3965 New Bond St. Columbus, Oh 43219 (614) 476-3663
There is a spot at Easton where thirsty and overwhelmed patrons of clothing and gadget boutiques can get a carefully-constructed cocktail that consists entirely of fresh, made-to-order ingredients. That very same cocktail will be served to the eagerly-awaiting consumer in a room that feels as though it was built by artisans and craftsmen. It is a glaring anomaly in a microcosm of cheap and flashy junk. You can find it by looking for the giant brass lobster on the wall—some flash is good.
McCormick and Schmick’s may be a chain, but unlike most chain restaurants, it feels like a mom-n-pop joint. That is if we assume that this particular mom and pop are profoundly OCD and very discerning and particular. Everything is in its place, including the crease in the server’s pants and the smile on the hostess’ face. The warm, wooden accoutrements of the vaulted room almost magically soak up tension, like the kind one gets by carrying twenty shopping bags. There is something about a well-kept hardwood floor that brings stress levels down at least a notch or two. If you are lucky enough to get one of the booths along the periphery of the main dining room, you have the option of closing the heavy velveteen curtains for an additional level of removal from the maddening bustle. Once inside, take some time to read through the very elaborate cocktail menu. Inside, there are histories of classic drinks, some familiar, like the Margarita, and others more obscure, but equally as delicious, such as the Sazrac. It matters not whether the cocktail you choose is familiar or obscure; it will be made with the utmost care and freshest ingredients. Heck, McCormick and Schmick’s not only makes their own sour mix, but they actually put egg white in it, just like sour mix had back before sour mix was invented.
Since the beverages alone are worth your stay, every subsequent pleasure is just gravy. The Calamari doesn’t actually come with gravy, but it does come with a trio of dipping sauces. The translucent pinkish one goes great with Jadot’s Beaujolais Village, but the creamier one works best with the Sonoma Cutrer Russian River Ranches Chardonnay. Get a glass of each, or get a bottle of the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir that will compliment all three sauces and the oysters on the half shell that are certainly already on their way to the table. It will go with the seared yellow-fin tuna, too, but you may want to chase the spicy wasabi down with what is left of the perfect, minty Mojito you started with. Besides, Oregon Pinots make tremendous accompaniments for salad courses, especially if those salads have strawberries and pickled onions on them (as McCormick and Schmick’s’ spinach salad does). Of course, Chiantis and Rhones also go great with spinach, strawberries and pickled onions, as they do with arugula, fresh tomato and Thousand Island dressing. It could be a tough call, especially since McCormick and Schmick’s is a seafood restaurant and you might actually want to stick with white. Fear not. They have everything white, from Spatlese Rieslings to Matanzas Creek’s giant Chardonnay.
Look at the top of the menu. There you will find a list of the freshest seafood McCormick and Schmick’s is purveying on any particular evening. Be sure to notice the fresh list just under the day and date. With any luck, black cod will be on the list for the evening that you choose to visit. If it is, be sure to get the Miso Black Cod. The firm, fleshy whitefish pulls apart at the slightest suggestion. Every bite is then completely saturated with a mild tart ginger miso broth. It clamors for a crisp white or something with bubbles, like Trimbach’s Pinot Gris or Perrier-Jouet’s Grand Brut. Both of those could hold their own with tilapia stuffed with lobster, spinach and artichokes. However, since McCormick and Schmick’s has upwards of five presentations of salmon and it’s close cousin, Arctic char, the savvy diner will have a bottle of medium to full-bodied red available as well. Ridge’s Geyserville Zinfandel is juicy and spicy enough to take on the asparagus in the Northwest Salmon Sauté and even the Spicy Shrimp Diavolo. Plus, someone at the table almost certainly will want to try one of the meat dishes, and Geyserville can take those to the mat, too.
McCormick and Schmick’s has customized their menu at Easton to reflect the more four-legged tendencies in our flesh consumption inclinations. They have expanded the meat section to include no fewer than nine different steaks. Some of the steaks are just traditional and grilled to order, but the Florentine Steak boasts spinach topped medallions of tenderloin served with a tomato and spinach risotto that could manhandle the biggest of the big reds, like Nickel and Nickel’s Sullenger Cabernet or something from Medoc. You will want a bottle of that stuff sitting around for the desserts, anyway.
The desserts are presented openly on a large tray. They are big enough to satisfy several sugary fixes, so be sure you order wisely. Be sure to try the chocolate bag (even if you are alone); there is a great chance it’ll steal the evening’s show—no matter how good your Halibut might have been. It’s a fully edible chocolate bag that sits upright and is filled with frothy passion fruit mousse and fresh berries. Order your coffee early; you’ll need several cups to get its rich persona down. The upside-down apple pie, with its country-looking pastry crust that’s covered with walnuts and caramel sauce and encases a mound of viscous, salty-sweet apple slices, is the embodiment of joy. For those who prefer eating and drinking dessert, try that Sazrac now.