4th Annual - Capital Fare Dining Reviews

3rd and Hollywood  
1433 West Third Ave., Grandview Heights, OH 43212 (614) 488-0303 
Immediately feel the embrace of an emanating warmth as you step inside Third & Hollywood. You’ll want to experience the bar for a bit simply to reflect upon the ambient details in the décor, which with large black walnut-framed mirrors, you can take it all in. These pieces, coupled with a dark, open ceiling, lend to presenting a spacious, yet cozy setting. Enjoy a draft as you observe the swirling wait staff, all youthful in gleaming white Oxfords and denim, taut ponytails and sculpted faces. We tried the Dortmunder Gold Lager and were pleased with its spiced hop zest. This spot exudes a classic Americana vibe replete with a vintage collection of art and jazz echoing in the background. Owner Kevin Malhame, of Northstar fame, opened Third & Hollywood in 2009 and speaks passionately about his recruited staff and mission. The restaurant, he says, was designed and built to be both casual and elegant, familiar and extraordinary. And who could deny his food fervor when he keeps a fact sheet as a testament to his commitment to using locally grown, organic ingredients.

Cimi’s Bistro  
1550 Pinnacle Club Drive, Grove City, OH 43123 (614) 539-0397
Cimi’s Bistro stands as the showcase at Pinnacle, a newer golf club perched upon Grove City greens. This metropolis is so expansive – a wide swatch bathed in gleaming marble and hues of taupe and gray – there isn’t enough room here to detail all the goings-on inside. But, we’ll try. The restaurant is the focal point, however, managing partner Brian Younkin notes. The golf club takes care of itself. A team of gentlemen takes control here, lining up event after events; the club was commissioned for 75 weddings so far this year. Food and Beverage Director Tim Magee sat at my suede-seated, white-linen table a bit, perfectly situated in the center of the bistro for a 180-view of the facility. Some of the highlights he spoke of: an interactive pasta station on Tuesday evenings. It’s all you can eat for $14. In fact, there’s something slated here every night – wine night, surf-and-turf night, date night and more. Sometimes extra-special events are lined up, such as hog roasts and lobster bakes.

Mezzo Italian Kitchen  
130 Creekside Plaza, Gahanna, OH 43230 (614) 476-9900 
Tucked away in a plaza in the heart of Gahanna you’ll find the hidden world of Mezzo. First impression: opulence. It was dizzying, hypnotizing almost walking into this eatery. One can’t resist the sophisticated allure of the bar. We found it bustling with a rich tableau of urbane 40-somethings all nestled in their spots – cozy dark booths, and the focal point, a gleaming black swirled bar speckled with pale-pink lamps. A backdrop of live musicians added even more texture to this milieu. We started our party with the red house-made sangria, freshly fruity and just a little bit bubbly, before beginning the jaunt to our table. We sauntered past Chef Ben Geltzer, formerly of Bexley Monk and Hyde Park, who was busily expediting dinner plates from an open kitchen. We were led though cavernous aisles plush with velvety drapes amidst mixtures of brick and terra-cotta hues, all the while observing an ever-growing cosmopolitan crowd settling into their tables. The ambiance of Mezzo had us captivated before we even tried one taste.

La Chatelaine
65 W. Bridge St., Dublin, OH 43017 (614) 763-7151
La Chatelaine in Dublin, the newest of the three restaurants that the Wielezynski family has opened in Columbus, recreates the atmosphere of a small French neighborhood at its location on Bridge Street. “Restaurant,” though, is not really an accurate term to describe La Chatelaine. A combo bakery, patisserie, café, bistro, bar, and brasserie, La Chatelaine is a place where one can dine three times a day but have a completely different, yet always traditional, French experience each visit – and it won’t break the bank, either. Grab a cup of coffee and a pastry in the morning at the café, pick up a soup and salad at the bistro for lunch, and sit down for an authentic French meal in the evening – with the house wine or a Belgian beer, s’il vous plaît. And one of La Chatelaine’s biggest draws: don’t ever expect to pay more than $16 per entrée. Val Wielezynski, owner of the Dublin restaurant, is one of four siblings who run the family-owned business, which his parents began in 1985.

