First Look: Westies Gastropub

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

This new gastropub in at Frederick and Front streets in the Brewery District was hopping last Friday night. Westies opened just a few weeks ago in a 5,300-square-foot space that, honestly, had me wondering-what do you do with that much room?

My question was answered pretty quickly. The space is smartly divided into two rooms by a long hallway (look to your right on the way to the back, and you'll get a glimpse into the pizza oven and kitchen). The front is a restaurant outfitted with tables and booths and a lengthy bar. The back space is more like a sports bar, with tables, bench seating that surrounds a four-sided fireplace on three sides, and lots of TVs. It's a modern-looking space, and tough to tell the building used to house a monument business.

True to the way it bills itself as a gastropub, the menu is a mix of standard and slightly dressed-up tavern fare-nachos topped with al pastor, a burger, pork belly sandwich, shepherd's pie, flatbread pizzas and cut-of-the-day steak with foie gras butter. The menu is crafted by chef Jeremy Cook, the former executive chef at Hubbard Grille.

Here's a look at a few things we tried:

Potato Pierogies ($7): Fat with potato filling, these were perfectly pan-fried crisp on the outside, though the potato needed a lot more salt. The topping-bacon and rosemary onions-was killer, and left us wishing we had more.

Charcuterie Plate ($15): It was a big plate for the price with four meats (standard prosciutto and salumi), toasted bread, tangy bread-and-butter pickles and spicy green chile mustard. All around a good spread-but the real reason I'd order it again? For more of the sweet mango raisin chutney.

House Made Chili ($4/cup, $6/bowl): A bean-free, ground-beef chili heartied up with lots of veggies. It was smoky and just a little spicy.

Fish & Chips ($14): While the hand-cut fries were delicious, this is the one dish we tried that didn't pass muster. Three strips of white fish had great flavor, but the breading was far too thick, and so the outside was rubbery, not flaky and crisp.

Drinks: The beer list was impressive-and long-with 24 craft drafts (all $6), plus just about 50 bottles, a dozen cans, plus a few tallboys and ciders. They've also got a long list of cocktails, which erred more on the fun side than the craft. I'm a sucker for bourbon and ginger ale, so the Bourbon Cider ($8) looked like a nice iteration with Woodford Reserve, Angry Orchard Cider and cinnamon simple syrup. It came in Mason jar with a cinnamon rim, and was smooth and not too sweet. More fun, perhaps, was the Westies Manhattan made with bacon-infused Woodford Reserve, sweet vermouth, maple wash and coffee pecan bitters. It sounds like a lot-but was really, really good.