It’s impossible not to think about Rigsby’s Kitchen these days. Between discounts from Dine Originals Columbus’ Restaurant Week and Small Business Beanstalk and following a combination of oyster-loving Slow Food Members and traditional food writers on twitter, the Short North mainstay (that’s been bringing Columbus culinary excellence since 1986) has definitely been on my radar. Throw in a cooking class at the store and Kent Rigsby’s recent James Beard Award nomination, and, well, you get the point; the restaurant is getting quite the buzz.
While I was serving Kent Rigsby’s Shrimp Meatballs at the store last Thursday, I made a concrete decision to get my fanny in the restaurant soon. And the Monday happy hour – featuring drink specials, an always reasonably priced bar menu and a recent addition of $1 oysters (eat ’em ’til they’re gone) seemed like the perfect time to go.
I’ve always enjoyed Rigsby’s for its simple and elegant design, but I feel like the decor and attention to detail might send a message that the restaurant is only for special events. Don’t let the image scare you away; three small plates for $10 on the bar menu is reasonable for just about any occasion.
A fun fact from the Itinerant Foodie vault: I was eating Eleni Christina’s delicious bread during lunch at Rigsby’s when I found out that my offer on my home had been accepted several years ago. Mostly, I associate the bread with good luck, but after this past weekend, which was filled with floods and broken appliances, perhaps it was a curse.
For Monday’s happy hour dinner, Baseball Boy chose a trifecta of deviled eggs kissed with truffle oil, citrus-soaked olives and flatbread topped with ricotta and honey, the latter of the three being his favorite. A bite – or two – of the classic deviled egg revealed that we were definitely not at a church potluck. The hint of truffle oil made me crave another. But I had my own food to eat.
While most people in the bar were there for the oysters, my main objective was the pork belly. Served in a bed of warm chunky applesauce under a small pile of tangy pickled onions, I had a difficult time sharing. The aroma of toasted spices made my taste buds tingle with anticipation; I knew I’d come across something good. The dish seemed leaner than most of my other pork belly experiences, but it also seemed healthier, which when you’re dealing with pork fat, is a good justification tool: Apples are fruit and fruit is healthy, so I’m ordering another one.
Speaking of healthy, my main course was a salad of roasted beets and skorthalia, a hummus-style puree with potatoes, bread and lots of garlic. Kent presented this dish several years ago at another class, and it’s been a favorite of mine ever since. (Do not order this dish in any awkward social situations or when you might meet someone new; the garlic is a bit overwhelming.)
All in all, I’m happy that the magic of the internet sucked me into Rigsby’s doors this past Monday. I have a feeling that I could become a regular there. I mean, why not? It’s inexpensive, delicious and best of all, they have the healthiest pork belly in Columbus.
698 North High Street