Columbus Monthly’s Best New Restaurants: Natalie’s Music Hall & Kitchen
A hip music venue/dining room plans for a return to its pre-pandemic glory.
The truth? The Natalie’s Music Hall & Kitchen of today is different than the one that debuted in December 2019 and infused new life into the former King Avenue Five space in Grandview.
That Natalie’s was the kind of hip dining room/music venue that you might find in Nashville or Chicago. One boasting a creative menu developed by an experienced chef, Bradley Balch, featuring highlights such as shrimp with Shagbark grits, espresso-rubbed short rib, RL Valley steaks and a daily fish plate.
It was the kind of place where you could listen to a band playing music in one corner while sampling from a fantastic craft cocktail menu developed by bar manager PJ Ford of The Light of Seven Matchsticks. Or munch on pizzas hot from the Morello Forni pizza oven before heading over to see a show on the second, larger stage located on the back side of the 9,000-square-foot venue.
Before the restaurant opened, co-owner Natalie Jackson was confident in the new restaurant’s combination of local music, great cocktails and creative fare, telling Columbus Monthly, “We want [Natalie’s Music Hall & Kitchen] to be a top 10 restaurant in 2020. That is definitely a goal of ours.”
The pandemic had other plans. Natalie’s, like so many restaurants and music venues across the U.S., has been buffeted by the uncertainty of COVID-19 and is doing what it can to hold on.
As of this writing, chef Balch has amicably departed the restaurant for more job security, and Natalie’s is keeping things simple to survive. It’s focusing on a to-go cocktail program put together by Ford (don’t miss the tiki-inspired Island Parka cocktail), a simplified menu of tasty Neapolitan-style pizzas and apps, and a mix of live-streamed and socially distant, seated music shows.
Speaking to Monthly in January, Jackson says she doesn’t know when the restaurant will get back to where it began, but that’s the goal—and she’s confident that her young, hungry and ambitious kitchen staff can pull it off. “I think eventually we can get back there, but it’s not gonna happen overnight,” Jackson says.
What we do know is that the Natalie’s Grandview we experienced before the world went sideways was deserving of a spot on this list. It felt like the kind of joint where you wanted to be, and where you’ll want to be when the pandemic is behind us.
Can Natalie’s Grandview claw its way back? We’re betting on it.
Natalie’s Music Hall & Kitchen, 945 King Ave., Grandview, 614-436-2625, nataliesgrandview.com