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A Behind The Scenes Look at The Jury Room

Walker Evans Walker Evans A Behind The Scenes Look at The Jury RoomPhoto via Columbus Food League.
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In September, we announced that restaurateur Elizabeth Lessner and her husband Harold LaRue would be taking over the Jury Room, located at 22 E. Mound Street, in the heart of Downtown. Fast forward to three months later and a major transformation has taken place behind the scenes.

The decor, the drink menu and the food menu at The Jury Room are all being given a very similar restoration treatment: a trip back in time.

“The theme of The Jury Room is going to be 1830,” said Chef Christopher Edwards, formerly of Tip Top Kitchen and Cocktails.

The Decor

Having been in operation for nearly 180 years, The Jury Room has a lot of historic charm buried under layers of updates throughout the decades.

“The decor will be a bit brighter and not so dreary, but still highlighting the beautiful mahogany throughout the space, which will give it an inherent masculine quality,” said General Manager Eddie Shepherd, formerly of Sage American Bistro. “We’re celebrating the history of the building and highlighting the built-in beauty… the tin ceiling, the gorgeous bar, the antique light fixtures and the fireplace.”

The Drinks

Each of the Betty’s Family of Restaurants has a distinct drinking theme. Tip Top has the large whiskey selection and Dirty Frank’s is home to slushies and other colorful treats.

“The Jury Room will feature lots of gin and classic cocktails,” said owner Elizabeth Lessner.

“I’m going to try and bring back the classics as we celebrate the history of the bar,” added Shepherd. “Gin is a huge part of cocktail menus from the past, so expect to have a myriad of selections featuring this distinctive spirit. Along with the classics, we will be introducing some tongue-in-cheek creations like The Nina Wes-tini, honoring our favorite local celebrity.”

In addition to clever cocktails, the new Jury Room will also feature draft beers and a more significant focus on the wine list.

“We’re going to have eight tap handles to work with along with a nice selection of domestic and imported bottles,” explained Shepherd. “And there will be a heavier-handed approach to the wine list. Head Chef Chris Edwards is coming up with a lot of wine-friendly foods that I am excited to pair wines to.”

The Food

The menu at The Jury Room will be drawing from some Italian inspiration according to Chef Chris Edwards who helped to open Due Amici before going to work at Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails.

“I’d describe the menu as a ‘return to basics’, particularly with the Italian American and South Philly favorites,” said Lessner. “The dishes will be simple, classic and delicious and will stray little from basic mother sauce recipes. It will be reminiscent of older times when food was pure and simpler.”

“The old menu is dust in the wind,” added Chef Edwards. “This is all BFR, baby! There will be some love for our vegetarian and vegan friends, but I still love grilling meats as well.”

A sneak peak at a draft copy of the menu reveals items such as Pepperoni Wrapped Filet Mignon with Fried Gnocchi and Broccoli Rabe, Clams Casino (broiled clams stuffed with bacon, garlic & bread crumbs), Classic Scungilli Salad (Sea Conch Salad) and Chicken Livers & Mushrooms over Spaghetti.

“We hand-picked Chris to manage our kitchen because we love his cooking style,” said Lessner. “He’s ambitious, hard-working and passionate about cooking and I do think he’s a rising culinary star here in Columbus.”

The Grand Opening

While no firm date has been announced as of yet, and opening delays are a regular issue for independently owned restaurants in Columbus, Lessner is optimistic that the final details will be coming together soon.

“The goal is to be open before Christmas, but I think it will more than likely be just after the first of the year,” she said.

Either way, her new staff is ready to handle the opening crowds.

“I’m super excited to get in there and roll up my sleeves,” said Shepherd. “Working in such a creative and supportive environment means that we are sure to deliver a fantastic product that will be a phenomenal success.”

The Jury Room is located at 22 East Mound Street. More information can be found online at www.juryroom.net.

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