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The Crest Gastropub: Jumping the Shark or the Gun?

Posted by CMH Gourmand on March 11, 2013

My heart skipped a beat when I saw this ad last week.

crest 1
crest 2

I read the description first. I thought bold, progressive, cool. When I looked at the photo, I felt warm, whole and pure. Then I looked at the bottom of the ad, read the address and (in my best Clay Davis voice from the Wire) said, “Shheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiitttttttttttttttttttt”.

Disclaimer 1:
I love Clintonville. It is my home. It lacks little but what it does lack the most is a good depth of restaurant choices. I would love to see a farm to table gastropub in my community, especially one I could bike or hop, skip and jump to. This community NEEDS and is screaming for more restaurant choices. I will do anything legal or at least morally defensible to support better choices in my community. The (Clinton)Ville wants the Crest Gastropub BAD! I support that.

Disclaimer 2
I am normally the nice guy blogger. I write about the good. I ignore and don’t write about the bad and try not to snipe. I am pretty sure the only dismissive note on a restaurant to date was Fabian’s and that was long ago.

Disclaimer 3
I want the Crest to succeed. I have read everything about the place. I drive by twice per day. I have been happy to see the progress and how the new design is shaping up. They took a true dive bar and at least on the exterior, have done a good job of transforming it to a tavern. Or might I say….Gastropub.

So reading the ad again. Here we go: Many elements of our menu are grown on our roof top garden, artfully prepared then dropped off at your table. If not from the garden, its naturally grown. That sounds great. However, there are some problems. The place is still under construction and looks to have a long way to go. My intelligence sources tell me The Crest plans to have: a great patio (new, very much bigger), a wood fired pizza oven, 60 beers on tap, a full kitchen sourcing local ingredients and they plan to make their own beer. That is ambitious. All of that also requires a lot of space, at least if you want to have a few seats for customers inside. The Crest is not exactly busting at the seams with square footage. So when I saw it was going to have a roof top garden, I was intrigued.

Channeling my best Encyclopedia Brown skills I drove to the Crest on Thursday night then stood on some pallets to check out the roof and obtain this picture.

no rooftop garden

So I noticed a couple of things. The restaurant is not open. There is no sign of a garden on the roof. When the garden is planted there will not be a whole lot of room for gardening after space is allocated for the hood system and the various things zoning requires for one to be roaming around on a roof. I have a hard time seeing how that rooftop is going to support a menu with any depth any time soon.

In the tone of “Bad Dog”. I say Bad Ad, Bad Ad, Bad, Bad, Bad Ad.

I am not sure who talked the owners into advertising a place that is not open as well as selling amenities and features it is not likely to have on opening day. That ad just seems like a poorly executed and ill-timed idea.

Some have called the shot and stated that 2013 may be the year of Gastropub. I hope it is. I hope it happens in Clintonville. In fact, if it could work anywhere, it absolutely should work exactly where it is located. The Crest is located in Bohemian “Baja Clintonville” home to the most progressive of the Clintonville Gluten-free Granola Eating Elite. If there was ever a community prepared to walk or ride their bikes to eat locally sourced, free range, grass-fed, organic goodness this is it. The area is teeming with demand from this type of food from people with a predisposition to it – highly educated, glasses wearing, NPR listening, non corporate consuming citizens with disposable income they want to keep in their zip code. The Crest just needs to show up to win. I mean any one of the several high trending elements mentioned before will get boots on the ground and elbows on the tables.

However, I opine that the cart has been placed well before the horse and instead of the philosophy of “if we build it, they will eat” I think we are seeing “if we build it up, we will see a shitload of money”. So I wish the owners well but suggest they ditch the ads which are far head of their time and spend the money saved on a different type of fertilizer for the roof top garden.

The Crest Gastropub
2855 Indianola Ave

More details -> here

5 Responses to “The Crest Gastropub: Jumping the Shark or the Gun?”

  1. CMH G Clarification to a clarification:

    See below. Bob and I run in different circles in Clintonville so I will accept that his circle may use the term Baja Clintonville in the manner he describes below. Howver, many people in Clintonville proper would use the term to refer to the section from Weber to Aracadia. Acknowledgeing that the section of Old North Columbus from Hudson to Arcadia might want to be Baja Clintonville. However, North Old North Columbus did rate it’s own arch so maybe they would prefer to be Alta Campus? Baja Clintonville can be as far north as Weber in some circles. In the eyes of Beechwoldians, Alta Clintonvillians and some confirmed curmudgeons, the borders stand fluid. A few might even opine that the capital and courthouse of Baja Clintonville resides somewhere on West Tulane Ave. The culture, manner of dress and general behaviors of people in the zone strongly reflect the characteristics of Baja California.

    Just a clarification: ‘Baja Clintonville’ is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the northern portion of Old North Columbus. The Crest is in plain old Clintonville. South Clintonville to some, for being south of the Clintonville mid-line of North Broadway.

  2. Dave said

    I should wheel up my kettle and cook pizza for the crew so they finish faster.

  3. DouginCMH said

    CMH G. Response: Yes. And I agree with everything you have to comment on. I want the Crest to do well.

    Have you checked out the images The Crest has been sharing on its Facebook page? They’re clearly spending some serious cash on the interior spaces (copper surfaces and the like). Too, they’ve recently released what I assume to be a draft menu. While there’s some interesting stuff there (like the lamb burger; interesting for me, anyway), it feels a bit formless (as if it was concocted to have at least one of everything). Regardless, a menu’s just a piece of paper; what will matter is how they execute it. On your cart/horse theme, on the other hand I’d argue that The Crest has succeeding in creating a tremendous amount of buzz for their opening (which on Facebook they claim will be open mid-April), which is very much the opposite of what I’ve seen from some other recent openings in town. That is, they update the page frequently, seem to understand the necessity of feeding out a steady stream of information in order to keep the masses intrigued. Of course, as you point out, that sets expectations high, and they’d damned well meet them. I, too, drive by the place twice a day and, for one, really hope they pull it off. Personally, I don’t have any problem whatsoever if the rooftop garden is more, say, fresh greens and herbs focused. In fact, I’d prefer that The Crest focus on local farms and farmers markets for the overwhelming percentage of its produce (and that lamb, by the way). Growing their own would seem rather silly, when there’s so much quality produce available in the city (and in the ‘ville). Finally, making their own beer? That can’t be right. I can see them having a local brewery make a special beer for them, that they have on tap. But they don’t have near enough space for a production facilty of their own.

  4. Cliff Sawicki said

    Does that mean that location will no longer be the only location in Ohio to serve Genesee Cream Ale on draft?

  5. I was kinda bummed when Crest claimed to have the first restaurant roof garden in Columbus in a 614 magazine article. A quick google search would show Tip Top built theirs in 2007 and Surly Girl in 2008. We don’t know or care if we were the first on the roof but I really doubt it. Chefs have grown herbs and peppers on roofs, fire escapes, and windowsills since the start of cities. It was a bold and odd (not to mention false) declaration.

    CMH Gourmand Notes:
    Disclousure: I write for 614 on occasion and on occasion, the owners of the Crest have been misquoted or confused with owners of other related businesses. That being said – I really hope they did not say they were the first restaurant with a roof top garden. If so, let’s add in some more history.

    That being said a couple more for the list: Latitude 41 (2010?), Studio 35 – growing hops for a couple years on theirs and Heirloom Cafe has one off the rooftops but frequently in use.

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