Reviewed by Ralph Rosenfield
“Fresh. Seasonal. Local”
We have been big Rigsby’s fans since Rigsby’s Cuisine Volatile opened in what, in the restaurant world, could be considered “millenia” ago. Over the years Rigsby’s has consistently delivered what we have come to believe is the best food in the city, day in, day out. With reasonable pricing on their wines and a varied and regularly updated menu to tempt us Rigsby’s can be counted on for a great dining experience. And now the Rigsby’s have done it again! Their newest venture, TASI, has already become a new favorite for us.
TASI. What a breath of fresh air! This small gem is located in the former “Pistachio” location on Pearl Alley in the Short North, between Lincoln and Russell. I had lunch at TASI one day recently, returned with Jan for dinner the same evening, then Jan had lunch at TASI the next day and we both went back for dinner that night, as well. Do you think we like the place?
Several of TASI’s larger family style tables encourage shared dining with other patrons, which we were fortunate enough to enjoy with Steve Stover and his wife Mary on one of our dinner visits and with our Buggyworks neighbors Rick and Merry on our second dinner visit. Steve is well known locally as a great foodie and reviewer, so he and I had a good time exchanging our almost entirely favorable impressions of the several menu items we ended up sharing. And Merry and Rick were in the sharing mode also, so we have now tried a pretty broad selection of TASI’s offerings. What follows is our take on what we think may be the next “IN” place to go.
We should first say that this is not a small menu. It lists no less than ten breakfast items, which are happily served ALL day long. Lunch begins at 11am with at least 15 items available through the 9pm closing time. We counted seven soups and salad items, 16 side dishes, multiple bread selections, at least seven desserts and about 10 take-home meal options. And several daily specials to boot! I’m exhausted just writing all that down!
We haven’t found anything we DIDN’T enjoy, so we’ll touch on a few of our favorites and leave it to you to discover the rest.
Sourdough Pancakes with sweet and spicy bacon and Ohio maple syrup @$7.00. Two plate-sized pancakes that are probably the lightest I have ever enjoyed. The flavor is distinctly sourdough and nothing is better on pancakes than “real” maple syrup. The bacon could have been a bit warmer for my taste, but it was full of flavor.
Huevos Rancheros with Queso Fresco Tortilla @$7.00. Another home run, this dish is comprised of two poached eggs (next time I will ask for slightly less done) over a fresh bed of salsa and a warm tortilla. Could this be Mexico?
Cinnamon Danish @$2.95. Be careful - this is an addictive delight. Doughy, alive with cinnamon flavor, and sinful when served warm with extra butter.
Meatloaf, Grilled Onions, Homemade Ketchup, Horseradish Mayo @ $9.00. I was lusting after this sandwich from the moment I so rudely peered over the shoulders of Steve and Mary seated at a large family-size table. Not known for being shy or standoffish, my obvious interest prompted Steve to graciously offer me a taste. What else could he do to stop my drooling? With veal, pork and beef in the mix, it was full-flavored and sized just right to be filling but not overly so.
Fries with Reggiano and Pepper Flake @$3.00. TASI sets the new standard in French Fries with this supreme side. Hot, crispy, fresh (not frozen) potatoes, cut and combined with the grilled onion and reggiano, they are simply the best! No ketchup needed here.
Potato Latkes with Chives and Sour Cream @$2.95; add Smoked Salmon for an extra $3.00. The Latkes are better than my Jewish grandmother ever managed and she made REALLY GOOD latkes!
Open Faced “Zoe” Tuna Sandwich with capers, relish, onions, and hard boiled egg @$6.00. The best canned tuna ever! This is a wonderfully fresh, light and perfectly prepared tuna salad – a simple, yet highly satisfying “comfort food” experience.
Lobster Mac and Cheese @$10.00. Lobster and Mac and cheese? What were Kent and Tasi drinking when they came up with this? It wasn’t water. But this IS a GREAT combination. Real cheese, creamy sauce, fresh lobster and a perfectly browned top jump up and demand that you pay attention.
Finish your meal with home-style cookies, cream pie or chocolate pudding, and you’ll leave feeling satisfied and looking forward to your NEXT visit to this warm and homey addition to our local dining scene.
Are you convinced? Go ahead and give it a try. At such friendly prices (including the wine at just one penny over retail!) you just can’t go wrong.