Third & Hollywood: 'What we’re trying to do is make a casual dining experience extraordinary'

Gary Seman Jr.
The Columbus Dispatch
Pan-seared walleye at Third & Hollywood

If there’s anything to be said about Third & Hollywood, its changes have been few and certainly subtle since opening 12 years ago on the edge of Grandview Heights.

Not quite fine dining, the restaurant might best be described as the ultimate in American tavern cuisine.

“We opened it as a neighborhood bar and grill,” said Kevin Malhame, co-founder and partner of the restaurant. “What we’re trying to do is make a casual dining experience extraordinary.”

A vegan dish, the cauliflower-and-cashew soup ($6 for a cup, $9 a bowl) uses the pureed vegetable and nuts in a flavored vegetable broth and drizzled with hot chile oil.

“It’s such a satisfying soup,” said Malhame, who’s also a partner in the family of restaurants that includes Northstar Cafe and Brassica.

“Our mindset has always been to keep making small simple improvements to the recipe, ingredients and the way we present,” he said.

Constantly seeking ways to improve dishes

The gem lettuce Caesar salad ($13) is the third or fourth variation of that dish, Malhame said. He said he likes the texture of the lettuce tossed in a classic Caesar dressing — egg yolk, anchovies, fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil — a dusting of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and warm croutons.

Gem lettuce Caesar salad at Third & Hollywood

“When you add all those basics together, my family and I can’t get enough of the Caesar salad,” he said. “This is what I would consider the ultimate in Caesar salads.”

Organic ingredients and antibiotic-free proteins a key

The restaurant maintains its commitment to using fresh, mostly organic ingredients, and sustainable and hormone- and antibiotic-free proteins.

Continuity also is valued. Chris Nufrio, for example, has been the chef almost as long as the restaurant has been open.

The seared tuna ($29) is a creative take on salad nicoise. The fish, dusted with some Mediterranean flavors, is paired with thin French green beans, roasted organic beets, hardboiled egg, fingerling potatoes and a caper-Dijon dressing.

Preparation of the zinfandel-braised short ribs ($49), a frequent winter special, takes 48 hours, Malhame said.

First seared in a pan, they are braised in wine, vegetables, other seasonings and a pig's  trotter (pig's foot) for 12 hours. The foot, though not served on the plate, offers lots of collagen, which adds a lush mouthfeel to the dish, he said.

Braised short ribs at Third & Hollywood

“It’s really a delicious sauce, one of my favorite sauces," he said.

Moreover, the short ribs are chilled in the refrigerator until ordered and reheated sous-vide style and briefly broiled for texture. The meat is served with colcannon mashed potatoes and pan-roasted carrots.

Another regular seasonal special is the pan-seared Lake Erie walleye ($34), lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and coated in brioche breadcrumbs. Cooked in clarified butter, the mild fish maintains a crunchy exterior, but not overly so, Malhame said. It is served with an herbed aioli and mashed potatoes.

“It’s such a delicious fish and does so well in this recipe,” he said. “It is so light and crispy. I think the magic of our walleye, compared to other fish preparations, is how light and crisp that pan-frying is.”

Third & Hollywood’s prime filet ($48) gets a deluxe topping of bearnaise sauce, a serving of mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts for a comforting cold-weather dish.

“Between the herbal notes of the tarragon and acidity from the white wine, bearnaise — considering it’s predominantly butter — is a really well-balanced sauce that doesn’t come across as overly rich,” Malhame said.

Third & Hollywood

Where: 1433 W. 3rd Ave., Grandview Heights area

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays for lunch; 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays for brunch;  4:30 p.m. to close daily for dinner

Contact: 614-488-0303, https://www.thirdandhollywood.com/