January 2008 Issue
January's Featured Restaurant
|Sauteed Scallops with sprouts
|Elegantly presented tiramisu.
|Arched windows light the Great Room
The First Baptist Church on Broad Street in Columbus hasn’t seen parishioners in a few years, but since fall 2006, it has welcomed diners and art to its 23,000 square feet. Co-owners Tom Starker and Pam Theodotou directed 16 months of rehab on the 130-year-old stone structure, but preserved the integrity of the architecture. You still feel like you’ve walked into a church — until you see the seven bar areas, two dance floors, 110-seat main dining room, and 800 linear feet of walls covered in art. And its new name, fittingly, is the Bar of Modern Art or “BOMA.” It also happens to be located just about a block east of the Columbus Museum of Art and the Columbus College of Art and Design.
The owners want the entire experience of BOMA to be based on art, including dining. Executive Chef Brian Parker, a graduate of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, sees to that, both in substance and presentation. Chef Parker considers Richard Blondin, executive chef of Columbus’ renowned French restaurant, The Refectory, his mentor (Parker worked at The Refectory for four years), so the preparation is based on French techniques. But Parker also infuses the menu with his other areas of expertise, like Pacific Rim and California cuisine. He says that he “likes to take things that are familiar and make them whimsical,” and that philosophy is reflected in just about every offering. The Peanut Butter and Jelly appetizer, for example, is actually seared foie gras perched atop a crisp slice of brioche topped with cashew butter and drizzled with Grand Marnier marmalade and honey; the sweet potato and Gala apple soup is finished with maple syrup, smoked bacon and cinnamon mascarpone.
The entrees are just as fanciful and seasonal. The meats are almost always organic, free range and locally raised. A recent menu offered organic pork loin with a peach-bourbon glaze, served with succotash and a white wine and herb jus, and seared King Salmon served atop a sauté of wild mushrooms and scallions and finished with a blood-orange butter. — Joan DeMartin