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SeeSaw brings wood-fired dishes and shareables to the Short North

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Having grown up in Cleveland, I have long been following James Beard Award winner Chef Johnathon Sawyer. Clevelanders root for the underdogs always (thanks, Browns) and we beam with hometown pride when a fellow Clevelander makes it. When given an opportunity to share their Cleveland pride, a true Clevelander does not shy away. (If you’ve seen celebrity chef and Clevelander Michael Symon on his former show ABC’s The Chew, you know what I’m talking about.)

My father grew up with Chef Sawyer’s father in a Cleveland suburb, so of course, as natives of The Land do, our family has been rooting for Sawyer since he was a chef in New York, working with “our own” Micahael Symon. And when Sawyer came back to Cleveland in 2007, we couldn’t wait to see how he would elevate the culinary landscape of his hometown.

Photos: Rebecca Tien

And that he did. His concepts The Greenhouse Tavern, Noodlecat and Trentina helped put Cleveland on the map as a culinary destination. And now, he’s taken his talents to Columbus with his new concept, SeeSaw.

SeeSaw is billed as a live-fire restaurant and nightlife venue at 906 N High St. in the former Ram Restaurant & Brewery space. Sawyer has teamed up with Cleveland Indians slugger Jason Kipnis and Forward Hospitality Group, who own Flipside Burger at Easton Town Center as well and several nightclubs and restaurants in Cleveland, to bring “wood- fired modern American shareables” to the Short North. I am a big fan of the shareables concept, especially when the menu is the brainchild of a culinary mastermind. I wanted to try as much as I could, so I stuck to the “for the table” section of the menu for my first visit.

The restaurant’s vibe is hip, but not pretentious. Its bright, open dining room was flooded with natural light and boasts tall windows and living wall behind the bar. I couldn’t help but find myself singing along to TLC’s “Waterfalls” and other 90s hits R&B blaring from the speakers. It’s not a quiet place, but it’s not supposed to be. The patrons were lively and the signature cocktails were too.

I started with the Bluebell, a delightful concoction of vodka, triple sec, blackberry, lemon and rhubarb bitters and aquafaba. I learned that aquafaba is a vegan legume-based replacement for egg whites that can be used to make meringues and marshmallows. It was sweet and tart and downright enjoyable, like lemonade on a warm day.

When I asked the server what he would recommend as a starter, he suggested the pita with the world-famous edible candle. “Chef would love to see one on every table,” he said very seriously. The way he said it, it felt like an order that I should oblige. The candle came to the table lit and melted down into a pool of mild-flavored beef fat for dipping the pita. Although I found the whole thing a bit gimmicky, it tasted good and added to the ambiance of the table. Other patrons stared in wonder and several asked what it was, generating its own sort of buzz.

Next up was the padron peppers. Although I was taken aback by the cost for a plate of wood-fired peppers, in retrospect, I would have paid double. The peppers, while simply prepared, were amazingly earthy, smokey and the perfect amount of spicy. Sawyer’s live-fire concept is unique to Columbus and unveils complex flavors in simple vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and peppers.

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I am a sucker for seafood, particularly scallops, so when I saw the sea scallops crudo with tiger milk, mezcal and cilantro on the menu, I knew I had to try it. It arrived at the table almost too beautiful to eat, in a shell- shaped dish with a shot of mezcal with lime. The stunning presentation was no match for the flavor of the thinly sliced raw scallops topped with greens in a milky bath of fresh citrus essence and olive oil.

Finally, the bang bang bang tempura with rock shrimp and yuzu sauce arrived. It is undoubtedly a different breed of the bang bang shrimp popularized by several chain restaurants. The shrimp was fresh and moist inside and crunchy and flavorful on the outside. Likely the most conventional shareable I tried, it was still a fine and delicious choice.

In an appeal to the brunching sports enthusiasts out there, SeeSaw also boasts a game day brunch menu, which includes some of the shareables from the dinner menu along with some breakfast favorites like the SeeSaw breakfast sandwich and a s’mores style donut. PROTIP: I enjoyed trying many different shareables instead of a single entree, but I had heard from several diners that the Ohio grass-fed burger deluxe is one of the best burgers out there.

After dinner, I ventured up the stunning painted stairs to the nightclub area, which was not yet open when I visited. The space was open and beautiful, transitioning seamlessly from bar to dance club to a hang-out space filled with couches to a rooftop patio. I could picture it alive and buzzing with nightclub goers, but it seems to be a separate experience from the restaurant space downstairs.

All in all, SeeSaw offers a unique, although relatable and affordable dining experience in the Short North. The dishes are eclectic enough to intrigue and excite, but also pleasant to the Midwestern palates that yearn for more elevated dining experiences in Columbus.

SeeSaw is located on 906 N High St. For hours and operations, visit seesawcolumbus.com.

