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All The Way Up: My experience at Lincoln Social rooftop

Regina Fox

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It was 3:35 p.m. on a Tuesday when people began lining up beside the velvet rope at 711 N High Street. A smartly-dressed concierge escorted me to the elevator and hailed me a ride with a swift wave of his hand over a small screen. I rode the elevator up nine stories and was welcomed into Columbus’ newest rooftop bar by a floral wall with neon cursive writing that read, “Lincoln Social.”

Cameron Mitchell really outdid himself with this one, I thought as the fresh air swept me into the lounge. Where walls would normally be found, huge open windows revealed stunning views of the Short North and beyond. Foliage hung from beams of the translucent retractable ceiling that allowed sun to spill onto the ornamental rugs below. The room is anchored by a bright, white bar in the middle. 

Photos: Brian Kaiser

Beyond the bar are several half-circle booths covered in white fabric and textured pillows. An ivy wall runs the length of the booth area, giving guests an opportunity to “grab the perfect Instagram picture,” according to the Lincoln Social website. It’s in these booths where customers really bring Lincoln Social’s upscale lounge experience to life. Parties have been booking these booths since the bar’s opening and patronizing the sections of Lincoln’s menu meant for parties: bottle service and shareable cocktails. Booth guests are often frequent flyers to another portion of the menu entitled “All the Way Up,” which is a hat tip to the bar’s lofty location, and also the prices—these specific bottles of bubbly and wine start at $160 and end at an
even $1k. 

And past the booths is the true al fresco experience. The completely roof-less terrace is home to a fire pit, wrap-around flower beds, plenty of comfortable seating, and, most importantly, one of the most spectacular views of downtown Columbus. 

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At this point in my exploration, the clock had struck 4 p.m. and the downstairs floodgates opened. A steady stream of people excitedly poured through the doorway. Some went straight to the bar for a cocktail, others took seats at the long community table or at high tops, but most rushed to the terrace to take in the vista. I sat at the bar and watched the iPhones pan, tilt, and flash at every nook and cranny of the bar. Cameron Mitchell was going for Instagrammable and social media, and I’d be damned if he didn’t nail it. But, the photogenic nature doesn’t stop with the aesthetic.

Nearly every one of Lincoln Social’s cocktails come in their own uniquely beautiful glass. “When Mary Met Arnold,” Lincoln’s take on a boozy Arnold Palmer tea, is served in a dainty blue and white teapot and poured into a matching teacup over dry ice (say hello to the perfect smokey Boomerang). “You Had Me At Hello” is made from Lillet Blanc, aloe, peach-chile, citrus, and served in stemware with a red lipstick kiss on the side, which is actually a scented stamp bartenders press on the glass—a play on the classic service industry faux pas. And “Luke Skywalker,” my personal favorite, is sipped out of a fancy etched rocks glass and garnished with colorful flowers (shoutout to Chloe Emmons at Potion Matcha Bar for hooking up the tea in this tasty drink!). “Tokyo Drift” gets an honorable mention because of its fresh and spicy taste, and its patronization of Watershed’s award-winning Guild Series Gin. 

You’re probably feeling pretty hungry after all that booze talk, huh? Lincoln Social kept their menu short, swimming, and even a little bit sweet. I highly recommend Lincoln Social’s Wagyu Beef Sliders. At only $4 a pop, these tasty little beefy buns are worth their weight in gold. But, there are also some standout seafood options, too, like the Lobster Corn Dogs, Shrimp Ceviche, Tuna Poke, and Peeky Toe Crab—all under $15! You just have to promise me you’ll end your Lincoln dining experience with the Birthday Cake Cone, okay? It’s the cutest thing this side of Fiona. 

I could spend a few hundred more words describing the knowledgeable and well-groomed staff, the attractive lighting, or how the two modestly-sized TVs above the bar satisfy sporto customers, yet do not distract from the overall ambiance, but I think seven little words will do the trick: people of Columbus absolutely adore Lincoln Social. It’s fresh. It’s unique. It’s the high-end, crowd-pleasing Short North experience you can only get when a rooftop concept and Cameron Mitchell collide. So, get in line Columbus—you’re going to want to see this for yourself.

Lincoln Social is located on 711 N High St.
For more information on the menu and offerings,
visit lincolnsocialrooftop.com.

