Hearty fare and a sense of humor

Chef Rick Lopez has a knack for creating the convivial neighborhood restaurant. At La Tavola, he brought rustic Italian fare to Grandview. At Lupo, he introduced Spanish tapas and craft cocktails to Upper Arlington. Now, at The Old Spot, named after a heritage breed of pig, Lopez dives into good old American-meets-British tavern fare, with serious carnivorous leanings. 

After Harvest’s short-lived stint at the First Avenue address, Lopez and his wife, Krista, partnered with Tony Tanner, owner of The Butcher & Grocer, and Matt Evans, an investor in The Butcher & Grocer, to open The Old Spot. In the fall, Lopez hired Samantha Nipps (his former sous chef at La Tavola) to lead the kitchen.

You can imagine stumbling into The Old Spot after a hike in the Scottish Highlands—well, almost. It’s not a fancy joint but one with a sense of humor, hearty fare and pints to be had at the bar. Paisley designs and porcine art decorate the walls, and pressed tin covers the ceilings. Your bill might arrive in a well-worn copy of Voltaire’s “Candide.” And you may find Tanner chatting with restaurant guests when he’s not two doors down at his butcher shop, where this tavern sources its sustainably raised Ohio meats.

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Instead of charcuterie to share, there’s an eye-popping sausage board that includes a changing array of cheeses and pickled veggies. Alternatively, the Charcuter-V Board offers one of the only vegetarian options.

Sandwiches, like the burger and the Mother Clucker, are standouts, the latter revived from the Lopezes’ defunct Knead Urban Diner. (Overheard by a mom in the dining room: “I hate to say it, I’ll take the Mother Clucker.”) A juicy piece of buttermilk-fried chicken is layered with the butcher shop’s bacon, roasted poblano pepper, aioli, honey and lettuce on a brioche bun. Pair the sandwich with the perfectly crispy fingerlings, which can also be loaded up with cheese and sour cream.

Finally, the meat pie, which is served in a mini casserole dish, will leave you thinking longingly about its delicious crust and pot roast-like interior that stays steaming hot long after serving.

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