By G.A. Benton
What will you be giving thanks for? Like you, I bet, my list is longer than I might’ve thought. Somewhere on it is living in a city with a seemingly endless stream of good new restaurants. Enter Black Point.
A seafood-centric prototype from the Hyde Park Group, Black Point replaces Sushi Rock on the Short North Cap. It’s a welcome change.
The expansive eatery features a hopping big bar area, plus a veritable warren of rooms that includes private dining spaces. Amid dramatic lighting are aquatic-themed decorations, such as an orca-sized fishtail rendered in bas-relief with brass scales and luminescent blue waveforms.
More snazzy than fancy, Black Point attracts as many people in jeans as suits. If its service can border on formal, I found the staff as open to sharing recommendations as conversation.
Ready for a drink? The showpiece Short North Manhattan ($10) offers smoothness (from aging in a barrel for 60 days) and dark fruit complexity (from Evan Williams 1783 bourbon, Warre’s tawny port, Dolin vermouth, Amarena cherry and bitters).
Sippable dark fruit likewise arrives in a glass of Bayonette Cotes du Roussillon ($8.75). It’s a Rhone-ish red blend, and a relatively inexpensive food-friendly pick from Black Point’s substantial if California-heavy wine list.
The short and concise dinner menu is eminently navigable. It also seems particularly ripe for company-card conventioneers seeking a safe and sure thing with palpable luxury.
If you happen to be hanging at the bar between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m., target the happy hour-only Flatiron Steak Sliders (2 for $7). Arriving with wispy housemade chips, they star delicious, edge-charred tender rare beef.
Surf and Turf Tacos are a popular starter ($10). Comprising a grilled pork belly-pineapple duo (smoky, meaty, salty, kinda Hawaiian), plus two OK tuna tartare models, they’re satisfying and easy to share.
Black Point heralds its sushi. Based on two-piece orders of tuna nigiri ($3.50) and salmon sashimi ($3), I wouldn’t argue its claim. My clean-tasting fish was prettily presented, and included properly sticky and sweet-yet-vinegary sushi rice.
A busy Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad ($8) came with almonds, dried cranberries, a terrific goat cheese croquette and a sugary “raspberry balsamic vinaigrette.” It seems designed for diners who love the idea of healthy foods, but actually crave desserts.
If that describes you, try the Pecan-Crusted Grouper ($34). A huge piece of thick, snow-white fish was cooked to a perfect flakiness. Beneath it was an addictive sweet potato and bacon hash. So far, so terrific. But melting atop the loosely nut-encased, lovely grouper was an intrusively sweet blob of “vanilla maple butter.” Without an acidic contrast, this was akin to smearing a killer grilled steak with caramel.
That’s why, for me, the less interesting Filet Mignon (8 ounces for $34) was nearly as successful. Though on the medium side of my requested medium-rare, you could’ve cut that nicely seared and juicy piece of high-quality meat with a plastic fork. Broiled tart tomato accompanies. If that seems skimpy, the intense Mac & Cheese ($8) is gigantic, and its profound creaminess is countered by jalapeno, crumbled chorizo and toasted bread crumbs.
Scallop fans rejoice, because Black Point’s are extraordinary ($28). Sporting deep pan sears on top and bottom, my four colossal beauties were phenomenally tender in between. They arrived assembled into a pyramid atop a smoky bacon risotto that, with corn and basil, tasted like a daydream of summer.
Dessert-wise, my wonderfully moist Warm Butter Cake with real whipped cream ($8) was over-garnished with a bossy dark cherry sauce and decent commercial-grade ice cream. Those unnecessary bells and whistles were hardly a deal-breaker though, and overall, I felt thankful to be reviewing yet another Columbus restaurant whose flaws are largely nitpicks.