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Food & Drink

I had a Baja Blast at High St’s recently-opened Taco Bell Cantina

Asa Herron

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Once again, Taco Bell has surprised us all by adding alcohol to their drink menu. Upon hearing that the Taco Bell Cantina at 1525 N. High St. obtained its liquor license, my expectations were very ambivalent. Am I going to walk in and see a full bar with a separate area to order food, a la Plaza? Or are they going for something like Chipotle with bottles of beer and fresh margaritas available to order at the register?

Taco Bell’s drink menu turns out to be a similar, cheaper version of Chipotle’s drink menu. Instead of bottled Coronas and Patron margaritas, Taco Bell offers beers on tap and the option to add rum, vodka, or tequila to your freeze. All of the freeze flavors are available to make alcoholic––including the holy grail of Taco Bell beverages, the Baja Blast.

Photos: Amal Saeed

In keeping with Taco Bell tradition, the prices for the drinks are fairly cheap. You can get a 16-ounce Bud Light for $3, Corona for $4, and Thirsty Dog or Lost Coast for $5. However, the real treat here is the alcoholic freeze, which is only $5. The key to enjoying one of these boozy Baja Blast freezes is to keep mixing it and drink it fast. Otherwise, the alcohol you have mixed in will all go to the bottom.

The numerous televisions on the wall and high-top tables with stools to sit at create an atmosphere that could loosely pass as a casual bar. The real potential of this Taco Bell drink menu lies in its ability to transform your pre- gaming on your way to Short North bars. It’s a great quick stop before the rest of the night, or a way to bring it to a close with one last drink.

I’m not so confident that this new drink menu will go well in hours just before the south campus hotspot closes at 4am, but I can only imagine the level of intoxication that will be reached by some individuals. It’s no secret that Taco Bell is caviar to anyone under the influence. As long as the one security guard on duty can handle his own, you can bet we’ll be back for drinks at Taco Bell Cantina.

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Columbus is nuts for Krema Nut Company

Laura Dachenbach

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I remember the smell of Wonder Bread being voted one of the best aromas in Columbus in some sort of poll. Obviously, these responders had never been to the Krema Nut Company. When I enter the Krema retail space and headquarters on West Goodale in Grandview Heights, the irresistible aroma of roasted nuts and popcorn hits me like a circus and movie theater rolled into one. I know I’m not going to leave here without something in my hand.

The Krema Nut Company was founded in 1898 by Benton Black. The building was located at Second and High Streets, and primarily ground spices. However, Black also discovered the practicality and marketability of grinding peanuts into a paste, creating a protein supplement for people who were unable to chew other types of food. (Adequate dentistry was still in development.) The company moved to its present location in the mid 1920s, and while it started roasting the peanut butter, the product is still decidedly “old-school.”

“We do it all natural, so there’s no sugar, no salt, no hydrogenated oils. We use the number one fancy-grade Spanish peanut, dry roast it, take the skin off, take the heart out [the bitter part of the nut] and grind it. So
it’s real simple,” explains Brian Giunta, Krema’s Senior Vice President. 

Roasted nuts led to candies in the 1990s. Krema’s signature confections include Cashew Crunch, a handmade toffee; Buckeye Crunch, a caramel corn coated in peanut butter and chocolate; and Pecan Turtles—as well as chocolate-coated nuts, pretzels, and raisins. 

Giunta’s family bought Krema Nut in 1991, when he was a teenager. He knew he enjoyed business, but didn’t know where to channel that interest, and began discussing his plans with with his parents and others. “That was right when the internet was starting to really kind of pop.” 

Guinta recalls his father being interviewed by Business First about the company’s website, one of the first in Columbus. “There’s a picture of my dad holding a big scoop of nuts out front talking about the internet, if it was going to take off.” 

Inspired, Giunta joined the Krema team after college, and has played a role in preserving its traditions, but also carrying the company forward as his parents work towards full retirement.

“I came on in 2000, and so I started from the bottom and worked my way up. Every single job in this place, I’ve done,” Giunta says. “[Taking over the company] is awesome, but it’s a lot of weight on the shoulders.” 

As he moves around the space, it doesn’t seem there isn’t a job that Giunta can’t or won’t do, from taking calls to running equipment to helping behind the register. Today’s task is to make Hot and Spicy Peanut Butter, a natural peanut butter with a bit of cayenne pepper, a perfect addition to a cheese and cracker platter. (Giunta especially enjoys this treat with saltines.)

Giunta takes me back into Krema’s production area, occupied by old but well-built machinery, and the simplicity of the process becomes clear.

