If not for the rhythmic roar of an occasional COTA bus breaking like waves against the shore, you might just mistake the sounds of the Short North for a Southern California boardwalk. But if the seaside-inspired shutters and coastal decor of its most recent restaurant don’t suspend your disbelief, the menu and milieu surely will.
Cameron Mitchell’s newest venture, Del Mar SoCal Kitchen, is the casual counterpoint to Ocean Prime (or what we locals know better as the original Ocean Club). Though the dinner-only destination is more than a “finer diner,” with an emphasis on intimacy, dominated by two-tops complemented with low-lit alcoves for more amorous couples and conversations.
The weekend before any restaurant launch is often a soft open, the culinary equivalent of a dress rehearsal for a forgiving audience. But unlike the average opening night, this evening was actually a tale of two Camerons. To my left was the insatiable restaurateur introducing a table of friends to his latest collection of curated cuisine, and at my own table, the irrepressible Cameron Fontana and his wife Katie. Familiar faces for sure, but we were otherwise strangers who just happened to be seated together.
Columbus is just big enough for folks to share the same orbit without ever intersecting. Though they didn’t know it at the time, my wife and I also happened to be house shopping a couple of years back, even looking at some of the same homes, including one featured
on their appearance on HGTV’s House Hunters. Fontana also fell short of finishing a comically-proportioned local pizza challenge, as well as having been born in Osaka the same year I’d spent a summer in Japan as an exchange student.
Cameron moved to California as a kid, decades before television became his calling and Columbus his adopted hometown. Meanwhile, Katie hails from Pickerington, yet her influence as a fitness and dance instructor reaches well beyond Central Ohio. The unanticipated rapport made them the perfect two-person test market for that other Cameron’s Midwest twist on coastal comfort food.
Never mind the awkwardness of new acquaintances. Exploring the menu immediately became a group effort, with each course pushing geographic and culinary boundaries. Though billed as a “SoCal” establishment, opening options like the curry clams, with heirloom tomato and Thai coconut, to the chilled octopus, served on ice with pickled cucumber, tobiko roe, and a citrus vinaigrette, cast a wider net with Pacific Rim credibility.
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Cameron was cool with shells, scales, even suction cups. But Katie confessed she isn’t always so keen on seafood. It’s a common conundrum among couples when one comes from the coast and the other is a little more local, another coincidence my wife and I share with the Fontanas. It’s not that seafood is inherently more sophisticated, just more scarce. The farther you grow up from saltwater, the more likely you are to eat off the hoof than off the hook.
Accordingly, Katie ordered the more reliable angus ribeye, flanked by a spinach salad of smoked bacon, pickled turnips, and ricotta salata, while Cameron was tempted by the almost obligatory fish tacos, breaded in a Baja style Tecate beer batter with bright pico de gallo and a sweet potato chimichurri. The halibut had my name on it, with Marona almonds and golden raisins atop a citrus chili relish. But everyone was also eyeing the swordfish, which we agreed to split—along with everything else.
And this is where Del Mar really raises the bar, offering equally enviable alternatives to their signature fare. At most seafood restaurants, if it doesn’t have fins, it probably plays second fiddle. The ribeye was seasoned and seared to steakhouse standards. The tacos were on target with a tempura texture offering yet another nod to California’s Asian influences. The halibut was delicate and decadent, and exactly what you’d expect from a plate I later learned every chef has to personally approve before it leaves the kitchen.
But the swordfish was sumptuous and as satisfying as any cut of steak, balanced with a refreshing Brussels sprout and sliced apple slaw with orange-mustard vinaigrette and a creamy sweet potato puree waiting to be discovered on the bottom of every bite. If there’s a single entree that epitomizes Del Mar’s earnest appeal to Midwestern palates, this may be it—and Katie is among its early converts.
Del Mar’s desserts are deceptively understated. Easily overlooked are the coconut sorbet served on the half shell and the Hawaiian shaved ice with the punch of pineapple. Order both and share for an experience akin to a deconstructed piña colada. For something more citrusy and unexpected, the olive oil cake is like eating an orange creamsicle with a fork, and so moist it cuts without leaving a crumb.
Dinner could end right there or extend upstairs to Lincoln Social Rooftop, an equally intimate perch accessible only by private elevator. Despite the polished appointments and urban overlook that stretches from downtown to the University District, the low seating around a cozy campfire still carries a little of the beach vibe into the exclusive cocktail lounge.
