20 March 2014

Red Brick Tap and Grill

The Red Brick Tap and Grill was thoroughly transformed by the owner of Easy Street Cafe. Walls once decorated with ghastly baseball caricatures now have been replaced by neon lights and a fun comic book montage. The cheap but limited bar has now been replaced by one with a wider selection of taps.

The bar changed through the years. The kitchen once sold DiGiornio Frozen Pizzas, advertising it as if the brand name were a badge of honor five years ago. The new menu is a big step up from those roots. 

The atmosphere also makes Red Brick more welcoming than it used to be. There are still plenty of dive bars in Merion Village if the place seems too refined for your tastes.

There is a decent amount of vegetarian items on the menu, which is classic pub grub including sandwiches, pizza, calzones and bar staples including soft pretzels that can be dipped in a rich beer cheese soup. There is a nice variety to the offerings.

The veggie burger is a grilled mushroom cap that has the perfect texture to deliver layers of smoky flavor. It is topped with spinach, artichoke, onions and mild white cheese.

The pizza, while certainly not good enough to knock Harvest off of its best pizza in the city pedestal, is certainly another excellent option for the neighborhood. The crust is a medium thick hand tossed pie available in small (12 inch) and large (16 inch) sizes as well as by the slice.

The veggie pizza is the Lisa Simpson. Topped with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, mozzarella, smoked tofu, red onions, peppers, tomatoes and black olives, the pizza has great balance. The tofu acts like a vegetarian sausage, adding a nice savory punch to the sweetness of the vegetables.

Service for the most part was excellent. Vegetarian questions were answered quickly and effectively. The floor was extremely short staffed on a recent weekend, creating a delay in seating and meal service that was inconvenient. However, this was not the case with later visits. The staff performed well even with the deck stacked against it for one evening. 

The bar can fill Red Brick growlers for home consumption. The televisions surrounding the dining room make the place a good spot to watch sports.

Red Brick Tap & Grill on Urbanspoon

04 March 2014

Club 185

Club 185 is a solid lunch, dinner and late-night dining option that I have overlooked writing about previously by mistakenly believing that I had written about the German Village pub before. I had not, and that means it was worth revisiting the popular spot that has anchored this part of the city since the 1950s.

The owners of Club 185 operate a mini-empire in Columbus with the Rossi, PhilCo, El Camino Inn and the Little Palace. There are a decent amount of vegetarian items on the menu at all of the places but El Camino. The menu at Club 185 revolves around pub fare and comfort food.

Most of the starters and sides are meatless. Most of the items on the menu contain eggs or cheese, so vegans would probably have to special request main courses.

Vegetarian appetizers include spinach artichoke dip, quesadillas and house-made chips and onion dip, as well as the salads. The cheesy black bean dip with house-made tortilla chips was tasty, although it was shimmering with a deep oily varnish that covered my hands in grease.

 Vegetarian entrees include the open-face veggie sandwich, the grilled cheese, pizza and a fried egg sandwich. The open-faced veggie sandwich is portobello mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, red onion and roasted red peppers atop melted provolone dressed in a bright green pesto that adds an herbaceous note that delivers a subtle hint of garlic. 

The grilled cheese sandwich is Havarti cheese between two griddled slices of Texas toast with a tomato. It is an elevated version of a classic dish many grew up loving.

The bar makes nice drinks and features a decent selection of beers with a few Ohio taps. Club 185 is a place that sometimes can be overlooked because it has been around for so long. With food this good in a convivial atmosphere, it is easy to enjoy.

Club 185 on Urbanspoon