Italian Village adds upscale Mexican flavor
There are plenty of places in Columbus to get tacos. There are plenty of places in Italian Village to hang out with your friends. Walking into Cosecha, the newest asset on Fourth Street, and restaurateur Chris Crader’s freshest Grow Restaurants brand, you realize happily that the two are now one in the same.
A recycled dairy barn, Cosecha retains some of Italian Village’s authentic feel while introducing a menu that was, until now, largely unavailable in that neighborhood. Other options in the realm abound closer to High Street, but with Italian Village on the come up, Crader saw an opportunity to fill what he decided was an unmet need.
Chef Silas Caeton (formerly of Veritas Tavern in Delaware) has, to his credit, put together a very enjoyable menu. Outside of the obligatory enchiladas and sides of rice and beans are harder-to-find offerings like charred octopus and better-than-average pozole verde (a pork and hominy stew driven by a thick-ish, hearty broth made of tomatillos and green chiles).
The octopus and pozole are of particular note. Other recent Columbus ventures have tried octopus in this application, and the results were less than stellar. This dish is very respectable, the meat fork-tender and tooth-ready.
Top: Chef Silas Caeton. Bottom: Caeton’s charred octopus and chips.
The soup, last seen in this light at another Grow venture (The Sycamore), is a meal unto itself, tangy and savory and, at eight dollars, perhaps the best bargain on the slate.
Though there is an obvious drive to give the effort some real authenticity (terra cotta copitas in the bar, worm salt, the aforementioned octopus), the menu is very accessible. There are plenty of Shagbark tortilla chips and various dips to enjoy—the queso in particular seems to be a crowd favorite. Chile-dusted pork rinds (chicharrones) and a Caesar salad round out the starters. Seven different taco duos ranging from chicken tinga ($8) to tuna poké ($14) satisfy the taco fiends.
Of further note food-wise are a caramelized sweet potato dish ($8), a butter-poached shrimp and tamale ($13), and a most thoughtful side dish, esquites ($4).
Sweet potatoes can be a tough sell. Throw out any notion of the marshmallow-entombed Thanksgiving nightmare from your childhood. This is not a dessert. It is a well conceived, well executed, non-meat-driven dish. The Cloverton cheese and honey make it not strictly vegan, but it matters not. It’s exceptional.
The shrimp and corn tamale is a fantastic combination, as both elements merely flirt with sweetness without tipping over. Pickled jalapeños liven up just about anything, but they are a particularly welcome element in this concept.
As for the esquites, it’s simply elote in a bowl. Corn-off-the-cob fixed with lime juice, chile powder, salt, and cheese. The perfect street food. Only here you get to wolf it down by the heaping metal spoonful.
When you go, don’t shy away from the bar. It’s a long space, accommodating a good twenty folks straight away before you get to the high-tops lining the opposite wall. Every cuisine has its complimentary libations. Perhaps none other than Mexican food does so well at it.
There is a clear focus on both tequila and mezcal, the latter of which remains something of a mystery to the mainstream. Bar manager David Veitch has his ducks in a row, offering not just a solid selection of spirits, but an eight-strong custom cocktail lineup to back it up.
Best in show are The Dude Abides (a horchata-fueled spin on the white russian) and the Conquistador (a tequila-fueled spin on the sharpie mustache).
Naturally, there are margaritas to be had. But you would do well to at least once snag an ounce-and-a-half of quality mezcal, take down a half-a-tongue’s worth of sal de gusano on the accompanying orange slice, and chase it with what god intended. It certainly can empty your head of anything not worth the memory.
Cosecha Cocina has no reason not to succeed—it smacks of Italian Village ascent and most definitely brings it at both the kitchen and the bar. Fourth Street patrons are on notice.