Report Card: Columbus Brewing Company

Columbus Brewing Company in downtown Columbus

Columbus Brewing Company in downtown Columbus

Columbus Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

http://www.columbusbrewingco.com/

 

Overall GrubGrade A-

 

The Breakdown:

 

Atmosphere: Grade B-: Before we officially get into talking about Columbus Brewing Company (CBC), we would like to point out that in addition to myself and Katina giving our opinions on the experience, our daughter, Morgan decided to not only grace us with her presence, but she also piped in with some really good observations. Columbus Brewing Company can be a little hard to find, so if you’re en route and feel like you might have missed it, keep going. I always feel like it’s just past where it should be, if that makes any sense. Morgan thought it looked better on the inside than outside, and we have to agree. But, the outside isn’t bad, even though Morgan thought it looked like a car service station. The inside was clean and decked out with fairly contemporary décor. Our previous experience with Columbus Brewing Company is that it can get pretty crowded since 1/3 of the interior seems to be devoted to the massive bar, which only allows for limited seating. You can see the fermenting vats through the glass along the back wall, which is pretty neat. And, much to Morgan’s delight, the restrooms were clean and elegant – she was amazed they had lotion in them. We visited Columbus Brewing Company on a Saturday for brunch. This was our first brunch at CBC, although we’ve eaten there for dinner service on a number of occasions. It was pretty busy, so the place was just a touch noisy. CBC should have gotten at least an A in this category, but they made a crucial error. When we arrived, the hostess was folding some T-shirts and rummaging around (I am assuming she was looking for a particular size for someone). She did not acknowledge us at all, so we stood there for 5 minutes waiting for someone to notice us. Finally, a passing server seated us. The hostess should have delegated that responsibility quickly to someone else once she figured out she wasn’t going to be able to take care of us while she folded the laundry. Contact with the hostess is the first contact diners have with the restaurant staff, usually, and therefore sets the tone for the entire experience. That little faux pas cost CBC at least a letter grade, and is probably the only reason their overall grade wasn’t in the A range. Don’t worry, we will definitely be back to grade a dinner service, as our previous experience with CBC had been exceptional.

High marks: Contemporary décor, elegant restrooms, clean and spacious

Low marks: Service station-like exterior, ignored by hostess

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Service: Grade A: We included the issue with the hostess in the atmosphere category because it set the tone for the experience and we didn’t want to penalize our server if they turned out to be really good. We are glad we made that decision, because Emily, our server, was able to quickly get our experience on track. Emily was personable and attentive without hovering, which is a nice skill to have. She even brought me a sample of a stout beer they had just tapped, and I didn’t even have to ask her for it. Food came out at a nice pace, and there were no errors with the service. We would wager that Emily would probably knock out an A+ service if we would have been there for dinner. Her opportunities to wow us were a little limited since we were there for brunch.

High marks: Personable, accurate, and quick service

Low marks:   Wish it would have been dinner service so she could really impress us

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Food/Spirits: Grade A-: From previous experience, we know that Columbus Brewing Company is home to the best appetizer that we’ve had so far. Of course we had to order it, but since Morgan was with us and has an unhealthy infatuation with pretzels, we had to get two appetizers. We opted for the Wood Fired Pretzel Bread and the Hot and Sour Fried Calamari. The pretzel bread was awesome. It came with both a creamy cheese sauce and a yellow mustard sauce that had a nice little kick to it. The pretzels themselves were warm and soft. The Hot and Sour Fried Calamari, which has always been our consensus pick as the best appetizer we’ve tasted to date, was disappointing. The sauce, which is nice and thick and sour with a spicy kick, was served on the side. Previously, the calamari was tossed in the sauce. Our advice for CBC is to go back to tossing the calamari. Plus, the chunks of calamari were a little tough, so they probably weren’t quite cooked to perfection. The dish also came dressed with chunks of what looked like oranges, which really did nothing but make some of the breading on the calamari soggy. Katina and Morgan both drank iced tea, but I wasn’t going to a brewery without getting a beer or two. I started with CBC’s Razz Wheat, which was a wheat beer with a hint of raspberry flavor. It has a sweet flavor but was well balanced. After finishing that beer, I selected the Plaid Ferret Scottish Ale by Weasel Boy Brewery in Zanesville, Ohio. It arrived in what looked like a glass beer can, which was neat. The beer itself was very dark brown. It was smooth and slightly bitter with a touch of sweetness. Overall, it was much milder than the color would suggest. It was a really excellent beer. Katina ordered the Orange Glaze Salmon for her entrée. She felt like the salmon portion was a little small. The glaze was tasty but not too sweet. She thought the sticky rice had good flavor and a bit of sweetness, but needed a little more sauce. I ordered the Cajun Jambalaya. It came with a robust sauce that had just a bit of kick to it. The entire dish was perfectly cooked and surprisingly meaty. I usually find jambalaya thin on the meat and heavy on everything else, but this version had more than enough meat. There was plenty of chicken, shrimp, salmon, and Andouille sausage to make the dish almost perfectly balanced (though I could have used more sausage since it’s my favorite). Here’s where we hit the pleasant surprise during the meal. Morgan selected the Chicken and Waffles, and by the end of the meal Katina and I wished we would have ordered the same thing as Morgan. The chicken came with a cornflake breading, and Morgan ate the chicken breast so fast we’re not sure how much she tasted it. She did comment that it was a little salty but she thought it was delicious. This was her first chicken and waffles, so she didn’t realize the chicken and waffles were supposed to be eaten together. The waffle itself was perfect, with just a hint of vanilla in the mix. Then the kitchen staff at CBC decided to top the waffle with honey butter and maple syrup. Morgan couldn’t tell where the butter ended and the syrup began. The waffle tasted sweet, and the butter and syrup just enhanced it. You could sauté a boot in honey butter and slather it with maple syrup like that found at CBC and I’ll eat it and ask for seconds as I choke down the shoelaces. Absolutely amazing — this now gives us more reasons to hit CBC when we’re downtown.

High marks: Chicken & waffles = heaven, good beer, good jambalaya   

Low marks: Calamari not as good as on previous visits, salmon portion a little small

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Value: Grade C+: Again, this category holds the least amount of weight in determining the overall grade. Columbus Brewing Company had high quality food, and you get what you pay for. We found brunch to be a little more expensive than we expected, but we highly recommend you go to the Columbus Brewing Company for brunch. And get the Chicken and Waffles for Pete’s sake.

High marks: Great quality

Low marks: A little pricey

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