Avishar Barua was a pre-med student at Ohio State University but he chose a career that has him entertaining guests instead of treating patients.
The executive chef of the Service Bar, Middle West Spirits' newly minted full-service restaurant at 1230 Courtland Ave. in Columbus, just north of Italian Village, said he and his staff go the extra step -- sometimes an extraordinary one -- for customers to make food memorable.
For example, making the meat for the pastrami Rachel takes 14 days. It starts with brining beef belly, followed by smoking and cooking sous-vide style, which involves placing the meat in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag and submerging it in temperature-controlled water.
"It's a much richer cut," Barua said of the beef belly, which he substitutes for brisket.
Another menu item, the cheesy brisket crunch, uses smoked beef served gordita-style, with a layer of queso holding together roti -- a fried Indian bread -- and a crispy corn tortilla.
If it all sounds a bit outre or fussy, it's not, he said.
"I don't think it's upscale," he said. "You taste the food but in a different way.
"This is just a collection of my experience. This is just what I feel like eating."
No one can say he hasn't done his research: He went to the Sichuan province of China to see for himself how dumplings are made.
That trip resulted in homemade lamb dumplings on the Service Bar menu. They are served with peppercorn oil, sweet soy sauce, sesame seeds and garlic.
Most menu items are priced $15 to $21.
Gluten-free and vegetarian menus also are available.
Barua is an alumnus of the well-regarded Veritas Tavern, which is relocating from Delaware to downtown Columbus.
Majoring in biology and psychology, Barua took the Medical College Admission Test, intending to pursue a career in health care.
He said his score was good enough for him to consider applying to med school but he completely switched gears, opting for the chef's apprentice program at Columbus State Community College.
Barua said making complex food is worth the effort if the flavors come together and meet customers' expectations.
He handmakes the cockscomb-shaped pasta for the Michelone Marzetti, which has meatballs and a sauce that cooks for 12 hours. The garlic bread is cooked to order.
"When you say you want to do these things, you do them," he said. "You just can't talk about them."
Kitchen hours are 5 to 11 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 5 to midnight Fridays and Saturdays and 5 to 10 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 614-947-1231.
Andes, a South American-style restaurant, is set to open in a month or so in the former Hae-Paul's Korean American Kitchen in downtown Columbus.
Owner Tyrone Nisthaz said the restaurant will focus on cuisine common in Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador.
Dishes will cost about $7 for lunch and up to $15 for dinner.
Sarah Yang says the smoothies she serves up are as healthy as they are delicious.
Yang is the owner of Cafe Esda in Powell, where the signature drink is a 6-ounce strawberry smoothie made from Grade-A sheep's milk.
The probiotic-rich drink is designed to replenish gut bacteria for people who are having digestive problems, she said.
The smoothie is being sold for $3.99 for a limited time.
The sheep's milk is used in other products, such as slushies, ice pops and other blended-fruit smoothies. It also is packaged so people can take it home and make their own drinks.
Muffins are available at the cafe.
Cafe Esda, which seats 10 patrons, is in a former Quiznos at 3450 O'Connell St.
Yang also is the owner of Esda Dairy, a small dairy processor based in Powell.