Restaurant Review: Flatiron Bar & Diner
The quirky Flatiron Bar & Diner building has a storied past revolving around a tiny saloon that would stay open around the clock when the circus was in town, to serve the "show folk."
And a bar continues to be an imposing presence in the building - a long shiny cherry one that feels disproportionately massive thanks to the building's odd dimensions. It's a fun place to perch, place a lunch order and ponder the many people who've frequented this tiny architectural wonder over the years.
Constructed in 1914, about a decade after the famed New York Flatiron building, Columbus' miniature version has just four stories (compared with 22) and a front facade that's barely eight feet wide. Originally, the slim space up front housed the bar, while the "wide" end (a full 25 feet) was home to a grocery store.
Today, tables and chairs hug the walls along the length of the narrow establishment, and plenty of arched windows make things less claustrophobic. There's also some outdoor seating on a small patio overlooking Nationwide Boulevard.
The Cajun- and Creole-flavored menu ranges from gumbo to po'boys to muffulettas. They also serve barbecue that's been slow-cooked for 12 hours over a hickory fire, and a mouthwateringly delicious campfire smell wafting outside makes it hard to resist.
Pulled Pork Sandwich, $8.75
I like my barbecue saucy. Yes, I understand the appeal of slow-smoked meat and why cooks might not want to mask that with sauce. But a well-done sauce is what makes vinegary North Carolina barbecue different from sweet, tomatoey St. Louis barbecue.
A particular pet peeve is barbecue joints that serve piles of dry meat and leave several bottles of varying sauces on the table. What if I pick the wrong kind? In that way, I adore Flatiron's barbecue. They're not afraid to liberally douse their meat in their made-from-scratch sauces.
My favorite from the small barbecue menu is the Pulled Pork Sandwich, a big mound of flavorful meat soaked in a vinegary Carolina-style sauce. The mouth-puckering factor is neutralized by a pile of creamy coleslaw, and it's all served on a nice-sized bun that manages to stay intact despite the heavily-applied sauce.
Now, upgrading your side from chips to fries (an extra $2.25) breaks the Lunch Money-imposed $10 limit, as does paying the tax and tip that comes with eating in. I think it's worth it, but if you want to keep things under 10 bucks, order yours to go. Served in a Styrofoam box overflowing with potato chips and sweet pickle slices, this sandwich is a wonderfully indulgent takeout meal.
Pulled Pork Sandwich: $8.75
Tax & Tip: $2.09
Flatiron Bar & Diner
129 E. Nationwide Blvd., Arena District