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Posts Tagged ‘Latitude 41’

A New Chef at Latitude 41

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 13, 2013

I have written about Latitude 41 before. As a quick recap, the restaurant is located in the Renaissance Hotel downtown. While many people have low expectations for hotel restaurants, the Renaissance and their culinary partner Chef Dean Max, have very high expectations. The hotel sourced several very impressive chefs to date, including one of my personal favorites the departed (and missed) Chef David MacLennan. (Note: The downtown Hilton has Bill Glover at the helm so hotel restaurants in Columbus are bringing back the hey day when hotels restaurants were THE destination for diners).

Michael Koenig became executive chef at Latitude 41 in July. He brings over 20 years of culinary experience to the kitchen. Restaurants on his resume include these bay area notables: Café Delluchi Kuleto’s Restaurant, Scala’s Bistro, Restaurant Zibibbo (Palo Alto) and the Renaissance Stanford Court Hotel restaurant. Some local residents will want to know that he attended Michigan State University so we know the chef is well grounded in midwestern palates and football etiquette. The chef credits his mother and her Lebanese heritage for teaching him about food and ingredients. As with previous chefs at the restaurant, he is committed to sourcing local where possible and integrating those flavors into dishes. I had an opportunity to sample a tasting dinner with the Chef and I was very impressed with what he had to dish out.

Chef Koenig continues to source local when possible and plans to expand on that commitment with a larger roof top garden and if the stars align – a chicken coop for fresh eggs for the restaurant. If that happens, I hope to write about that and hope not to report that a chicken tried to swim in the Renaissance’s pool. Chef is also looking into adding a beehive to the mix on the rooftop. I like how he thinks.

A few notable local purveyors featured in the menu. Watershed bourbon is a star ingredient in the house made caramel sauce. Empty Watershed bottles were used for water at our table which was a nice aesthetic and good repurposing to boot. SaraBee Honey is also incorporated into some of the dishes for sweet results.

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Favorites from previous menus will continue including the Lobster Mac & Cheese but we should expect to see some changes in the menu as well as weekly specials based on what is fresh and in season. I have always enjoyed the flat breads at Latitude 41 however I now look forward to rediscovering them since Chef Koenig has changed the dough recipe and is focused on the dough being prepped by hand instead of rolling pin….that is old school and should make a good thing even better. Chef Koenig has interests outside of the kitchen as well. He has an interest in making mixers for the bar and makes an excellent Limoncello, both regular and creamy.

I asked the Chef, how his transition has been to Columbus. I know for me, if I was in the bay area as long as he was, I would have a little trouble transitioning to the Midwest. Chef reports that he has adapted quite easily to life in the capital city, he has discovered some fine restaurants and as well known, the cost of living is much more palatable. He also enjoys being a 4 1/2 hour drive from family instead of a transcontinental flight. Welcome to Columbus Chef, I look forward to the new ideas you bring to the table.

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Latitude 41 website

Posted in beverages, Locally Sourced, restaurants | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Latitude 41: Changing the Attitude on Downtown Dining

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 2, 2011

Some say Downtown Dining is dead. Others loath downtown, fearing one way streets, parking meters and the search for a parking spot without an obscure towing ordinance. If you are ready to change your attitude on these matters then it is time to try out Latitude 41. This restaurant is “all that and a bag serving of chips (with sea salt of course).

To the casual observer, Latitude 41 might have some elements going against it. It is downtown. It is in a hotel. It does not look like a restaurant from the outside and it takes a bit of side stepping to get to the dining area when arriving. These are all trivial. Three facts trump these concerns. The food is phenomenal, the service is most often superior and valet parking is three bucks.

Why does bargain valet parking make a difference? If it can woo me, then it can woo you too and let you do the right things which would be dining here frequently. As a rule I do not engage in valet parking. This is due to long-established history of frugality. I will often drop off my guests and drive around searching for free parking while they enjoy the services of the restaurant. Such is not my case at Latitude 41. For three dollars, I leave my car at the door and walk in like a rock star. I don’t have to worry about finding a place to park and having change for a meter. I don’t have to worry about the weather on the way back to my car. Doing the math, $3 may be less than I would put in a meter since my average stay for dinner usually exceeds two hours. If you are doing dinner and a show downtown, this valet deal is a steal. It is a little touch but it makes a big difference. Use the money you save to tip your valet.

Simple touches and a subtle approach to all things are the hallmark of Latitude 41. The kitchen crew and front of the house team are dedicated to executing everything well from your greeting to presenting your bill. The enthusiasm and authenticity of manager Roger Vivas is infectious. He welcomes as many diners as he can and makes a sincere effort to get to know his customers by name. The customer focus is shared by his staff. I have visited six times this year. In addition to having my favorite servers Tiffany and Sarah to help me with my selections, Roger always makes an effort to check in when he has time and truly makes me feel welcome, often adding a cocktail suggestion to his greeting.

I am a bit biased about Chef David Maclennan in part because I have had a few beers with him in our off hours. However my true bias comes from the respect I have for his food first focus. David does value good presentation however all of his dishes have real substance. This is simple fare with a twist or an upgrade instead flair and a gimmick. The food is locally obtained when possible and Chef Dave is in the process of planting a rooftop garden to supplement is locavore fare. Chef is also open to having some fun with his food such as Brezel pretzels served with house made cheese sauce and rabbit pot pie made on a double dog dare.

An excellent introduction to what Latitude 41 has to offer comes in four course and six course tasting menus. This is the opportunity for the kitchen to show their cooking chops in several signature plates. The selections vary but most often several are pulled from or inspired by the current menu. If on the fence between six courses or four, opt for the larger and ask your companion go with the smaller version. Another excellent first encounter can be had by attacking the menu via the artisan flatbreads and small plate selections. Some of my favorites from the current line up are the Lobster Mac and Cheese (includes orechiette, mascarpone, truffle oil, parmesan and tuile) as well as their two styles of fries: the hand-cut fries served with truffle, parmesan cheese, spicy house made ketchup and malt vinegar aioli or the Frenchie Fries featuring idaho wedges covered with beef bourguignon, farm style cheese curds and a soft poached egg. Think of the later as poutine on steroids. When available, mussels are a sure thing. It is not uncommon to ask for extra bread to scoop up the “broth” left on the bowl when finished.

The atmosphere of the “house” is refined and relaxed. Jeans are as common as a three-piece. Service reflects this approach as well. Servers are friendly but professional in tone and offer just enough attention without being distracting or interrupting the good conversation that comes with a meal. The bar is a comfortable spot for solo diners although your host or hostess does a wonderful job choosing just the right spot for a table for one. Plenty of window seats allow visitors to watch the coming and goings of downtown Columbus along Third Street. Latitude 41 unveiled their outside patio this spring. It is small area that seats about twenty along East Gay Street. There are a few burners placed outside for warmth and cozy ambiance at the tables. A growing following is choosing the Latitude 41 happy hour as a great excuse to stay downtown past quitting time.

Downtown Dining is not dead, it is growing. In addition to Latitude 41 several other “pioneers” including Tip Top Kitchen and Cocktails, Little Palace and The Jury Room are carrying the flag to get our citizens back in the habit of taking a break from the suburban parts of our city to support the growing urban culture of downtown.

Latitude 41
in the Renaissance Hotel
Corner of 3rd and Gay Street
Downtown
614.233.7541

Latitude 41 on Urbanspoon

Posted in Gastronomic Stimulus, restaurants | Tagged: | 1 Comment »