Get your feet wet - and your whistle

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The Pub

Throughout BJ's warehouse-huge three rooms, delicate little chandeliers mingle with disparate elements such as exposed brick walls, a spate of sports-tuned tubes, industrial garage doors, artsy black-and-white photos, a striking backlit bar and even the odd nod to high art from Magritte, Dali and Jasper Johns.

Well, what else would you expect from a chain that emerged from a Chicago-style pizzeria - in California (!) - and moved into the suddenly trendy microbrewing business a couple of decades later? Sound unfocused or opportunistic? Don't sweat it, because BJ's mammoth Columbus establishment is comfy, whole-family-friendly and apparently committed to something-for-everyone.

The Brew

While BJ's house beer is not actually produced on its Polaris outlet's premises, the company's own suds are poured there in several proven-popular styles. From the Brewhouse Blonde (malty, but will taste familiar to domestic drinkers) to the clovey, Blue Moon-ish Hefeweizen to the hoppy Piranha Pale Ale to the simple slugger entitled Red, BJ's makes light-bodied, eager-to-please beers perfect for novices easing into stronger-flavored micro-quaffs.

The Grub

Like its space, BJ's food is huge and all over the place. Its Cheesecake Factory-like menu spotlights a team of football-sized over-stuffed baked potatoes, behemoth burgers, a swamp of spicy jambalaya and plates piled with pasta.

BJ's signature Chicago-style pizzas are beer-friendly and reliably good - they arrive deep-walled with toasty, fat-fortified crusts (try the meat-tastic BJ's Favorite). For a smaller but also cold-one-compatible nosher, try the Avocado Egg Rolls - ungreasy, crispy jackets stuffed plump with bright green, rich avocado and cream cheese and leavened with a mild measure of chipotle heat.