It’s official: the financial crisis that has plagued us for the past three years has been dubbed the Great Recession. Most of us just want to get through it and move forward, but times like these evoke strong sentiments for the ease of yesteryear. Now more than ever, people crave being swathed in the comfort of the memory quilt. Maybe that’s due to the simple and sweet familiarity associated with all things throwback. There’s a time and place for Moby and soy lattes, and it sure as heck ain’t today. The Top Steak House in the east Columbus neighborhood of Bexley is enjoying its own retro-reveling resurgence, as we experienced on a recent bustling Saturday night.
Founded in 1955, The Top pays genuine homage to post-war American supper clubs. This is a place where the lighting is dark, the leather is red, and Sinatra albums enjoy permanent residence in the stereo system. At The Top, your order for a Gibson martini will be met with a bowtied bartender’s knowing eyes. The menu boasts an array of char-broiled meats and chops, and all dinners come with a choice of hefty side dishes. Although the entrée prices aren’t Great-Recession-proof, The Top’s bar menu offers burgers and sandwiches from $8 to $14. My favorite feature of the place, other than its (rumored) secret back entrance for paramours, is that it hosts live music seven nights a week. As we perched ourselves at the copper-topped bar and chatted with the 75-year-old man sitting next to us in “his” barstool, we pondered the thousands of clandestine conversations that have ensued there and snickered at the old ladies in the corner wrapped in their diamonds and fur. Even though we’re going to crawl out of this recession, places like this will still entice old timers, hipsters, and everyone in between with classic cuisine, and more importantly, loungy spunk.