[UPDATE 1/23/12: The Clarmont is now closed.]
The Clarmont (Facebook / @TheClarmont)
648 S. High St. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43215
Bfast served Mon-Sat, 7-11 am; check website for lunch & dinner hours
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Date of Visit: Saturday, March 5, 2011 at 10:15 am
IMPRESSIONS: For years, I thought the Clarmont was an old hotel on South High Street. Am I crazy? Is there a chain of hotels under that name? But that’s beside the point. The Clarmont has been around for decades, and for some people (like ignorant me), it sailed under the radar. But their recent marketing efforts have paid off, and they now draw in happy hour crowds and breakfast enthusiasts alike.
The Clarmont opened in 1947, and you still sense the 40’s in the decor. The signs and menu are classic art deco. Rose lamps along the walls provide dim lighting. Lots of glass signs.
Behind the waiting area you can see the big circular bar. It’s become a popular happy hour stop, with drinks like the Twixlen named after regulars.
Old phone booth. When do you see those anymore?
The dining rooms are dimly lit, so your breakfasting experience feels very quiet and relaxing. There are two rooms total. One is slightly raised above the other; it was dark the morning we visited. Overall, lots of pink pastel colors. “Nighthawks” hangs on the wall.
Your experience is punctuated by jazz muzak.
FOOD: Our meal started out with a really impressive note. We ordered coffee (which was very good; fresh ground and it came with small jugs of milk – bonus!) plus a couple juices. It look a few minutes for them to arrive because our server was squeezing them fresh! Above: grapefruit juice.
And here: orange juice. It’s hard to go wrong with fresh-squeezed juices.
We ordered a bunch of different things. Overall, good, although there was some hit and miss. Here are some pancakes with chocolate chips. Very nice!
One of the menu features: scrambled eggs with mushrooms and toast. Straightforward and easy to like.
Something you don’t always see on breakfast menus: fried chicken livers. Casually listed in the Side Orders. My mother-in-law, who grew up in a poultry market, said they tasted good but were a tad over-cooked.
A good Spanish omelette, with onions, peppers, and salsa.
Side of hash browns, nice and crispy.
Classic eggs benedict, although I wasn’t a fan of the hollandaise. Tasted canned to me.
Same with the corned beef hash. Decent dish, but it tasted canned. Comes with eggs and toast.
SERVICE: Our service was really excellent. To the point that we commented about it to each other. Our server was super friendly, knowledgeable about the menu, and very quick. She even made a point to bring my two-year-old son’s food out a little earlier, recognizing that he was getting a little antsy.
OVERALL: There’s a lot to recommend The Clarmont. It’s a veritable south-downtown institution, and has been going strong since 1947 for several good reasons. The decoration is a pleasing throw-back, the service is some of the best I’ve experienced in recent memory, and the menu covers all of your favorites, plus a couple unique offerings. It’s a little hit and miss for me, but given the variety, you’ll be sure to find something you like.