Restaurant review: Eclectic SIP Local at home in Clintonville
New year, new opportunities, right? This at least describes what’s happening at 2808 N. High St.
For a brief spell last year, that Clintonville address was home to Actual Brewing, a promising brewpub that imploded and closed almost as soon as it opened amid accusations of sexual assault by its owner, Fred Lee. The space remained vacant until capable collaborators that include veteran restaurateurs Nick Gallo (Gallo’s Tap Room) and George Tanchevski (Local Cantina, South Village Grille) launched SIP Local a few months ago.
Prediction: SIP Local won’t fold like its predecessor.
The usually hopping new brewpub offers alluring house beers, an all-Ohio liquor selection, good locally sourced food, personable service and rowdy, fun times. These qualities, plus a fantastic Wednesday burger-and-beer special and a location within stumbling distance of chez Benton, certainly keep me coming back.
So does SIP’s loopy interior, which might be called industrial-meets-forest. Between a concrete floor and exposed ductwork near huge, overhead, pine-cone-shaped lamps, the color green is showcased — it shades the walls, multiple plants and an eye-catching tapestry of a tree. Decorative little hatchets and saws add more amusing touches.
Seating inside the moderate-sized room with five sports-tuned TVs is at thick wooden tables — one is communal — and a couch. But SIP’s most prominent element is an elaborate tree made with purchasable metal chains; buy a chain to hang on a limb, and the proceeds go to Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed, a conservation group.
Like its sibling — Somewhere in Particular Brewing on Dierker Road — SIP offers the fine, eclectic beers crafted by brewmaster Pat Sullivan. But the operations might have more differences than similarities. Except for a few overlaps — such as impressive neo-Neapolitan-style pizzas (SIP’s Boomer Pie, with organic mushrooms and pesto, and its spicy-honey-kissed Ohio Pepperoni Pie, are both $14 and duly popular) — the two places offer distinct menus.
One of SIP’s stars is that aforementioned burger (Smashed Burger, $9).Tasting like the best Big Mac you never had, it features locally raised beef (from The Butcher & Grocer) seared until delightfully crackly but still pink in the middle and juicy. Packed with Mac-style fixings into a nice potato bun from Lucky’s Market (a neighbor and ingredient source), it’s among the best burgers to premiere this year. Deal alert: On Wednesdays, it and a beer are $10.
With a fried-crisp slab of frankfurter-like Falter’s meat, creamy Duke’s mayo and melted American cheese, SIP’s bologna sandwich (Last Meal, $8) is almost as good. And I liked everything about the Sausage Plate — a flavorful, seared bratwurst (also from The Butcher & Grocer), house mustard, delicious braised red cabbage and sweet-tart pickles — except for its incongruous $15 price.
Gallo’s fans will recognize the Sriracha-based “cockfight” sauce gracing SIP’s recommended Chicken Wings ($12, with blue cheese and celery). With a topping of “bacon-onion marmalade” (read: sweet-and-smoky bacon bits), another entertaining poultry option — the Deviled Eggs ($6 for three halves) — resembles a little breakfast.
The vegetarian offerings dotting SIP’s one-page menu are hardly shy. Creamy, tangy, spicy and earthy accents accompany the messy but flavor-packed Sweet Potato Torta ($7) — roasted tuber planks, black-bean puree, avocado, cilantro, a not-fooling-around chipotle aioli, plus a toasted, good, bolillo-style roll.
I also enjoyed the refreshing Cold Noodle Salad ($7): A mound of firm soba noodles tossed with spinach and a lively sesame-soy vinaigrette is uplifted by chili flakes, ginger, a crown of cilantro and, underneath, streaks of a tangy-sweet carrot puree.
Stacked like huge Lincoln Logs, the panko-crusted Zucchini Fries ($7) and their lemony aioli are winners. I only wish my good-tasting french fries ($4) hadn’t been somewhat soggy.
Protip: Grab a bag of free s’more supplies before exiting. If it’s a Wednesday, say “hello” as we assemble them, seated on bales of straw and leaning into SIP’s cozy patio fire pit.
2808 N High St, Clintonville