Hot on the heels of the opening of his Worthington spot Joya’s Cafe, chef Avishar Barua is launching his latest restaurant Agni this week! Named after the Hindu god of fire, Agni is all about fire cooking, which means lots of smoking, grilling, and having fun with fire.
Agni is moving into the former South High Street space of Ambrose & Eve, which unfortunately closed during the pandemic. The building has undergone a renovation that retains the same general layout and warm touches of the previous tenant.
Throughout, you’ll find nods to Avishar’s Bengali and Midwestern heritage, infused with the playfulness that shines through in his cooking.
The drinks menu features wines by the glass and bottle and a collection of cocktails that are fun updates to classic libations. Pictured are the Cubra Libre and the Jack + Coke.
The Jack + Coke, for example, takes its two namesake ingredients and adds a bit of tamarind and a hint of smoke.
I’m not going to describe everything on the menu, as that will surely change over time. But it is currently structured as a tasting menu. Each seat in your reservation will have multiple courses, with little surprises and additions along the way.
But suffice it to say, we love eating Avishar’s food, from his adventures long ago at Veritas in Delaware to his time running the Service Bar kitchen at Joya’s Cafe, which we actively owe resist visiting every day.
During the preview with friends and family, we managed to say hello to the chef, who kindly risked getting burned by posing in front of the hot grill.
Wood-fired cooking like this is taking off in Columbus, with places like FYR at the Hilton Tower, Nomad at Polaris and the upcoming Hiraeth from the owners of Chapman’s. These specialty grills feature movable shelves so chefs can smoke, sear, grill and more.
Agni has a small chef’s table that faces the grill. It will surely be a difficult place to reserve, but be aware that the grill gives off a lot of heat.
Walking down the hall to the back of the restaurant (and you should definitely check out the murals in the bathrooms) you will see the kitchen.
Again, I won’t describe everything here, but you can be sure there’s plenty to relish, with dishes that start out familiar but take surprising or inventive turns.
And of course, you will find with an amazing dessert that draws inspiration from familiar flavors if you know Avishar.
I’m sure you can say that even after just one visit, we wholeheartedly recommend Agni. We’ve been longtime Avishar fans, so it was an easy sell, but after years of knocking it out of the park at local restaurants, proudly representing Columbus on Excellent chefdoing amazing stuff at Joya – he’s really becoming his own, and the dining in Columbus is only the better for it.
(And if you’ve never been to Joya’s, you can find out more here, then you must visit for a kati roll or fried rice or a double cheese crisp or a breakfast sandwich or all of that!)
Agni is currently open Wednesday through Sunday, 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Reservations can be booked on their website: dineatagni.com/reservations
716 S. High St.
Columbus, Ohio 43206