The Cameron Mitchell Restaurant empire now totals four in the Short North as The Guild House (624 N. High St.) opens today.We caught up with executive corporate chef Brian Hinshaw for an inside look at creating The Guild House menu.
The Cameron Mitchell Restaurant empire now totals four along High Street as The Guild House (624 N. High St.) opens today.
"Columbus has not seen anything like this," says CMR executive corporate chef Brian Hinshaw, calling it an American artisan restaurant that pays homage to the company's top chefs, who worked together to craft the menu. "This is not a heavy restaurant. There's something for everyone here."
The 6,000-square feet, 140-seat restaurant will be open for breakfast (brunch on the weekends), lunch and dinner-the first CMR eatery to serve three meals a day. Lunch and dinner service starts today, and breakfast will begin when the adjoining boutique hotel, Le Meridien Columbus' the Joseph, opens on Jan. 21.
We caught up with Hinshaw for an inside look at how a team of chefs crafted The Guild House menu.
Can you walk us through the idea behind The Guild House?
It's approachable. It's just food you want to eat, and come in with friends to share. We have 20 small plates on the dinner menu, and eight or nine entrees and a beautiful raw bar section. That gives you the opportunity to try different dishes. It's not a come in and get an appetizer and entree kind of dinner.
We want it to be as fresh as possible. We want it to be innovative. We're making everything. We're making the pasta that goes in our vegetable lasagna (house made pasta, ricotta, mushrooms, crispy garlic, asparagus pesto, $15). We're making gnocchi and agnolotti. It's painstakingly laborious.
Is the menu a collection of favorite recipes from your chefs? Or is it full of dishes you've always wanted to do, but didn't have the right venue until now?
It was little bit of both. I throw this party every year for our exec team and we always have these marinated lamb chops. A version of that made it onto the menu (Mongolian marinated lamb chops with vegetable fried rice, $17). But then, I really wanted to work with these carrots that we saw when we went to Eataly in New York. It's a shopping mecca. We saw these carrots there, and we procured those carrots for our restaurant. They are grown in a rainbow of colors. [And now we use them] in this carrot salad with roasted carrots and raw carrots (Carrots, roasted and raw with chick pea puree and house granola, $7). We leave the tops on. You don't typically get a dish like this in January.
So "farm to table" maybe isn't the right phrase to describe The Guild House. Is it more about responsible sourcing?
Yes. We're going to have really good salmon dish on the menu, but it's not coming from the farmer down the street. [Locally,] we're using Blue Jacket Dairy. Dan the Baker is doing all our bread. He's doing some great stuff. We worked with him all through the test kitchen. He created some specialty breads just for us. We've got local honey form Honeyrun Farm. A couple guys that helped us build the restaurant are local, from Mark Metal Works, and some of that's in our plates and cups.
You've mentioned plates a few times now. What is so special about the serving ware in the overall approach?
We have some white plates, but again it's the artisan approach. We have some roughhewn brown dishes and different colors. It's not all white. Hand-blown glasses to drink out of; our coffee cups are not stamped out by a machine. We call it rustic chic. There's a rustic barn board when you walk in, white leather booths, beautiful wood tables. Bread and butter plates almost like grandma's china with a delicate pattern. It's very mixed matched, but in a very chic kind of way.
Is there a dish on the menu that you were excited to create? Something you had wanted to do at a CMR concept for a while?
The one dish that speaks to me is the agnolotti (agnolotti with braised beef, house made pasta, truffle jus, $17). It's basically filled pasta, and it's painstakingly difficult. It's so succulent and silky. It's a little bowl of this unbelievable braised beef with freshly shaved truffles over the top.
Was there any one restaurant that inspired your team the most?
It's based on our experiences. We don't want to pick out one specific restaurant. [We traveled to] New York City, San Francisco, Napa and LA. We stopped in Chicago. We're just looking for inspiration, and how restaurants are being as seasonal as they can in this Midwestern environment.