The just-opened and excitingly terrific Explorer's Club has "next great Columbus restaurant" written all over it.
On the pretty pale green walls of this instantly hip, sophisticated and stylish place (that is as casual as a diner) are terrific wood-block artworks by Jeb Loy Nichols (a musician friend of Explorer's musician/chef and owner Ricky Barnes) depicting a wide range of brilliant pioneers like Coltrane, Lao-Tze and Jean Dubuffet. On Explorer's plates are sit-up-and-take-notice Southwestern-accented deliciousness with a strong commitment to local, fresh, healthy and even vegetarian (Barnes ran the Galaxy Cafe in Powell, which begat the Starliner Diner).
Here's a taste; expect a full review in Alive very soon:
Posole-riffing Green Chile and Barley Soup; Tofu Fries (superior textured, paired with a killer roasted chili sauce)
Awesome Underground Salad with homemade Green Goddess dressing
Juicy Chicken Banh Mi (fusion-y and on a homemade roll).
Speaking of reading the writing on the walls, after eating at the Explorer's Club, we stopped by the Vinchen art show at Invisible Gallery and organized by Rivet. It was full of well-deserving and fairly amusing (if also fish-in-a-barrel obvious) sarcastic jabs at exploitative, runaway and under-regulated capitalism. Here's poor old Ted Williams (you know, the golden-voiced guy "working" the Crew Stadium area) whose Columbus-initiated 15 minutes may be yet extended.