Over Labor Day weekend we celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary with an invited stay at the new Hotel LeVeque downtown. The hotel takes up the lower floors of the renovated LeVeque Tower, an Art Deco icon that’s graced the Columbus skyline since 1927. (Fun fact: it was the fifth tallest building in the world when it was completed.)
The companion restaurant and bar, The Keep, also invited us in to dinner and drinks during our stay. We found our way there via the stairs in the original lobby of the LeVeque, spying out the signs with bright red lettering.
The space at The Keep is unexpected in size, as you climb up stairs into a small waiting area. To the left is the cocktail bar, which snakes back through the space in a series of alcoves and small rooms before opening onto the second floor mezzanine. To the right is the dining room and open kitchen, extending along the west side of the building. The night we visited was within their first couple weeks of service, and it was humming with activity.
The open kitchen is surrounded on three sides by a bar, and we had the good fortune of being seated at the center overlooking the dessert station.
We had pre-gamed with cocktails at the bar next door, and were more than ready for a bite. The dinner menu features a selection from the raw bar like fresh oysters, poached shrimp, a halibut ceviche, and more. If seafood isn’t your preference, there’s a Nibbling Biting Grazing menu with more appetizers. We started with a cheese and charcuterie plate (Beth’s love language), featuring an excellent selection of meats, cheeses, breads, nuts, preserved cherries, and other delectable bites.
Kudos to The Keep for a handsome whiskey selection, too. Sorry, everyone, I got the last ounce of Blanton’s that night.
We can never get enough of watching chefs expedite, so it was a joy sitting where we did, watching the crew at work.
Next up for our starters: the hoisin beef rib. It’s a curious mix of flavors (that work): the tender beef rib flavored with a sweet hoisin, on a bed of sweet and nutty creamed corn and other grains, the tart and umami flavors of the pickled peanuts and the kimchi, finishing with a touch of cilantro.
Then a bowl of moules (aka mussels) in a sweet coconut sauce with cabbage and slices of lap cheong Chinese sausage. We asked for more bread to soak it all up.
In between courses we watched dinners roll out of the kitchen. Cortez, the chef in charge of the dessert station, bantered with us and our fellow guests while he scooped ice creams and caramelized the top of creme brulees.
Following the suggestions of our server and the kitchen crew, we chose the whole fish and the steak frites for dinner. The steak frites was simple but easy to love: slices of Ohio flatiron steak (we usually ask it to be cooked to the chef’s preference) on a bed of crispy and well-salted potatoes with a touch of a rich and sweet bordelaise.
The whole fish is easily noted for its presentation. It’s fried to a crisp and offers an adventure picking apart the tender meat from the bones. Beneath is fattoush, a Mediterranean salad featuring bits of fried bread. It offfered a bright contrast to the salty fish.
After dinner and as we finished up our drinks, Cortez insisted we try a scoop of their house-made peanut butter ice cream (poor us). It was ridiculously smooth and creamy, balancing its sweetness with a little salt. Such a simple bite, but so well executed that we found ourselves thinking about it days afterward.
Overall, a spectacular night, from the attentive service to intimate atmosphere of the open kitchen, to wonderfully executed dishes. We’re looking forward to going back.
They hadn’t launched breakfast service yet (aw, shucks, we’ll need to return), but stopping by in the early hours allowed us to see the restaurant in the morning light.
The restaurant is deceptively dark and cozy in the evening hours, and the daylight lets you see it in its full glory.
Much like the Hotel LeVeque itself, the restaurant’s decor seems fitting for the historic digs of the LeVeque Tower.
That morning Chef Jonathan Olson and his team were testing out breakfast dishes.
It looked like they had some interesting dishes in progress. Seems like a great reason to return!
50 W. Broad St. (on the second floor of the Hotel LeVeque)
Columbus, OH 43215
Check out their site for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and bar hours
Find them on Facebook, Twitter (@thekeepcolumbus), and Instagram (@thekeepcolumbus)
Disclaimer: dinner was provided by The Keep. Photos and opinions are our own.