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Review: Ambrose and Eve defines comfort with more than food

Kevin J. Elliott



Several months back, when I first interviewed the dynamic duo of Catie Randazzo and Matthew Heaggans upon opening their now omnipresent Preston’s burger joint, they had been prepping and planning Ambrose and Eve for a significant time. But they had very little to reveal other than saying that the restaurant would be an upscale dining experience—as opposed to the luxury junk food of Challah, the food truck, and Preston’s—and that it would be like “the best dinner party ever thrown, but every night of the week.”

Catie Randazzo (right) and Matthew Heaggans
Photo by Brian Kaiser

Sure, that’s a bold statement, but think about who’s doing the talking. If you’ve come to recognize Challah and Preston’s as institutions in the Columbus food scene, then you should trust in the words and culinary aspirations of Randazzo and Heaggans. And with Ambrose and Eve being the all-encompassing gem in their growing empire, you should trust that despite major setbacks, this is the duo at the height of their conceptual powers.

The cozy South High Street spot has only been open a little over two months, but it’s already become a regular haunt for foodies in the know, and a buzzy destination picked by national publications eager to find the next great food city. Repeat business proves they’re doing something right, especially with a menu that aims to challenge as much as it does comfort its guests.

“I’ve always felt frequent, but well-executed change is the way to see people often,” says Heaggans. “We try to keep the food fresh and interesting so people don’t get bored. I’m super grateful to a lot of our diners who come here over and over again. Our reservation system tracks who’s dining with us and a really large chunk of our reservations day to day are people who have dined with us before, and we’ve only been around for a short spell.”

Indeed, comfort is key in creating a culture. And seeing that there was a particular need in Columbus dining for what Heaggans calls a “homey sort of restaurant,” the simple-yet-refined design of the space—like stepping into a farmhouse dining room or a grandparent’s generational home—and familiar-yet-elevated scope of the menu, creates an experience that few places in the city could replicate.


The menu has a number of traditional staples inspired by comfy diners and home-cooked meals. Chicken and dumplings, fried chicken, pot roast, shrimp scampi, and spaghetti-o’s, mingle with pastrami carrots, veal sweetbreads, and the show-stopping red oil tatare: all delicacies for all palettes. Yet each plate is presented with a particularly leveled-up crux of flavors.

The aforementioned lunchtime snack that came from a Chef Boyardee can, is prepared instead with a housemade anelli pasta and sauce with meatballs culled from a mythical secret recipe. While the red oil tartare, though perhaps a challenge for some, is raw beef tendon expertly mixed with garlic chips, sesame, sunflower, rice, vinegar, and served with the spot’s signature scallion rolls. With snacks, shares, unparalleled veggie dishes, and over-the-top family dinners, the duo’s collaboration to distill their influences into a comfortable but challenging menu, guarantees those return visits continue, as it’s ever-changing, and as everything is worth a try.

“When one of us has an idea for a dish, we talk about it,” says Randazzo about the creation of a new dish. “We talk about the integrity of it, how
to manipulate it, update it, the texture, the plating, the acidity, all facets
of what we want the dish to be. Then we make the dish. We eat it. We discuss if it needs more salt, acid, fat, or heat. We remake the dish. We discuss it again.”

But as comfortable as Ambrose and Eve can seem on a relaxing night out, or as compatible as the menu can be given its range and warmth, semantics rule. Randazzo and Heaggans will always prefer “lost sleep” and outright “exhaustion” to keep the restaurant outside too much of a comfort zone. As much as they provide the simplicity of a great meal, they are always keeping Columbus diners on their toes.

“Columbus still has room to grow,” says Randazzo. “I often find people saying, ‘Well it’s good for Columbus.’ I don’t want to hear that; I think it’s a cop out. We as chefs need to push ourselves, and push the boundaries that has made the food scene in Columbus comfortable. If we really want to get on the food map then we need to take chances. I love Columbus and I always will. It is my home, and I want to do as much as I can for this city. Whether with food, volunteering, or lending a hand to whomever I can. But there is still work to be done, and I am ready to put the time in.”

Ambrose and Eve is at 716 S High St. Visit for a menu and reservations.

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Food & Drink

Too Good to Eat: Hubbard Grille’s Short Rib and Shrimp shareable




If looks could krill, you would be on the floor. Literally.

Hubbard Grille's Short Rib and Shrimp shareable dish will knock you right out of your seat because it will hit you hard and fast with flavor and more.

