Liz Lessner-affiliated restaurant openings always bring a remarkable level of frenzied anticipation, and so the excitement surrounding Grass Skirt tiki bar was palpable. This latest concept is perhaps Columbus Food League's most ambitious yet -- a slightly macabre take on a Polynesian tiki culture, complete with huge skull chandelier, psychedelic lava wall and a collection of drinks refined by local tikiphiles. And, on the cold, rainy Tuesday when I made it in for the first time, it was the perfect escape from Ohio.
The real attraction here are deceptively strong rum drinks: two real-deal mai tais, the classic Blue Hawaiian, Navy Grog No. 2 (a potent cocktail exported from our city's most famous tiki bar, the Kahiki), a Dark and Stormy, and my favorite, the Coconaut -- a delicious combination of dark rum, cream of coconut and fresh lime juice. Here's that drink:
As for the food, well, it's hard to say right now because they're serving a limited menu until the staff gets more in the swing of things. For now, the small plates and snacks are more utilitarian than anything, and priced dirt cheap. Here's what I tried:
Chicken Curry Sliders: curried chicken salad spiked with cashews, topped with fresh grilled pineapple on toasted Hawaiian rolls.
Hawaiian Burgers: Beef burgers topped with Swiss, fresh grilled pineapple, grilled green onions and teriyaki aioli on toasted Hawaiian rolls.
Veggie Spring Rolls
Sweet Potato Wedges
And there were only a handful of things I didn't try: an edamame appetizer with sriracha sea salt, and Spam and Swiss sliders on those same toasted Hawaiian rolls. According to Facebook, they'll be introducing a new dish this weekend: Loco Moco, a traditional Hawaiian meal of white rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg and gravy.
105 N. Grant Ave., Downtown