Despite its shine, California cuisine often gets as much shade, with petite and pretentious presentation rubbing the working class the wrong way. Steve Martin’s sardonic Shakespearean satire L.A. Story summed it up succinctly with one silly line — “Gee, I’m done already and I don’t remember eating.”
Not so with Del Mar SoCal Kitchen. Each plate is portioned with purpose—generous, but never garish—featuring flavors that reveal a refined appreciation for beloved regional ingredients. Those Brussels sprouts and sweet potato headline a recurring cast of Midwest favorites rarely found in deep-sea delicacies. The recipes are ocean-inspired, but undeniably Ohio in origin. If Alice Waters were to suddenly set up shop in the Short North, her execution would likely look shockingly similar.
Columbus is still a meat and potatoes town better known for beer and beards than seafood for certain. But the thoughtful and affordable opulence of Del Mar SoCal Kitchen proves we’re more than just another inland culinary imitator. We’re not simply an emerging market. We’re evolving into a city that defines its own identity—sure to acknowledge influences, but unapologetic as innovators deserving our own overdue moment in the sun.
Del Mar is located at 705 N High St and is open Sunday through Thursday 4pm – 10pm and Friday through Saturday 4pm – midnight. Visit cameronmitchell.com or call 614.300.9500 for more information.
With its more than 60 craft breweries (and counting); 150 beer bars, growler shops, and bottle stores; and over 300 restaurants serving craft beer, Columbus is one of the largest craft beer cities in the Midwest. Celebrate our booming booze culture with Columbus Craft Beer Week, now through May 25.
There are dozens of beer-centric events planned very day this week that we’re dying to put on your radar. And, don’t forget to take advantage of the one-time $5 off Lyft credit to or from any CCBW event with code CRAFTBEERCBUS.
Come join for free pinball and craft sour selections from Platform Beer Co.! Our kick-off party for CCBW is going to feature 8 different Sours from Platform and two free Pinball machines. Platform will be in attendance on Monday night to get the party started and Brewcadia will be offering free pinball the whole week!
All week long at The Crest Gastropub, Parsons location, they will be featuring an awesome Bacon and Beer menu with Land-Grant Brewing. What’s better than bacon and beer? How about lamb bacon, duck bacon, Irish bacon, Italian bacon, beef bacon, coconut bacon, or whatever wonderful morsels of bacon we decide to work with paired alongside an array of Land Grant Beers.
For Columbus Craft Beer Week, Perfect Pour is very excited to have a sampling of the Outer Reaches Sour Program from Rhinegeist, and host Rhinegeist’s brewer, Luke Cole in-house to talk about the brewery, the beers, and all things beer related. Don’t miss this unique opportunity!
Up to 12 teams can compete for the prestigious title of Lineage Brewing Jenga Champion. Free to enter. Prizes awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Tournament starts at 6pm and goes until a new champion is crowned.
Join us for another adventure with Hoof Hearted Brewing from Marengo, Ohio! Hoof Hearted swept the city with their amazing twist on brews back in 2011 and have become one of the most saught after/followed breweries in the region. Chef Joe will be preparing 5 special courses paired with 6 beers for a night not to miss. Cost: $65
Want to get the inside scoop on how to brew epic beers yourself?! Join our team of geeks as they help walk you through the process step-by-step. Together, we’ll explore some of the best and strangest ways to brew a good beer and you’ll get an insider look at how BrewDog does it too. The club is free to all who join!
Join Lineage Brewing for a Beer and Hand Pie tasting. We think our hand pies are the perfect pub food, and we want to show you why. We’ll pair four mini versions of our hand pies with 4 our our beers that we think go perfectly together.
Join us on Wednesday, May 22nd at 6pm for a five course beer pairing dinner with our friends at Little Fish Brewing. Each beer will be hand selected by owners and brewers Jimmy Stockwell and Sean White, to accompany the chef inspired menu. $50, five courses, five beers, limited to 30 seats.
Attend a free class to learn the basics about beer, featuring stylistic examples from two awesome local breweries. Lagers, Belgians, Ales, light to dark, we’ll take your taste buds on a fun trip. Reps from both breweries will explain each beer in detail and answer any beer related questions. This will be a fun and educational time sipping and discussing BEER.
