10 Best Restaurants of 2019: #10 Ambrose and Eve
Joining the 10 Best list in its debut year is the first brick-and-mortar restaurant from chefs/owners Catie Randazzo and Matthew Heaggans. At Ambrose and Eve, named after Randazzo’s grandparents, the admitted junk food fans pay homage to grade-school throwbacks like ants on a log, potluck shareables like seven-layer dip and shameless chain-brand Americana like Chili’s Awesome Blossom, but they pull it all off by using high-quality ingredients, global flavors and eye-catching presentation. Combine the chefs’ creativity with an enticing beverage program and a modern yet homey dining room—complete with family photos—and you have a wonderful addition to the dining scene.
On Reinventing the Classics
How two chefs express their range, sense of humor and imagination
Standing in the small kitchen of Ambrose and Eve, which used to be an antique shop and is now home to culinary nostalgia, chef Matthew Heaggans is preparing the restaurant’s bologna sandwich, which he describes as “super over the top” and “a fried farce.” He’s not wrong.
The calorie-packed (we won’t venture an estimate) sandwich started out as a joke, until Randazzo and Heaggans tasted an early prototype using regular American bologna. “We were like, ‘What are we going to do if we’re going to do it for real?’” Heaggans recalls.
Instead of thin Oscar Mayer bologna, the pair chose thick mortadella covered in panko and then fried. When cut in half, you can’t miss the Italian lunch meat’s signature dots of fat. Instead of using basic white loaves, the sandwich boasts Japanese milk bread from Columbus’ esteemed Belle’s Bread; the dense slices stand up to fried proteins, Heaggans says. Cut off the crusts and add layers of an umami-heavy mayo and dressed napa cabbage, and you have a delicious Midwest-meets-Far East take on the katsu sando, a wildly popular Japanese sandwich that features a panko-covered pork cutlet.
At Ambrose and Eve, traditional dish names belie their inventive preparations. Like the bologna sandwich, the restaurant’s calamari is not the same fried squid that often rubs shoulders with potato skins in the appetizer section. Instead, the dish—the restaurant’s most visually stunning—presents poached squid on a bed of locally sourced microgreens. A Jackson Pollock-esque splash of charred lemon aioli with activated charcoal mimics squid ink on the white plate. The bright flavors and springy texture of the calamari couldn’t be further removed from the rich mortadella. But there’s one thing that connects them, and that’s imagination.
Read about our other Best Restaurants of 2019:
2. Wolf’s Ridge Brewing
3. Watershed Kitchen & Bar
4. Service Bar
5. G. Michael’s Bistro & Bar
7. Refectory Restaurant & Wine Shop
8. Gallerie Bar & Bistro
9. The Guild House
716 S. High St., Brewery District