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No. 1 Smash

“I just had a fresh beef quarter-pounder from McDonald’s. It was delicious. I’m shook.” And with that post, chef Matthew Heaggans proved his quest for the perfect burger has few boundaries. Of course, Heaggans was prepared for some light chiding from online commentators who were surprised to hear a Columbus culinary champ complimenting the evil [...]
Kevin J. Elliott



I just had a fresh beef quarter-pounder from McDonald’s. It was delicious. I’m shook.”

And with that post, chef Matthew Heaggans proved his quest for the perfect burger has few boundaries.

Of course, Heaggans was prepared for some light chiding from online commentators who were surprised to hear a Columbus culinary champ complimenting the evil empire, but that didn’t stop him from deflecting the naysayers with absolutes.

“I eat fast food sometimes. I’m fully aware of the ins and outs of it. A lot of cooks do and if you look closely you can see its reflection in a lot of upscale dining.”

Before the thread comes to an end, Heaggans assures the world that, while McDonald’s may be good, his current burger iteration, launched at Preston’s, is in an entirely different league. In a very small amount of time, Preston’s: A Burger Joint, Heaggans’ latest playground opened with Challah’s Catie Randazzo—Columbus kitchen royalty in her own right—went from a cultish pop-up for the burger faithful to many’s best burger in town.

Let the beef(s) begin, but Heaggans’ resume is dotted with stand-out burgers that have led to this no-contest moment. It’s hard to compete with evolution.

If you’ve had a burger at the Flatiron or The Rossi in the last few years, they have Heaggans’ fingerprints on them. In a quick listing of his favorite Columbus burgers, both of them reappear, as does Rockmill Tavern and the Press Grill, but he stops short of naming a number one. It’s equal parts humility and pure confidence in his food.

But what makes the Preston’s version of a smash burger so incredibly good?

“Everything is very well-thought-out,” Heaggans says of his prized burger that has taken years to refine. “The way that we stack the toppings on the burger is a conversation … actually a long conversation. We only use American cheese. We don’t have any other cheeses. We tried out dozens of buns and settled on one specific bun. Our beef is a special blend, we get it local, and we only order so much at a time. We get what we need. The ‘special’ sauce is handmade, it takes two days to make, and it’s stupiddumb to make.”

Formerly hiding out atop Three Sheets in the Brewery District, Heaggans and Randazzo have, as of last month, moved their endeavor to Woodland’s Backyard in Grandview, assuring the duo more visibility and the opportunity to experiment with their homage to junk food—and the aforementioned fast food staples. With Randazzo’s permanent Challah! inside of Woodland’s Tavern, the transition was smooth and amicable for Preston’s. In addition to table service and weekend lunch hours, they will feature new items including their take on a filet ‘o fish and a pudding du jour, to match their already indulgent “Pavlovian” menu of house funyuns, vegan Cincinnati chili dogs, and Heaggans’ decadent Nashville hot wings.

“It’s well-thought-out junk-food,” says Heaggans of the concept. “We spend a lot of time on it, a lot of effort. It’s junk-less junk-food. There’s not junk in it, it’s just probably not something you want to eat every day.”

It’s the perfect mix of nostalgia and vision. Just as Heaggans will allude to a Quarter Pounder on social media, he’ll extol the virtues of clam strips from White Castle, the need for G.D. Ritzy’s to return, and how restaurants in Columbus are upping the ante by being adventurous with relatable dishes. The collaboration between Randazzo and Heaggans was once a friendly rivalry, but both saw the potential in joining forces. In addition to the success of Challah! and now Preston’s, the two are on the cusp of opening Ambrose and Eve, a more formal dining experience that Randazzo likens to “the best dinner party you’ve ever been to, every night of the week.”

“It’s all about the experience,” says Randazzo. “It’s getting frustrating to hear people say that something is ‘good for Columbus.’ Because that means it’s not going to be that great. Let’s be better than average, let’s push the boundaries, let’s do different things.”

Our conversation diverts from Preston’s, Ambrose and Eve, and onto the Columbus food scene at large and where exactly it’s headed. The duo sees the riskier menus of places like the new Veritas, Rockmill Tavern, and Service Bar as incredibly positive turns in the right direction and they are determined to contribute to that growth will full force.

“I want everyone here to succeed. Here you can forge your own trail and do your own thing. You can do something here that no one has ever seen before. That moves the culture forward,” says Heaggans about Columbus. “We have a lot of room for independence. No one is in competition with anyone else. We are years away from that. So, it’s good that all of these new places are able to open and are also able to stretch and reach. That adds to the culture. That allows the industry to continue to professionalize. We’ll have people who are not rock stars by day and cooks by night. They’ll just be cooks.”

To wit, just try a Preston’s classic: the “special” sauce alone will convince you that everything that comes from Heaggans and Randazzo’s mouths is a philosopher’s truth. •

Preston’s: A Burger Joint is now open in Woodland’s Backyard at 668 Grandview Ave. in Grandview. Visit for hours and more information.

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Food & Drink

Clintonville Brunch Crawl: We dare you to squeeze all 3 stops into 1 day




Clintonville is lovely this time of year, especially when you make three separate stops for brunch. 

Whether the weather is gracing the charming little burgh with a healthy dose of vitamin D or giving it a couple spins around the Lazy Susan that is Ohio’s climate, a trifecta of morning food destinations is sure to keep your mood afloat.

BLunch  • 2973 N High St.

