UPDATE: Cotter’s Restaurant is now closed!
Date of Visit: Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 1:00 p.m.
IMPRESSIONS: My wife and I visited Cotter’s Restaurant (my first time, actually) on Valentine’s Day for their special brunch. Cotter’s is known for their lunches and dinners – my wife’s on-going favorite is their mushroom soup – and is situated in the Arena District in the southwest corner of Nationwide Arena itself. You can hit them up for brunch on special occasions like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, and more. The restaurant itself is part of Vito’s Catering, a Columbus-based catering business that does some top-notch work.
ATMOSPHERE: As fitting of the rounded corner of the arena, Cotter’s layout is in a wide circle, with the bar stretching across the outside of the building. Tall windows let in a lot of light.
The place was decorated for Valentine’s Day, complete with pink and red napkins. Very comfortable and romantic atmosphere. Valentine’s Day this year landed on a Sunday, and while I mostly think of Valentine’s meaning going out in the evening, Cotter’s managed that same close and comfortable feeling, even on a bright afternoon.
FOOD: For this special occasion brunch, the food was laid out in a large buffet, with a big enough selection for anyone. The buffet looked really good, especially for so late in the day. I usually avoid breakfast buffets because you start seeing a film over everything. It’s no fun pouring separated sausage gravy over stale biscuits. Fortunately, this was not the case here!
Because we tasted so many things, I’ll just have to list some of what we tried with brief descriptions.
The buffet started out with the standard fruit and pastries. I tried a very good blueberry scone.
Delicious applewood-smoked bacon. It held up very well despite being on a buffet line – a testament to how well it was cooked at first.
One of my favorite elements of the buffet: a puff pastry with sausage and cheddar cheese (there was a veggie option, too). Great balance of crispy and buttery pastry with spicy sausage and sharp cheddar.
Boneless baked chicken – another favorite. Again, it stayed very moist and flavorful. Chicken like this is so easily dried out, but this fared well. I went back for a couple more pieces.
My least favorite was the pan-seared salmon. This one item didn’t do too well on the buffet line – it tasted fine, but it was dried out. Fish and buffets often don’t mix well.
Great brunch complement: blood orange mimosas. Wonderful citrusy twang with a lovely sugary sweetness.
Manager Reed Woogerd sat and chatted with us for a while. He shared a number of their plans for future months, and treated us to some of his house-made ginger beer, made with honey sugar, lemon juice, and champagne yeast. Very sweet and refreshing – it will be amazing to sit on the patio and drink this come spring/summer.
SERVICE: Service was great! We were of course treated very well. We had opportunities to chat with both Woogerd and Kristen Hurd, head of Sales & Marketing at Cotter’s. Both seem very passionate about their work, and we learned a lot about their special events. As I said earlier, Cotter’s does brunch on special occasions like holidays, but they also do monthly wine tastings, and rotate their menu about every three months.
OVERALL: In addition to being one of Columbus’ great lunch and dinner spots (I imagine their patio in spring/summer would be constantly tempting if you work in the Arena District), Cotter’s offers a solid brunch – a great one especially for special occasions.