Restaurant review: Do the hump-day dance at The Pint House

G.A. Benton, Columbus Alive

What's a good price for a snazzy beer plus a delicious dinner of crispy-skinned roasted chicken (in half-bird form) served with a bunch of terrific hand-cut fries? If you said $20, I'd say that sounds like a deal. Well, how about $10? Welcome to Hump Day at The Pint House.

If The Pint House's reputation precedes it as a loud and crowded, huge Short North palace of beer and rowdiness, welcome to the club. While this notoriety is actually well-deserved, frankly this place is better than that.

Turns out you can't judge a tavern by its soundtrack, because though TPH's campus-bar-style music isn't compelling, there's plenty about this place that is. It's handsome, attractively underlit and rife with stout brick walls, giant sporty TVs, plus amusingly modernized and fancified German beer hall-type accents.

There's an attention-grabbing retractable roof (usually) open to the sky, trippy dippy paintings of beer hops, windows open onto High Street sidewalks, a fountain made outta beer taps, and between the long Oktoberfest-esque place's large two bars, a striking assembly of iridescent green Grolsch beer bottles.

So, yeah, beer - TPH has a lotta good ones. There are about 75 altogether, about a third of them drafts. And every Wednesday, there's an interesting brewery "Tap Takeover," a glass of which will be part of your $10 Wednesday dinner bargain (last week, it was Strongsville's Brew Kettle).

But first, some Short Rib Nachos ($13). Unlike crappy versions made by apathetic kitchens, these feature crisp and freshly oven-singed chips. Plus, the toppings - lusty pot roasty beef, thoroughly melted cheese, beer cheese sauce, corn, black beans, jalapenos, tomatoes and sour cream - were better distributed than what you usually get. Yeah, they're served on a cutting board, but TPH doesn't bandy about the "G" word (cough, gastropub).

OK, the main course (also on a cutting board). The skin on my chicken was so crunchy, golden-brown and fat-rendered, it had developed a deep flavor. Underneath, the meat had a simple, clean taste enhanced by pleasant whiffs of the beer in which it was brined. Served with a tangy barbecue sauce and lemon on the side (go lemon), it came perched atop a mound of hefty, hard-to-stop-eating fries so attractively crispy, I bet they were twice-fried. To further investigate this, I'll probably be back next Wednesday - I can always scrounge up $10.