Restaurant Review: Worthington Inn

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Don't believe me? Well here's proof: How about a brimming-over basket of crispy fries sprinkled with parmesan cheese and truffle oil for $3.50? Or piggy sliders made with homemade slaw and terrific pickles for $5? Or Berkshire pork chunks cleverly done chicken-wing style for $4.50? And to wash all that down, a surprising supply of good wines - bottles of wines - with many priced in the $20s and even teens?

Welcome to the Worthington Inn's happy hour and its Thrifty Thursday discounted wine night (every Thursday, for the entire evening, bottles are deeply price reduced).

Here's how the happy hour works: Between 4 and 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, you need only guide your deal-hounding butt through the heavy, intricately carved and highly lacquered doors to the "Seven Stars" restaurant. Then climb the stairs and park said butt either at the large bar - backed by a handsome expanse of more impressively carved wood, mirrors and stained-glass accents - or at one of the half-dozen or so marmoreal tables in the same room.

Those tables (there's also a comfy country-clubby couch) are no slouches when it comes to affording space - they'll easily seat four people intent, as they should be, on piling up the glasses and plates.

You'll be given menus for the restaurant proper (with many entrees in the mid- to upper-$20s) as well as the bar snacks menu, which has largely been designed by the Inn's accomplished real-deal chef, a friendly walk-around and chat-with-you fellow whose commitment to great ingredients and seasonality is expressed on his menu.

So expect the bar snacks to have an attractive presentation and some creative cheffy flavors to them, too. Also expect them to be half-priced during happy hour (and those are the quoted prices here). These are a few I tried last Thursday night.

• Barbecue Pork "Sliders" A trio of cute sammies on nice sturdy little buns filled with strands of sweet-side meat brought into balance by a loose, vinegary, celery-seeded slaw and the crown of a show-stealing powerhouse pickle that was perfectly tart and almost exotically aromatic.

• The Inn's "famous" Truffle Oiled and Parmesan Fries Handcut, skin-on, not greasy and so golden-brown crunchy, I assumed they were twice fried. Though over the top on the lily gilding (in a good way), the potato flavor was never obliterated.

• Spicy Chicharrones A delightful plateful of plump, really meaty chunks of juicy pork lightly battered, fried and covered in a zingy wing sauce. The chef explained to me (after asking how I liked them) that he and his coworkers hated wasting the trimmings from high-grade Berkshire pork tenderloins so they brainstormed up these irresistible nibbles (originally just as snacks for themselves - I'm glad they decided to share). The "chicharrones" come with celery and a chivey and rich blue cheese sauce that puts most others of its ilk to shame. When pigs fly, indeed.

• Today's Grilled Flatbread ($5)On my day it was a four-Italian cheese mini-pizza. The thin-crusted, personal-size pie came with cross-hatched grill marks underneath and was garlicky, herby and had molti formaggi on top.

649 High St., Worthington



More terrific values are to be had at the Inn's fabulous wine dinners held on the first Wednesday of each month. On Nov. 4, a Spanish Tapas dinner will feature 12 alluring small plates to be matched with well-coordinated wines. Sounds like a sure bet. Click to for details.