*Seating will be limited, please RSVP with Perfect Pour by calling 614-553-7666, or comment in the event post on Facebook.
Our experts are putting together our most mouth watering pairing yet and we are bringing it to you for Columbus Craft Beer Week! This pairing will have 5 different Brewdog beers paired with 5 special desserts made by our super talented, in-house chefs, just for this occasion. Cost: $25
Join us in the Land-Grant Brewing Co. taproom May 17-19 and May 23-25 and order a Meat Sweats pairing flight. We have paired each portion of the Ray Ray’s world famous Meat Sweats Box with one of our tasty beers. We are donating $2 from each flight sold to the Pink Boots Society!
Stop in for a chance to win a Jones Snowboard prize pack and a Adirondack chair prize pack from 4-7PM! Alaskan beers include White, Icy Bay IPA, and Blonde. Two Roads line up includes Two Juicy, Lil Heaven, and Persian Lime Gose!!!
Tribute beer night is our tongue in cheek way of paying tribute to some of the breweries who’ve helped us along the way while having a little fun at their expense. Stop in for a few special release beers named in honor of other local breweries/beers. Guess the breweries and win some prizes.
Ever wish you had the PERFECT pierogi to savor with your favorite beer? Olentangy River Brewing Company and Sophie’s Pierogis are ready to show you! Join us as we prepare a selected menu of pierogis to pair perfectly with a selection of craft beers in a flight — find your favorite and come back for more!
Jackie O’s beer specials and exclusive tappings. Trivia starts at 8pm. Win some Jackie O’s swag and try some awesome beers from our friends at Jackie O’s. Final list will be released closer to the event!
We’ve teamed up with the very talented Chrissie’s Creations to bring you a flight of four tasty beers paired with four delicious cupcakes! Tickets are $25 with proceeds from the event going to the Heart Center of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Tickets are limited and can be purchased in advance or on the day if available.
Join us at The Grand Event Center during Columbus Craft Beer Week on Thursday, May 23 as we collaborate with Combustion Brewery and Taproom out of Pickerington, Ohio for our first Bites & Brews event. Throughout the unique five-course dinner, you will pair each chef-inspired dish with beers ranging from ales to IPAs. Reservations are required in advance and can be made on Eventbrite. Cost: $65
The BBOM returns for a third year. We’re still not a casino, but we’re giving you the chance to “gamble.” Of course not for money, that would be illegal and we wouldn’t be here next year for Beer Week. It works like this, you give us few bucks and you get to draw from the BBOM. You may get something you would rather give away or you may get a great craft brew. Can you handle the risk?
We partner with Sierra Nevada to crank out a tasty southern spread as a way to raise money for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. 100% of the crawfish dinner sales are donated to this great central Ohio organization. It’s our chance to help those that need help the most. Tickets are just for dinner. Cost: $20
Nostalgia Brewing has partnered with The Drunken Donut to provide a flight of four Nostalgia beers and four boozy donuts made with the paired beers! PLUS a 5 oz sample of our collaboration Boozy Donut Beer – all for only $18! This event will be limited to the first 60 who purchase a ticket and will take place on our patio from 6 PM – 8 PM on 5/24/2019. Cost: $18
This amplified beer school and tasting will be hosted by one of Cicerone certified humans. Our museum will be turned into a massive tasting room! We will walk you through the brewing process and all the geekery that goes into making the epic crafts you love! (there will also be plenty of beer tasting too!)
The band, a self-described mix of pop, blues and soul, is fronted by singer/songwriters Adam Darling and Stephanie Amber. Appropriately named, Honey and Blue combines Darling’s sultry, bluesy sounds with Amber’s soulful, whimsical take on lyrics and harmony.
A great wrap up to a long Columbus Craft Beer Week, our new in house food provider Short & Stout Kitchen will be providing some delicious comfort food, while we play a curated selection New Orlean’s legend Trombone Shorty and other Jazz greats! Abita drink specials + House Hurricanes!
We are welcoming Cat Welfare to our taproom during beer week for a fundraiser and adoption event!! One dollar from every beer sold from 12-3 will go to support Cat Welfare‘s mission. They will also be bringing some cute cats that are up for adoption. Of course, this is beer week so we will be selling buckets of Assistant Manager Beer (named after our brewery cat) in cans.
