The Crest Gastropub | Columbus, OH

The Crest Gastropub (Facebook / @TheCbusCrest)
2855 Indianola Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43202
(614) 261-7128
Open daily 11a-1a (brunch served Sat & Sun)
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/Y/Y
Kid-friendly? Y (for brunch, at least)

Visited: Sunday, July 28, 2013 at 12:30 p.m.

Ah, finally here we are: having brunch at The Crest. I’ve been sitting on this post for a while because the Crest is one of the more talked-about new restaurants in recent months. This is my first time here for any meal, although Mrs. Bfast w/Nick has visited for drinks and snacks, and many trusted friends have been here multiple times at different times of the day.

So why did I wait so long to write this up? A few reasons:

1. There’s been a lot of discussion about the Crest, more so than any other restaurant that’s opened recently. Some of the debate revolves around the old versus the new Crest, which in my mind are completely different things. The old Crest was a neighborhood dive bar that lived for decades. I personally never went there; I just had no desire to. If I wanted the dive experience in Clintonville, I would go to O’Reilly’s instead (and still can). The new Crest is totally revamped: cleaned out, built up, replanted.

2. The Crest is in my neighborhood, and it’s been central to a small south Clintonville renaissance that’s included Savor Growl and the just-announced Coop Cafe. Maybe some of these newer places are slicker and lack the layers of nostalgia, but they’re bright and approachable. Personally, I love seeing these dingy spots renovated. It’s good for our neighborhood.

3. The Crest labels itself as a “gastropub,” and that word stirs up mixed reactions. Again, I’m fine with it (I’m easy-going). Yes, maybe the trend is just making its way to Columbus, having been first applied to gourmet pubs in London in the early 90’s. But if it helps communicate what your restaurant is about (beer + slightly upscale pub food), then go for it.

This is a lot of qualification for a blog review. I guess that’s because I’m generally not a negative person, but a majority of our experience at The Crest’s brunch was subpar. Not completely awful, just leaving me with no desire to return for brunch.

First, what’s good about it: The Crest’s space is gorgeously re-done. Lots of wood accents, spherical lighting, copper plating. A rooftop garden is growing much of their produce. Even the smaller landscaping around the patio and along Indianola are being utilized to grow vegetables and herbs. The space is bright and beautiful, and as a bar they seem to succeed: interesting (if a little pricy) cocktail list, expansive selection of beer on draft and bottled.

The Crest has what you would expect of a gastropub menu: dishes that start as basic pub food like burgers, fries, grilled cheese, then modify them with seasonal ingredients and creative preparations. See above: wild boar sausage, grilled cheese with aged cheddar, pomegranate molasses on lamb lollipops.

While the food seems to be taking center stage, I’ve seen The Crest receive the most compliments – and this was true at brunch – for their drinks. A number of people have said it’s a better bar than restaurant, and from my experience, I’d say that’s true. Case in point here: a pint of Seventh Son’s strong ale at happy hour prices. Yes, please. Also available was the Crestilada, a modification of the Bloody Mary that included beer instead of vodka. The substitution worked around Clintonville’s archaic laws forbidding liquor sales before a certain time on Sunday.

So very good drinks, but they highlight some of the problems with service: no one seems to be talking to each other. The host who sat us told us about the Crestilada, but our server had never heard of it. Our server initially told us all draft beer was half off on Sundays until 8pm. Oh, wait, no it isn’t. Oh, wait, yes it is. Oh, sorry, no it isn’t but we’ll give you the happy price anyway. Our server took our order but others brought our food; which I know other restaurants do, but then our server was no where to be found to answer questions. It was like the service was so decentralized that no one knew 100% what was going on.

Frustration with the service doesn’t put you in a good mood when your food arrives. We ordered a mix of things, starting with the parfait, a well-done and deconstructed version of the on-the-go breakfast. It’s made with a layer of yogurt covered in fruit fresh and granola with honey. It feels odd at first eating a horizontal parfait, but it does let you mix-and-match your bites.

I continued with the sweet trend and ordered the orange blossom French toast, made with orange blossom water (I’m not sure how), ricotta, maple syrup, and a berry compote. The ricotta was barely to be found, and quite honestly the berry compote was so overwhelming you couldn’t taste anything else. Not the bread, not the syrup (which if it was there, I couldn’t see it), barely the toast. The compote was simply too tart and strong that the rest of the dish didn’t matter.

The Mrs. went for the Crest burger and fries, one of the signature items on the menu. As far as burgers go, it’s nicely done although not mind-blowing. We were still negotiating the French toast and the odd service to really appreciate the burger. It’s served on a cutting board like many of their meals (I’m told), which generally I’m fine with. But aren’t wooden cutting boards difficult to clean between uses?

