FOOD

Columbus Monthly’s 10 Best Restaurants: Chapman’s Eat Market in German Village Debuts at No. 3

Chef BJ Lieberman’s first Columbus restaurant offers a festive, seemingly effortless (it’s not) and widely approachable style of fine dining.

G.A. Benton
Chapman’s Eat Market’s Sea Island red pea falafel salad

When The New York Times awarded Chapman’s Eat Market a spot on its list of “the 50 places in America we’re most excited about” last year, people noticed. “FOMO’’ ran rampant. Consequently, Chapman’s became the toughest reservation to score in town.

Even in a pandemic-fraught era when countless eateries are struggling, tables are so in-demand at Chapman’s that reservations are released a month in advance for the entire following month—and many of the seats are immediately gobbled up. This can require harried planning from diners who want to see and taste what all the buzz is about.

Chapman’s is worth the fuss. By combining the breezy mood of a hip, no-dress-code cocktail lounge with excellent service and “comfort foods from around the world” that arrive dressed-up but are far from dainty, Chapman’s specializes in a festive, widely approachable style of fine dining.

Red snapper Veracruz at Chapman’s Eat Market

Yes, scrambling for rapidly dwindling reservations is hardly ideal. If you’re flexible, it’s possible to visit without reservations. Patio and bar seating are first come, first served. Show up right at 5 p.m. and you’ll have a reasonable shot at Chapman’s pleasant German Village patio. Securing a bar seat can be easier—try popping in as late as 7 p.m. on weekdays—plus eating at the bar is a fun, insidery experience.

You can peek into the kitchen from the roomy swivel chairs at the handsome bar while receiving expert suggestions and tag-team service from personable bartenders. These cushy perches also provide scenic immersions into Chapman’s interior: a refurbished vintage space with stained-glass windows, pretty floral wallpaper, abundant wood and old bones—it’s the original Max & Erma’s—enlivened by tones of green and dusty rose.

This aesthetic is reflected on the eclectic menu. While rife with offerings rooted in classics, the eatery’s drinks and dishes are abloom with Chapman’s own style. Gin, aquavit and sake steer an Aperol spritz into something more austere, yet still refreshing. And who couldn’t use a Booster Shot—a margarita-adjacent, tequila-and-mezcal cocktail that ties Mexico to Southeast Asia with citrus, pineapple, banana and galangal?

Something similar happens with the pepita chile crisp animating Hershberger’s Farm green beans—an addictive, bartender-recommended dish— which exhibits Chapman’s knack for ushering potent flavors and chile heat into fine dining. Ditto for Chapman’s com tam, a spicy Vietnamese entrée enhanced by fish sauce and banh mi-style vegetables and upgraded by slabs of luscious pork.

Chapman’s likewise puts its stamp on chicken wings with kicky, chip-and-dip-style crusts, McDonald’s-style fries cooked in ghee and beef fat, handmade pasta with wonderful house meatballs and a zesty (family-recipe-based) sauce, world-class ice creams in globetrotting flavors and, well, see you soon at the Chapman’s bar.

Chapman’s Eat Market

739 S. Third St., German Village, 614-444-0917, eatchapmans.com

This story is from the “10 Best Restaurants” package in the November 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.