasn't really sure how to use it or if what I imagined being unctuous was actually that. To an extent, I've thought about using it to describe foods that lie somewhere along the spectrum of comfort food (despite or even because of the fact it's greasy) and especially anything with a prominent umami presence. At one point I went so far in my head as to equate anything that was essentially an attack to one's cardiovascular system as being unctuous, as suggested by the standard, dry dictionary definition. It wasn't until yesterday, however, that I think I finally found a dish that properly deserved to be described as unctuous, in terms of being mouthwateringly rich yet incredibly refined and clean. That dish, described in far greater detail than absolutely necessary, came courtesy via Hubbard Grille located at 793 N High St in Columbus's Short North District.

For those not in the know, this past Monday marked the beginning of Dine Originals 10, 10 referring to the fact that this week marks Dine Originals's 10th anniversary. To celebrate, the folks at Hubbard Grille put together a menu consisting of 10 "unmatchable and unique" dishes (1 per day) at a featured price of $10. Ironically (given Wednesday's post), and as if by fate, yesterday's dish happened to be a spin on Argentinian asado (also, this) and its Chimichurri sauce partner. But before I actually talk about the dish, I do want to make mention of the fact that Hollis, John and I happened to arrive during Hubbard Grille's Happy Hour which in itself provided a distinctly different experience (calmer/brighter/quieter) than the first time I visited (and subsequently reviewed one of their dessert options after an already filling dinner). In both cases, it's worth mentioning that the wait staff was very friendly and attentive. In regard to cocktail choices, coincidentally, two of their offerings also spoke to yesterday's theme--one containing agave nectar, the other lime--and I eventually selected the latter, the Shiver Me Ginger pictured above. Refreshing and smooth, this turned out to be a perfect pairing with the Dine Originals special, of which we all ordered.

Presented before us were three toasted soft shell tacos atop which sat generous portions of juicy, flavourful flank steak au jus. Gently piled on top of that was essentially a cucumber and red onion slaw which provided a great brightness and contrast to the richness of the meat. Finally, to balance out the heat and bring everything together was a cool, creamier Chimichurri (again, the classic pairing for asado). Alongside all of this was a generous serving of rice (shown at the top of this post, it had a creamy texture similar to risotto but not as wet nor sticky like most Asian rices) which seemed to mask some of the contrasting flavours (of the beef, slaw and sauce) when eaten concurrently, but which also somehow brought the dish as a whole together texturally. As a single taco, this would make for a great taco; as a trio, this is a perfect enough and incredibly (ful)filling course.

Before I wrap up this short post, I do want to note that following our dinner, we headed over to the Gateway Film Center for a benefit screening of the Academy Award nominated How to Survive a Plague. The screening was part of Gateway's Columbus Documentary Week, and the money raised from ticket sales went to AIDS Resource Center Ohio. As a brief review, I found How to Survive a Plague to be a gripping and emotionally charged documentary. It was clearly well researched and reveals the devastating realities of the Plague (ie, the HIV/AIDS epidemic). Watching history being told on screen, as difficult as it was at many points, I quickly saw the documentary as one which demonstrates the ups and downs, the struggles and successes of persistence, social movements and collaboration. There is much we can learn from this. And indeed, there is also much more still left to be done.

Again, for the complete Dine Originals menu for Hubbard Grille (which ends this upcoming Wednesday), click here. For the complete Dine Originals menu for the nearly 50 participating restaurants, click here.

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