Kenneth and I had a date night at the Arena District this past Saturday night! We had dinner at Sunny Street Café, watched the Columbus Blue Jackets play the Nashville Predators and finished the evening with ice cream from Jeni's! With Kenneth's heavy class schedule and my ever changing work hours (I work some weekends, sometimes 8am to 5pm, sometimes I'm off mid-afternoon, it just depends!), we have to take advantage of every opportunity we get to spend time together.
The Arena District is a 75 acre mutli-use development in downtown Columbus with a few small parks, restaurants, Nationwide Arena, Huntington Park, the Arena Grand Movie Theatre, urban housing and office space.
|Across the street from the main entrance into Nationwide Arena.|
|The Columbus Union Station Arch which is the last piece of Union Station, the rest of which was demolished in 1976.|
Eating out is a bit of a challenge for us, I am intolerant to wheat and soy and Kenneth is allergic to tree nuts. We have our favorite restaurants in Columbus that are safe for both of us and delicious, but we wanted to try something new while checking out the Arena District.
Kenneth read online that Sunny Street Café has a gluten-free menu, we've never been before and there was no wait, so we decided to give it a try (Boston's Gourmet Pizza and BD's Mongolian Grill, both of which have gluten-free options, were packed!).
The host and wait staff at Sunny Street were very friendly, but when we asked the host for a gluten-free menu, he didn't know if they had one or not. A nearby waiter told him that they do, but they only have one copy and they couldn't find it for me. This isn't a deal breaker for me when going to a restaurant, but anyone with food allergies or sensitivities always feels better when the staff at the restaurant are knowledgeable about the food they serve and possible allergens. Lucky for me, the gluten-free menu is also available online so I was able to find what I needed using Kenneth's smartphone.
I ordered the veggie omelet with hash browns (no toast) and Kenneth ordered the Chicken Telera sandwich with fries. My hash browns were pretty good, but the veggies in my omelet tasted raw, like they weren't cooked before being put in the omelet. The cheese sauce had a strange flavor to it as well. Kenneth's sandwich was ok, his fries were a little rubbery.
|Veggie Omelet: An egg white omelet with grilled tomatoes, onions, peppers, fresh spinach and mushrooms with American cheese.|
|Chicken Telera Grill Marinated chicken breast, char grilled with roasted red peppers, lettuce, tomato, red onion and balsamic vinaigrette on a chewy telera roll.|
Overall we weren't very happy with our dinner and probably won't be back. In all fairness to Sunny Street Café, Northstar Café and Cap City Fine Diner and Bar make the absolute best brunch and diner sandwiches in Columbus and those are two of our favorite restaurants here.
After dinner we headed to the Nationwide Arena - which is huge! The building is a lot bigger than it looks from the outside (or, we could say it's 'smaller on the inside' - any Columbus Whovians out there?).
I must preface my review of the game with a little background information - I am not sports savvy nor am I a big sports fan. I played a few sports during school as a kid and in high school I ran cross country (a great, but not very complicated sport!). Football games in high school were about socializing and family get-togethers to watch "the game" are all about the food! This was the first live hockey game I've ever been too, and the first sporting event I've been to in Columbus (except for the Columbus Marathon, which my mom and sister have ran the past three years). If you've also never been to a hockey game before - be sure to dress in layers! I saw plenty of people dressed for the lovely April weather in shorts and t-shirts, but I thought it was very chilly inside the arena and was glad I brought my sweater and a hat!
The experience overall was a lot of fun and exciting to watch - but my lack of hockey knowledge did mean I got bored a few times (I actually missed the first two goals by the Blue Jackets - whoops!). I honestly expected a sports commentator to be talking us through the game the entire time - guess I have too much experience watching games on the TV and not enough live game experience! Fan Appreciate Night kept the game exciting - prizes were given out "left and right" to individual fans and to entire sections of the stadium!
The Nashville Predators scored the first goal in the second period, but the Blue Jackets scored the next three, winning the game! The last point was easily scored when the Predator goalie left the goal undefended! The end of the game was exciting and the energy of the fans was contagious. For a much better rundown of the game itself, check out the post-game write-up on the Blue Jackets' website.
On our way home Kenneth and I stopped at Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams for desert. Jeni's was surprisingly busy for 10pm, there was a line out the front door! We've been fans of this locally made ice cream since we first tried it after moving to Columbus in 2010. The milk used to make the ice cream is produced by Snowville Creamery, which is located in south eastern Ohio. If you have food sensitivities, check out Jeni's website for ingredients and nutritional information, before you go. FYI - four of the ice cream sandwiches are made with gluten-free macaroons!
I have several favorite flavors at Jeni's (wildberry lavender, black coffee and salty caramel), but Saturday night I chose the Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream Sandwich. Kenneth got his all-time favorite a scoop of Brambleberry Crisp and a scoop of Lemon Frozen Yogurt. The staff at Jeni's (officially known as Ice Cream Ambassadors) are always friendly and let you sample whatever flavors you'd like before ordering. I definitely recommend sampling a new flavor before ordering a scoop of it, the very creative flavors of some of the ice creams are not for every palette!
|Ice Cream Sandwich with Lemon Frozen Yogurt and Brambleberry Crisp|
|Close-up of the hazelnuts on the amazingly delicious Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream Sandwich!|
Overall we had a great evening and were home in time to be well rested for Kenneth's White Coat Ceremony for Veterinary School the next day!
My review of Sunnystreet Cafe and many others can be viewed on Urbanspoon Columbus
My review of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams and many others can also be viewed on Urbanspoon Columbus