Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Latitude 41 (Columbus, OH)

In every city, there are overrated restaurants... and then there are the underrated ones. Latitude 41 definitely falls under the latter category. I rarely hear Columbus natives mention the restaurant whenever I ask for recommendations and when I do hear about Latitude 41, it's usually along the lines of "terrible experience." I'll be honest -- I had my reservations when walking in. The words 'hotel food' inevitably echoed in the back of my mind.

Our server simply added to my hesitation as to how dinner would pan out. Slightly on the abrasive side, I find her to be one of the rudest servers I've had in recent memory. It's not that she was condescending in any way, but rather her attitude and manners in saying certain things and correcting a fellow diner with her slight mispronunciation were uncalled for.

That said, onto the food -- which could easily turn me into a regular here at Latitude 41. Three of my friends and I decided on the 4-course tasting menu. *Just a note, if a member of your party opts for the tasting menu, the entire party has to participate. Our server made that crisp and clear from the get-go.

I like to think of my first course as more of an amuse bouche than an actual appetizer. Here you see the Foie Gras Torchon with cashew butter and red currant jelly served on two brioche toasts. It was just like PB&J (although CB&J would have been the more politically correct term.) Cashew butter itself is creamy and dense, so I found it to overpower the starter instead. Either way, it was a good predictor of what's to come (in the sense, that it might actually turn out to be a good dining experience afterall!)

Next up was the Warm Summer Peach salad with humboldt cheese, chorizo and shaved fennel with blood orange vinaigrette. This could easily be my least favorite course of the four. I understand that the chef wanted to manipulate summer ingredients, but the flavors and constituents simply did not mesh in the way that I had hope it would. The brick of humboldt cheese paired very well with the chorizo and salad, but the peach was highly unnecessary.

My third course was the Striped bass in artichoke stew, lemon oil, and grilled scallion. What they had failed to mention was that bacon was prepared in the stew. For my dining companions who didn't eat pork, that almost ruined their main entree. The bass itself was prepared with utmost perfection and the stew served to augment the superb quality of the dish. Buttery and melt-in-your-mouth delicious, I could have easily had another serving of the bass.

The tasting menu concluded with one of my favorite desserts to date -- not to mention one of the most creative desserts I've had too: the Red Eye Breakfast. It consisted of belgium liege waffle, espresso semi freddo, and chocolate covered bentons bacon. Much like the bass, I could have easily scarfed down another plate of this. Moving from top to bottom, diners get quite the interaction of texture, temperature, and taste. From top, it starts off with a brief taste of bitterness from the dark chocolate to the saltiness of the bacon to the coolness of the espresso ice cream to the warmth of thewaffle and, finally, ending with the sourness of the berry coulis. Talk about a flawlessly executed contemporary dessert!

By that point, I was full but went ahead and ordered the Espresso Pot de Creme with beignets, as I have the habit of ordering beignets whenever I see it on a menu. Similar to the Red Eye Breakfast, this grand finale blew me away. With a pot of chocolate mousse richer than any chocolate dessert I've ever tasted and the crispiest balls of dough to accompany it, I was in chocolate heaven!

There aren't many upscale restaurants in Columbus that I can see myself returning over and over again, but I can certainly see myself coming back for either another round of the tasting menu or for the a la carte menu. Prices are highly reasonable given the top-notch quality and artful presentation of each dish. Prices are definitely on par with many of the Cameron Mitchell establishments. With an ambiance to boot, this is a wonderful place for a ladies' night out or for a date night. Of course, given that it's inside the Renaissance Hotel, it's also an excellent place for people watching.

Rating: *****

Latitude 41
50 North 3rd Street
Columbus, OH 43215-3510
(614) 233-7541

Latitude 41 on Urbanspoon


  1. If you liked the waffle, tried the "original" one at Taste of Belgium at the North Market. We provide the waffle dough and equipment to Latitude 41 and other restaurants in the Columbus and Cincinnati area. We should definitely think about finding customers in Toledo! Really glad to read that you enjoyed the waffles.

  2. @Jean-Francois Flechet: I've been to the Taste of Belgium inside North Market. If I had lived closer, I'd be stopping in daily for my waffle fix. I honestly didn't know you provided the waffles at Latitude 41 -- that's amazing! Please consider opening a branch in Toledo! :)