It’s a Keeper! The Keep & Liquor Bar

From the CockFrom the Bull
Turn Ons:
– Service
– The Food
– Hotel Bar
Turn Ons:
– Everything
– Everything
– Everything
Turn Offs:
– Creepy gas lamps turning on and off
– No Saldo
– Wish I could afford to eat there every night
Turn Offs (ok, I had to pick three:)
– Bad directional signage
– Haunted gas lamps (but also kinda cool?!)
– Ran out of my wine
Our trip to The Keep & Liquor bar located in Hotel LeVeque was such a treat for me personally. I have lived in Columbus for well over 20 years and I have never been to the LeVeque. I once worked with an architect who helped a remodel in the 80’s and I see the tower every time I drive through town or when I have come back from a trip. It is an iconic landmark that welcomes you home.

That is exactly how this fancy hotel restaurant made me feel – right at home. From the moment we walked into The Keep we were greeted and seated by a friendly server. We were also greeted by a very pretty but creepy gas lamp that kept clicking on and off – maybe a ghost happy to see us? The manager, I presume, turned off the lamp as he stated “…it happens all the time.”

Jaimie was our server and I have to mention her by name because she was a delight. Well informed and quick with a recommendation. We ordered cocktails to start – I ordered the Broad St. – Buck and it tasted like a bourbon hard candy. It was perfectly balanced but I could still taste all the flavor notes. Our brussel sprout appetizer was so good with crispy bacon and feta cheese crumbles.
The best part about dining, for me, is people watching or listening. Bull overheard something funny at the next table right before we ordered our dinners so we shared a little giggle with Jaimie as we ordered. We had a good laugh throughout the meal. I debated with a filet or the pork chop. Since I was there, I decided on the filet and let me tell you it was one of the best I have ever had. Melt in your mouth perfectly cooked with an amazing sear. I barely touched the al dente asparagus and hasselback potato because the filet was just so tasty. I paired the filet with a Smith & Hook cabernet because they only had 1 glass of Prisoner Saldo zinfandel and Bull had already expressed her desire for it. The wine pour was delightful!

We finished the meal with a lemon tarte because it paired nicely with our cheeky conversation. Knowing I can share past experiences with a friend who would never judge me is really why I adore Bull and our friendship. Not wanting the night to end we decided on a glass of wine in the Liquor Bar which was adjacent to the restaurant. A cozy bar where you could meet a lover or a friend for a quiet drink after work or late night rendezvous. Our bartenders were friendly and provided a few laughs as we talked about future plans to visit The Keep & Liquor Bar. Jaimie even popped over to say goodbye and we thanked her for a great evening.

As a former service industry veteran, I tend to expect a higher level of service, at one point during our visit I expressed to Bull that there wasn’t a single thing I could complain about with the service. It was impeccable and I would urge you to visit the gem as soon as possible. Request Jaimie and visit the bar and I promise you will have a great experience.
This is now my favorite restaurant. No joke.
Let me tell you the story of how The Bull learned to love The Keep (& Liquor Bar.)

Let’s get this out of the way…we ran into too much misdirection and misunderstanding of where in the hotel this kitchen actually was for such a fancy and expensive establishment. I assume that if you’re staying in the hotel it’s probably explained to you. But, as your local customer, where is the directional signage? Did I miss something obvious here? That was truly my only turn-off worth giving them a little negative vibe on though.

We were introduced to the fabulous Jamie, our server extraordinaire. She was attentive and funny – great qualities in an authentic experience. In fact, she was able to confirm the beef was indeed wild (a little inside joke between her and The Cock & The Bull!) I haven’t seen Saldo on a menu for a while, and I love it. It’s a Zinfandel so robust, juicy, and delicious but without being sweet. Alas, I drank the last of it after only a singular glass.

I’ll briefly say that the gas lamps were an amazing touch, but were humming and turning themselves off and on, and didn’t seem very, let’s say, safe. They turned them off as soon as we made a face (again, outstanding service, we didn’t even have to say anything!)

For food Cock & I shared the Brussel sprouts, which were divine! They are deep fried, people! They were cooked to perfection – not too soft, not too hard – and dressed with honey, crisp bacon, and feta. This dish is a must-try. Trust me on this. They might also have solidified a Cock & Bull podcast, the banter we had around Brussell sprouts was hilarity.

For my beef dish, I ordered the short rib with gouda mac n cheese and sauteed spinach. I’m actually drooling a little just thinking about the tender, juicy short rib. A very solid choice if you wanted to stay away from a $50 filet (which Cock ordered, and gave me a taste, it was ahhhhmazing and I will order on special occasions, ’cause ya, I’m going back.) Cock did order a lemon tart for dessert. If you know me, you know I don’t usually indulge in dessert (wine is enough sugar for me!) but I am a sucker for anything lemon. I took one taste of the lemon tart, and it surprised me by being crave-able. It was just as great as the rest of the food. Perfectly tart, not too sweet. Thanks for the taste, Cock!

We enjoyed our experience so much that we stayed for a nightcap at the Liquor Bar. Mike was a refreshing, honest surprise. He was formerly with the Renaissance downtown and was recruited to the Liquor Bar, and frankly, they are lucky to have him. He was a blast to chat with all evening (and thank you for the Aperol Spritz!) He may be our first podcast guest.

Overall, everything about this hotel restaurant and bar screamed (with respect) a first-class experience. The food, drinks, and service were outstanding. Even the hotel lobby is decadent and beautiful. I want to go back already, think this is OK to ask for a venue for a first date? Nah, probably a little too decadent but it’s for certain going to be my special occasion restaurant going forward. So happy to have it in Columbus.

I choose to keep The Keep!

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