Friday, 18 October 2013

Music and Food: The Phillip Fox Band and Two Food Experiences in Central Ohio

What do the 2013 Ohio Food Truck Festival and The Granville Inn on every third Thursday of the month have in common? The Phillip Fox Band, of course (okay, technically two of the band members)! On Sunday, September 29th, I made my way over to the latter half of the Ohio Food Truck Festival which took place on the grounds of Ohio Village (the same location of the Country Living Fair I attended last month). It was there that I first heard the proclaimed "country-fried rock'n' roll" persona of the central Ohio-based group, led by native Detroiter Phillip Fox. Fast forward to the more recent present, and yesterday I went to Granville for a quick evening visit to the Inn's Acorn Pub to hear Phillip and Toledo native Jonathan Kampfe, together known as the Phillip Fox Acoustic Duo. Highlighted briefly then are my dining experiences, set to the tunes of local music.

The clear skies and mélange of aromas set the perfect stage for this return event. At least 20 trucks, divided into four sections, were spread throughout Ohio Village, and represented much of Ohio's eclectic offerings. If I had one critique, though, the choices seemed to lean much more on the grilled, fried, barbecued, gastronomically rich side of the food fare spectrum. And that's coming from someone who doesn't automatically yearn for the healthiest or lightest thing on any menu. That said, I was wicked hungry by the time I got there, having spent most of my day catching up on my readings.

If you thought the same thing I did, click here to see how "the lead singer gets his hair to look so amazing." And no, I didn't submit the question.
After the first round of my tour to check out what was available--and there certainly was a lot!--my ears caught hold of the Phillip Fox Band and I stopped to take a listen before my stomach told me to go hunt for some food.

My first stop (unsurprisingly) was at Big E's Southern "Q", led by Chef and Pit Master Eric "Big E" Smith, a classically trained chef in French culinary cuisine. As noted at the aforementioned link, Big E's Southern Q brings together the various American barbecue stylings, the result of which is deliciously harmonious.

If I remember my scribbled notes correctly, one of the things that defines Big E's from its competitors are the pork ribs they source from Holland. Size-wise, they're in between baby back and spare ribs, and are particularly moist and tender. Pair this with their house-made sauces, and this is a winning dish in itself. To contrast the richness of the ribs, I also got a sampling of their excellent apple slaw. The slaw's crisp texture and nuanced sour bite from what I'm pretty sure was apple vinegar cut through the relative heaviness of the ribs.

From one pork dish to the next, I went to Paddy Wagon, which just a few weeks ago received a visit from Food Network Canada's Eat St. Now, I don't know about you, but if any food establishment is proud of the fact they were voted best in Columbus, a part of you asks if it's really that good.

So, I picked up their 3rd Degree Grilled Cheese, and gave that a try as I watched the Phillip Fox Band finish up their set. A bit on the messier side, Paddy Wagon's American grilled cheese was worth the paper napkin use as it fulfilled its title with caramelised onions, pepper jack cheese, organic mixed greens, 5-OH! sauce, and bacon. This being said, I'd definitely put this grilled cheese among my top 5, the leading one still housed at The Crest.

With the band's set over, I packed up my remaining grilled cheese (which made for an awesome late night snack, by the way) and made a few more rounds around the grounds. In passing I kept checking up on the Ohio Village Muffins game, versus the team from Mansfield.

Eventually, I found dessert in the form of a Salted Caramel Pumpkin Concrete from Culver's. A Wisconsin-based company, the franchise has expanded to more than 450 family-owned restaurants across 19 states. For anyone in the area looking for a nearby Culver's, four locations currently exist in central Ohio.

Prior to calling it a day, I saw members of the Phillip Fox Band at El Taco Peton. I had originally wanted to try them out as the truck signage claimed it as both a taqueria and pupuseri. Unfortunately, El Taco Peton didn't have any pupusas, nor did I have any cash to try the equivalent sopes (or at least the vendor I spoke with said they were almost the same). I guess I'll have to visit them at their updated address, located at 1193 Refuge Rd in Columbus.

And with that, I headed to Church and eventually back to my studying, this time with the tunes of an Appalachian group, The PopBillies, putting a creative and memorable spin on contemporary pop music. Oh, and I should note, the Ohio Village muffins won! (For my entire Ohio Food Truck Festival album, click here.)

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So, with all of that context laid out, I had recently learned the Phillip Fox Band would be releasing a new t-shirt design this past Friday. I couldn't make it over to Easton for that concert and to pick one up (for reasons that will be made clear in a subsequent post), but after checking out their upcoming concerts page, I realised I could make it to yesterday's, which again took place at The Granville Inn. In a previous post, I reviewed my dining experience in The Oak Room of The Granville Inn. This time around, this experience took place in the much smaller Acorn Pub. [As an aside, Denison University announced it would be purchasing the Granville Inn, and keeping such an iconic piece of Granville in business (1,2,3,4).]

With the noticeably softer sound of the Acoustic Duo (compared to the larger venue and presence of the full band in larger venues), my very brief visit to Granville was a much welcomed reprieve from the relatively busier life of Columbus. As Phillip and Jonathan began to play, a glass of Angry Orchard was brought to my table, followed shortly thereafter by The Oak Room's (you can select from both menus; 1,2) Classic Wedge Salad: a crisp iceberg wedge topped with "green goddess" dressing, crumbled blue cheese, bacon, diced red onion, hard boiled egg, and tomato. I've had it quite a few times and find it to be consistent and reliable as a starter. That said, it can get to be very filling, and so I purposefully stopped eating it halfway through (boxing up the rest), and awaited my entrée.

Here, I would like to note that the waitress taking care of all the diners last night was Wendy, who was ever attentive and very friendly if not familial, and whose bubbly personality added to the light-hearted and relaxing mood of the pub itself. I'd also say Wendy was also patient with me as I struggled to figure what I wanted for dinner.

With already having had bacon with the salad (though can you really ever have too much?), I opted for the Acorn Pub's Grilled Chicken Sandwich, alongside a tall glass of Strongbow. Nested between two halves of a light and herbacious Kaiser roll were succulent grilled chicken, a smooth apple butter, warm slices of brie, and a well-proportioned amount of candied pecans. Oh.my.yum.

By the time my sandwich arrived, Maureen joined me for dinner and order the salmon which from what I understood was also very good. Eventually, we got the cheesecake of the day--triple chocolate--which was richly dense and needed a box by the time we were done catching up and eating.

The timing of it all worked out perfectly, as Phillip and Jonathan had finished their second set and began to pack up for the next adventure ahead. I'm thinking a regular return to the Acorn Pub at least once a month, especially with the Acoustic Duo lending to the vibe, is certainly called for.

Ah, and as for getting hold of the new t-shirt design? Success! For these and additional photos from last night's acoustic concert, click here.

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