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Food & Drink

We Sheet you not, Sheetz is coming to Columbus

Mike Thomas

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Regional gas station chains seem to accumulate cult followings of loyal customers. While word of a new convenience store coming to town may not seem like a big deal at first, just ask your friends from Pennsylvania about Sheetz.

The popular chain of convenience stores and coffee shops headquartered in Altoona, Pennsylvania has announced an expansion into the Columbus market with this remarkable hype video posted to Facebook:

Sheetz locations offer fresh, made-to-order food options that set the chain apart from the usual gas station fare.

No open date for the Central Ohio location has been announced at this time. For more, visit www.sheetz.com/

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Food & Drink

Raising the Steaks: Ruth’s Chris returns to Columbus with new Short North digs

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With no shortage of local competitors welcoming carnivores, Ruth’s Chris Steak House has opened its doors in the Short North. After shuttering its Crosswoods location in 2016 due to “market changes,” the Florida-based steakhouse is back in the Bus.

The new restaurant promises a fine-dining experience tailored especially to the Columbus market and its location.

Photos: Rebecca Tien

“Knowing that we are across from the convention center, this is one of our bigger locations to allow room for a larger bar, private dining rooms and main dining room,” says Maria Policastro, general manager of Ruth’s Chris Columbus. “We kept the Short North Arts District culture in mind during every step of the design process as well, making sure we included elements that incorporated the downtown skyline and ever-present Ohio buckeye trees.”

Indeed, the entrance feels homey and features local art on display to bring some “Columbus” to the space. The building was once home to a hotel, and while undeniably formal, the dinner-only restaurant nevertheless offers a warm and welcoming feel. The waitstaff has its service down to an absolute science. Hand-polished wine glasses top each table and every element of the dining experience is expertly attended to.

Regardless of whether diners care to indulge in one of its more than 250 wines or a vintage-inspired craft cocktail, the main event here is the food. Its extra-thick-cut, wet-aged USDA prime steaks are broiled in a trademark 1800-degree oven and served sizzling on a 500-degree plate so every last bite stays warm.

“From our food to our service, Ruth’s Chris really stands out on its own,” said Policastro. “Ruth believed in treating her guests and employees as family, so that’s how we treat them too—by being warm and welcoming and paying attention to every little detail.”

Ruth Fertel mortgaged her home in 1965 and purchased Chris’s Steak House, a 60-seat restaurant located in New Orleans. After a fire forced her to move locations and rename the restaurant, she settled on Ruth’s Chris Steak House, hence the somewhat strange moniker.

Fertel, who died in 2002 at 75, would likely be shocked to see the size of the private dining rooms in the Columbus restaurant that bears her name. “Our private dining rooms are some of the largest at any Ruth’s Chris,” says Policastro. “When designing our private dining rooms, it was important to us that we made enough space to accommodate our customers in this busy area, along with larger parties who choose to dine with us after visiting the Convention Center or coming from the Ohio State University nearby.”

The private dining rooms each have their own unique Columbus vibe, with names like the Goodale, Victorian and Buckeye Rooms. Which is fitting because, “we’re around the corner from Columbus’ historic Goodale Park, we’re part of the Victorian Village, and we are in the heart of Buckeye nation,” Policastro said. Ruth’s Chris Steak House Columbus is already seeing its private rooms booking up for upcoming events and holidays. “We cannot wait to host these special moments for those who live in and visit the Short North Arts District.”

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse is located at 511 N High Street. Learn more at ruthschris.com/restaurant-locations/columbus.

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Easton’s “dramatic” rooftop bar and restaurant opens this week

614now Staff

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Heads up, Easton, a snazzy new concept is opening this week. Restoration Hardware, or RH, will open The Gallery at Easton Town Center and RH Rooftop Restaurant & Park and Wine & Barista Bar on Thursday, December 12, at 11am.

According to a release, The Gallery "represents the brand’s quest to revolutionize physical retailing," with "immersive experience features artistic installations of luxury home furnishings in a gallery setting."

The three-story, 55,000-square-foot space will serve as "one of the most comprehensive collections of luxury home furnishings in the world."

The "dramatic" Rooftop Restaurant will offer "a year-round, skylit garden escape offering a timeless, ingredient-driven menu beneath a soaring atrium with retractable glass walls, and sparkling crystal chandeliers.

The restaurant will open onto a landscaped park with outdoor lounge spaces and trellised London plane trees.

Situated just off the grand stair, the Wine & Barista Bar will serve craft espresso, fresh-baked pastries, and artisanal wines to enjoy in the Rooftop Park.

This development will act as the anchor for Easton's new $500 million expansion.

RH Columbus, The Gallery at Easton Town Center is located at 4120 Worth Ave., Columbus. For more information, visit eastontowncenter.com.

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