SUMMER SOPHISTICATION AT LINDEY'S
Written by Amelia Jeffers
Photography by James Henthorn
Stepping onto the patio at Lindey’s in June, I was not only embarrassed to admit that after living in Columbus for 22 years, it was my first visit, but surprised that while I expected near-total seclusion on a Thursday mid-afternoon, it was hopping. Amidst a stunning landscape of living walls, lush hanging baskets, fountains, umbrellas, and historic bricks sits a scene straight from old New York; and as if reading my mind, Sinatra’s sultry vocals streaming from the speakers completed the swanky ambiance. I was not surprised, just a week or so later, to read that OpenTable has named the patio to the list of the Top 100 Outdoor Restaurants in America. Seating is first-come, first-served, and for Saturday and Sunday brunch, the line can extend well down the street. With a season that stretches from April to October, it is an experience not to be missed.
When Sophisticated Living Columbus launched four years ago, the decision to feature another German Village mainstay, Pistacia Vera, over Lindey’s was made based on the timeliness of the cafe’s anniversary. Talks with the team at Lindey’s and their beloved matriarch, Sue Doody continued on and off, as we knew the Columbus landmark simply had to be covered - and covered well. Timing considerations included a bar renovation and Sue’s travel; and then, sadly, things got a bit quiet as the venerated head of one of the most popular white table restaurants in the history of the city fought and lost a valiant battle with cancer earlier this year.
While paying homage to the legacy of Sue Doody seems daunting in print, her seasoned team at Lindey’s makes their job of tending it in the flesh seem effortless. The experienced lineup defies an industry where longevity is counted in years not decades and a city where Executive Chef opportunities keep Sous Chefs from gaining much tenure at all. But at Lindey’s? From Sous Chefs to Chef de Cuisine, all have worn the Executive Chef hat at respected locations in Central Ohio. Years of service is a point of pride throughout the staff at Lindey’s, led by 16-year veteran Managing Partner, Todd Cumbow.
With no professional training, Sue Doody was as unlikely a restaurant owner as anyone. Depicted as a “den mother” by early reporters who may have been scratching their heads at the ambitions of a divorced mother of four whose experience included four years as a Columbus public school teacher. Having operated a small catering business and conducted cooking classes in her home, Sue often joked with son, Rick, about opening a restaurant. When the perfect building in German Village was offered for sale, the Doodys took the chance and opened Lindey’s in 1981, and the rest, as they say, is history. Under Sue’s watchful eye and with her passion for people and genuine hospitality, Lindey’s has become an unmatched food experience in Columbus with regulars numbering in the thousands.
Service at Lindey’s is legendary, and the menu is rock solid. While cocktails and a few dishes are changed up seasonally, the timeless sophistication and class of the historic building correlates directly to a confidence created when one rests on a well-built foundation. Several recipes harken back to the earliest days and are Sue’s original creations, a testament to her focus on excellence in everything she did.
Our patio lunch was guided by Executive Events Manager Grant Cassidy and Executive Chef Brett Fife. The pair woke up our palate with a Bruschetta that simply tastes like summer: toasted ciabatta with walnut-basil pesto, the freshest tomatoes, and a delicate but rich straciatella (lightly enhanced with a bit of evoo, parmesan, and fresh herbs). This could be my official 2018 summer diet, paired with the Chopped Salad, a satisfying plate of arugula, baby kale, and cabbage dressed with a light and subtly sweet pear thyme vinaigrette, apples, grilled red onion, bacon, housemade candied pecans, and goat cheese.
While an allergy kept me from enjoying it, Editorial Assistant Betsy Ross raved about the melt-in-your-mouth fried Calamari & Shrimp appetizer with finely sliced lemon and julienned peppadew peppers, all crispy golden brown with remoulade and cocktail sauce; while I focused on the Carpaccio, a stunning and colorful plate full of texture and flavor with marinated portobello and a light salad of arugula, fennel, parmesan reggiano, and chipotle aioli.
One of my favorite dishes is always a good Tuna Nicoise, and Lindey’s delivers with a classic option. It was tempting to stick to lighter, warm-weather fare, but Betsy endeavored to sample a heartier dish, so we went with the Filet encrusted with gorgonzola, which was nothing short of amazing. A lighter 4 ounce version is available (sans crust) and is served with buttermilk chive mashed potatoes, asparagus, and bernaise, topped with crispy onion straws.
Among the summer cocktail options, the Frosé is refreshing blend of frozen wine, citrus vodka, and fresh fruit puree. An interesting and pleasant aftertaste marks the unusual Smoky Strawberry Mezcarita; and the spicy, aromatic Three Dots and a Dash brings an island vibe. Tasting cocktails for a story can be dangerous, so bartenders are warned that we are likely to have just a sip of each - but, drinks like the Watermelon Mule (Watershed Vodka, fruit puree, lime juice, and ginger beer) definitely have a way of testing that policy. Seasonal and classic cocktails notwithstanding, the overarching goal of the beverage and wine program is consistent with Lindey’s guiding principle of bringing high value and a memorable experience with wines that way over-deliver for the price. The wine list is somewhat eclectic, but not off the wall from a wine nerd perspective. Happy Hour specials (4:30p - 6:30p daily) are worth noting: half off beer, wine, and specialty cocktails as well as a discounted bar menu.
While summer is definitely a season worth noting, Lindey’s makes good use of the patio in fall and winter months with annual events like Village Lights in December when 13,000 white lights adorn the space and hot cocktails and cookies are served up with live music. Of course, interior Lindey’s is one of the finest white tablecloth options in the state, so don’t mind my latest obsession with the outdoors.
For more information, including menus and a calendar of events: