Review: Elevator Brewery and Restaurant

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.

Champagne Brie from Elevator

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.

Ryan's Famous Corn Brats from Elevator

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.

Almond Crusted Chicken Salad from Elevator

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.

Marsala Pasta from Elevator

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”.

Fish and Chips from Elevator

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).

Elevator on Urbanspoon

19 thoughts on “Review: Elevator Brewery and Restaurant

  1. Daniel

    I wouldn’t even be back for beer, myself, since their brews taste like watered down versions of better beers you can get at Barleys farther up High Street, although even their more exotic/experimental beers are done at the Smokehouse location in Grandview area.

  2. Yellow Dog

    A group of us would always eat a the Elevator before any event downtown. Then the service started to be bad followed by the food. We have moved on to other establishments……

  3. Kevin

    I have actually eaten at the Elevator on several occasions and have never had a bad meal or beer. In fact the Almond Chicken Salad is probably the best salad I have had in Columbus. I don’t know what happened while you dined there but I love it.

  4. Michael Newman

    Most places in Columbus are occasionally spotty, but the Elevator has never let me down. I rank it up there with the Refectory or Alaina’s as destination evenings. I get the feeling this lady had some personal bereavement that colored her experience. That or she feels the only way to feel refined is to be a harsh critic.

  5. Andrew

    Wow! Where do I begin? As a frequent patron of the Elevator I am rather perplexed by your confusing rant. I’ll make this short so as not to keep you from your hotpockets. First, before suggesting the chef go back to culinary school, perhaps you should try attending a school to brush up on your grammer. Second, Marsala pan sauce does not require the use of mushrooms nor cream despite whatever you may have learned from Olive Garden commercials. Third, a nice dining experience usually takes more than an hour to thoroughly enjoy unless of course you are accustomed to one of the more venerable establishments such as TGI Fridays. That’ll be all.

  6. Jared

    A brief search of this restaurant on Google yielded quite a different perspective than that which you have shared. The establishment received quite a few “excellent” marks and seldom sank below “good”. I am not familiar with your culinary background; however, I believe you are missing a few finer points of detail in your review. You stated that you expected the medallions to be grilled, yet the description clearly stated that they were pan seared. You also suggested that the tenderloin had been “pounded”. Your picture of the entree tells a different story. The edges of the medallions are crisp, sharp and uniform, something that can not be duplicated after pounding meats. I am a frequent patron of this establishment. I visit on my lunch breaks weekly and I frequently bring my family in for special occasions. On all occasions, I have never had a problem with time or poor staff interactions, aside from a female server who had just started. I am quite the avid home chef and I never leave the elevator with a bad taste in my mouth. I think perhaps you are slighted with the establishment, an employee, or simply lack the culinary knowledge to properly review, critique, or judge any establishment or their food. All of us are entitled to our opinions and I am not trying to strip you of yours, but I am questioning the merit of your opinion.

  7. JIM

    No I haven’t eaten here.. yet. But, just a take on the review. Starting with the salad. First the menu description sounds like a train wreck, too many flavors which are going to fight. I don’t know why you should be suprised at the outcome. Salads should be simple affairs of carefully chosen ingredients. I would have left this salad on the menu. Good salads are rare.
    Corn in the fish batter? Sounds like a cool idea, a little bit different. I can’t see why it wouldn’t be good. As for deep fried brats i put these in the same category as a corn dog. Yuch. But that is my opinion. I would much rather have mine boiled in some beer then grilled. Yumm! Your photo of the beef tenderloing looks fine. But, I wasn’t there, so no further comment.

  8. Jill

    I know this is a bit of a delayed response, but being a frequenter of Elevator, and not an employee, as you are convinced anyone who disagrees with you are, you sound pretty ridiculous. The Almond Chicken Salad is insanely popular for lunch, and whenever I am there, nearly half the restaurant has ordered it. So you are probably the only person to dislike it. And it is true, do not post pictures of things if you are going to be dishonest in the way you describe them–it just discredits you. Maybe, amazingly, the day you went there, everything tasted different than it usually does. If not, I can definitely not believe anything you write about on here.

  9. swampkitty05 Post author

    Usually I respond to comments via private email, but considering that Jill didn’t feel like leaving a valid email address for me to respond to, I’ll post my reply here in case she feels like following up on her previous comment:

    Jill, We’re all entitled to our own opinions, of course – and I stand by mine. My last experience at Elevator was so bad that I’ll never spend money there again. Chef Nate did redeem himself somewhat with the wonderful dish he whipped up for Taste of the Independents. Still not quite enough to put my money on the line (unlike restaurant reviewers for Columbus’ major publications, I do pay for every single meal out of my own pocket).

    At least one of the negative posts did come from a manager of Elevator, and the rest arrived in such a way that it was extremely suspicious (which is why I posted the caveat I did). Your next comment “do not post pictures of things if you are going to be dishonest in the way you describe them” makes no sense at all. I posted pictures of what I ordered, and described them exactly as they were in the menu. I noted how what I tasted differed from what I expected based on the menu description. Last time I checked, that’s usually a large part of what a review is.

    Either way, it’s not my job for you to believe or not believe what I write. If you believe it, fine. If you don’t believe it, fine. My job is to put my experiences out there to start a discussion of whether other people’s experiences differ from mine. And no matter how rude your comment is, you’re more than entitled to express your opinion too. In the case of the Elevator, most people on Columbus Underground (the one high-profile place I post my reviews) agreed wholeheartedly with my review. And I’ve always used that group as a litmus test of whether my reviews are right on or whether or not I need to make another visit to re-evaluate.

