Chef Sebastian La Rocca Brings FYR to the New Hilton Tower

November 10, 2022

The opening of the new Hilton Tower downtown brings a trio of new eateries: a yet-to-be-opened rooftop patio, an all-day restaurant and bar called Spark just off the lobby, and the centerpiece of the dining experience: FYR.

(P.S. Have you see the inside of the new tower? Take a tour of it!)

FYR is headed up by Argentinian chef Sebastian La Rocca, who brings his combined Latin American and Italian heritage to the table, as well as experience cooking in restaurants in Europe and across South America. He currently owns restaurants in Costa Rica, too.

As the name implies, FYR is focused on live-fire cooking, using a wood-fired grill and smoking techniques for many of the dishes.

The restaurant is located on the ground floor of the Hilton tower, lowered just below street level with the main common areas of the hotel overlooking it. Tall windows offer views of High Street and loads of natural light during the daylight hours.

We visited FYR with friends on a recent November Saturday, so follow along as we work our way through cocktails, wine, and the menu!

We arrived an hour before our reservation to grab drinks at the bar, sampling some wine, a martini, the bonded Old Fashioned (pictured above with the FYR cube) made with Watershed Distillery‘s bonded bourbon.

It’s worth noting that FYR has one of the few caipirinhas I’ve seen formally on a Columbus menu. It’s a Brazilian cocktail made with cachaca (a white rum), lime, and sugar.

I tasted the Terre Brune, a refreshing concoction of Scotch, ginger, Amaro Montenegro, and lime.

And beautifully executed pisco sour was a must-order.

After a couple rounds of drinks, we were ushered to our table to get a look at the menu.

Throughout the meal, we enjoyed exceptional service as well. Chef La Rocca came by and suggested dishes to try, and our server kept looking out for us, too, keeping in mind dietary restrictions, checking the pacing of food, offering drinks.

The sommelier frequented the table as well, and as we had some knowledgeable wine enthusiasts in the group, we joined the somm on a journey through some fun choices. This 2020 Pet Net was tart, funky, reminiscent of lambic beers.

Following chef’s suggestions, we ordered all three dishes from the Nibbles menu. The incredible empanadas are stuffed with braised osso buco and served with a zesty and lightly sweet Caribbean sauce for dipping.

The chorizo criollo is an Argentinean take on the sausage, wonderfully seasoned and served as a link on a bed of “Chimi Hendrix.” We could have ordered a bucket of that to take home.

And you can’t beat a pot of pickled veggies.

By then we were making our way to the Starters menu, beginning with the gorgeous wood oven-roasted tomato. Served cold, the roasted tomato is graced with goat cheese, charred onions, panela honey, and sumac.

I don’t go for lengua very often, but I’ll take it when it’s prepared as well as the chilled beef tongue. Thin slices are layered in a Provencal sauce with capers, diced hard boiled egg, and a tonnato sauce.

Both our chef and our server – as well as our friend Daniel from This Is My Take, who we ran into at the bar – all recommended the salmon ceviche. Incredibly rich and light, the salmon practically melts in your mouth. It’s accompanied by coconut milk, burnt cucumber, ginger, habanero, red onion, and pecans.

Chef La Rocca kindly stopped by our table a couple times to say hello, check on our meal, recommend more dishes. We saw him moving throughout the space chatting with diners throughout the evening.

Next up was the Al Rescoldo beetroot salad. It’s a must for any beet lover. The beets are roasted and then chilled, and tossed with oranges, cheddar curd, avocado cream, and arugula with a pistachio dressing.

Not many places to try bone marrow in Columbus, so the grilled bone marrow makes for another worthy choice. The marrow is mixed with sea urchin, pangratatto, herbs, and that Chimi Hendrix.

We then moved on to selections from the Wood Oven portion of the menu, trying two of chef’s recommendations. The first is a gnocchi souffle, where they gnocchi are incredibly light and fluffy, pillowed in a cheese fondata and topped with Chimi Hendrix.

We love a good mushroom pizza, and the wild mushroom pizza was simply delightful. A lightly chewy crust, crisp around the edges, topped with guanciale (a cured meat), truffle sauce, garlic, parsley.

And then we finished our savory portion of the meal with two choices from the Grill menu. First was the half Amish chicken, served with a Oaxaca mole, peanuts, sesame seeds, and pickled onions. Wonderfully tender, one of the best moles I’ve tasted (it came from a kitchen team member’s family recipe). We promptly ordered extra mole.

And then the simple but beautifully crafted skirt steak, 10 ounces cooked medium rare and topped with arugula, slices of grana padano cheese, and a lime dressing.

And of course we couldn’t escape without dessert! Chef suggested his grandmother’s caramel flan, a delicate and amazingly creamy presentation with dulce de leche.

And one of the stars of the dessert offerings, made for the age of Instagram, is the pineapple upside down cake: a grilled slice of pineapple, coconut ice cream, and a rum and ginger sauce (emphasis on the rum).

As it’s delivered to your table, the sauce is set aflame and decanted onto the dish. Just wait for the flames to subside before you tuck in.

We walked away from the meal incredibly pleased. We highly recommend ordering as a table and splitting everything, and to really let the service team lead the way.

Compliments to the space, too. Despite the tall, open dining room, FYR manages to feel intimate. You can enjoy the bustle of the kitchen and the conversation of other diners without it feeling overwhelming or cacophonous.

(The only odd note are the restrooms, which are a grouping of four single occupancy rooms with common area wash basins. Two of the restrooms are difficult to see because the doors face away from the entryway, and two of them have sinks in them, so it backs up the line when guests don’t know there are four bathrooms total, and it creates awkward moments when guests wash their hands in the rooms and bypass the common sink – it can seem like someone isn’t washing their hands. The overall layout just felt like an odd misstep.)

If time allows, though, take a look at the open kitchen to see the team at work.

It’s especially fun getting a glimpse of the grill.

Final thoughts? We think FYR is an exciting edition to the Columbus dining scene, offering a creative menu that explores some new ground. I think it’s a step in the right direction for our city, along with restaurants like Chapman’s, Service Bar, Watershed Kitchen, and forthcoming entries like Agni and Hiraeth, to have more complex and grown-up dining offerings that blend new techniques with more international inspiration.

404 N. High St.
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 484-5286

FB: @fyrshortnorth
IG: @fyrshortnorth

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I go by Dr. Breakfast, but in addition to restaurants and recipes, I write about family travel, breweries and distilleries, the arts, outdoor fun, and so much more.

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