Saturday, 27 April 2013

First Impressions: Initial Review of The Crest

The Crest Gastropub on Urbanspoon

As I pulled into the parking lot of The Crest Gastropub (1,2), I saw quite a few people enjoying springtime's sunny weather on the outdoor patio. And then I saw Abed who looked to be taking in the moment. I met recent OSU grad Abed and Dublin, OH native Dustin in early March at the annual meeting of Slow Food Columbus. Since then, I've been following the progress of The Crest which officially opened last night (following a successful soft opening last weekend), and of which Abed and his family are the owners and Dustin is head chef. Already, the early and very recent previews (1,2,3) had created positive buzz. That said, my initial review below appears to be one of the first post-opening pieces (at least the first to make its way over to Urbanspoon) to add to that buzz, hopefully providing the curious among you with a peek of what the experience was like in full force.

Throughout the last few weeks, Facebook followers received regular updates of construction and staff trainings, as well as images of the mouth watering menus and picturesque cocktails. Last night, it was apparent that I clearly wasn't just one of few who had taken a keen interest in what was being resurrected in the neighbourhood of Clintonville. Without yet stepping in, I could hear the bustling and energetic crowd packed into gastropub, a more than pleasant surprise than anyone had seemed to expect with opening day. Among those inside were familiar faces who managed to claim and protect coveted table space--graduate students in the Anthropology program I'll be joining this August, and our Graduate Program Coordinator Elizabeth, a Clintonville resident who was beyond enthusiastic and excited for opening day, too. I had met most of them during my fellowship visit, shortly after my Boston trip, and it was great to once again be a part of that company. Surely the confluence of the growth of Columbus's food scene and meeting another group of foodies was subconsciously well-timed on my part.

Making my way to the bar (which was much easier than waiting to put in an order), I got the Smoke and Syrup signature cocktail, a subtle blend of OYO Whiskey infused with applewood smoke, maple syrup & Campari. At first, I had anticipated the smoky flavour to hit me first but instead ended each sip which began with the sweet notes of the maple syrup. The effect is light and refreshing, but in need of something to eat with it.

Speaking of food, Abed suggested ordering the Caesar salad, the lamb burger or the marinated portobella sandwich, but in the end I chose not to order any food since the kitchen was wicked busy and I had to get back to campus in time for a program.

However, I was able to sample the sweet potato fries that Elizabeth ordered, as well as the truffle herb French fries, both of which were delicious. Paired with the aioli, the sweet potato fries were especially great, with a soft interior and delicately crisped bite. If the fries can be as great as they are, they are assuredly a good sign for the rest of the menu... a compelling enough reason to return, no?

In the midst of all the commotion for The Crest's happy hour (M-F, 3-7pm) start, I really have to hand it to the management team for upholding an upbeat atmosphere, the kitchen crew for pushing out orders as quickly as possible with consistent-looking quality, and the attentive and friendly staff for adapting to the large crowd and enriching a truly positive first experience. In addition, I would like to affirm here The Crest's commitment to sourcing locally wherever and whenever possible, an underlying, embedded philosophy simply shared in response to a Facebook comment: "We use [local sources] because we believe in what they do." From The Crest's rooftop garden to their rain barrels to the planter boxes organised by Trish (who I met earlier in the evening when I saw Abed), The Crest's environmental practices are equally noteworthy and may very well be at the source of what I expect will be a successful future. The Crest's well-thought, integrated and innovative approaches to food (from production to consumption) not only normalises the overarching umbrella of true, holistic sustainability (economic, environmental and social) but sets a standard for both existing and up-and-coming restaurants. I look forward to continue to follow The Crest as it truly becomes its own and solidifies its identity in Columbus. For these and even more photos from my short time at The Crest yesterday, click here. The Crest is open for brunch on Sundays beginning at 10am and is open daily from 3pm until midnight.

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