Table Talk: Former Merion Village garage overhauled into restaurant

GARY SEMAN JR.
gseman@thisweeknews.com
Line cook Sean Washington (left) and chef Jacob Ciampa work July 2 in the kitchen of Mid City Garage, a new restaurant in a former Merion Village service station at 1179 Jaeger St., Columbus.

Muffuletta sandwiches, not muffler jobs, are now part of the scene at Mid City Garage in Merion Village.

Local restaurateur George Tanchevski has turned the former Mid City Automotive Services building into a restaurant fueled by craft cocktails and homemade dishes.

Adapting used auto parts into the design, Mid City, 1179 Jaeger St., also has garage doors that open to a 26-seat patio with picnic tables corralled by a fence.

Leanna McKenney-Heath, an operations manager for Tanchevski's restaurant group, said because of COVID-19 coronavirus restrictions, some seating has been limited, so the total currently is 52, including the bar.

"We could seat a lot more at a different time," she said.

Nevertheless, the interior is spacious, with a window that offers a view into the kitchen.

"Being able to watch people work on their craft, watching them learn and create and adapt, it's like watching a sport -- except the athletes are feeding you," chef Jacob Ciampa said. "I also like that it gives the guests an opportunity to ask questions, like why do we cook at 550 (degrees), why do we use cornmeal to stretch our dough instead of flour or semolina?

"I think food education is very important, and having an open kitchen allows a dialogue between interested diners and excited cooks."

The menu includes three charcuterie boards that change frequently, kimchee deviled eggs and Thai chili hummus.

Pizzas with housemade dough remain on the menu, but they no longer are served whole and called "tearable" pizzas, which, beyond having a playfully bad name, weren't suitable for customers when the restaurant opened a few weeks ago, McKenney-Heath said.

The idea was that patrons could tear off a piece at a time and dunk it in one of the seven homemade dipping sauces -- hot pomodoro, brie fondue and pesto among them.

"When you put out food, it should be ready to eat," she said, noting that the pizzas now are served in slices.

Meanwhile, all sandwiches are served on toasted garlic focaccia and served with chips.

Mid City features a modern, vegetarian take on the muffuletta, adding portobellos, goat cheese, charred poblanos, hummus, pesto and arugula to the chopped-olive spread.

In addition, house-prepared brisket is topped with cheese, pickled red onions and a Carolina-style mustard barbecue sauce, and the PB&J gets an addition of bacon and sharp cheddar.

"It's a small kitchen," McKenney-Heath said. "I would say our menu, for the size of our space, is pretty balanced."

Mid City is the 18th location in Tanchevski's restaurant portfolio, which also includes Local Cantina, South Village Grille and Jonys Sushi, the latter two just down the street from Mid City at Jaeger Street and Thurman Avenue. (All but one, a Local Cantina in Dayton, are part of the central Ohio food scene.)

Hours are 3 p.m. to midnight Thursdays, 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. to midnight Sundays and closed Mondays through Wednesdays. For more information, call 614-372-5028.

====

The Old Spot will become something new in a month or so.

Open just shy of a year, the restaurant, 1097 W. First Ave., closed June 30 because of financial issues related to COVID-19, co-owner Tony Tanner said.

Details of the new concept should be announced around the beginning of August, Tanner said.

He said he and co-owner Matt Evans had an amicable split with partner Rick Lopez, owner of La Tavola and Lupo.

"We are going to change the name and the concept, but we are still planning that through," said Tanner, also owner of the Butcher & Grocer in the same small strip center in Grandview Heights.

====

On a scene crowded with taverns and dinner options, Emmett's will provide a breakfast-and-lunch option in Columbus' Brewery District.

The casual cafe is expected to open this fall at 744 S. High St., co-owner Ben Kelley said.

Specializing in coffee and under the direction of beverage manager, barista and partner Robin Myers, Emmett's also will offer breakfast classics and a few updated dishes, such as a smoked-salmon bowl and falafel wrap, Kelley said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary