Restaurant review: Columbus Brewing Company Restaurant

G.A. Benton, Columbus Alive
Pub Nachos with a pint of beer

The Columbus Brewing Company Restaurant has nothing to do with the Columbus Brewing Company. No, I haven't knocked back a few too many at the Columbus Brewing Company.

In a hard-to-crack nutshell, the two Columbus Brewing Company entities are separate businesses that once inhabited the same building. After the eponymous brewery moved to bigger digs and a new tenant called Commonhouse Ales assumed the brewing space in July, the restaurant neglected to change its name. (As a concession, the website favors CBC Restaurant.)

Not much else has changed at the eatery over the years, either, but that's not a bad thing.

It's retained the same upbeat and roomy, red-flaunting interior with woodsy accents. The same - possibly ironic - 1980s-leaning rock 'n' roll soundtrack plays. And a wall of windows continues to connect the popular block O-shaped bar to the covered patio, which frequently attracts big parties.

Best of all, friendly servers still deliver the place's familiar, jazzed-up comfort food, which is often boosted by Latin and Southwestern flourishes.

There's still plenty of beer, too. Most pints are $6, including the widely revered Bodhi from, well, the Columbus Brewing Company.

For beverages made on-site, Commonhouse Ales provides a crisp session IPA called Summer Sesh, plus Hoptopus, a refreshing pale wheat. The latter is easy on the clove and medicinal flavors often associated with wheat beers.

These go great with a virtual mountain of the top-notch Pub Nachos ($11.95). Carefully assembled so the abundant chorizo, black beans, house beer-cheese sauce, smoked chili sauce and pico de gallo are evenly distributed, they're among the best in town.

For an appetizer that's less of a meal, try the Asparagus Fries ($8.95). Simplicity is their allure: crisp, non-greasy, beer-batter jackets encasing thin, al dente spears that snap with a pleasant crunch. The side of sriracha ranch adds richness with a kick.

"Richness with a kick" could describe many items, including soups and salads. Crumbled gorgonzola cheese contributes a contrasting creaminess to a bowl of zesty Roasted Tomato Soup du jour ($5.95). Jalapenos plus Mexican street-food toppings supplied zip to the creamy dressing on a nightly special Elote Caesar Salad, embellished with Ohio sweet corn ($7).

A dinner of boneless chicken breast, potatoes and corn might sound boring, but it's a flavorful texture-fest. The golden-brown, Pecan-Crusted Chicken ($17.95) arrives with a crackly batter and straddling mounds of perfectly lumpy, fluffy mashers and buttery kernels perked up by jalapenos, poblanos and red peppers. Creamy, slightly sweet, pale-ale mustard sauce and crispy nuts are the winning, finishing touches.

"It's so good!" the menu says about the Cajun Jambalaya ($18.95). The menu is not a liar, but it omits the fact that this dish - the Louisiana answer to paella - could feed two to three people.

Racy tomato sauce aromatized by thyme, paprika and red peppers is spiked with poblanos and cayenne. Densely populating this are good plump shrimp, chicken, discs of smoky andouille sausage, spinach and scads of salmon. The onslaught is ladled atop a heap of brown rice, and the result is the best entrée I sampled.

Even a bunch of bologna tastes great here (Triple Decker Fried Bologna Sandwich, $10.95). Sourcing helps: The garlicky meat, which recalls a good frankfurter, comes from Falter's, a venerable Columbus company in business for over 125 years.

Searing the bologna until it's smoky helps, too. So does placing three pieces of it on a crisp-toasted ciabatta roll with caramelized onions, piquant ale mustard and an irresistible load of melted Swiss and provolone cheeses. Like all sandwiches, it's served with battered fries (mine were missing their advertised garlic) and mayo-heavy cole slaw.

Bottom line: This eatery's name might have become confusing, but its bold comfort food continues to make perfect sense.

Columbus Brewing

Company Restaurant

525 Short St.,

Brewery District