Burgers: The Clevelander at Barley's
Full disclosure: The first time I spotted The Clevelander on the menu at Barley's Ale House, I may have been slightly tipsy.
So the ridiculously over-the-top burger seemed, at the time, like one of the best ideas ever. It's a char-grilled steak burger topped with two Cleveland specialties - a whole grilled kielbasa and two huge cheddar-potato pierogies.
That first time around I tried just a couple of bites of this behemoth, but they were mind-blowingly great. I almost felt disloyal to Columbus for enjoying this thing so much.
The Clevelander ($11) is one of several new additions to the Ale House menu, which now has an especially beefed-up burgers section.
Honestly, drunken delight is probably part of Barley's marketing strategy, as most of their customers are downing pints of brewed-in-house beers during dinner. It certainly explains another tempting new option, the Midnight Hour Breakfast ($9) - a bratwurst patty topped with cheese and a fried egg.
So it was only fair to pay another visit to the Short North brewpub while sober to see if The Clevelander was actually as tasty as I remembered.
Happily, while it certainly goes down better with a beer (try the sweet, malty Scottish ale), the burger works just as well in the bright light of day.
The steak burger itself is top-notch - a Barley's-specific blend of beef tenderloin, sirloin and strip loin that tastes best cooked medium-rare. Those pillowy pierogies are pure starchy goodness, but the real key to the sandwich's success is the kielbasa. A huge Polish sausage is grilled and split in half, and it adds lots of flavor and some needed juiciness.
On the side, Barley's crispy shoestring fries are a good match for this massive burger. But for laughs, go with a side of even more pierogies (yes, that's actually an option). A burger topped with pierogies, with a side of pierogies. Come on, that's hilarious any time of day.
· Shelley Mann is the editor of Crave, Columbus' new dining magazine. Keep up with her at ColumbusCrave.com.
Barley's Ale House No. 1
467 N. High St., Short North