10 Best Restaurants of 2019: #9 The Guild House

Erin Edwards
Tomato salad with watermelon

It wasn’t long ago that the Short North had a dearth of upscale eating and drinking options. Times have changed. Despite a steady flow of new additions to High Street (hello, Del Mar SoCal Kitchen), Cameron Mitchell’s modern farm-to-table spot, The Guild House, abides as the MVP of his growing culinary empire. Located next to The Joseph, the restaurant’s mismatched china, reclaimed-wood dining room, buzzing bar and seasonal menus still charm locals and tourists alike. Its newish executive chef, Matt Walton, is working hard to carry the torch.

On Growing up in Kitchens

Chef Matt Walton talks about his career path and what sets The Guild House apart.

As a kid, Matt Walton would hang out in the basement kitchen of the small bistro in Medina, between Cleveland and Akron, where his dad worked as a line cook. He loved the energy and antics of the cooks, the camaraderie and even the danger.

“Playing with fire and sharp objects—I mean, what’s more fun to a 10- or 12-year-old kid than those things?” he says.

By 2011, Walton was enrolled at the Columbus Culinary Institute while working two jobs, at Marcella’s and the Refectory. Named executive chef of The Guild House in January 2019, Walton now runs a large operation with a kitchen staff of about 30. When asked what makes the Short North restaurant unique compared to other kitchens he’s worked in, the Clintonville resident doesn’t hesitate.

“Operationally, it’s enormous. We do breakfast, lunch and dinner for The Guild House, but we also do that for [The Joseph] hotel bar, hotel in-room dining and all of their banquets,” he says. “Also, working so closely with local purveyors in Columbus is like a dream. To be able to visit the farms that we’re getting our steaks or our produce from, creating that relationship with the farmer or purveyor—I absolutely love it.”

The restaurant’s partners include urban farmer Drew Sample’s Capital City Gardens and Champaign County’s Saddleberk Farms. “I bring [Drew] an idea, and he grows that for me, like small vegetables or greens, whatever I need,” Walton says. For the forthcoming fall and winter menus, Walton is particularly excited about featuring Saddleberk’s Berkshire pork. “The pork they’re producing is just fantastic. It eats like beef,” he says.

From his line cook days, Walton still carries with him lessons he learned while working with chef Richard Blondin at 

the Refectory. “Whether you are the dishwasher or the executive chef, just stay humble. Be real. Be a person,” he says. “A lot of that gets lost in today’s cooking world. Like everyone’s trying to be at the top, and they lose sight of their people or themselves in the process. We have to take care of our people so they can take care of our guests and take care of the restaurant.”

Read about our other Best Restaurants of 2019:

1. Veritas

2. Wolf’s Ridge Brewing

3. Watershed Kitchen & Bar

4. Service Bar

5. G. Michael’s Bistro & Bar

6. Comune

7. Refectory Restaurant & Wine Shop

8. Gallerie Bar & Bistro

10. Ambrose and Eve

624 N. High St., Short North


The Guild House