May 2010 issue
Black Creek Bistro
Farm to table takes a delicious turn in Columbus.
Kent Peters is a hands-on kind of guy. On a recent Saturday afternoon, he was up on a ladder, trimming the flowering tree in front of his restaurant. He wore a hat with a wide, turned-up brim, jeans and boots. It turns out that the proprietor of Black Creek Bistro in Columbus’ Olde Towne East likes working outdoors: He’s also a local farmer.
Actually, the farming gig came first, in 1998 to be exact, when Peters and his wife bought 11 acres and a historic farmhouse in Canal Winchester. In 2007, Black Creek Bistro was born as a culinary “extension” of the couple’s Black Creek Heritage Farm, serving veggies, herbs and poultry they produce on their land. If you want an urban farm-to-table experience along with a truly delightful meal, this is the place to find both.
We stopped in for an early dinner on a Saturday and were seated in a window-seat booth at a table made from lacquered wine crates. The tables surrounding us were set with modern black chairs and white tablecloths. The bistro combines neighborhood sophistication with an artsy, down-to-earth vibe. In fact, the space doubles as a gallery, featuring local artists’ work for sale.
With drinks in hand — a pomegranate-pear martini and a glass of one of three evening wine specials — my dinner companion and I started our meal with an order of salmon cakes with Creole mustard sauce ($8). The cakes were punctuated with celery and herbs and accompanied by a tangy house-made mustard sauce and sautéed spinach.
The bistro fries with two sauces ($6) is another popular Black Creek appetizer. Nearly every table within earshot ordered the salt-and-pepper spuds, served with white truffle dipping sauce and spicy ketchup.
We tried the bistro salad ($6), a mound of greens topped with plump, dried cranberries (the fruit selection changes, based on the season), red onion, candied walnuts, plenty of Gorgonzola cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. The candied nuts had a thick, sweet coating, and the cranberries were nothing like the commercially packaged varieties that I’ve tried. They tasted fresher and much more vibrant. The bistro also offers a spinach salad with caramelized onions and bacon and a Caesar salad with house-made croutons for the same price.
Black Creek Bistro’s current dinner menu features six large-plate entrées and three small plates. In addition to these, the bistro features lunch and dinner specials nearly every day — which you can check out in advance on Facebook and Twitter. The selections are seasonal and diverse. While I was tempted by the Texas red fish with andouille sausage and dirty rice special, I decided on the pumpkin ravioli ($15). The dish was creamy — decadent, really — with meaty shitake mushrooms and huge, homemade ravioli shaped like half moons. The pumpkin filling was flavored with nutmeg and chili peppers, which provided a kick.
We also tried the chicken roulade ($18) and were pleasantly surprised by the juicy and flavorful chicken breast. The chicken was flavorful and filled with spinach and roasted red peppers. Accompanying the dish was crisp-tender zucchini and a tasty piece of potato gratin. (As she delivered our entrées, our server told us that she loves when the chefs save her a just-a-bit-too-crispy piece of the potato casserole. It’s one of her favorites.)
With our leftover entrées packaged up in Chinese-restaurant-style takeout boxes, we ordered the dark chocolate panna cotta ($8) for dessert. Italian for cooked cream, the panna cotta had rich chocolate flavor and was served with fresh strawberries and basil syrup. If that sounds like a strange flavor combination, trust me — you have to try it. The sweet basil syrup had a delightfully “green” herbal flavor that really made the other ingredients taste like something completely new. The bistro also offered crème brûlée with berries as another dessert option that evening.
Overall, dinner at Black Creek Bistro was a casual and fun experience with great food and friendly service. We also felt good about the green and sustainable aspects of our meal. Peters currently powers two farm trucks with waste oil reclaimed from the restaurant, and he enriches his garden beds with compost made from the bistro’s vegetable scraps.
Black Creek Bistro, 51 Parsons Ave., Columbus 43215, 614-246-9662. blackcreekbistro.com. Open for lunch and dinner. Mon.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Sat. 4–11p.m. Closed Sundays. Dinner entrées: $12–$29. Credit cards accepted.