Restaurant Review: Surly Girl Saloon

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

"Let the healing begin," the waitress pronounced as she placed my breakfast down in front of me. Because she was such a funny and friendly type, I'd confessed to some, uh, over-indulgences the previous night and thus came her smile-inducing line. Anyway, I quickly rolled up my sleeves and proceeded to plow through that just-delivered platter of morning nachos.

"Wait, what kind of a degenerate eats nachos for breakfast?" you must be thinking surely. Well I did, and I liked them - and stop thinking surely and start thinking Surly.

If there's a restaurant in town with a better sense of humor than the riotous Surly Girl Saloon, well I haven't been there. This boot-kickin' joint is a hoot with its comically manic, all-over-the-place jumble of stuff to stare at.

Such as beads forming shades to the lights dangling above the bar and beads elsewhere reaching out from a wild chandelier like a giant squid's sparkling arms. And there's scores of stenciled scorpions climbing the rust-colored walls which fittingly recall cowgirl spurs; lining those walls are framed illustrations and photos of tall-hatted gals brazenly flashing Western fringe, cold steel and hot skin. There's even a mini art gallery of ghoulified classics featuring a sarcastically vandalized Vermeer, Da Vinci and Gainsborough. Most remarkably, though, each and every table is its own original work of art - they're all branded with fanciful one-of-a-kind handmade collages (think gambling, guns and glinty things). Only add some high-spirited tunes and a few skulls to the mix, and you've got the fun setting to Surly Girl's recently begun weekend brunch.

Implementing a focused menu that cleverly reconfigures a handful of hearty and Southwestern ingredients into zesty iterations, SG's brunch delivers comfort-food classics with a surly spin.

So the High Noon ($9) enriched the natural homey charms of a well-made BLT (on whole wheat of course) with egg and a bit of avocado. Like most brunch dishes, it's served with oily but generally crisp roasted redskin potatoes.

The beckoning black bean Huevos "Surlitos" ($10, love that item's title) was a sort of open-faced breakfast burrito with a nifty, almost floral presentation. Above a big ol' flour tortilla spread across a plate were tons of frijoles, two very round fried eggs, drizzles of some not-messin'-around spicy ranchero sauce and fanned-out avocado.

The oven-baked French Toast ordered Surly Style ($9) was an especially big hit. Imposing on the plate and pleasing on the palate, hefty and dark oaty bread was sprinkled with tart "craisins," dusted with toasted crushed pecans and laced with a purply berry cream cheese. Served with nice, warm syrup, its flavors and many textures were excellent.

I think it's about time we get to those nachos, don't you? A tangy and rich cheese sauce mingled with scattered scrambled eggs, black beans, pickled jalapenos and everything else that makes nachos a snacktime favorite plus Mexican chorizo, the magical ingredient that makes all things better. The only nacho downside was that after eating the top half of the pile, I noticed the bottom layer of warm tortilla chips was, in essence, naked. While the grub had done its job - I was no longer hungry and my hangover was quickly becoming a memory - I was left staring at a bevy of undressed chips and suddenly feeling nostalgic for all the color, flavor and fun.

Oh well, that just gave me a reason to return the very next week for - it had to happen - Surly Girl's crispy and soulful breakfast pizza (the Chuck Wagon, $10, with bacon, eggs, potatoes, et. al.). See y'all at the Girl real soon.

Surly Girl Saloon

1126 N. High St., Short North