I am ashamed to say that, despite rave reviews from both the Dispatch and my foodie friends, it took me several years to get to DeepWood. I am going to kindly ask that IF readers do as I say and not as I do, and waste no time getting there yourselves. You don’t get two years; you get two days. Why the rush? Because that’s how long the Morel Tasting Menu is available.
This five course menu featuring morels (and their seasonal sisters, rhubarb and ramps) transformed me into a girl of action. Not only would I have my first savory mushroom of the season, but I would finally step foot into one of the most highly acclaimed restaurants in Columbus. Oh, the power of a mushroom.
Walking into Deepwood was like walking into a relative’s living room. Comfortable, welcoming and not at all pretentious, the warm tones and soft edges could put any diner at ease; you don’t need an advanced degree in culinary arts to feel at home in their dining room.
I ordered the tasting menu complete with wine pairings, a fifty dollar commitment. Included in the cost were five courses, six wine tastings and background stories to each wine and its connection to Ohio as orated by our sommelier. I cannot, by the way, speak more highly of the service. Both the sommelier and our server were friendly and familiar, yet respectful of the emotional and physical space one needs when coming face to face with morels.
We started with an amuse bouche with fava beans, manchego and, of course, a finely chopped morel. As I took my first bite, my mind flew to last year’s Bigfoot Morel Challenge, and I scolded myself for not branching out from goat cheese in the competition. Manchego and morels are best friends.
Next came the bread and butter. Not an official course, but worthy of a post on their own. Served silver service style (individually plated by the server using two spoons) the bread, lavash and butter (topped with a delicious smoky salt) were not content to be out-shined by the rest of the meal.
The lavash was delightfully accompanied by fennel seeds. And the house-made country white bread made me want to move to the country and live in a place where I could stuff my mouth with soft, sweet bites every morning. If this is the country, count me in.
The flavors of morels and marsala came together nicely ladled over the next course, lobster ravioli. I filed marsala with manchego in my future morel pairings category, as I savored each bite. It was difficult not to lick the plate.
My favorite by far – excelling in taste, visual appeal and the ability to truly showcase the flavor of the morel – was the salad course. The morel vinaigrette, the key ingredient to this dish, captured the essence of mushroom. The cool, tender asparagus spears were cut and cooked perfectly, and the goat cheese fritter was an unnecessary but delicious addition to an already amazing dish.
For the main course, we were given a choice between veal sweetbreads (a protein I hadn’t experienced for more than a decade) and tuna, each paired with a morel risotto and ramps with a sherry vinegar reduction. I chose the gamey and tender sweetbreads. Alone, each entity of the main course was strongly flavored, but together, the flavors danced and mingled nicely. This course came with two wine tastings, allowing for two separate experiences of the dish.
It was after the main course (where I couldn’t finish the last bite of my sweetbreads) that I realized that the throw pillow in my booth was not just decor; it could easily facilitate a nap. I stayed strong (and awake), though, so I could finish the task ahead of me: dessert.
Several flavors came together in the dessert, a chocolate tart with a rhubarb puree and some sort of morel and chocolate sauce. Having tried to incorporate morels into dessert once before, I was impressed with the effort put into our final course. The chocolate killed the flavors of rhubarb and morel in the dessert, but when we separated the components, each flavor excelled. Despite this slight setback, the dessert was to die for. After four courses of morel, Baseball Boy and I were convinced: DeepWood has succeeded in showcasing the spring beauty. While there is never such a thing as too much morel, there is such a thing as enough morel, and we were satisfied.
The menu is available May 6th and 7th. Please, please, please do not hesitate to make your reservations. Morel season, sadly, will soon be over. I can’t wait, though, to find out what’s next on DeepWood’s agenda. They had me at morel, and now they’re stuck with me.
511 North High Street