Restaurant review: The Crest's new pie and pint Tuesday is a find

G.A. Benton, Columbus Alive

Breaking news: The Crest Gastropub is now baking artisanal pizzas in its wood-fired oven as a once-a-week special. Question: Did you just raise your eyebrows interestedly or shrug your shoulders dismissively? I'd understand either way.

See, since writing about the Crest last May, I've been collared by several Clintonville friends telling me about their experiences in this still buzzed-about establishment. As you might've guessed, the reviews from my pals have been mixed.

Since I hadn't eaten in the Crest for a while - I mostly pop in to sip hard-to-resist half-off happy hour beers - discovering it'd recently initiated nightly specials and rolled out a new menu full of cool-weather comforters, I figured it was time to check out some of these changes.

Among the new additions is the Crest's thick, rich, tomatoey and meatless Shagbark Chili made with a mix of Shagbark beans ($6; definitely recommended, even if my generous serving was missing its menu-promised corn chips). There are also great-reading entrees like a curry with "harvest vegetables," a "fall harvest squash casserole," a braised lamb shank and duck sausage cassoulet.

Another promising development is Monday-Thursday bargains like burgers with fries for $5 on Wednesdays, half-off snacks and appetizers on Mondays and "pie and pint" Tuesdays, when 8-inch handmade pizzas partnered with your brew of choice (so long as it's sold by the pint) are available from 9 p.m. to close for $10. I tried the latter special and can verify it's a damn good deal - and as of now, the only time the Crest serves pizzas.

Those pizzas eat almost as good as they look (in "beerless" form, they're $7 apiece). Mine arrived with attractively blistered, irregular thin crusts showing puffy and toasty edges. Upon closer inspection, those crusts were a tad too-soft in the center and should've been crisper on the bottom.

Of the two combos I tried (four are offered), the namesake Crest tasted great with lamby and zesty merguez sausage, crispy bacon bits, decent pepperoni and good cheeses. The garlicky margherita was also good eatin', even though the Crest's chronic problem - wrong and/or missing menu ingredients - reared its pesky head. Specifically, the promised smoked mozzarella was regular mozzarella and the "oven-dried" tomatoes were just sliced fresh tomatoes.

Service exhibited some similar, non-deal-breaking room for improvement. Specifically, it was personable and efficient until it went MIA for longish stretches.

Will I be back? Yeah, sure. Will the Crest still be a work-in-progress? I wouldn't be surprised.

The Crest Gastropub

2855 Indianola Ave., Clintonville