It has been way too long since we loved the locals around here! Don’t worry, the Mr. and I are still eating our way through Columbus, but lately we’ve been stuck in a bit of a rut. We have about 10 restaurants that we really love, and since we don’t eat out super often we like to return to those places when we get the chance.
Lately, one of the restaurants that’s worked it’s way into that top 10 spot is the Olde Towne Tavern, a new(ish) restaurant and bar that’s located at the corner of Oak St. and 18th St.
First off, can I just say how crazy thrilled I am that this little corner now boasts not just one, but THREE fabulous eateries? When the Mr. and I moved to the neighborhood that corner was just a row of forgotten, neglected apartment buildings. Now it holds our favorite pizza place, a classy little bakery, and a brand new Tavern. Yay for new businesses!
The inside of The Tavern is, for the most part, what you’d expect from a tavern. It has a long bar on one side and several high bar tables on the other. It’s dimly lit and just a little bit noisy, but in the good, neighborhood hot spot kind of way. What’s most exciting about The Tavern is it’s patio space. Hallelujah, there’s a patio in Olde Towne East! The patio has a cozy and secluded feel, only improved by the recent addition of a fire pit. It’s a great place to hang out and relax on a summer night.
But, now, for the food. That’s the most important part right?
The Tavern’s menu centers around appetizers, salads, pizza, and sandwiches. The appetizer menu has standard fare-quesadillas, nachos, wings, sliders, mozzarella. I haven’t tried all of the appetizers, but what I have tried was all quite good. The wings come bone-in in with either BBQ or buffalo sauce. The nachos are served just as I like them, on a GIANT plate that’s stacked at least 6 inches high. Hey, if I’m having nachos, I want some NACHOS.
But the real star of the appetizer list are the soft pretzels. Oh, sweet, soft, puffy, golden, salty pretzel goodness. These babies are homemade, browned and buttery on the outside, and light and fluffy on the inside. I promise they would hold up against Auntie Anne’s any day. They come with both honey mustard and queso for dipping, both of which pair nicely with the sweet, buttery pretzels. These are a must-try.
I’ve only tried one of the Tavern’s salads, aptly named The Tavern Salad. It’s nothing earth shattering, but it has a good balance of avocado, tomato, bacon, egg, and blue cheese. The half salad is usually more than enough to fill me up…they’re quite large (see photo–that’s the HALF!) They also offer a Spinach Salad with walnuts and feta and a Monkey Salad that includes tuna and salami, a combination I’m intrigued by, but not brave enough to try just yet.
And now, for the sandwiches. I love to see a place like this take their food seriously, and the sandwiches are where The Tavern really proves they’re more than just a bar. There are classics like The French Dip and Tavern Turkey, but thing start to get interesting with The Tavern’s reinvention of the grilled cheese.
Now, I’ll admit, I’m always a sucker for a grilled cheese. As embarrassing as this is to admit, I could be happy with some Wonder Bread and a Kraft single as long as it was buttered and grilled. Still, I appreciate when the grilled cheese gets some special treatment–and that’s just what The Tavern has done.
Among the choices are the Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese, the Buffalo Bleu Grilled Cheese, the Red Masher Grilled Cheese, and the Bartlett Pear Grilled Cheese. I’ve tried them all, and they’re each fantastic, but the one that most surprised me was the Red Masher. I was skeptical about putting mashed potatoes and broccoli in a sandwich, but this idea turned out to be spot on. On a cold winter’s day, the mixture of creamy mashed potatoes, melted cheese, and bits of bacon and broccoli all between grilled bread is the ULTIMATE in comfort food. The picture below features the Buffalo Bleu Grilled Cheese…irresistible.
As if I didn’t already have enough to love about this place, the Tavern recently added fish tacos to their menu in celebration of their 1 year anniversary. The Mr. and I are both big fans of fish tacos, but up until a few weeks ago, we still hadn’t found a fish taco in Columbus that really knocked our socks off. That’s all changed. The Tavern’s tacos are exactly what I want in a fish taco. The fish is flavorful and tender, with a perfectly blackened skin. It’s topped with a crunchy cabbage mixture and cilantro sauce, and served with a side of warm black beans and spicy mango and tomato salsa.
There’s a lot to love at this little spot. Trust me, it’s much more than a neighborhood bar. If you like good food, this place is worth a visit, whether you’re just around the corner or on the other side of the freeway.The Olde Towne Tavern 889 Oak St. Columbus, OH 43205 Website: http://theoldetownetavern.com/