Until recently, most Columbus residents hadn't had a reason to step inside the iconic LeVeque Tower for decades. But top-to-bottom renovations have yielded a boutique hotel, office and residential space, plus a new restaurant and cocktail bar that demands a visit: The Keep Liquor Bar. Situated on the second floor, with a mezzanine overlooking the hotel lobby, The Keep has turned the city's first skyscraper into a destination once again. The restaurant is split into two sections: a vintage-looking cocktail bar and a long dining room overlooking Front Street. With low lighting, plenty of dark wood accents and the right art deco touches to fit the building's history, the eatery bills itself as a modern French brasserie. Executive chef Jonathan Olson roams the kitchen, most of which is openly displayed in the center of the restaurant, where diners can sit around the edges and watch the culinary team at work. Olson's menu starts with a raw bar, with smoked whitefish rillettes, halibut ceviche and the like, then moves on to creative soups, salads and small plates (think steak tartare, mussels and tender short ribs over grits). The entrées complete the experience with beautiful presentations, like the duck confit served over soured cabbage.
Order Up: Braised short ribs
While Jonathan Olson's braised short ribs are listed as a small plate, it delivers a big flavor punch, highlighted by creamy grits.