Restaurant review: Standard Hall
In July, Standard Hall joined Forno and the Pint House to become the third Corso Ventures establishment to open in the Short North since 2013. Walking into Standard Hall - which is as much tavern as restaurant - I couldn't help but recall the countless, wonderful hours I'd spent at that address when it housed the now-legendary Little Brother's music club, which closed about a decade ago. Wow, how things have changed.
The brick walls and tall ceiling that once contained a beloved, irreverent dive where thrilling live music often played has been divided into a couple huge rooms, each equipped with a lengthy bar. The considerably more polished trappings now include wooden rafters, a skylight, riveted metal fixtures, plants, Edison-bulb chandeliers and TVs beaming sports. Large garage-door windows open onto a roomy patio and offer striking views of the trendy neighborhood.
Perusing the smallish menu from one of the prized booths - metal chairs and simple tables constitute most of the seating - I noticed a lineup of contemporary favorites. Tacos, poutine, Nashville-style hot chicken, they're all here. And for the most part, they're well prepared.
So are designer cocktails ($8) such as the Manmosa, an orange juice-forward mimosa variation made with vodka, wheat beer and lively candied kumquat. The inspired Whiskey in a Jar is pink from raspberries, bitters and lemon juice, and its potency lives up to the drink's no-nonsense name.
If a libation on a stick tickles your fancy - and it should - boozy popsicles are offered ($5, served perched in a glass). I didn't taste much alcohol in the Strawberry Daiquiri popsicle, but the intense fruit content reminded me of a refreshing, Mexican-style paleta.
It went great with the Cincinnati Poutine ($10) - crispy tater tots topped like a coney dog (shredded cheddar, chili, mustard and onions). Frankly, this isn't poutine, and the sweet and meaty chili isn't cinnamon-y à la Cincinnati style, but the enormous and zany snack is nonetheless fun to eat.
So is the more faithfully executed Pimento Cheese ($6). Served with Town House crackers, it's a well-made dip with a pleasant little zip.
The Nashville Hot Chicken ($9) and Fish ($8) sandwiches are highlights. Both come on terrific Texas toast and can be accompanied by good-tasting Fair Fries for $3 (mine were almost crisp). Ordered "hot" ("mild" is available), the immense piece of chicken breast arrives tender, juicy, crunchy-battered and slathered in a sweet-and-fiery paste. Fresh slaw and perky pickles complete the ensemble.
Crackly cornmeal distinguishes the non-greasy fried Fish Sandwich, which stars thick and flaky cod. Tomato, onion, shredded lettuce and a delightful lemon aioli ably assist.
The same kind of fish graces the winning Pescado taco. Like the flavorful vegetarian Yaca taco (jackfruit) and the excellent Barbacoa taco (zesty pot roast), it's $3 and arrives generously loaded into warm, soft corn tortillas.
Although made without chicken, the Cobb Salad ($9) is solid and assembled with fresh ingredients that include avocado, eggs, crisp bacon and a tangy French-type dressing. The Pepperoni Pizza ($12) is also solid - not "top-notch pizzeria" quality, but far exceeding the expectations of a bar-restaurant.
While treating myself to the booze-infused milkshake named for this snazzy place's dumpy if much edgier predecessor - the Little Brother ($8) - I thought about how the Short North had changed over the past decade.
Sipping that thick, strong and delicious liquid dessert - an adult version of a childhood favorite - this quote about coping with nostalgia from the great A.J. Liebling came to mind: "The world isn't going backward, if you can just stay young enough to remember what it was really like when you were really young."
1100 N. High St.,