So you know these guys can brew, but how good is their aim? Come find out as Pretentious Barrel House hosts the first annual Skee-Bus Brewer’s Cup. Cheer on your favorite brewers from Land Grant, Lineage, Parsons North, Ill Mannered, North High, Seventh Son, and Dankhouse as they go head-to-head to see who rolls the mightiest and which brewery is the best *wink wink*. Victors walk away with the highly coveted, very expensive, Brewer’s Cup and the right to donate proceeds to the charity of their choice. Plus, you might walk away with some great prizes.
Join the BrewDog crew at DogTap Columbus on Saturday May 25th to [unofficially] close out Columbus Craft Beer Week Presented by Giant Eagle with a bang! Tickets are free – just follow the link to claim yours! This epic party will feature an amazing tap list with a special Summer showcase on our container bar, brewery tours, bands playing throughout the day, Doggy pool party at our Dog Park and much more!
Johnny from Jackie O’s will be spinning records and setting the mood for an end of the week celebration to beer week. Specialty bottles and drafts of Jackie O’s brew will be on hand with a pairing menu from the kitchen (available all week during beer week). If you’ve ever wanted to dance at a restaurant during dinner this is your chance.
Nurse your Craft Beer Week hangover with this family friendly event in our upstairs bar. We will have cartoons, face painting, and coloring for your small children…we will also have lots of adult beverages including special drafts just around for beer week. Entry is FREE.
May 17 is National Pizza Party Day—a celebration that is near and dear to our hearts at (614). And what better day of the week for an office pizza party than Friday?
To help you and your gang decide which pie(s) to go with on this momentous occasion, take a look at this roundup of some of our most primo pizza content. Bone apple teeth!
The best pizza in C-Bus according to Columbest Voters
The results for Columbest 2019 were announced in the May issue of (614) Magazine, with Harvest Pizzeria taking the top spot in the “best gourmet pizza” category, and Mikey’s Late Night winning “best traditional.”
26,000+ Columbest voters can’t be wrong. Let these hometown heroes provide the pie for a pizza party you won’t soon forget!
Pizza – Columbus Style
Did you know Columbus has its own distinct style? Edge to edge toppings, crispy crust, cut pub-style – these are some indications that you’re dining on Columbus’ own signature ‘za. Not sure what we’re talking about? Refer to this list to see what we mean.
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In Pizza We Trust
Need to grab a pie on the go? Look no further than a Pizza ATM conveniently located at OSU campus. Fair warning, since reporting on this a few months ago, we haven’t been back to see if this still exists. Something tells us this was either too weird of an idea to last, or too brilliant to ever die.
C-Bus pizza on the big stage
At this point, our fair city is no stranger to coverage in national publications – and our pizza is no exception. Earlier this year, food blog Rave Reviews included Columbus’ own Rubino’s and Mikey’s Late Night Slice on their Pizza Road Trip roundup of the best pies in the nation.
Deep dish (if you must…)
Is deep dish more your thing? We (I) think there’s something wrong with you, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the sauce-on-top monstrosity you crave. Check out our top picks for the “best” deep-dish style pizzas in town.
Celebrating National Pizza Party Day? Of course you are! Let us know your pizza of choice in the comments.
With no end in sight for the craft beer boom, upstart breweries are leaving the city behind for the wide open spaces of the suburbs.
According to a report from Drink Up Columbus, Outerbelt Brewing will be the latest to toss their hat into the central Ohio Craft Beer ring when they open their doors in less than a month.
Located in a former Lowes hardware location at 3560 Dolson Ct. near Carroll, Ohio, Outerbelt Brewing is not far from Lancaster.
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Outerbelt is scheduled to open to the public on either June 8 or June 15, depending on construction deadlines. The new brewery will occupy about 25,000 square feet, with about 5,600 square feet set aside for a taproom. Plans also include a spacious 2,000 square foot patio.
Upon opening, Outerbelt plans to offer 10 beers on tap, as well as cold brew coffee.
Look for Outerbelt this Friday, May 18 at the Columbus Craft Beer Week kickoff party at Giant Eagle Market District, where some of their beer will be available to try. Outerbelt Beer will also be on hand Saturday at the Six One Pour Ohio Beer Festival at COSI.
To view pictures and to learn more about Outerbelt, check out the full story at Drink Up Columbus.