Manifesto, launched by the owners nearby deNovo Bistro & Bar, opened November 12th right next to the Ohio Theatre, welcomely joining the sparse club of downtown bars/restaurants that are open late into the night.
Leather chairs and booths, darkly gradient walls and a mounted bull skull help put the “man” in Manifesto, and are nicely complemented by soft lighting and a nine foot tall rustic chandelier drawing your eye upward. A wide white border, stretching from the downstairs bar, up the winding staircase and to the loft dining area, features portraits of every president from Washington to Obama, each paired with one of their most famous quotes – some stately, some inspiring, some amusing (“It depends on what the meaning of the words ‘is’ is.”) The effect of it all is warm and captivating.
After perusing the cocktail menu I ordered the Corpse Reviver, made with Bombay Sapphire, Cointreau, Cocchi Americano and fresh squeezed lemon with an Absinthe rinse. The licorice taste (I hate licorice) from the Absinthe, upon first sip, was a pleasant mild aftertaste, but after a few more sips took over my palate. Yes, I know Absinthe tastes like licorice so no, I shouldn’t have ordered it.
Eight other cocktails round out the menu at Manifesto, including the Sister Maria (Dewars, Cointreau, lemon, orange bitters), Scottish Flower (Glenmorangie, St. Germain, Cocchi Americano), and a Jalapeno Peach Martini (with Ciroc Peach, Peach Schnapps, Amaretto, muddled jalapeno, blood orange juice). The wine menu boasts seven reds and seven whites available by the glass ($7-$10) and another two dozen available by the bottle, ranging from $32-$151. A handful of craft beer bottles and drafts join a lineup of standard domestics and imports.
But the centerpiece of Manifesto is the scotch list with over 40 different available selections, ranging from $7 to $32 a glass. Scotland’s varying whisky regions are represented, spanning the soft and light varieties from The Lowlands (Auchentoshan) to the nonspecific flavors of The Highlands (Dalwhinnie, Glenmorangie) to the mossy smokiness from Islay (Bowmore, Laphroaig) to the sweet, fruity malts from Speyside (Glenlivet, Glenrothes, Macallan.) The many Scottish family names beginning with “Glen” are joined by the rainbow of offerings from Johnnie Walker, including the beloved Blue label.
Happy hour is available Monday through Friday from 3:30-6:30pm, offering half off beers, $5 wine pours and $4 and $5 select scotch pours. Manifesto’s happy hour also includes a discount on flatbreads and paninis, so I started with the namesake Manifesto flatbread topped with goat cheese, caramelized onions, cherry tomatoes, hazelnuts and pesto prosciutto. As a lover of all things flatbread and cheese, I loved this. Steak & Gorgonzola flatbread, I’m coming for you next time.
Most of Manifesto’s menu is tapas, with only a couple entree options. I tried the meatball sliders, served on mini brioche buns with mozzarella cheese and spicy marinara sauces, and the eggplant rotelli, filled with provolone cheese and prosciutto and topped with spicy Marinara and fresh mozzarella. Both were enjoyable, and two small plates plus the flatbread proved to be a filling and delicious dinner for two.
I ordered a Bells Double Cream Stout to finish the meal. The bottle was served far too cold for the style, but no matter – I poured it into the proffered pint glass and it warmed quickly enough to properly enjoy with dessert. I ordered the Tiramisu and was presented with a tower of magically moist cake topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, drizzled with chocolate and caramel. It had barely landed on the table before it was devoured.
Manifesto is sure to attract the admiration of statehouse politicos, downtown corporate execs, Ohio Theater patrons, Scotch lovers and anyone who appreciates good food, good drink and good ambiance.
Manifesto is located at 21 East State Street and open Monday-Thursday 8am-1am, Friday 7am-2am, Saturday 11am-2am and Sunday 11am-11pm.