Worthington Inn (Facebook / @WorthingtonInn)
649 High St. (map it!)
Worthington, OH 43085
Brunch served Sundays, 11am - 2pm
Accepts cash and credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? N/N/N
Date of Visit: Sunday, October 31, 2010 at 11:30 a.m.
IMPRESSIONS: Ah, the Worthington Inn. It is truly a Columbus institution. It's practically tied with the newly-reborn Jury Room downtown as the oldest operating restaurant in the city, since 1831. The Inn's building is as much an institution as their food. Since the 1800's, it has served variably as a house, a stagecoach stop, and a hotel, all the while operating as a restaurant in some form. Its current version maintains the food service, but the former hotel portion is now condos, and the upper floors are rent-able for private functions. On top of this rich and varied history, the Worthington Inn's Sunday brunch is consistently voted one of the best in the city. So it's time to check it out.
ATMOSPHERE: The Worthington Inn's brunch lies a little more on the formal side of things, but they manage to still keep it fairly casual. But the house itself supports the formal atmosphere. Enter the front door, and you'll find room after room of Victorian decorations, low ceilings, fireplaces, creaky floors, and plenty of old wood accents.
It's worth the trip just to wander from room to room for a bit. Seriously, some of these rooms make me want to grab a pipe, a beer, and a book, and find a big armchair.
There are three dining rooms on the main floor, plus the pub room where the buffet is laid out for you to attack.
The pub sports a nice, long bar with marble counter-tops, big mirrors, and glassware.
The Sunday brunch at Worthington Inn is popular, so you'd best make a reservation (especially with a group). It's priced at $21.95/person, and that includes the full buffet and drinks like coffee, tea, juice, soda, etc. Bloody Marys, mimosas, and Bellinis are also available. And they make every effort to use pretty high quality ingredients: Amish eggs, great cuts of meat, hollandaise made in-house, and so on.
FOOD: Let's take a stroll down the buffet line, shall we? I've had a few brunch buffets, and they can be hit or miss, but Worthington Inn seems able to avoid the major pitfalls like over-cooked food that sits for too long over the warmers. At the top of the line you'll find cold salads. Next come the veggies, such as green beans or a mixed vegetable medley.
There are also trays (not pictured here) of your breakfast standards: bacon, sausage, potatoes, and a whole tray of eggs benedict.
Every week, Chef Tom Smith and his crew create three specialties, too. The Sunday I visited they had beef ragu (pictured above)...
...and bistro chicken.
At the end of the line you'll find the gigantic tray of smoked salmon and peel-and-eat shrimp. Knock yourself out.
Aside from the main buffet line, you'll find two other tables. The first features an omelet station. Custom omelets, made to order.
There's also a waffle bar...
...plus prime rib sliced to order.
The other table is for desserts, all made in-house. Cookies, pies, cakes, what have you.
This is my first plate all loaded up: the three specialties, shrimp, bacon, sausage, and potatoes, plus an eggs benny. Like I said earlier, there can be a certain blah uniformity to buffet food, but I think Worthington Inn manages to keep things fresh enough - and the crowds are busy enough - that the food tastes great and doesn't get a chance to go stale. My only complaint was the uniform eggs benedict. I'm a huge fan of a good eggs benedict, and these were (necessarily) made in large batches.
SERVICE: I honestly didn't interact with the servers that much, mostly because of the buffet style, but everyone I did encounter was nice and helpful. Just what you'd expect from from a more upscale brunch. As a side note, you may see some of the upper floors in use if you go for any of the big "brunch holidays" like Easter, Mother's Day, etc. They open up the second floor and create another buffet line to serve everyone. Then the third floor (pictured above) is available for rentals, too. Like the first floor, the upper levels are decorated in that exquisite Victorian detail.
OVERALL: Yeah, it's a very good brunch. Consistently voted one of Columbus' favorites, and while you won't get anything too funky or off-the-wall here, I wouldn't call it stodgy either. Worthington Inn has a got the full package: classy location in downtown Old Worthington, well preserved old building with lots of character, and a very popular brunch. All very worthy of a visit.
-> the (614) Magazine write-up on brunch spots (including Worthington Inn)