This summer, Aroma debuted on Lynn Street in the spot that used to be Si Señor (!). Prior to this, the space housed Deli in the Alley. Unlike its predecessors, Aroma isn’t focused on deli meats or south of the border, genres that are both familiar and popular for the downtown crowd. And while “Aroma” is a moniker that could be associated with any dining theme, the new operation has one area of specialty; it offers a sophisticated mix of Mediterranean and European menu options.
Aesthetically, Aroma’s lines are modern and clean, with hard surfaces and wooden floors. With walls in gold and burgundy tones, the color scheme is quite warm and matches well with the warm hospitality of the house.
The appetizer section of the menu is the first place where a pronounced Mediterranean influence stands out. Consider a dip, like Ezme ($3.99). Served with pita triangles, it’s a thick, fortified tomato-based mix with a nutty element that adds a luxurious richness.
Or maybe something more fusional? For this there is Avocado Hummus ($3.99). If its title creates expectations of some sort of cross between a guac and a traditional hummus, those expectations would be pretty on point. Lawyers are ridiculously flexible, anyway. They’ve made appearances in faux-nutella and brownie recipes, so why not hummus too?
Verdict: Of course it works. The appetizer’s chickpea-tahini-avocado blend comes together as an exceptionally smooth and silky hummus, while retaining the savory nutty accent of the tahini.
the cigar rolls ($6.49 named for shape, not aroma) offers another sort of chewable option. Again, there’s a Mediterranean accent, the feta, but paired harmoniously with melty gouda, and served with a yogurt-based citrus sauce that brightens the palate.
Aroma also cooks pizza, in its own way. As a starter, the homemade pizza is served on a cauliflower-based crust. If it is possible to find cauliflower crust pizzas elsewhere in town, the variant remains atypical. In terms of pizza functionality, Aroma’s Cauliflower Crust gets the job done. It’s not as chewy and flavorful as a conventional crust, but it makes a useful base for toppings.
But these toppings must carry the cake, and the meat eater ($11.99) is up to the task. While deli meats (pepperoni, ham, Canadian bacon) can top a traditional pie, Aroma’s Meat Eater offers straight, hearty, heavy ground beef combined with sweet onion, fiery serrano, tomatoes, and mushrooms tossed with mozzarella. Even though its components are simple, there is something (at the risk of being punny) aromatic about the pie that adds up more than the parts.
For those who really love cauliflower, there’s a pizza option that tops the crust with even MORE roasted cauliflower; this version is also vegetarian. But there are plenty of other herbal alternatives to consider in the formal starters section. Concrete example, shepherd’s dish ($9.99). It’s built on a savory lentil base that’s tossed with bulgur (you might know bulgur from tabbouleh, it’s the same grain product), roasted beats, goat cheese, and sautéed onions. It’s heavy and hearty and served with a cleansing yogurt sauce to add variety to the dining experience.
the Chicken skewers ($10.99) are decent quality. The entree offers a familiar kebob option, with appropriately grilled pieces of chicken, and seared tomatoes and peppers on the side. Main courses usually come with formal sides, and while they’re nothing new, house fries are respectable hot and crispy companions.
Aroma is open daily at 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. for lunch and dinner at 72 E. Lynn St.
For more information, visit aromacolumbus.com.
All photos by Susan Post