"Our mission is to make people aware of the importance of where they spend their dining-out dollars," Katharine Moore wrote to me via e-mail. "If we don't rally support for the independent restaurant, our signature locations could go the way of the neighborhood hardware store and the independent bookstore. It's really not easy to compete with the power of chain restaurants."

"Our mission is to make people aware of the importance of where they spend their dining-out dollars," Katharine Moore wrote to me via e-mail. "If we don't rally support for the independent restaurant, our signature locations could go the way of the neighborhood hardware store and the independent bookstore. It's really not easy to compete with the power of chain restaurants."

Moore, the executive director of Dine Originals Columbus, was thoughtfully explaining how the upcoming Restaurant Week held by her consortium of 40 top-notch eateries would promote the local restaurant scene.

If for some reason you haven't heard of Dine Originals, believe me, you are aware of its formidable members. Because from A to Z and from fancy to casual, they basically make up a list of the very best places to eat in Columbus.

Here, let me refresh your memory: Alana's, Barcelona, Betty's, DeepWood, Katzinger's, Pistacia Vera, the Refectory, Rigsby's, The Top Steak House, Z Cucina ... starting to get the delicious-looking picture now?

As Moore further explained, through banding together, Dine Originals is able to generate group buying power, marketing strategies and a unity of vision that includes strong support for super-worthy community outreach programs like Meals on Wheels, Buckeye Ranch, the Mid-Ohio FoodBank and Local Matters.

As a bonus, they're also able to enjoy the camaraderie created by like-minded businesses, i.e. green-leaning, independent and locally owned restaurants running original, made-from-scratch kitchens. Now, of course we all love that feel-good and do-gooder stuff, but if the food from the Dine Originals group wasn't flat-out terrific, it would all be for naught.

Well now they're also routinely offering a terrific deal, too. (Call it a local stimulus package to encourage savvy diners to get out to all those great places people are always talking about.) Building on the inspiring success of the first Restaurant Week held last spring, Dine Originals is making the event a new biannual tradition -every March and September. In other words, it's baaack!

So mark your calendars, call your babysitters and start dialing for reservations, because from Sept. 7-13, all 40 Dine Originals members will be dishing up some very special fixed-price dinners. (See the list of participating places on the opposite page.)

Prices will be set at either $20.09 (which at, say, Basi Italia will buy you a chopped kale salad with pine nuts, parmesan and sweet currants; a crab-and-sweet-corn risotto with a spicy carrot emulsion; and a chocolate-hazelnut creamosa) or $30.09 (which at G. Michael's can buy a crabcake with sweet corn butter sauce and guacamole; a tempting spinach-stuffed golden trout or a great-looking veal osso bucco; plus a lemon ginger-snap tart, buttermilk panna cotta or a spicy Mexican brownie with Jeni's ice cream, berries and creme anglaise).

Wow, are you as hungry as I am yet?