Brian Hinshaw wanted to create an instant classic with The Barn at Rocky Fork Creek. “I grew up in Columbus, so I remember all the old kinds of steakhouses, the ones my parents used to take us to Sundays after church with paper napkins and big, long buffets,” says the corporate executive chef of Cameron Mitchell Restaurants. To create the upscale-casual Gahanna steakhouse menu, Hinshaw combined a touch of nostalgia with the chic appeal of New York City steakhouses and the all-pleasing attitude of the famed Angus Barn in North Carolina. Hinshaw shares a sneak peek behind The Barn’s rustic red-and-white barn doors, slated to open in late summer.
What’s on the menu?
This is nothing-fancy, straightforward food. This is not Ocean Club pricing, either, with [The Barn] soups and salads for $5 to $6, appetizers around $8 and steaks around $19 to start. The menu is a lot more versatile, and it’s not just for steak eaters. We have about 12 to 15 seafood options.
What separates The Barn from other Cameron Mitchell steakhouse concepts?
The Barn has its own cut house. Because we will be cutting our own meat, we will be utilizing a lot of that excess trim and can use it in our soups and stroganoff. The cut house is separated from the eating area by a big glass wall, so you can see the workers applying our prime rib rub and rolling it out to our smoker. We have a separate smokehouse that’s out back and can smoke up to 300 pounds of meat at one time. This is going to be a very labor-intensive process; our ribs alone are going to take about 14 hours a day.
What else will you be making in house?
There is a bakery in the front of The Barn where we will be making all our own bread and pies. Our baker will be doing pies and ice cream for The Barn, as well as breads, pies and other desserts for our other locations.
You call the restaurant “casual upscale.” What does that look like?
Whether you want to come in for a family dinner or you want to sit down and have a beer and a $15 meal, this has something for everyone. The patio is very scenic and has a big fire pit surrounded by Adirondack chairs for lounging. It seats about 75 people, and you can actually see the smoke coming from the smokehouse as you eat. The patio will have its own bar, and hanging lights will keep the patio bright.
What’s this we hear about a bourbon bar?
The bar inside is our special bourbon bar. We went to Woodford Reserve in Kentucky to design our own bourbons and came back with two different blends. Our blends have a little more of a toasted flavor than a Woodford Reserve because we lightly toasted the barrels to give the bourbon a more earthy taste with butterscotch and caramel high notes. We have our bourbon barrels lining the bar, and we have at least 60 bourbons outside of our special blends available. Also in barrels, we have a blend of Manhattans, and we even designed large ice cubes that will perfectly match our bourbons and cocktails. We will have specialty crackers and hors d’oeuvres at the bar to complement the bourbon.
Photos by Tim Johnson