In a 2014 interview with this magazine, Veritas Tavern owner and chef Josh Dalton mused about someday moving his Delaware restaurant to Columbus. “I'd love to get into a bigger space, a bigger kitchen with room for more toys,” he said at the time. This month, Dalton gets his wish. Known for its modern approach to chef-driven small plates, Veritas and its team of six served its last meal at 15 E. Winter St. on Nov. 4 before moving Downtown to the Citizens Building. The new restaurant, Veritas (Tavern has been dropped), will be double the size of the Delaware space and feature not one but two bars, plus Dalton's dream kitchen. It's been a transition year, so you could expect Veritas to lose a step—it didn't, and it's a testament to precision and a stellar staff. From the moment a customer is greeted at the door, the Veritas team looks to guide them through every detail of their dining experience. Precision extends to Tristan Swan's bar program, which demonstrates true craft behind its cocktails. Inquire about a certain spirit or wine at some restaurants and you might get an informed explanation. At Veritas, they've done their homework. Care is also taken to source the right ingredients and to develop layers of flavors and textures you won't soon forget—whether it's an heirloom tomato “cottage cheese,” a silky and complex carrot soup with chili oil or a melt-in-your-mouth lobster roll. Here's hoping the magic Veritas conjured in Delaware carries over to the corner of High and Gay streets. Look for the restaurant to open after Thanksgiving.***
Difference-Maker: The Tasting Menu
If you look in a back hallway at Veritas Tavern, you might notice framed tasting menus from some of the country's best restaurants: Grace, Manresa, Next. They are keepsakes of the culinary team's research trips over the years, and reminders of Veritas's aspirations. “You go eat these amazing meals and it's like a slap in the face … it's humbling,” Dalton says. “You're like, ‘I've got to go home and read. We've got to go work on techniques; we've got to work on precision.'” Veritas started offering a chef's tasting menu more than four years ago.
Below, the chef shares some thoughts on his strategy behind the menu:Too Much of a Good Thing. When Veritas started running a tasting menu, “It was a big learning curve because we would put out too much food,” Dalton says. “There's that happy medium, where I want people to get enough, but at the same time if they ... want to go do something active, they can.” Magic Number? Dalton says he's not worried about the course count—six courses versus eight courses, etc. Instead, Dalton wonders: How much food would it be if you put all of that on one plate? A tasting menu might start with a one-bite course, like Veritas's delightful Shrimp + Grits, but as you work through the two-hour progression, the courses gradually get bigger and then smaller again. “I'm looking at time frame and the overall amount of food,” he says. Flow. Timing is everything, and it's an area where Veritas excels. Ideally, the kitchen is looking for two or three minutes between courses, just enough time for picking up plates, refilling drinks, changing out cutlery and providing a minute to breathe. “There are times that we run longer than we should, but at that point it becomes about service. You really need your servers to change the pace a little bit, change the conversation, keep [customers] informed,” he says. What About Pairings? A tasting menu presents a unique challenge when it comes to ordering a beverage. Should the pairing complement the delicate lobster in your second course or the sous vide rib-eye with mole in the fifth? Dalton is quick with a solution. “Take a good glass or bottle of champagne and you can start from the front of your tasting, go all the way through the progression and you'll always be fine,” Dalton advises. Good news: The new Downtown location will add wine pairings to its repertoire.