UPDATE: The Jury Room is now closed. Find the Blind Lady Tavern in its place.
Jury Room (Facebook / @jury_room)
22 E. Mound St. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43215
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Open daily 11a-2a (brunch served Sat & Sun 11a-4p)
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/Y/N
Date of Visit: Sunday, December 4, 2011 at 12:45 pm
IMPRESSIONS: Admittedly, it’s difficult for me to write an unbiased review of any of the Columbus Food League restaurants (the organization formerly known as the Betty’s Family of Restaurants). I remember the day when only Betty’s existed, and how soon Surly Girl Saloon joined the ranks, and then Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails downtown. Then we all followed on Twitter the long journey of Dirty Frank’s Hot Dogs opening, and finally the Jury Room around the corner. (Psst, and there’s more to come!)
ATMOSPHERE: We hit up Jury Room early on a Sunday afternoon, and the place was relatively quiet (hint: a little too quiet). We arrived with a group of eight and the server easily pulled a couple tables together. The restaurant is a large single room, with a long wooden bar and an assortment of tables with big wooden chairs. There’s a big chandelier hanging from the ceiling and a fireplace in the corner. The furniture and decor is selected to fit the history of the restaurant, which dates back to the early 1830s. It’s a cozy pub-like setting, and sidling up to the bar or sitting at a table near the fire means you’re joining a long tradition of folks taking a break from the hustle and bustle, even if you’re not on break from a trial at the nearby Franklin County Courthouse.
FOOD: As it was brunch-time and technically p.m., our party started with a couple drinks. First was their Bloody Mary, which you would expect to find on any brunch menu. Jury Room’s version was spicier than I prefer, but it wasn’t so loaded with other accoutrement that it was awkward to drink. So if you want a Bloody Mary that’s flavorful but easily drinkable, this one will work for you.
They also have a nice selection of mimosas, made with orange, cranberry, pineapple, peach, or bitters. One of our brunchers chose the Peach Mimosa. It’s light, refreshing, and delicious.
The food menu has a great mix of things, including some unique items such as brisket and eggs, a bunch of scrambles, sandwiches, burgers, and French toast. Pictured above is the B.E.L.T.: bacon, eggs, arugula, and tomato. It’s a nice big sandwich, very tasty, and comes with really well seasoned and crispy potatoes.
Any trip to the Jury Room must include a plate of their truffle fries. These are thick-cut, crispy potatoes dowsed in some truffle oil and topped with big flakes of shaved parmesan cheese. Pair them with the aioli sauce, and I could eat them for days on end.
I was in a burger mood, and I love a brunch burger, so I picked up Jury Room’s Breakfast Burger. Excellent burger: cooked just right, including the egg, with crispy onion, arugula, and tomato on it. Includes bacon, provolone, and their spicy aioli, plus a side of the potatoes. Great burger, whether you eat it for brunch or not.
One of our party ordered the Roasted Ohio Chicken off the regular menu. This is a beautiful dish featuring Amish chicken, potatoes, peas, onions, and a cream sauce. I didn’t have a bite, but I was told it’s delicious. If it tastes half as good as it looks, it must be a great dish. This is one thing that I really enjoyed about the Jury Room brunch (and about food at Columbus Food League restaurants in general) is that the menu is fun and casual while still featuring fairly sophisticated food at a good price. It’s costs more than your average diner breakfast, but the quality ingredients and preparation are worth it. Keep in mind, too, that CFL menus always include solid vegetarian and vegan options.
SERVICE: We were well cared-for by the handful of servers at the restaurant, although there weren’t many customers there. But CFL employees are generally very knowledgeable about their food and drink, and our server certainly had fun with us. He was able to accommodate everything for our group, which was decently big and included a three-year-old.
OVERALL: Jury Room holds the distinction of being Columbus’ oldest continually operating restaurant, since 1831. Liz Lessner and the Columbus Food League crew took over about a year ago, when the restaurant went up for sale, and Columbus’ dining scene has been all the better for it. They’ve given this historic restaurant new life, while still retaining some of the traditions of the location. It’s one more step in building a better downtown food scene. The brunch (at least on Sundays) is a quiet and comfortable affair. Great food in a very cozy atmosphere. I look forward to returning for brunch. Oh, heck, or for any meal there.