Brunch review: Milestone 229

By Columbus Alive
From the February 2, 2012 edition

Amidst the volleys of criticism hurled at the far-from-built public sculpture proposed for the Scioto Mile (e.g. it says nothing about Columbus; it resembles a nuclear power plant cooling tower), I’d like to offer some free artistic advice that might lead to a cease-fire.

1) Underneath the structure’s so-called “crown,” add a Tony Oursler-like video of Urban Meyer’s drastically enlarged head — projected onto a mammoth football — enthusiastically singing “Hang On Sloopy” or, 2) Give the thing a Claes Oldenburg-esque makeover by fine-tuning its vessel shape into a gigantic Bloody Mary cocktail, and tack on the party-time Bloody Mary menu from nearby Milestone 229’s brunch service while you’re at it.

I believe either of these alterations is sure to lure in admiring citizens, but the morning libation one might be more fun. Certainly Milestone’s variations on jacked-up tomato juice contribute mightily to the cut-loose ambiance of its enjoyable Sunday brunch.

Those Bloody Marys ($8) range from a dark and brooding model with a whiskey base and a beef jerky garnish (Kentucky Cowboy) to a light and lively tequila drink (Maria Zarazua) to several flavors in between. Sipping a Milestone Mary while simultaneously ingesting the restaurant’s swooping and dramatic space — plus its stunning and multi-windowed Downtown views (here, the LeVeque Tower is practically your dining partner) — is the perfect mood-setter for Milestone’s indulgent and fairly creative brunch food (which, when not delivered barely warm, as on one disappointing occasion, I quite liked).

Biscuits and Gravy ($12) went from down home to uptown in Milestone’s pleasantly reimagined production. The dish starred two good and flaky cheddar biscuits and a thick, bold, creamy and peppery country gravy. The role of morning porcine product was played by pork belly — which was more like seared strips of salty meat than a big ol’ block of fat. Fried eggs lent support as did big chunks of nicely seasoned spuds (called “three-potato hash”). Sauteed onions showed up in a cameo role, but did an effective job of adding depth and a smidgen of sweetness.

Those same nifty cheese biscuits served as the base for Christian’s Eggs Benedict ($12.50). Named after Milestone’s executive chef (Christian Hattemer), the entree included welcome sides and showcased neat tweaks to the classic dish. So the house three-potato hash added bulk, but there were also sweet and smoky bacon slices plus great spicy and vinegary-braised collard greens. Gilding the lily was a tangy, “spiced tomato hollandaise” that got even better with successive bites.

Veering away from eggs, Milestone’s Chicken and Waffles ($12.50) bore inventive flourishes as well. For instance, the (locally raised) fried chicken component appeared in the guise of little salty medallions of rich, fatty and de-boned thigh meat. Those roulade-like poultry coins were sage-y and had attractively crackly battered edges. Waffle-wise, I was surprised by the humongous size of the thick blondies that arrived at my table. They were served with a tiny jar of real maple syrup that I found to be gratuitous after slathering on Milestone’s inspired sweet and spicy orange-flavored compound butter.

Too bad the seafood in the Shrimp and Grits ($11) had a pronounced iodine-y off-flavor. Because apart from that, it was a delectable dish with its rich, thick and spicy tomato broth, bits of smoky andouille sausage, plus rib-sticking and super comforting cheesy white grits.