Yes, we know that Columbus now is home to a Drunch AND a BLunch.

Snicker all ya want—if you do, you’d be missing out on one of the culinary scene’s welcome newcomers—a half-day cafe that carries the comforts of a First Watch, but with the sophisticated execution of Tasi or Katalina’s.

The White Family has decades of hospitality under their belt—the family owned Galena’s Mudflats until recently, and dad Jeff has been running the OSU Faculty Club for the past 20 years.

Those two were training grounds for son Jeff, once a young, eager dishwasher and now head chef for the White’s new “daylight eatery and bar.” Mom Jane, despite her own admission that in the family’s tavern-running days breakfast didn’t get served until halfway through afternoon, now relishes an intimate spot where people can maintain their own balance between booze and breakfast.

A full-bar at brunch is a rarity in the peculiar little burg, and positioned near Lineage, Old Skool, and Condado, BLunch could be the perfect starting point for a casual Clintonville crawl.

Then again, you may not have another stop after Chef Jeff gets done with ya. He and the White family have concepted a bennies-and-batter focused menu, where you’ll be sure to come back after a healthy amount of indecision. Me? I’ve been dreaming about the Bananas Foster pancakes (topped with ice cream) and the huevos rancheros over masa cake for weeks. – Travis Hoewischer


Dough Mama • 3335 N High St.

Dough Mama is the top of my list for my favorite breakfast joint. I love so much about this place.

The atmosphere is super chill, laid back, and inviting. The food is so so good. I would call it comfort food with an extra sprinkle of love and thought.

From pie to salad, it’s all good.

They use a variety of local and seasonal ingredients and support some of my favorite local delicacies with Dan the Baker bread and Thunderkiss coffee … YUM! They also have a variety of vegan and gluten-free options.

I am smitten with the Gluten-Free Lemon Poppy muffin. This place is my go to for a yummy drippy egg, roasted potatoes, salad, a sweet treat and a perfect cup of coffee.


My husband loves Grammie’s Sammie and a piece of Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie. I somehow manage to splurge here and feel really really good about it.

Their menu has some great staples but they also always have specials that look and are amazing.

Right now they serve both lunch and breakfast during the day and I’ve heard it through the grapevine that they will soon be open in the evening and serving dinner. I cannot wait to see what delicious dishes they create for that menu. – Jana Rock

Baba’s • 2515 Summit St.

Baba’s is my go-to breakfast spot in Columbus. You can grab a breakfast sandwich on their homemade griddle muffins (aka little pillows of heaven), order a rack of ribs, or in the spirit of Alabama Worley, have a slice of perfect pie and a cup of Thunderkiss coffee.

Their delicious baked goods are made in house, they smoke all of their own meats and their produce and coffee are all sourced locally, though their espresso will send you to the moon.

The service is fast, their team is super-friendly and there are never any pretentious vibes in the super chill atmosphere they have created on the corner of Hudson and Summit.

They’ve made a beautiful impact in their short existence in the SoHud neighborhood, fostering local artistic connections and bringing beautiful new mural art that rotates different artist from the community throughout the year. Don’t forget to grab one of their perfect cinnamon rolls for later. — Vanessa Jean Speckman

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Food & Drink

Harvest Pizzeria sowing last seeds in German Village




Eight years ago, Harvest Pizzeria cropped up in a small space in German Village. Today, the local pizza chain announced the closure of its flagship location.

Harvest Pizzeria German Village will open its doors for the final time on Saturday, April 27th.

“Despite the success of Harvest in German Village and our strong ties to the neighborhood, the owner of the property will not honor our renewal of the lease,” wrote founder Chris Crader in an email. “…the landlord’s demands for a new lease at a higher rate would not allow our little pizzeria to remain viable.


Crader added that he is proud of the strides Harvest German Village has made over the years, and thankful for the community that’s supported it. He hopes they can return to the neighborhood when the right spot presents itself.

As far as the employees go, Crader wrote that with the success of the other locations, the German Village workers will be able to join a team at another restaurant.

“Harvest sincerely thanks all of its loyal supporters and we hope to see you at our other locations soon,” wrote Crader.

This news follows the announcement of the Grandview Harvest closing back in February. Read more here.

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Food & Drink

Crawfish boils claw their way into Columbus Saturday

Mike Thomas



What’s the deal with crawfish boils? Sure, they’re delicious, but as a true land-lubbing midwesterner, my knowledge of this particular culinary phenomenon is fairly lacking.

That said, I definitely can’t tell you why there are multiple crawfish boils going down this Saturday. Best not to overthink it—just enjoy the experience!

Pecan Penny’s |113 East Main Street
Saturday at 4 PM – 7 PM

Sponsored by Brewdog, downtown BBQ joint Pecan Penny’s is kicking off patio season with an all-you-can-eat Crawfish boil, complete with giveaways and a DJ.


Rehab Tavern | 456 W Town St
2 PM – 6 PM

Rehab’s own 4/20 crawfish boil kicks off at 2:00. Your $15.75 entrance fee will net you a pint of beer in addition to all-you-can-eat crawfish and fixins’!

Can’t make either of these, or want to try the boil experience before committing to a large-scale event? Check out Kai’s Crab Boil or Boiling Seafood Crawfish—both on Bethel Road —for first-rate seafood experiences you won’t soon forget.

Why are there two crawfish boils on the same day? Why are there two crawfish restaurants on the same road? We may never know, and honestly, who cares? Crawfish is the bomb! Just put on your bib and get crackin’!

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