    What disturbs me most about my review of the Elevator is the negativity and personal attacks I’ve received over it, either by employees or by admirers of the place. I’m a reasonable person, and if you disagree with my review, do it without insulting me. I’ve spent a few years now in this town building credibility, and have earned the respect of many in the industry, including restaurant owners whose establishments I’ve criticized in some way (usually, the response is a “you’re right, we need to work on that”). So explain to me, why are you taking my review so personally? Why are you so emotionally involved in whether or not I enjoyed my meal at the Elevator?

    Just wondering.

  10. Jake

    #4, this ranks with the Refectory for a dining experience? Are you serious? I have not eaten at Elevator, but based on the location, appearance, service and concept I cannot see the comparison. In terms of fine dining, the Refectory is near the top of the list for me. The service is always excellent and the atmosphere is comfortable, reserved and quiet. They even have an entry level offering via their Bistro Dinner -$22 for a 3-course meal with a pre-set menu. Pick a week with a menu you like and try it. I personally don’t think anything can compare.

    Having only visited the bar area, I can say Elevator’s beers were not bad in my opinion. In fact, the Hefeweizen may be one of the best American examples I have had. They also make a statement by offering only their beers on tap. The service, however, left something to be desired. While sitting at the bar around 5:30 PM on a weekday, I waited quite some time to be addressed when the seating was not even half full. There were also 2 bartenders on duty at the time. The female bartender who tended to me was not very personable, though a manager did ask how things were as he whisked by on the way to a business discussion right at the bar. The blue lights behind the bar did not ooze sophistication and became bothersome after some time. The free parking across the street is a big plus for a downtown location.

    I would go again on the merit of the beer and free parking, to try the food and to experience more of the atmosphere, but certainly not for service with a smile.

  11. Jason Fisher

    A friend sent me your review, after we had a really bad experience at the Elevator last weekend. It is actually my third bad experience in a row, and worse… I emailed them the next day and 5 days later have not gotten a response. I love the atmosphere, location, they have pretty good beer, and the food could be better–but the service can really ruin your evening. Lack of a rapid response from them, combined with the comments on your review just reinforce my complete disappointment in the Elevator.

  12. Pingback: What happened to The Elevator? « Blog Archive « My Columbus Ohio Blog

  13. kim b

    I myself have been to Elevator three times and had barely edible food all three times. I kept giving it another chance but after the last visit, never again. Not only was the food bad, but our server never checked how we liked our food, nor did we get drink refills. Then we had to ask someone else for the bill after we had been done eating for over 15 minutes. Even though the manager was very apologetic and offered to reimburse us for our bill with gift certificates for our next visit, we kindly refused and said we would never be back.

  14. Shawn P.

    I love elevator and all I ever hear from my co-workers at Nationwide is that they love it too. It is a lunch hotspot in our building and it seems to me the almond chicken salad must have crack in it because people cant stop eating it! I respect everyones opinion but if you're interested enough in dining to read a food blog then you should be wise enough to at least try a restaurant and make your own opinions about it. I usually concur with the reviews on this website but I cannot not say something about the invalidity of this one. The elevator is wonderful on so many different levels! no pun intended!

  15. Maggie

    Out of curiosity, why were you surprised that the medallions weren't grilled when you specifically stated they were pan-seared? Also, I think you need to do a little more research on what marsala sauce is, as you seem to be confusing it with a mushroom cream sauce.

    I have not always had excellent service at Elevator, but I have never had sub-par service either. In fact, I think the personality and timeliness of the staff has been satisfactory overall. The only complaint I would have is the decor- Awful! For such a beautiful space, why are there terrible clashing paintings and 80s-deco booth covers? Other than that, most of the food is great, although not always consistent. You can expect to get the same thing there twice and it not be entirely the same. The kitchen often takes far too long when it is a bit busy, but that has never reflected too poorly on my meal. I suggest you try again, or at least learn a thing or two about food before writing about it.

  16. columbusfoodie Post author

    I think a lot of it has to do with customer expectations, Maggie. My original review was from 2 1/2 years ago – my palate and expectations are a bit different now, but back then, what I got was definitely not what I expected and my misconceptions weren't cleared up by the server, as they should have been. And there are several different types of Marsala sauces – the one I had been exposed to at that point did, in fact, contain mushrooms and cream, and even the classic French preparation of marsala sauce does include heavy cream:… I have since found out that the preparation I'm used to is actually a "mushroom marsala sauce".

    The Elevator and I are on fairly good terms at the moment. I respect what Chef Nate is trying to do there, and I think when given free reign, he can make some fantastic food. I do still, however, think that service at the Elevator is very uneven, and that they are still trying to straddle the fine line between pub grub and fine dining but not focusing enough on either side to make them stand out in the Columbus dining scene. Once they can embrace an identity, and resolve the service issues, they'll be fine. Consider this an update on my stance on the Elevator. That is, if you think I'm qualified to judge food at all (out of curiosity, what qualifications do you think that someone who reviews restaurants SHOULD have? And what makes Jon Christensen, a lawyer by trade, more qualified than any other person?)

  17. cosplay

    Wow! I'm blown away. I accidentally stumbled upon your blog (just today). I'm like a kid in a candy store as you seem to love my favorite subject! Cooking, recipes and sharing. I will mark this as a favorite. I live in Maine, around the Portland area. I'm a paralegal and love to cook in my spare time. (even when the time reallyisn't "spare" time). I will be back to visit. Let's get to 200 messages very soon! Enjoy and thank you for the warm welcome. Donna from Maine

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