Our annual look at the essential restaurants illuminating the city's dining scene

Arguably restaurateur Cameron Mitchell's best restaurant, The Guild House quickly bolted to the forefront of the Columbus dining scene when it opened in January 2015 in the Short North. Its elegant but rustic dining room, featuring tall ceilings, reclaimed wood, cream banquettes and deliberately mismatched dinnerware, was and remains one of the finest in the city. Meanwhile, the restaurant's eclectic and seasonal menu is still one of the most creative in the Cameron Mitchell Restaurants family.

One secret to its success is consistency. Executive chef John Paul Iacobucci was there when The Guild House opened and continues to lead a robust kitchen staff of around three dozen, which not only handles breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner for the 6,000-square-foot restaurant and bar, but also room service, banquets and bar food for the adjacent boutique hotel, Le Méridien Columbus, The Joseph.

The Guild House's menu continues to hit all the notes and execute them well: vegetable lasagna, filet, chicken roulade, salmon, a popular brunch and even a gluten-free menu. Its service remains among the best in the city, and CMR certainly does keep an eye on trends, evidenced by the zero-proof cocktails on the menu—a nice touch.

Although The Guild House still enchants diners, some of the newness has worn off. Several dishes that made their debut in 2015—the gorgeous tuna ribbons, the scallops with English peas, the Duroc pork blade steak—remain on the menu today. Almost four years in, Iacobucci says one of his biggest challenges is to sustain the level of excitement that was there on Day 1—to keep finding modes of inspiration.

One place he looks for inspiration is in finding new techniques to develop—like creating dust from dehydrated tomato skins, which can be used to enhance flavor in just about anything while also helping to reduce food waste. “It's like instant tomato,” he says.

Another source of inspiration is The Guild House's local products and partners, like the cheese they've sourced from Heritage Lane Dairy in Marysville and the hard-to-find Chicken of the Woods mushrooms that “a forager named Randy” started bringing in. “I don't know his last name actually,” Iacobucci laughs. “He just kind of shows up with mushrooms, and he's like, ‘Maybe I'll see you next month, maybe I'll see you next year.' ” Whatever the inspiration is, keep it coming.

Did you know?

The restaurant's Guild Series Gin, a collaboration with Watershed Distillery that features rose petal, nutmeg and chamomile flavors, continues to win accolades, bringing home the Double Gold designation and award for “Best Flavored Gin” from the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.