Photo by Angela Lee of @findyourfork

Imagine this: the most tender and delicious pulled beef short rib layered on a bed of the creamiest and cheesiest white cheddar grits with tomato jus. Top the bite-sized goodness off with a perfectly tender and seasoned prawn, add some color and texture with delicately placed microgreens and take that first bite.

With that first bite, you’ve just experienced one of the most delicious flavor profiles that the Columbus food scene has to offer. Second bite and your taste buds are just begging, pleading, and crying for more. Third bite and you are already shamelessly scraping off every last drop, speck, and flavor from the dish with your spoon.

You might actually even pick up the dish with your own two hands and unashamedly lick the plate clean. You might also start bargaining with your fellow table mates to negotiate the remaining pieces on the plate.

No judgement here. We have all done it at one point. You gotta do what you gotta do, am I right?

Hubbard Grille is located at 793 N. High St. in the Short North. To learn more + view the menu, visit

@findyourfork your average noodle connoisseur, taco devourer, and mimosa lover. When she's not busy snapping pictures of her latest yummy foodie adventures, you'll find her at your local coffee shop casually relaxing with a pastry in hand and a latte in the other.

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Food & Drink

Beloved burger joint opening in Hilliard next week

614now Staff



Swensons Drive-In is expanding their central Ohio footprint in just a few days. The Hilliard stand will open at 4810 Cemetery Rd. on Monday, September 23.

Hilliard will be the third stand in Columbus with a locations in Dublin and Polaris.

The Akron-based burger chain prepares their burgers, including the signature Galley Boy, using premium cuts of beef ground fresh daily and made to order. The buttered and toasted buns only add to the juiciness of the meat.

Apart from the greasy goodness that is Swensons food, one of the other reasons to patronize the stand is its car-side service. From the comfort of your pajama pants, Swensons Curb Servers will be at your window, eager to take your order and sprint, literally sprint, it back to the kitchen for preparation. Just be sure to not drop a single Potato Teezer between your seat because we all know that is the land of no return.

Visit for more information.

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Food & Drink

Review: Matt & Tony’s dishes out classic comfort food in downtown

Regina Fox



I've gotten to try a lot of interesting cuisine with this job, but it's rare that I get the opportunity to sample a mother's spaghetti recipe outside of my childhood home. This is the type of experience that Matt & Tony's Wood Fired Kitchen, which recently opened inside the former CBC Restaurant space, offers its guests.

At Matt & Tony's, you don't have to sneak off to the bathroom to Google what a menu item is so you don't look ignorant in front of your date, and that's what makes it so great.

The menu bodes familiar comforts like fried chicken, fish & chips, veal parmesan, and burgers. There's no proprietary flare or fancy sauce smears around your plate—it's all just damn good food.

I sampled Madeline's Spaghetti & Meatballs, which is straight from the cookbook of co-owner Matt Rootes' mother. The sauce was sweet and plentiful while the meatballs were hearty and succulent. I didn't want to gorge myself on the first entree, but I couldn't seem to stop twirling those perfectly-boiled noodles around my fork...

Next up was a Wood Grilled Steak with mashed potatoes and broccoli. I heard once that butter wasn't a carb, so I spread it on thick and cut myself a piece with a crispy fat edge—juicy, tender, and lean. I didn't eat all 12 oz., but I very easily could have.

The Fork N' Knife BBQ Ribs at Matt & Tony's are straight out of a BBQ fairy tale. This healthy helping of slow-cooked, fall-off-the-bone meat is smothered in sauce and almost impossible to put down. You may not be excusing yourself to Google what you just nervously and unknowingly ordered, but you'll probably require a bathroom mirror to make sure you've wiped all the sauce off your mug after devouring these racks.

Feeling like Thanksgiving? Have a little alternative celebration for yourself with Matt & Tony's Half Roasted Chicken with crushed herbs and lemon butter. Slip into a food coma with the sides of potatoes and seasonal vegetable. Dream a little dream of country gravy (which can be found drowning the fried chicken dinner entree).

Rootes says he and his partner Tony Wildman chose to open Matt & Tony's to give the people of downtown an option for high-quality steaks and seafood at a reasonable price without all the "frou-frou." I, for one, think that's exactly what downtown needs.

While so many other restaurants are reaching for globally-inspired dishes made with ingredients you can pronounce, Matt & Tony's is executing classic comfort dishes you grew up on in a warm, inviting atmosphere—it's like a little slice of home on Short St.

Matt & Tony's is located at 525 Short Street and is open 11am- 10pm Sunday through Thursday and 11am- 11pm Friday and Saturday. Visit for more information.

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