Spring Simmers

A taste of a few local restaurants shifting in new menu items.

Ahh, spring. In Ohio, it’s damn near like entering a whole new world.

And it doesn’t just affect our how we entertain ourselves—but how we eat, too.

With the changing of the seasons comes new ingredients, literally unearthed, and utilized by the city’s most creative culinary commedanders.

Here, is just a taste of who’s rolling out new dishes—and how they set their table. Travis Hoewischer

Gallerie Bar & Bistro

Chef Bill Glover

Long before local was a buzzword lingering on every menu, Glover was boasting the benefits of dishing out Ohio’s best available crops, and he’s only expanded that vision running the massive operation at the Downtown Hilton. For him, spring isn’t about abundance, but focus.

“I like spring the most because of the ingredient availability is so narrow and special this time of year—especially wild edibles that I forage for my own home cooking. Spring offers the uniqueness of vegetables only available for a brief timeframe. I like to showcase the bounty of spring offerings that Ohio farming and wild foragers bring.”

He and his right-hand-man Josh Kayser have perfected their collaboration going all the way back to their Sage Bistro days, and after deciding on new dishes, will make each dish a few times to play with textures and flavor profile. After the plating process, it’ll get rolled out for managers. Then, it’s for us to enjoy.

For Glover, it’s about not only serving food that feels fresh and now, but finding a balance in not erasing current favorites.

“Variety is our job as chefs,” he said. “We have to have a few dishes that are safe and a few that push the boundaries. It is like this in every major market in American. I am never afraid to push people; I have been serving Pacu fish ribs for over 10 years with nothing but rave reviews after people get over the psychological hump.”

Be sure to try: Crispy fried confit frog legs, Ohio maple syrup brown butter glaze, chili, lemon, sage, spring onion, nasturtium.

Branch

Chef Rodelio Aglibot

After an extended rebrand, the folks at Branch are shifting towards a menu that isn’t just general comfort food—but items inspired by the nostalgia of its head chef and staff.

“It’s a seasonal menu inspired by our food memories,” said head chef Rodelio Aglibot. “Our grilled chicken dish is served with a cheesy broccoli rice similar to the casserole I ate as a kid.”

Lighter and brighter, leaning toward fruits and vegetables in their dishes, like Glover, Aglibot thinks creativity—combined with execution—gets rewarded with covers.

“Customers want to try new things and chefs want to create—its a constant evolution,” he said. “If you get known for being innovative they will keep trying.”

Chef’s choice: Firecracker tempura tuna and salmon roll.

101 Beer Kitchen

Chef Thad Kittrell

As they continue to rewrite the (cook)book on what breaking bread can be in the ‘burbs, the team at 101 Beer Kitchen is also a model of collaboration, a top-down, all-voices-heard spirit encouraged by chef/owner Thad Kittrell.

“All of the chefs contribute to the many menus that we create however we have used ideas from other team members as well, like a line-cook who made an absolutely wonderful chicken tinga we incorporated into our tostadas,” he said.

A desire for brightness led the spring menu inspiration, not to mention toying with a popular ingredient not usually on 101BK menus—scallops. Asparagus, radishes, mediterranean flavors, pesto and pickled red onion make frequent appearances.

Their elevated pub stables aren’t going anywhere—which is good, because we can eat ale and cheddar soup in any weather. The new menu reflects their mission of providing seasonal handcrafted products that “sound good at the time”—comfort food in the fall and winter and lighter options in the spring and summer.

Chef’s choice: Pan Seared Scallops over orzo pasta with roasted artichokes, grilled asparagus and shiitake mushrooms in a soy butter sauce, topped w/ pickled red onion and thinly sliced radishes.

Watershed Kitchen + Bar

Chef Jack Moore

Watershed has spent years building a venerable booze brand, but in very little time their restaurant has earned the praise of diners city and statewide.

One advantage, besides top talent in the kitchen and behind the bar:

Access to the state’s great farmers.

“When we have passionate farmers come in the back door excited about the product they raised, our job as chefs becomes a little easier,” chef Jack Moore said. “That food already tastes great, and that is the food that dictates my menu. It is my duty as a chef to showcase their product in a way that shows respect to all of the hard work the farmers put into it, and make that translate to our guest.  And with a team of passionate chefs, eager to play with fresh product, we have fun this time of year. Not only telling our story, but the farmer’s too.”

And just like those farmers, Watersheds team now has the ability to expand their offerings beyond root vegetables and hearty greens.

“We are ready for a fresh vegetable that still has the sunshine in it,” said, Moore, who will slowly integrate new dishes, rather than a wholesale turnover.

“I don’t believe in changing the entire menu in one day. If I did that, there is no way that my service staff can be as knowledgeable as I want them to be about the food, and it doesn’t give us a chance as a kitchen to really go through our process. It’s much more important to put out food we are proud of instead of something we feel is mediocre because we were in a hurry to hit the spring “deadline.” As the seasons change, you will see menu items fall off the menu as new ones come on.

Chef’s choice: Order the asparagus dish. “Last year, in the hustle bustle of being the hot new restaurant, we missed the short growing window for our local asparagus. We won’t let that happen again this year. Stay tuned!”

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Travis Hoewischer

I've been working in journalism in central Ohio for more than a decade, and have been lucky enough to be a part of (614) Magazine since the very first issue. Proud to live in a city that still cares – and still reads.

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