Rose Davidson / Lantern photographer
Restaurant Week: Columbus, a six-day event in which more than 70 area restaurants offer discounted three-course, fixed price meals, began Monday. “(614) Magazine” puts on the event twice a year in an effort to encourage people in Columbus to support local dining establishments.
My roommate and I decided to take advantage of the great deals offered through the event and ate at Columbus Brewing Company, a restaurant in the Brewery District offering $20 meals throughout the week.
When we walked in, we were impressed by the whimsical, rustic dÃ©cor of the restaurant. Aside from the bright red color of the wall opposite the entrance, the restaurant’s most noticeable features were the lightly colored imitation tree trunks that ran from floor to ceiling at a few points around the dining area. To the right of the entrance was the bar area, and behind it was a large “Columbus Brewing Company” logo placed atop a burnt orange wall. Wood floors gave the restaurant a classic, finished look and the bustling open kitchen toward the back provided an energetic vibe that spilled out into the dining room.
We had made a reservation, though the restaurant was only about half-full when we arrived. We were seated as soon as we entered and the visit got off to a good start. Our waitress quickly greeted us and we ordered our drinks and all three courses at the same time.
For the first course, I chose the beer-battered asparagus fries with Sriracha ranch sauce, normally $7.95, and my roommate ordered the Manchego cheese dip with corn tortillas, which did not appear on the regular menu. The appetizers arrived promptly and we shared so we could each get a taste of the other’s dish. The asparagus fries were hot and crispy and the Sriracha ranch offered a slight kick that complemented them well. Some spears were more difficult to bite into than others, but I turned to cutting them with a knife and things went smoothly from there. The cheese dip was tasty as well – the light, creamy cheese went nicely with the salty chips, but the dip was not as thick as I’d expected.
Our waitress then brought us some complimentary bread – seven slices, topped with a bit of garlic and served with warm herb butter. Our second course arrived very soon after, though almost too quickly because we were still finishing the appetizers.
I got a cup of the fire-roasted tomato soup with crumbled gorgonzola cheese, offered on the regular lunch menu at $3.95. It was one of the best tomato soups I’ve ever tasted, probably because of the flavor added by the gorgonzola. There were also a few croutons placed on top of the soup, but they became soggy quite quickly and were only enjoyable for the first minute or two. My roommate had the winter greens salad (also not listed on the regular menu), which she said she enjoyed as well.
The meal began to go downhill after the second course, as the waitress came to clear away our dishes and took our bread plates before we had finished the bread. She then told us to hold onto our silverware, but we had nowhere to set it down as she had cleared away all the dishes. There was about a 10-minute lag before the arrival of the third course, and we didn’t see our waitress at all during that time. The restaurant didn’t appear to be overly busy, so we saw no immediate explanation for why this happened.
When the third course finally came I was once again intrigued by the creative taste combinations. I had ordered the pecan-crusted chicken (originally $15.95 for a dinner portion), which came topped with pale ale honey mustard and was served on a bed of herb mashed potatoes and a skillet sweet corn sautÃ©. The chicken was tender with a crispy coating, and the sweet honey mustard provided a nice balance to the nutty crust. The mashed potatoes were creamy with a hint of garlic, and the buttery corn sautÃ© contained a savory mixture of diced onions and peppers. Overall, the dish was an ideal blend of simple comfort foods with innovative twists. My roommate loved her orange-glazed salmon with sticky rice and green beans, typically $17.95 for a dinner portion, but she was disappointed to find a small sliver of fish bone in one bite.
It took another 10 minutes or so to pay our bills after the meal, but I ended up saving $7.85 through the Restaurant Week deal. Aside from the mediocre service, I’d say this restaurant is a promising place to find a feel-good meal, and overall the visual presentation of the plates is clean and elegant. I only wish the restaurant would put as much effort into its service as it does into its flavors and presentation.
Columbus Brewing Company is located at 525 Short St. Restaurant Week: Columbus runs through Saturday evening.