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Cameron’s American Bistro

2185 W. Dublin-Granville Rd. Columbus OH (614) 885-3663

Before the days of Bentleys and Beamers lining the valet spots at the steak house bearing his name, he worked a steakhouse dish tank.  Before he was hiring the finest executive chefs across eight, soon to be nine, states and establishing scholarship funds for the Culinary Institute of America, he was a line cook.   And before the elegance of M, the obsessive freshness of his Fish Market and Ocean Club and the sophistication of his Martini Italian Bistro was the creation of Cameron Mitchell’s baby, Cameron’s American Bistro.  

About five minutes west of the 315 exit, on the south side of Dublin-Granville Road, in Linworth, Mitchell leased a piece of storefront property that would be a cornerstone of a restaurant empire to come.  But the foundation is more than just a bistro.

His recipe for business, filled with such cultural and philosophical ideals as “putting our associates first,” sets his restaurants apart.  It’s the reason he earned the 2007 Silver Plate Award that is presented annually to only the most accomplished, innovative and distinguished food service operators nationwide; the “Restaurant Neighbor Award” for outstanding commitment to surrounding community; the recognition as one of “The Best Places to Work in Columbus” and Fortune’s “100 Best Places to Work For”; or even why our server, Ted, made our experience so fantastic.

Weaving through the bustling atmosphere filled with regulars, candlelit tables and a bouquet of fresh smells, we were promptly and cordially greeted with a smile, a wonderful selection of specials and a loaf of fresh baked sour dough bread with a tender, pan-roasted garlic clove as spread.

As we perused the menu, Ted told us everybody loves the baked flatbread, so we rolled with it.  And while the hostess was making rose deliveries to celebrating tables and we were watching the chefs in their element through the open-faced kitchen, a thin flatbread, layered with melted provolone and truffle mascarpone, topped with crispy Prosciutto, thin-sliced roasted potatoes and caramelized onions was delivered.   We could have easily eaten the entire dish, but knew we had to save room for the other delectable courses sure to follow.

With out taste buds awakened, we moved on to the prerequisite salad and glass of wine.  The pine nut crusted, warm goat cheese salad dressed with Port wine vinaigrette kept beautiful company with the Blackstone Merlot.  There’s something about the Applewood smoked bacon that makes every few bites stand out in the Bistro baby iceberg lettuce wedge.  Should you be lucky enough, as we were, to be able to order their “Best Of New York” chopped salad, order it immediately, for it may not be on the menu for long.

As the name states and the tastes and wine list will remind you, this cozy spot is all about the American cuisine.   And as eclectic as our culture, so are the flavors that define the American Bistro’s experience.  

As an addition to the ever-evolving menu of the Bistro, a “Best Of:” menu features two entrées, three starters and a dessert from a selected city.   We had the pleasure of experiencing New York our time around, and by mid-August, some flavors of San Francisco will take the stage.  Many previous “Best Of:” selections have found there way to a permanent stay on the menu.   Until then, a glass of Turnbull Oakville Cabernet, with its concentrated aromas and deep smoky flavors, can really highlight the flavors of the tender meat in a sweet soy reduction and cilantro salad of the Hudson Valley Farm Duck Potstickers from the New York menu.  Meanwhile, the lump crab cakes present an interesting contrast of hot and sweet rounded out with watermelon and wasabi pepper sauce.   Either a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc mixes well with the lemon-grass buerre blanc and radish and Jicama slaw of the Hot and Sour Crab Cakes.  

When the time came for us to move on to the heart of the menu, our plates were politely cleared, fresh silverware was replaced, Ted was still bringing his “A” game, and the vigor of the chefs and passion of Cameron Mitchell unraveled before us.

If you want to feel like a regular, do what we did and order Cameron’s Ritz cracker crusted, Lake Erie Walleye in Lump Crab and Shallot Cream Sauce with garlic mashed potatoes and broccolini.   It’s only available 6 to 8 months a year, but, “When it’s not on the menu and I’m able to get, I’ll sell 50 or 60 of them as a special,” says Executive Chef Aaron Wilson.  “It’s amazing because there’s not a single dish at any restaurant I’ve ever worked that has that type of following.”

There are not too many places around that offer a porterhouse cut of lamb, either.  As expected, Cameron’s does.  It’s so approachable and tender that one may not even realize they are eating lamb.   A Zinfandel comes strongly recommended as to accentuate, and not overcome, the taste of these unique Lamb Porterhouse chops.   Served in a red wine reduction with sautéed red cabbage, spinach, parsnip and insanely cheesy Yukon Gold Potato Gratin, it tastes and feels more like a steak than a chop.  

From the New York menu again comes a pair of fresh hits: the pan-seared Atlantic Salmon with herb-roasted Yukons in a saffron vin blanc and the Halibut Panroast with house made Gnocchi, Proscuitto, roasted tomato and spinach in a shallot and lobster cream sauce.  They’re good enough to make non-fish lovers say, “I’m not a fish person, but this is amazing.”  We hope it represents a sign of things to come for the next “Best Of:” rollout.

As the American lexicon would demand, dessert at Cameron’s is a must-try adventure. Just as each of the other aforementioned dishes is carefully selected for the menu, these selections are no different.  Each is individually made, small enough for the person who considers this last course a pivotal must, but large enough to share between two.  The Meyer Lemon Gratin is a signature dessert made like cheesecake but folded in with meringue and whipped cream to make it a bit lighter, served with lemon anglaise and garnished with raspberries and a hazelnut brown sugar crisp.  Looking for something a little richer for your palate?  The chocolate covered peanut butter pie is like an ultimate, gourmet Reese’s Peanut Butter cup.   With an Oreo crust, peanut butter mousse and chocolate Ganache, one bite may just put you over the edge.

There are a few more things you should know about Cameron’s before you go.  The place is packed with regulars who have had standing reservations since the day the doors opened.  And at the Bistro, the chefs aren’t afraid to share their recipes, and if you need any type of wine, steak, chicken or chops, they’ll get it for you if you call in advance.  The Bistro is closed for lunch, but they’ll open the doors for reserved luncheons seven days a week between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. for parties between 25 and 90 people.   You can call or reserve it online.

If you’re on a romantic encounter, booth 16 or table 4 offer the best privacy.  If a business meeting is on your docket, your best bet is table 19 in the center of the room.   But regardless of the seat, Cameron’s American Bistro is stacked with warm comfort food in a soothing environment and a delightful place to experience where Columbus’s Columbus’ most ambitious and successful restaurateur began his empire.

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