The burger came with a cup of potatoes, done up with sauteed veggies.

Honestly, it’s the little details that can make or break a meal. What kind of broke it for us were those little things. Like the server not knowing what’s going on, the French toast being completely unbalanced, or even details like the cap of the hot sauce bottle (labeled with masking tape) looking crusty and unwashed.

That was our experience at brunch. Comparing what we paid for meals and drinks to what we actually received, I have little interest in returning. Maybe just for drinks or for lunch, but not for brunch. I think the Crest has so much going for it, and I think that the doomsayers are wrong. Despite issues with service or lackluster food, the spot has been consistently busy ever since it opened. It’s now an accepted thing to find Indianola lined with cars. I truly hope that things even out at The Crest, because I like having good food in my neighborhood, and I love seeing a new business thrive.

The Crest Gastropub on Urbanspoon

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  1. says

    So people can walk there, and will continue support it so despite inconsistent food and service just because it’s in their neighborhood? Is that it?

    What’s that saying about fools and their money?

    • says

      Keep in mind that lots of people have had very good experiences at The Crest, so it’s not like people are simply going as a default. And given the number of cars, people from outside Clintonville are seeking it out, too. It’s just that my particular experience at brunch wasn’t that great.

  2. mary jane says

    I live where if the stuff is unsightly and dishes are not what they are supposed to be the customer calls the manager over and tells them what is up…food costs a lot to dine out no matter where a person lives…I am a great cook and my hubs is fantastic we stopped dining out unless we go to Seattle the largest city in Washington state and Oregon which is a big foodie city. Our only lived there for about 7-8 years she knew the places to get great food for minimal amount of money and great service, we would not be returning to the place you just gave your critique…we don’t waste money on food that is just okay!

  3. makitts74 says

    I have to agree with you completely. There is no continuity to a visit. You are met by several different people but they don’t share what they know with one another. The staff is just not well informed and the food is good in conception, but messy in execution. We were so sad; living a block away we wanted to love it.

    My gut feeling after our few vists is that these people have done a beautiful job rebirthing the location, but that their inability to provide a consistent, cohesive experience will result in the location finding itself to new hands.

  4. Carrie says

    Thank you for the honest review, we went there for lunch about two months ago and was unimpressed. The server was very nice but won’t be going there again when there are so many more other options. Those cutting boards look like a nightmare to handle to keep clean. Gross!

  5. stephanie says

    Good, honest review. Thank you. I had their burger and I thought it was pretty good however now I’m a little whigged out about your comment on the cutting board! :)

  6. Angela says

    I, myself, live in Clintonville. I watched as they transformed this place into the eye pleasing, wonderful building that it is. But that is all that it has going for it. It’s all surface. Scratch the surface and you see the yuckiness that it really is. I’ve tried it three times because I really, really wanted to love it. I’m so dissapointed :( I agree with everything you’ve stated in the article. The service is awful. They act like they don’t even want to be there. And I love the concept of local and growing the veggies and all that but what the heck do they do with that stuff? You’d be hard pressed to find a healthy item on the menu. It just seems they need to erase the menu and start all over. I hope they pull it together. I’d really like to see them succeed….

  7. says

    Great, in-depth review. I’ve been here a couple times now and I’ve actually enjoyed both visits. And I’m in Westerville, so I’m one of the non-locals seeking this place out on purpose instead of walking/biking just because it’s close. Our first visit was actually on their grand opening, and the place was absolutely slammed. There was an hour wait for a table, and service was a bit slow, but I chalked it up to the fact that it was opening weekend, everyone was new, and places need time to settle into their routine, so I was pretty forgiving.

    The extensive beer list gave us more than enough ways to kill the hour waiting for a table. Everyone at our table ordered something different from the food menu, and we were all impressed. Also, their menu changes constantly, which I think is a good thing. Allows them to try new recipes, but at the same time, not everything is going to be a hit every week. They just posted something on Facebook regarding their new grilled cheese sandwich (cheddar, gruyere, pesto, onion, bacon) which I’m dying to try.

    In the end, the place is fairly new (six months maybe?), so I’m willing to bet that they settle in and hit their stride. Every time we go by, the place is absolutely packed, so they’re obviously doing something right. So far, my only complaint about the place to be honest is parking.

  8. Hannah says

    I went there last week with a friend who raved about this place. She spent 15 minutes trying to order a beer and being told they were out. The bartender finally figured out he had given her an outdated menu. I got the brined chicken which was too dry to eat. The tabouli was all parsley and the potatoes were not seasoned.

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