There’s two things I know to be true:
Finding the time to sneak away for a date night, while parenting young children, is tough. So is making it as a chef in Columbus, where our expectations are high, the competition is fierce, and it seems the nation’s eyes are watching our every move.
The other night, my husband and I found ourselves able to take advantage of a date night. We had been hearing great things about 1808 American Bistro in downtown Delaware, Ohio, and decided it would be perfect for a night out together.
We went on a Thursday evening, and to our delight, we realized they had LIVE music playing in the bar area. The vibe at 1808 is gorgeous. They have rustic tables and cozy booths and I loved the exposed brick walls and simple decor.
The friendly hostess showed us to our seat, and I immediately asked if I could be moved to a seat closer to the window, because I wanted to take pictures of my food, and the window offered better light.
Yes, I am that annoying person.
I remember being a host and getting irritated about things like that, but our hostess was super sweet and didn’t seem annoyed at all.
My husband just rolled his eyes at me.
We looked over the drink list and asked our server a bunch of questions.
Pro tip: Noah is seriously the best server ever.
We ordered every one of his suggestions – from drinks to entrees to dessert and he did NOT disappoint. Ask for him for exceptional service!
My husband ordered the “Call Me Old Fashioned” – which was cool because he could pick his own bourbon.
He picked Bulleit, naturally.
I ordered “A Good Shrub Down” and it was DELICIOUS. Light, refreshing, and not-too-sweet.
We started off with their special: a slice of avocado toast, topped with fresh crab. The sourdough toast was grilled to perfection, and everything was well seasoned. I could totally just make a meal out of two slices of this. I was shocked at the amount of fresh crab they gave you for the price – it was such a good deal!
My husband ordered the filet. I had a bite and it was excellent. (Alright, I had several bites.) Cooked exactly as he requested, with a sauce so delicious, that he (ok, we) licked the plate clean.
I got the shrimp and grits. And by “grits” they mean the creamiest, fluffiest, most melt-in-your-mouthiest polenta I’ve ever had. Even if you don’t order this dish, which would mean you’re either crazytown or you have a seafood allergy, you should absolutely order a side of this polenta. Absurdly delicious.
It’s worth mentioning that it’s the details that really stood out to me. My husband and I have spent over a decade working in restaurants – practically every position, right up to front of house manager/kitchen manager. So it’s easy to notice things like servers all working together and helping one another clear tables, run food, and keep an eye out.
Trust me when I say this type of environment is rare, and must be cultivated from the top down.
We ended our evening with an order of beignets and they were fantastic. Light, crispy, and covered in honey and powdered sugar. I loved the “latte foam” they served on the side. Perfect for dipping!
When the front of house manager, Kelsey, stopped by (you’ll recognize her by her bright warm smile) I told her how much I enjoyed the dishes (thanks again for all the suggestions, Noah!) and she mentioned that the chef was originally from Louisiana so he had some dishes on the menu to honor that.
Crab toast, shrimp & grits, and beignets? Yes, I totally get it now.
I was so impressed with the service and food, and well, the whole experience, that I had to
stalk Google this chef. Let’s be honest, we’re used to exceptional food and dining experiences in Columbus. That’s our norm, and we’re totally spoiled. So when a restaurant shines that far above “normal,” I need to know more. Unsurprisingly, Chef Josh Dalton is hailed as one of the best chefs in the region.
I’ve never met Chef Dalton in person, but he’s my favorite kind of human. Every article I’ve read about him describes him as self-taught. Unconventional. Always learning. At 25, when presented with an opportunity to start 1808 American Bistro, he jumped at the chance, despite not having any conventional business training. He was determined to just “figure it out.”
And we’re so happy he did.
Thanks for a fabulous meal, 1808 American Bistro!