Leaving one’s parents’ kitchen is one of the toughest but most gratifying transitions to make in going to college. Eating independence might lead to poor habits, entailing hitting up the local fried chicken finger eatery and the late-night gyro booth parked right along High Street more often than your body would want. However, we are young, and the bulk of college-aged youths have bodies nimble enough to fight through the grease and overly-breaded snacks with little to no detriment.
After close to four years of such eating, Ethyl & Tank, the newest addition to Ohio State’s off-campus restaurant detail, has finally outdone my body. I write this review more than 24 hours after a Saturday lunch and I have finally learned what indigestion is, or what I presume it to be based on my dad’s reaction to red meat.
It was the Back to Beirut burger that did it — laid on an orange cafeteria tray, following a $5 appetizer of “hot” seasoned waffle fries. Maybe not the best decision, but hey, I’ve done it before. Costing just under $10, the all-beef patty was topped with coleslaw, lettuce, tomato and fries, served with classic gastropub decor — a steak knife — to hold it together. The meal did not “hit the spot,” but, in actuality, was rather bland and forgettable. For a hamburger joint, I would scurry across the street to the Five Guys for something satisfying of the beef-and-bun nature.
The bar-meets-coffee-shop-meets-restaurant did excel in the beverage realm. Ethyl & Tank, alongside Short North’s Mission Coffee Co., is the only other spot in Columbus that serves the superbly roasted Deeper Roots coffee, based in Cincinnati. Before my stomach could handle food, I nabbed a cup of Ethiopia’s Amaro Gayo Natural coffee to settle in to the surroundings. Although the barista seemed to know more about the coffee itself than how to operate a clever (a coffee brewing method, sort of a hybrid between French press and pour over), the $3 coffee, a fair price for a hand-crafted cup, was nonetheless exceptional. Ethyl & Tank truly has truly established itself as a new go-to spot on campus for a pick-me-up.
The bar is also something to be reckoned with. It boasts 20-some draft beers, including microbrews and big-name domestics alike. There is even cold-brewed coffee and a house beer with the restaurant’s namesake, Tank Water, on draft (described as “light lager” on the menu, served at $3 a pint — think Pabst Blue Ribbon.)
It is important to stress that Ethyl and Tank is not a failure. The restaurant is still in its embryonic stages — Saturday marked its third day open, its second in serving food. With the backing of The Crest and Fourth Street founders, I expect the food will improve with time. Meanwhile, it is advisable to take baby steps toward the subsistence menu and go for coffee, or stick to boozing instead.