Roundup: Columbus eateries we'd like to see return
With this week's cover, we're celebrating the “return” of the Columbus Crew SC. Although the team never officially left, many feared it lost to owner Anthony Precourt and his scheme to move the franchise to Austin. In the spirit of the Crew's safe-keeping in Columbus, here we submit these Columbus eateries we'd like to see return. Jimmy Haslam, are you listening?
Betty's Fine Food & Spirits
Betty's was the first of Liz Lessner's many eateries, a mainstay for years in the Short North. It highlighted Lessner's knack for using her restaurants to jumpstart up-and-coming neighborhoods, from Betty's in the Short North to Tip Top on Gay Street to Dirty Frank's on North Fourth Street. Bring back the mac and cheese with poblano peppers, the grilled cheese, the fried chicken. To that end, if we're bringing back Betty's, we'd like to have Surly Girl Saloon back (and its cocktails and Frito pie, too). And The Jury Room.
Clever Crow Pizza
The much-lauded Clever Crow popped up in the kitchen of Circus Bar (now a Condado, as these things tend to go) and briefly in the North Market. The pizza shop's cornbread-style crusts and creative toppings earned it a nod from Anthony Bourdain when he visited in 2010. We'd love another slice of the Crow Style with crumbled sausage and sweet corn, the grape and brie, or the apple and Canadian bacon.
The Coffee Table
Okay, humor this writer. The Coffee Table sat in Bakersfield's current digs, on the northwest corner of High and Buttles. My wife and I lived across the street in our first apartment in Columbus and kept ourselves caffeinated through grad school with a steady stream of espresso and brewed coffee there. We miss the counters flanked by giant steel frames with colorful panels, the big table with curving metal seatback near the front, the pay phone in the recess by the bathrooms, the rows of plastic tables lining Buttles outside. You could predict the day's weather based on how many tables they put out each morning.
Alana's Food & Wine
Alana's – and Alana herself – were a Columbus dining icon for nearly two decades. The eclectic eatery, situated in an Old North house, was decorated with local art and featured a fantastic wine selection. Her menu rotated regularly, but you could always count on an amazing risotto, and on her sweeping up tableside to offer an amuse bouche.
Salt & Pine
The short-lived concept from Chris Crader, owner of Harvest Pizzeria and Cosecha Cocina, inhabited most of the ground floor of the 250 South High building. The eatery was almost ahead of its time: The large footprint must have been expensive to maintain, and promised apartments and condos nearby materialized years behind schedule, depriving the restaurant of needed regulars. But the lunch and dinner were excellent, and the cocktail service and weekend brunch exceptional.
It's always sad to lose the old-school spots, and the Clarmont, with its iconic High Street signage, seemed poised to make a comeback with its unchanged interior, cocktails and throwback menu, when it closed in 2012 after 65 years in business.
One of the fabled restaurants of Columbus' yesteryear, the Kahiki became the stuff of legends years before its iconic building was razed in 2000. The sweeping roofline, bright neon lights, fish tanks, tiki cocktails and lush interior created decades of memories for longtime Columbus residents and visitors.
Bonus: The Original Wendy's
I remember visiting to dip my fries in a frosty one last time before the original location closed. I think if Wendy's bought the building back from the Catholic Foundation and refurbished it into a Wendy's once again, people would make the trek.