Restaurant review: Bar 145 offers burgers, bourbon and restaurant trends

G.A. Benton, Columbus Alive

Bar 145 is probably the next logical step for corporate chains. Embracing most every restaurant trend from the past decade - whether passe or not - this new Grandview operation (with siblings in Toledo and Kent) arduously name-drops "foie gras," "confit" and "truffle fries" while commodifying terms like "gastropub," "local" and "artisanal."

Bar 145 also curiously courts "hip-cred" by making sure you know its servers, who were graciously accommodating on my visits, all don red Converse tennis shoes. If you're impressed by this footwear and the very concept of a gastropub - and you dig an unceasing mix of relentlessly upbeat commercial-radio-style music - then you might be a prospective 145 fan.

Huge and flashy, 145 naturally features garage doors, sporty TVs (tuned to SEC women's basketball when Thad Matta's team was playing recently), two floors and a stage for frat-party-friendly bands in its industrial and airy space. There are also mixed-font, all-over-the-map menus more easily digested over a drink.

About a dozen taps are offered, about half from local breweries. But the beverage 145 hangs its backwards-worn cap on is bourbon. As it should. Over 30 are offered, many of them terrific (shh: Pappy is in the house, if unmentioned on the menu). Woodford Reserve and Grand Marnier were used in my citrusy and not-too-sweet 145th Manhattan ($9).

Food-wise, if you only eat one thing here - and that might not be a bad strategy - opt for the fried duck confit leg "Bar Wings" ($8). Ignoring duck's affinity for sweetness, that meaty, crispy, "Frenched" and simple-pepper-sauced quartet was nonetheless fun-eating. Its plate-mate (a shaved veggie salad) was unencumbered by flavor or appealing textures.

Ditto for the large, popsicle-sticked Foie Gras Meatballs ($8), which had negligible foie character. Actually, other than beef, filler, a garlic whiff and a dilute-to-the-point-of-scientifically-impressive "blackberry jam," they had little flavor at all.

The Winter Caesar Salad ($9) bore an intriguing grill-scorch. But tack on weary lettuce, an undetectable dressing, ponderous tomato pulp on the bottom (which conjured up the demise of a same-named Roman emperor), limp and chilly Parmesan toast (Et tu crouton?) and then fall, Caesar!

In case you've wondered, 145 takes its name from the temperature of a medium-rare hamburger. So burgers - I was told the meat was ground in-house - are prominent here. I tried both the Simpleton (with bacon, mushrooms, caramelized onions and gobs of cream cheese, $11) and the Balsamic Bleu ($11). Both sandwiches arrived just-warm on toasted-yet-cold buns and featured lightly seasoned good beef not much enhanced by sloppy toppings. Both came with fresh and good-tasting but room-temperature and oily shoestring fries. As an extra, I tried the creamy and well-made - if barely warm - Mac & Cheese ($3). It had bacon and a syrup-supplied sweetness.

Syrup - too much - dripped from my disappointing Chicken and Waffles ($9). While the poultry pieces were big and juicy, as a whole, the food again was timidly seasoned and far from piping hot.

Though not smashed-and-toasted as I assumed it should be, and garnished with grocery store - instead of menu-promised "roasted" - tomatoes, the rice-flecked and cumin-kissed house-made Black Bean Panini ($10) was one of the relatively more flavorful items I tried here.

My 145-made Cheesecake Parfait ($5) was light and pretty nice too. Here's hoping it's evidence this place can devote as much attention to its food as its image.


955 W. Fifth Ave., Grandview