Love fine dining but hate pretense? Watershed Kitchen & Bar has all the elements of a high-dining establishment (think: offal, impeccable service and minimal seating) disguised in an industrial park near Grandview without a snooty atmosphere or dress code. The Columbus dining scene was changed for the better when the Chesapeake Avenue distillery added food to its repertoire in January 2017. The dimly lit restaurant with industrial décor sits adjacent to (and provides a view of) the craft distillery known primarily for gin, vodka and bourbon. Executive chef Jack Moore (formerly of Cleveland's Greenhouse Tavern) is intrepid in his daily menus, unafraid to waver from tried-and-true options. Seasonal turnips, beets and celery root frequently compete for attention with well-executed proteins on Watershed's artfully assembled plates. And the tongue-in-cheek bar menus (designed to mimic high school yearbooks or Ikea catalogs) show that the folks behind this operation take food and cocktails—and not themselves—seriously. It's just as easy to cozy up to the bar for a nightcap (such as Saturday Morning Cartoons, made of Watershed Bourbon, cereal milk and tea) as it is to embrace the surprise of the four-course chef's tasting menu.
Order Up: Hay-Smoked Baby Backs
Baby back ribs doused in five-spice barbecue sauce are served atop a bed of smoking hay.