Matt the Miller’s Tavern  
1400 Grandview Ave., Columbus, OH 43212 (614) 754-1026
A place for everyone is what we found this tavern to be. The bar scene reveals a youthful throng of gussied ladies and polished men, all converging at this concourse of a brewpub. Among them in the restaurant can be found an eclectic mix of families, elderly couples and anything you can think of in between – 2-toppers, 5-toppers, 10-toppers and more – they’re all around. Matt the Miller’s is a cozy, comfortable spot that all can relate to – with a neighborhood vibe and a familiar, yet polished menu. Matt the Miller’s is owned and operated by a group of gentleman, all who draw their inspiration from Matt’s the Miller’s in Ireland, where pub-going and beer-drinking are a way of life. The idea behind Matt the Miller’s – Grandview was to take that comfortable and fun atmosphere and “Americanize” it – “tavernize” it and make it more about the great food.

The Top Steakhouse  
2891 E. Main St., Columbus, OH 43209 (614) 231-8238
This is it. This is the place that all these new steakhouses are trying to be. The Top has been in business for 50 years, which means that when all the new joints start popping up, emulating 1950s retro steakhouse chic, they are actually emulating The Top. Leave it to the original to do it better, right down to the patina on the brass tacks that hold the leather onto the barstools and the illustrative marginalia on the menu. The hosts’ stand is directly across from a very uniquely shaped piano bar, which is the perfect place to have something in a martini glass, while listening to standard after standard as sung by a host of singers who seem to appear from every corner of the dining room and bar. After a cocktail or so, mosey on into the sunken dining room for the main event.

Buckeye Hall of Fame Grill  
900 Goodale Blvd., Columbus, OH 43212 (614) 299-6639
One doesn’t need to be a Buckeye fan to appreciate the magnitude of the tribute blazoning the Buckeye Grill’s walls. Pictures, posters, trophies – even letters from U.S. presidents flank the brick walls here – all creating a poignant testament of the love of the Ohio State establishment. It’s a museum with great food, with old- and recent-time memorabilia juxtaposed with wine chests, rotisseries, and hand-crafted hall-of-fame insignia. And one thing you must know before stepping inside: this is not the former café. There’s no affiliation. The grill stands on its own and has now for nearly a year. Take time to walk through and find some of the best showcase pieces, like Archie Griffin’s 1st Heisman Trophy.

Hickory House  
550 Officenter Place, Gahanna, OH 43230 (614) 428-7427
Hickory House is not your typical “Outback.” Walking into this cozy cabin-esque restaurant, you immediately get a sense of family history when surveying the art flanking the stucco walls. You have come to a welcoming place, one where employees are held in high regard; most have been around for an average of five years. And this is a place of regulars. People come around so often, they don’t even need a menu. This is the impression General Manager Jimmy Torchia aims to convey. “We’re just having a dinner party here and hope people will join us,” he said. One dinner under your belt, and you too will be back for more. The Hickory House has been here and there, a figure in the Columbus market since the late ’70s. The original was founded in Reynoldsburg in 1979 by Jimmy’s uncle, Tony Torchia, who ran the operation with partner and friend Jim Alexander. 

Hubbard Grille  
793 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43215 (614) 291-5000
At the end of a busy, chilly Friday afternoon, we arrived at Hubbard Grille. Quirky first impression of the place – the first thought that came to mind – for some reason it was Stetson and Ralph Lauren. Not to equate food with fashion, but that’s the vibe we got. The décor – leather booths with buckles, lacquered wood tabletops, burnt sienna lamps – seems to capitalize on the appeal of a vanished yesteryear, but with a trendy modern twist, of course. One might consider these kinds of restaurants a dime a dozen, but as we soon learned, the food here speaks for itself. If you’ve heard of Mezzo, the same hospitality group runs and operates Hubbard Grille. It’s a smaller company, though rapidly growing, and sure to inspire many memories for years to come.