Balance is the refrain at The Guild House, and nearly three years into its run, the most interesting of Cameron Mitchell's restaurants has achieved an impressive equilibrium. The décor is stylish and rustic, the scene vibrant without drowning conversations in dining room noise. The servers are knowledgeable but approachable, polished but congenial. The easygoing atmosphere invites a casual cocktail at the bar, yet it's refined enough to make dinner feel like an event. This harmony carries through to the food and drink, like the springtime menu addition of Kampachi. The raw yellowtail with pineapple tomatillo, achiote vinaigrette and pickled poblano is salty, acidic, sweet and thoroughly enjoyable. Or take The Guild House's collaboration with Watershed Distillery to create Guild Series Gin, with delicate flavors of nutmeg and tangerine rather than overpowering juniper. It's smoother and softer than many peers, but it still features classic gin taste. In a word—balanced.***
Difference-Maker: Bold Breakfasts
Fine dining is typically the evening's domain, accompanied by cocktail dresses and twilight, but morning cuisine gets equal billing at The Guild House, adjacent to The Joseph hotel. While joggers pound the Short North pavement, you can enjoy smoked salmon, lobster and caviar or asparagus covered in egg yolk and Gruyere cream. Yes, asparagus at sunrise. And yes, you should. Executive chef John Paul Iacobucci says he and the tastemakers at Cameron Mitchell Restaurants selected the early-morning lineup, which starts at 6:30 a.m., from 75-100 dishes they created after deciding to offer a daily breakfast menu. (A brunch menu is served Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) The star is the Smoked Chicken Hash. The chicken alone is salty, but it's delicious when combined with the sweet potatoes, slightly spicy roasted poblano, tangy salsa verde, poached eggs and Gouda. Iacobucci says it's far and away the favorite. The aforementioned asparagus shines in the Truffled Eggs, providing a bitter complement that cuts nicely through the rich Gruyere cream. And don't miss the apple fritters; the mini doughnut spheres are warm and light on the inside, coated in cinnamon and sugar and served with a tantalizing streak of apple butter. The atmosphere, already relaxed, is toned down even more in the morning. Service is friendly and unhurried. Sunlight streams in the windows. The joggers don't know what they're missing.