Comfort food is king at new Copious in the Brewery District

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

The Brewery District's newest restaurant, Copious (520 S. High St.), opened this week. In the kitchen you'll find chef Curtis Hilliard, who plans to serve his signature style of food-comforting dishes with a twist.

"That's always been my thing," says Hilliard, who learned to love this style of cooking while helping his mother feed their family of six. "But here, it's like making comfort dishes, but with a chef helping you do it." Translation: these are dishes inspired by what grandma might make, only with more finesse.

At Copious, the menu includes crab and crawfish cakes, deviled duck eggs and crostinis with various seasonal toppings. Entrees include meatloaf made with a mixture of short rib, brisket and angus chuck, and lamb shank prepared pot-roast style. Smoked brisket will be served with a blue cheese cheesecake made with a crust of walnuts and croissant crumbs.

Downstairs at the supper-club-like, Notes, diners will find a separate kitchen and menu from the main floor. Offerings here include flatbreads, charcuterie and small plates.

To source ingredients for dishes, Hilliard says he is working with local farmers and purveyors. The chef wants to be as sustainable as possible, he adds. "It's who we are as a company," says the 47-year-old Hilliard, who grew up in Columbus and started his cooking career at Monaco's Palace. He's spent his career in kitchens across the country from Tahoe to Sacramento to Atlanta. But Hilliard is thrilled to finally be back home.

The restaurant has been under construction for more than a year-much of that time is owed to a rehab of the 1920s space, which was completely gutted and transformed into a first floor restaurant that seats 120, basement music venue called Notes, and second floor event space.

Owner Terry Turner comes from 25 years of construction background-an expertise that came in handy in the build out of the 21,000 square foot venue. The tabletops are made from salvaged wood from the third floor ceiling. The same weathered boards can be seen behind the bar.

"Feed Your Soul" is the company tagline. "We want people to come here and have their souls fed with food and wine and music," Turner says. "The other part is art in the dining room." Dining room walls are painted white to serve as a blank slate for whatever art is featured. The plan is to rotate curated pieces every 45 days.

Michael Melching, whose resume includes front of house management at The Refectory and Bel Lago, is the general manager. He'll also be overseeing the bar program, which includes 90 wines available by the bottle, plus 20 by the glass. Ten taps will be dedicated to craft beer, with an emphasis on what's brewing locally.

Bob Breithaupt, who plays percussion with the Jazz Arts Group, is in charge of music at the basement club.