Restaurant review: CD102.5's Big Room Bar offers good food, booze and live music
It'd been a long time since I caught myself humming one of the dumbest and funniest earworms ever written. But there I was, enjoying the excellent happy hour in the Big Room Bar - the eating, drinking and live music arm of CD102.5 - while murmuring that ridiculous tune from the first Ramones album that goes "Beat on the brat/Beat on the brat/Beat on the brat with a baseball bat/Oh yeah, oh yeah, uh-oh."
Open since late August, the Big Room calls itself "a bar with a radio problem." Translation: This quirky and cool place occupying the quaint old Swiss Chalet party-house space in the Brewery District is literally connected to the aforementioned "alternative" radio station. And that informs its instantly likeable identity.
Walk in - there's some patio seating outside - and after noticing that the Big Room isn't really all that big, you'll see that rock 'n' roll is celebrated practically everywhere inside the duskily lit joint.
Most obvious is a stage where bands often play (I recently saw great sets by stripped-down versions of Wussy and Scrawl there). The floor is adorned with oversized, decorative LPs. Guitars hang behind a lengthy, L-shaped bar. Walls hold gold records plus a portrait - on a bass drum head, of course - of the Big Room's patron saint: late-and-lamented, former 102.5 DJ/local music impresario "Andyman" Davis.
Ohio breweries command nine of 12 taps, and during happy hour (4-8 p.m., weekdays), most are half-off (e.g. I recently got a Seventh Son Oast for $3). Those discounts, plus terrific $5 HH food specials, make the main menu's not-so-cheap prices easier to absorb - as do amusing music references. (Note: after 8 p.m., food-service shifts to a mod hot dog shop.)
Everything I sampled was shareably large and pretty fun to munch, such as the Tokyo Police Club ($14) - an attractively presented, gigantic "hidden" club sandwich/salad with thin-sliced house-roasted turkey, lean ham (produced locally by Falters) and a neat wasabi mayo dressing; the Andyman Burger ($13) - topped by hugely juicy pot roast and flavorful slaw; and the irresistibly rich Beat on the Brat Dip ($11), made with house bratwurst, and tasting how it looks - like a cheese ball melted into sausage gravy.
Big Room Bar
1036 S. Front St., Brewery District