Based in an old dairy barn in Columbus' burgeoning Italian Village neighborhood, Cosecha Cocina offers a distinct interpretation of Mexican cuisine.

Owner Chris Crader, CEO of Grow Restaurants, is eager to point out that most Tex-Mex joints across central Ohio don't have much in common with Cosecha, 987 N. Fourth St.

"It's a chef-driven menu but with something anybody can find (approachable)," Crader said.

A tidy and relatively inexpensive menu is carved into five basic sections: starters, enchiladas and tamales, tacos, small plates and sides. Few dishes top $13.

It was developed by chef Silas Caeton, who said his parents lived in Mexico for a short time.

"I grew up loving Mexican food," he said.

On the small-plates menu, the grilled chicken roulade is topped with a black mole sauce, concocted in three phases using more than 30 ingredients.

The menu features seven specialty tacos. For one, fried cod gets a masa tempura batter and is served with green-cabbage slaw, avocado and chipotle aioli. Another features tuna poke with sesame, pineapple, cilantro and crispy onions, bringing the humble taco into the modern era.

The 3,000-square-foot Cosecha storefront, said to have been built in the 1850s, is fittingly rustic. The stark interior features exposed bricks, high wooden beams and a vaulted ceiling. The modern touches include a custom-made butcher-block bar, exposed metal ventilation and a folding glass wall that will open to a patio during warmer weather.

It has another luxury many other places in the area don't: plenty of parking, both in front and back.

Tequila and mezcal drinks take prominence on the cocktail menu. Margaritas, for example, are made with fresh-squeezed juices. The menu even has traditional mezcal service, using an old-fashioned clay cup, orange slice and worm salt.

Of the signature cocktails, bar manager David Veitch recommends the "Los Muertos" -- a mixture of tequila, ancho chile liqueur, ginger, honey, lemon and charcoal, which turns the libation black. A spritz of mezcal gives it a smoky aroma.

"The menu is fun," Veitch said.

Beer taps are dedicated mostly to Mexican brands, with a few local craft brews.

The name Cosecha, which means "harvest" in Spanish, is special to Crader, who named his pizzerias Harvest and prefers to use fresh ingredients when possible.

"What I like about pizza is what I like about this food: it's very earth-driven," he said.

Crader's Grow Restaurants -- Harvest Pizzerias, Sycamore and Curio all are part of the brand -- continues to expand, with the recent opening of a Harvest in Dublin and another planned for Cincinnati.

However, the company took a hit last month when Salt & Pine -- Crader's ambitious modern-American restaurant at 250 S. High St. in downtown Columbus -- closed after 15 months in business.

Crader said construction went over budget and the space was too big. Other construction projects in the area gobbled up available parking spots, so he pulled the plug on the restaurant.

Cosecha's hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays and closed Sundays. For more information, call 614-369-1129.

====

Twenty female chefs and bakers from central Ohio will come together next month for a night of camaraderie, food and a mission: raise funds for the YWCA of Columbus.

The second Turning up the Heat will be held at 6 p.m. April 9 at the Kitchen, 231 E. Livingston Ave. in Columbus.

The evening, presented by Columbus Food Adventures and the Kitchen, will include cocktails, appetizers, a five-course meal, wine and dessert buffet. Items also will be for sale during a silent auction.

Admission will be limited to 100 guests; reservations are required.

Tickets are $100 each and may be ordered at thekitchencolumbus.com.

====

Tutto Vino, 7154 Muirfield Drive in Dublin, has closed.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary