I left my Vera Bradley Stay Cooler at home today and treated myself to lunch with a couple of friends at the Chintz Room.
Once located on the fifth floor of the F. & R. Lazarus Co. department store in downtown Columbus, the Chintz Room began life as a tea room in 1914, changed its name in 1953, and closed in 1998.
Since Lazarus was shuttered in 2004, I’ve been recreating some of its classic dishes at home, with the help of recipes that ran in The Columbus Dispatch long ago. Now, local restaurateur Elizabeth Lessner has updated some of the Chintz Room’s classic dishes and began serving them a few weeks ago in an equally updated space on the ground floor of the Lazarus building.
The restaurant is decorated with artifacts from the store, such as the old dining room lights that are suspended above the bar. Photos from Lazarus hang on the walls, and vintage fashions from its racks are displayed amid the tables.
In 1951, 20 dioramas illustrating incidents from the history of Columbus and Ohio were made for the department store’s centennial. In the wall between the bar and the dining room of the updated Chintz Room, you’ll find the sole survivor — a scene celebrating the return of Ohio’s Fourth Regiment from service in the Spanish-American War as the veterans paraded by the store at the corner of High and Town Streets.
I ordered the Chintz Room’s chicken salad with toasted pecans and celery, served on thick slices of lightly toasted house-made bread with a side of an updated version of Lazarus’s signature celery dressing drizzled with chicken gravy. Other classic Lazarus dishes on the menu are the bourbon bread pudding and the “hidden sandwich,” in which more of that delicious house-made bread is hidden under baked ham, roasted turkey, bacon, melted Swiss, shredded romaine and a boiled egg, then topped with Thousand Island dressing.
The menu also includes some distinctive new dishes like herb-breaded cauliflower cutlets, broccoli cheddar soup served in mix-and-match Fiestaware, and “aggression salad,” mixed greens topped with marinated and roasted beets, grilled eggplant, toasted pecans and feta, tossed in Italian dressing.
I’m hoping that the Chintz Room offers its take on my favorite Lazarus dishes: the Mexican beef sandwich on toasted cheese bread, broccoli mushroom chowder and vanilla ice cream balls rolled in pecans and covered with hot fudge.
Located at 121 S. High St., the Chintz Room is open for lunch and dinner from 11 am to 11 pm daily.