Photos by Chris Casella

Second Wave

Remember those Choose Your Own
books that we read as kids?

The one where you make a choice at the end of every chapter and each choice lead to different stories? The menu at the Crest is like that—it can magically morph to fit any hunger pang or party circumstance. Get a small plate, share a stack of ‘em, or go big with an entrée. Couple up a soup and salad, or a go poly with three or more courses and really pile it on. Light or lengthy, you’ll be sure to satiate your appetite.

Part of the Gateway to the South Parson’s avenue rejuvenation, the Crest on Parsons is located in a brand new building just a hop south from Livingston and the Children’s Hospital campus. Curving around the building, the layout is both interesting and frustrating – frustrating in the sense that I waited around one side of the curve for a friend who was sitting on the other side, but out of view. (However, it would be easy to hide a salacious rendezvous if that’s a selling point for ya. It’s all about balance, I suppose).

A large patio wraps around the building while inside the island of a bar sits in the middle, watching over the dining room. Two, four and six tops–square and round, comfy banquettes, a group table with a chainmail curtain, and window seats leave a lot of choice in the “where do we sit?” The bar has crisp flat screens on one end for all your sports viewing pleasure, while the other end is blissfully free of cheering.

The sustainability ethos of the original Crest Tavern in Clintonville has followed the team south and resulted in as-local-as-possible sourcing, on-site charcuterie curing, and a general aura of good food, good company, and good drink. The space is accented by greens–a “moss” covered wall, chair cushions, and artwork–that makes a nice foil for the otherwise industrial vibe of the place. There is a wall of silver dog tags, mostly blank, but some spelling out phrases such as “Columbus Love,” as well as back-in-the-day black and white photos of Columbus.

The sustainability ethos of the original Crest has followed
the team south and resulted in as-local-as-
possible sourcing, and a general aura of good food, good company, and good drink.

One could easily go all vegan with their menu choices, or rock an all-meat evening.  Sitting at the bar allows dining to be a spectator sport as the open kitchen hustles and servers pick up mountainous platters of cheese and charcuterie ($18), stunning salads ($6-14), or entire whole-roasted game hens ($20).

The caramelized halloumi ($12), a firm Greek cheese that is served hot, comes drizzled with warm honey, chunks of honeycomb, and gold bee pollen dust, a mound of micro greens adding color and crunch. The cheese is squeaky and chewy, with a little salinity that sets of the sweetness of the honey. If a little kick is required for your adventure, go for the shrimp and grits ($13). Shagbark corn grits transform into a creamy base for a swoon-worthy tomato sauce, pan-seared shrimp, and house made Cajun sausage that doesn’t carry so much heat that it blows your taste buds, but enough to make your lips tingle.

All sorts of burgers are there for the taking–bison, salmon, falafel, lamb, and beef. The Americana Burger is two patties of Ohio-proud beef, rubbed with a little kicker of coffee, joined by cheddar cheese, pickles, bacon, lettuce, tomato, fried onions, and Watershed bourbon barbeque sauce ($16). It’s like a leaning tower of burger bliss and required a knife and fork, lest some of the tasty sauce leak away into the night.

On the vegetarian side of things, the brick dough asparagus entrée is completely novel. Thinking it would be, like, asparagus cooked under a brick or something, it turns out “brick dough” asparagus is a method of cooking the asparagus inside a little dough wrap. The dough is thin and crispy, with the pale green asparagus sticking out of its open end. Looking like an asparagus Stonehenge, the standing dough packages are served with cauliflower rice, wilted greens, charred onions, and laced with a tomato curry sauce ($15).

With the weekend comes brunch. Fluffy ricotta pancakes ($11) are a favorite, but the menu spans from frittatas ($10) to breakfast tacos ($11) to steak and eggs ($15).  The Crest’s take on eggs benedict features salmon patties instead of Canadian bacon and is played up with a perfect herby hollandaise ($13). Two dishes are definite musts for ushering in the chilly fall weather: the pork belly cassoulet ($12) is rich and hearty, with its crispy pork belly and tender stewed Northern white beans, and the smoked brisket hash ($12), is topped with two perfect poached eggs that break to create a silky sauce for the smoky meat and sweet potatoes.

With all the choices available to its patrons, the Crest on Parsons is never the same adventure twice. In keeping with their credo of sustainability, as well as neighborliness, Nationwide Children’s Hospital employees can receive up to 10 percent off, while those carrying an SBB card, a public transportation pass, or a bike helmet are also eligible for the same discount.