Jane and Joe Blystone have created a taproom with a tack room feel and a welcome retreat from the city.
When I was a child, I'd visit my grandmother's farm where I'd collect the chickens' eggs and help clean out the horses' stalls. Now that I live a solidly urban lifestyle, I still get yearnings for the country. So, right in my wheelhouse is the idea of driving to a farm just 20 minutes outside Columbus to eat lunch, sip craft beer, buy provisions for the grill and see a farm animal or two. On several recent weekends, I've done just that at Blystone Farm Restaurant & Taproom.
Located about 2 1/2 miles west of Lithopolis, Blystone Farm raised commercial sheep for four generations. Owners Jane and Joe Blystone now primarily raise Angus and wagyu cattle, with Joe adding a meat processing facility in 2004. The Blystone family later opened a butcher shop, bakery and retail market, followed by an adjacent restaurant and taproom two years ago. The latest addition is a 3,800-square-foot event center for receptions, concerts and other events. Tyler Toles, a chef who serves as general manager of the restaurant and event center, says Joe personally built the whole event space.
A long gravel driveway leads to a parking area in front of the Blystone butcher shop, restaurant and patio. If you're lucky, you'll be able to visit with a few cows and horses near the barn, or you may see one of the farm's fluffy Great Pyrenees working dogs.
Blystone has one of the most impressive butcher's cases in Central Ohio, with a large selection of fresh, hormone-free meats: chicken, lamb, beef and pork. Not all of the available proteins are raised at Blystone, but those that aren't are sourced from similar Ohio farms. The market also offers sundry items such as fresh breads, prepared foods (including an excellent chicken salad), house-made sausage, frozen meats, condiments, dog bones and much more.
To the left of the long butcher's counter is an interesting craft beer selection for carryout. Toles credits Jane as the on-site beer connoisseur and says Blystone takes pride in securing hard-to-find beers. The same goes in the taproom, which features 11 brews on tap, most from Ohio.
To the right of the counter is a doorway that leads to the casual, all-wood restaurant and taproom—think of it as tack room chic. Along the way you'll pass Jane Blystone's case of tempting, scratch-made baked goods.
The restaurant serves a simple breakfast menu 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and all day Sundays. One morning, I ordered the breakfast sandwich ($6), a homemade biscuit that comes with egg, cheese and a choice of bacon, house-made sage or maple sausage, or Canadian bacon. Although the biscuit was well-made and the sage sausage outstanding, the combination was a bit dry and easily fell apart. A little jam might help.
One of my favorite offerings on the menu is Blystone's Signature Burger ($13), a juicy, 6-ounce, hand-pattied burger made with grass-fed beef that comes with near-perfect, hand-cut fries. An alternative side is excellent smoked cheddar pierogies ($3 each) from locally owned Sophie's Pierogies.
On another visit, my table tried the smoked chicken salad ($8 half; $14 whole)—a huge half-salad that tastes like Thanksgiving—followed by a pair of affordable steaks and a sharp mac 'n' cheese ($4). The Burgundy Rib-eye ($22), one of Blystone's most popular items, is marinated in a proprietary blend of red wine, peppercorns and other spices for 24 hours. Although the cut was cooked over medium-rare, the sin was forgivable because the beef was so flavorful and tender.
On multiple visits I found the service at Blystone to be warm and friendly, though not perfectly attentive. The staff is often talking to chatty regulars, which is wonderful to see—unless you're antsy for a refill. But maybe it's a good reminder that I need to just chill, and Blystone is a good place to do it.