I had such high hopes for Elevator. Really, I did. My husband and I have eaten here before and had a good meal. But it was, in fact, a while ago, and I did just get a burger and dessert last time, so I was basing my opinion of the place on that experience. On this, my second visit, we just weren’t as lucky.
We took girlchild with us, as we had picked her up to run errands before she leaves for New Jersey – and wanting to expand her palate a bit (she just got accepted into her high school’s culinary arts program – yay!), we decided to take her somewhere that would have some different flavors than those she is used to.
We got seated on the patio, where we sat for quite a while until our waitress saw fit to take our order (I guess the party of 6 that was ordering a lot of wine and beer with their meal took precedence) – we finally managed to get our appetizer order in, and then when she reappeared about 20 minutes later, I quickly got our entree order in before she disappeared for a long time again.
Bear in mind that Elevator is located smack dab in the middle of downtown – we had put nearly 2 hours on the meter, expecting to be out at the 1 hour – 1 hour 30 mark – one of the reasons we ended up skipping dessert was because we would have run out of time on the meter – that kind of pace, especially in a brewpub, is a bit too leisurely for my tastes.
We decided on a trio of appetizers to share amongst the three of us. The Champagne Brie ($8.95), described “brie, slow cooked in a puff pastry, drizzled with saute of sundried cranberries, pears, and champagne vinaigrette, garnished with almonds” on their menu, was easily the best dish of the evening. While it was good, it was difficult to differentiate the multiple ingredients, and it pretty much just blended together – in this case, I think it helped the dish rather than hurt it. All three of us enjoyed this very much.
The second appetizer, Ryans Famous Corn Brats ($6.95), which the menu describes as “Juicy Johnsonville brats simmered in Elevator O Holy Gold, coated in a pilsner-corn batter and fried – served with sauerkraut and a spicy grain mustard”, was not at all what I expected. When I saw “pilsner-corn batter” I was expecting something along the lines of a corn dog – not beer batter with pieces of corn in it! This one had to be one of the strangest interpretations of a crunch pup (for those of you familiar with Arthur Treacher’s) that I’ve ever seen – while it was tasty enough, it was tastier with ketchup. The sauerkraut was ice cold, tough, and basically inedible. The three of us were “meh” about this appetizer – good but not great.
For the third appetizer, we split a Almond Crusted Chicken Salad ($9.95), which is described as “a boneless breast of chicken rolled in almonds and Japanese breadcrumbs, lightly fried, served with mesclun salad, topped with apples, white cheddar, smoked bacon and drizzled with honey mustard vinaigrette”. We all agreed that while this salad sounded great on paper, the final product ended up being far too complex and schizophrenic, with too many flavors clashing with each other and competing for attention – the Granny Smith apple was too tart to pair with the vinaigrette, and the vinaigrette made the chicken taste too salty, etc. We all agreed that we would never order this again, as none of us enjoyed it. We also agreed that this was the point in the meal where things started going horribly wrong, as none of our remaining entrees were anything like we expected them to be based on the menu description.
As her entree, my sister chose (can’t find it on their online menu), a Marsala Pasta with shrimp and scallops, spinach, portabella mushrooms, cherry tomatoes (which she left off), shallots, proscuitto, asiago cheese and panko bread crumbs in a marsala butter sauce – with that description, were expecting more of a creamy marsala type sauce; what we got instead tasted like one of my early experiments when I was learning to cook – it just didn’t taste good at all. The scallops were underdone, the sauce was overly winey and it tasted as if they didn’t allow the alcohol to cook off or add anything to make it more subtle. The remaining ingredients were all over the place, with none of them coming together in a cohesive dish. All three of us tried it, hated it, and it was left half uneaten.
My entree was not at all what it was described to be – I got the Beef Tenderloin Medallions ($23.95), which was described as “medallions of beef tenderloin, pan-seared and served with garlic mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, smoked bacon-red papper relish, and a marsala pan sauce” – with those expectations I expected 2-3 nice thick cut medallions of tenderloin, grilled (with that grilled in restaurant flavor that’s difficult to replicate at home), a nice little bit of potatoes that were creamy and garlicy, and a creamy mushroom sauce, with some grilled asparagus. It doesn’t sound that difficult to make – I’ve had variations on this exact meal hundreds of times in other restarants very successfully; that being said, that was the taste I was expecting. What I got instead was a couple of pieces of steak pounded within an inch of their life (this is tenderloin, people – there should be no pounding of tenderloin, its heresy!) that had the flavor of lo mein, topping a really watery tasting mashed potato. It was awful, so awful in fact that I traded entrees with my husband, and he (a steak lover) still only barely managed to choke down half the steak and none of the potatoes. The “marsala” sauce they served it with tasted like it had never seen marsala wine, mushrooms, or cream – somebody needs to go back to culinary school for Mother Sauces 101. When your diners see something on a menu, there’s a certain expectation on what you’ll receive – there is such a thing as creative license, but don’t make an asian brown sauce and then have the nerve to call it marsala. This one was a complete disappointment, to all three of us.
My husband’s entree (at least until I traded with him) was Fish and Chips ($14.95), classic presentation, but look – there’s that whole corn kernels in the batter thing again – what is it with that? This was good, but not great – edible, but didn’t stand out. There’s a dozen places in town that do fish and chips much better, but as we quipped at the table “at least this doesn’t suck”.
We had planned on sharing dessert, as their Grand Marnier Crepes were excellent the last time I had them, but between the time on the meter almost running out, and the fact that a brewing storm was blowing grit from High Street into my eyes and blowing over tables and glasses of water and cloth napkins and anything that wasn’t nailed down, I took that as our cue to leave. We probably won’t be back, unfortunately – or if we do, it will be for beer and burgers and Grand Marnier Crepes, as they pretty much missed on all counts with dinner.
If you’d like to go: Elevator Brewery and Restaurant, 161 N. High St, Columbus, OH, 614.228.0500
Update: it has come to my attention that most of the recent comments have come from shills sent this way by the restaurant, as evidenced by one of the employees (as can be seen here), Kevin Jaynes, talking about his “visit to the Elevator and how it has the best salad in Columbus” – given the general tenor and attitude of the recent comments, I suspect they are employees also, and am attempting to prove it at this time. Keep this in mind, folks, if you decide to go. Do you really want to give your business to an establishment that attempts to discredit bad reviews rather than taking the suggestions to heart and improving? I will never censor any comments on this site (I do filter out obvious spam only), but will take an opportunity to comment on this publicly (I usually respond privately to comments, which I have, but in this case, I’d like to comment publicly too).