CD102.5's bar takes up the quirky, creative mantle for imbibing

CD102.5's bar takes up the quirky, creative mantle for imbibing

The Big Room Baris the answer for those who miss Betty's and Surly Girl Saloon. Both Short North spots closed in 2015, leaving a void that is now filled. Led by some of the kitchen crew behind Betty's and Surly Girl, the Big Room Bar has taken up the mantle of quirky bar with creative food and drink menus.

It should be noted that the Big Room Bar takes its identity from CD102.5 FM, calling itself "the bar with a radio problem." The alternative rock station moved to 1036 S. Front St. in 2011. Until recently, the station used the upper floor of its building as the Big Room, a small venue for on-air concerts and special events. (The studios occupy the lower floor.) Last year the station added a full-service restaurant on the top floor, tacked "Bar" onto the Big Room's name and threw open the doors to the public. The building once served as the Swiss Chalet Party Haus, and many menu items nod to the location's Swiss heritage.

True to CD102.5's nature, there's a heavy music theme throughout. Guitars hang on the wall. The bar also features an eclectic mix of live music most nights and during Sunday brunch. The open floor plan is usually arranged with a series of small tables, but a few booths far off to the side are available, as are plentiful seats along the bar.

The food menu is focused on salads, sandwiches, burgers and entrees like the Chalet Mac and Cheese ($11). The creamy Beat on the Brat Dip ($11) has proven especially popular, and rightfully so. The bar also offers a build-your-own menu; diners can customize a hot dog, burger or fried tofu with toppings of their choice.

The food and drink menus benefit from being focused. Rather than sprawling menus with too many options to take in, they're specialized; they offer enough creative choices while making it easy to understand in one perusal.

The Big Room Bar features a dozen craft beers on tap ($6-7), with roughly 10 of them coming from around Ohio. The selection rotates with the season, but locals like Seventh Son, Barley's and Columbus Brewing Company are often represented, with Ohio breweries like Great Lakes Brewing, Jackie O's and Rhinegeist also earning regular spots.

Cocktails are likewise creative and musically themed, like the Andy Manhattan named for late program director and DJ "Andyman" Davis, or The Flaming Lips made with a jalapeno-infused vodka. Diners looking to explore food and drink at discounted prices should seek out the happy hour, Wednesdays through Fridays from 4–8 p.m. Select Ohio beers are $3, while domestic beers, wines and well drinks are also discounted.