“Our grinder is very small. It’s low output. We do small batches. We make peanut butter every week. It would probably make much more sense to do a month’s worth, put it on a skid and put it in a warehouse and let it be. But that’s not us. We want it to always be fresh. Same thing with the oil roasting. We do it every week. So again, it would make more sense to just roast for a couple days and fill up all of our inventory. But that’s not us. So it’s like Groundhog Day every week.”

And there’s no fooling around. After master roaster Doug Vorhies loads the spicy peanuts (yes, just peanuts) into the grinder, he sits down to collect the thick, smooth butter in pre-labeled glass jars and hands it
off to to be immediately (yes, immediately) sealed, locking in the freshness as promised. 

“I can burn 300 pounds in a matter of seconds if I don’t pay attention to what I’m doing,” said Vorhies, who has been roasting and grinding peanuts at Krema for a decade. “When I get the peanuts in, I look at the lot number and see if that’s changed. Or you feel the weight of the bag and sometimes they’re a little bit looser because the moisture has evaporated out so the nut would tend to shrink down.”

Although visitors aren’t allowed in the production area, much of the process is still visible through the retail store windows. Krema’s retail space is split between its store, which carries its nut, popcorn, and candy products, and its cafe, which offers a dozen gourmet nut butter sandwiches. The Krema Special, an upgraded PB and J, is a top favorite. The Classic Old Timer, a sandwich of crunchy peanut butter, strawberry preserves, and sliced strawberries, is a close second. Ice cream and milkshakes are available, care of Johnson’s Old-Fashioned Ice Cream in Bexley.

“We have a nice relationship with them where they’ll use our peanut butter […] and we’ll use their ice cream for our milkshakes and sundaes,” said Giunta. “They do a great job over there.”

I give into the sensory overload and my undeniable hunger and try a Peanut Butter Apple Cheesecake sandwich, an absolute tribute to the comfort childhood with a grown-up taste. There’s hardly a way to not get sticky eating this treat, but I don’t really mind. Peanut butter always seems to hit the spot. 

As I’m leaving, Giunta notices a stray nut on the floor. It would be easy to leave it and let it be swept up later during a dedicated cleaning time. But instead, Giunta picks it up and discards it, lest it be crushed underfoot. It seems to be exemplary of his sense of pride and drive for quality and customer satisfaction that’s summed up in a simple mantra.

“I just want everything to be perfect.”

The Krema Nut Company is located at 1000 W Goodale Ave.
For product information and to order online, visit krema.com.

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Review + virtual tour of stunning new Columbus brewery

Regina Fox

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On an unusually warm September day, a few of us (614) staffers made the journey over to Olde Towne East to pay Columbus' newest brewery a visit.

Gemüt Biergarten, located at 734 Oak St., opened to the public on August 22 and offers guests a cultural drinking and dining experience in a setting just as unique.

The Firehouse, formerly known as the Columbus Music Hall, is a grand and beautiful structure, one that owners Kyle Hofmeister, Rob Camstra, Nick Guyton, and Chelsea Rennie were careful to maintain during the renovation process. The original brick walls remain throughout the brewery and beerhall, but new and stunningly beautiful stain glass windows were installed behind the bar to greet customers upon arrival and illustrate the different Gemüt brews.

Speaking of beers, I went with the Alfheim Hefeweizen which was bright and, much to my delight, not too fruit forward. The dark and toasty Woden’s Hunt Dunkel and the crisp Helheim Helles are also debut beers at Gemüt with a couple kolschs, a marzen, and a pilsner hitting taps soon.

Inspired by European cuisine, the food menu offers a variety of German sausages, Schnitzel, along with several appetizers and large plates. Sunday brunch specials are also offered—keep an eye on Gemüt's Facebook for updates.

With our beers in hand and our minds on the amazing Gemüt grub, we made our way out of the biergarten. The path to the patio took us past the pristine brewery where we got an up-close-and-personal look at the magic behind the malts.

We emerged onto a stone and brick plaza covered in picnic tables and partially covered by an upscale pergola. In the far corner, a fun-sized tables and chairs sit next to a Little Free Library—the perfect place for the tots to hang while the adults have their fun. A cute wooden gazebo populates another corner of the biergarten next to the al fresco bar.

As a resident of the Olde Towne East neighborhood, I've driven by Gemüt Biergarten in the evening many times to see the patio illuminated by dozens of Edison bulb string lights and wished I was there. And now that I finally got a chance to patronize the place, I wish I never would've left.

Take a virtual tour of Nosh in the gallery below! 
Note: use the left/right arrows in the upper-left corner to navigate between images.

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