Eating Out With Kids: Cap City Fine Diner and Bar
From savory sandwiches and specials to a spacious patio, this Cameron Mitchell Restaurants hot spot delivers a memorable meal.
Melissa Kossler Dutton and her family, including sons Nick, 16, and Alex, 14, visited Cap City Fine Diner and Bar, which won our 2020 Family Faves reader survey in the category of Best Fancy Family Dining.
With the weather turning nicer, we decided it was time to enjoy a dinner out. Knowing we wanted to dine al fresco, we started researching patios. Several friends noted that Cap City Fine Diner and Bar had upped its patio game during the pandemic. Since it’s always a top vote-getter in Columbus Parent’s annual Family Faves reader poll, we decided to go there. We visited the original, Olentangy River Road location of Cameron Mitchell Restaurants’ diner-style eatery. Cap City also has locations in Gahanna and Dublin.
We started with an order of the blue cheese potato chips ($10.99). I have tried to make these at home with mixed success. Cap City’s are perfection. The sauce is creamy and smooth but not runny, and they use just the right amount of blue cheese crumbles to infuse the dish with the cheese’s signature tang.
I was delighted to learn that the Monday Blue Plate Feature is shrimp and grits ($23.99). It was fantastic. The menu describes the gravy as spicy and it was, but the cheesy grits really mellowed the heat. Big chunks of ham, bell pepper and celery added texture. With so few ingredients, the dish could seem simple, but the sauce and grits had many layers of flavor. In addition to heat from poblano peppers and hints of caramel and nut from the Gouda cheese, the sauce also had citrus undertones. If the dish had been served with bread, I would have sopped up what remained.
Although we were stuffed from our meals, which were all generously portioned, we decided to share a blueberry cobbler ($7.49). The cobbler had chunks of real fruit, and the topping was sweet and crunchy. It was a great ending to a great dinner. One thing that I really liked about the experience was the pace of our meal. The food courses always came out shortly after we ordered them, but the waitress gave us time in between to visit and soak up the atmosphere. After months of cooking and preparing meals at home, it was nice to really savor the restaurant experience.
Based on previous meals from Cap City, I had high hopes for our visit. My mom called ahead and made a reservation for the patio, which is very big. The area has plenty of tables, and when we went in late April, it was enclosed by a tent with flaps that could be opened and closed.
Once we were seated, we used our phones to scan the QR code that links to the menu. I loved this idea. It is more COVID-safe than a regular menu and more eco-friendly than disposable paper menus.
The first things we ordered were drinks and the blue cheese potato chips. I had the Peach Palmer ($3.49), a glass of housemade lemonade mixed with iced tea and peach purée. I really enjoyed the flavor. It was a good mix of tart from the lemonade and sweetness from the tea and peaches. It was not too sweet or too sour or too watery. It was easily the best Arnold Palmer I have ever had.
My main dish was Jake’s Famous Reuben ($13.99). The first thing I noticed was how good the bread was. It was not soggy, and the rye flavor was not too strong. Normally, I am not a huge fan of rye bread but this was nice and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It made the sandwich. The dressing was also very flavorful. It mixed well with the corned beef and sauerkraut. The sandwich had a great balance of dressing, sauerkraut and meat—and it all went perfectly with the creamy mild Swiss cheese that topped the sandwich.
We were all impressed by the presentation of our dessert. It arrived in a tea cup and had a sprig of fresh mint on it. The cobbler was still steaming from the oven. I loved the crunchy topping and the way the ice cream created a melted sauce on top.
When I heard we were having dinner at Cap City, I was excited because we had ordered carryout earlier in the pandemic and I wanted to visit the restaurant. The blue cheese potato chips appetizer was amazing. The flavor was not overly strong but still had that blue cheese tang. The dip also had a great consistency—rich and creamy. Despite the generous amount of sauce, the chips remained crispy and delicious.
For my main course, I ordered the Philly cheesesteak with fries ($13.99). Picture a typical cheesesteak sandwich and then imagine it with ingredients of the highest quality. Often, this type of sandwich is made with what seems to be inexpensive presliced meat. However at Cap City, they use prime rib that they cooked and then sliced up for the sandwich. What a difference that makes. The meat was tender, juicy and flavorful. It was tucked into an extraordinary hoagie bun that managed to be moist and airy but not at all soggy. The sandwich was topped with the best white cheddar cheese I’ve ever had. The cheese had so many unique and amazing flavors that it took me a minute to place what kind it was.
Fries can make or break a meal—especially with a dish like the Philly cheesesteak. Cap City’s fries definitely exceeded expectations. They came out of the kitchen piping hot and expertly seasoned with herbs and the right amount of salt.
For dessert we ordered the blueberry cobbler, which I was pleased to hear came topped with Johnson’s Real Ice Cream, one of my favorite local ice cream parlors. I was too full to indulge in a lot of cobbler but the bites I had were excellent.
I would recommend Cap City for families looking for top-notch American cuisine.
This story is from the Summer 2021 issue of Columbus Parent.
Cap City Fine Diner and Bar
1299 Olentangy River Road, Columbus, plus locations in Dublin and Gahanna; 614-478-9999 (Columbus location)
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays (all locations)
Prices: Dinner entrées, which include sandwiches, comfort food, seafood and steak, range from $10.99 to $30.99. Soups, salads and appetizers also are available. The children’s menu features a dozen choices starting at $4.99, from traditional kid fare to the diner’s signature meatloaf or salmon.
Mom: Shrimp and grits
Nick: Jake’s Famous Reuben
Alex: Philly cheesesteak