Love him or hate him, there’s no arguing that Cameron Mitchell is a big name in the central Ohio restaurant scene. With 33 restaurants (rumored to go down to 11 soon since many are being sold to Ruth’s Chris), he has a place for every budget and every palate. One of our long time favorites has been Cap City Fine Diner. It’s been a while since we’ve gone, but once I found out they just had a major menu revamp, we decided to stop in on Saturday afternoon for lunch.
Because there was an OSU game that afternoon, Columbus was like a ghost town, with people either crammed into the Shoe or tuned in from their couches at home. The place was fairly empty when we were there, but our server was expecting a rush right after the OSU game – it’s location on Olentangy River Rd. makes it a popular choice for post-game partying (or drowning of sorrows, as was the case after Saturday’s game).
The strange thing is, even though there are tons of new choices on the menu, we went with old favorites, which haven’t changed a bit (except for an increase in price). Even so, as the most casual of the Cameron Mitchell restaurants, it’s still fairly affordable. The pics didn’t come out as sharp as I would have liked, because of a low light situation.
Every table at Cap City gets bread service – a basket of fluffy, buttery yeast rolls, still warm from the oven. These are addictive, and if you’re not careful, you can end up filling up on bread before even getting your appetizers.
For our appetizer, we chose Maytag Blue Cheese Potato Chips ($7.50), a huge plate of crispy house-fried potato chips topped with a creamy Alfredo sauce, chunks of pungent blue cheese, and scallions. Even with two people sharing, this is an imposing appetizer, almost too much for us to finish. We absolutely love the combination of flavors, though – while neither one of us are big fans of blue or green cheeses, this had enough of kick without being too medicinal.
Since this was a lunch, and I wanted to keep it fairly light (read: wanted – I left the place stuffed to the gills anyway), I ordered a soup and sandwich. Cap City’s Triple Decker Grilled Cheese Sandwich ($6.95) is a tasty three layer concoction, with fried egg, scallions, tomato and dijonaise on country white toast, served quartered (with the crusts cut off, even) surrounding a huge pile of fries (healthier eaters can opt for one of many other sides). Other than the fact that tomatoes never taste really good out of season, this sandwich definitely hit the spot, without hitting the wallet too hard.
For my soup, I opted for a cup of Steak and Black Bean Chili ($3.95), topped with some red onion and cheddar cheese. Their chili has long been one of my favorites, and inspiration for my own, with tender chunks of sirloin taking the place of the ubiquitous ground beef. Thick, with a depth of flavor I haven’t seen in many other chilis I’ve had, this is a classic I’ll return for again and again.
My husband opted for a lunch-sized order of their Cap City Diner Meatloaf ($10.95), which is a nice-sized hunk of their tender, flavorful meatloaf (thanks to the combination of shiitake mushrooms, shallots and cream), topped with buttermilk-chive mashed potatoes, a huge onion ring, their BBQ gravy, and with a side of skillet beans with pecans. The beans aren’t even necessary – Mitchell’s interpretation of an American classic stands alone even without all the extras. The presence of potatoes and gravy act as a complement, but don’t elevate an already tasty entree.
For his soup, my husband chose a cup of their Roasted Creole Tomato ($3.95), which would have paired quite well with my triple decker sandwich. I’m not a huge fan of tomato soups (they tend to be rather flat), but this had a nice, smooth, creamy tomato flavor which slowly developed into a nice warmth on your tongue. Easily the best tomato soup I’ve ever had, hands down.
We were far too full to even consider dessert, but if past experiences are an indication, you can’t go wrong with their Banana Foster Bread Pudding ($5.95) – just make sure you have someone (or someones) willing to split it with you; it’s absolutely massive, and even sharing it, has nearly sent me into sugar shock on more than one occasion. But so totally worth it – the rum caramel sauce alone makes it worth it.
Even if you’re one of these people who run like hell from any Cameron Mitchell restaurant, give this one a try. It’s casual, it’s fun, it’s affordable. And while it’s *technically* a chain (since there’s also a Cap City in Gahanna), it doesn’t feel like one.
If you’d like to go: Cap City Fine Diner, 1299 Olentangy River Rd, Columbus. 614.291.3663.