Bar bites at Rigsby's Kitchen

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

Sitting at the bar at Rigsby's Kitchen has always been cool.

Maybe it's the white marble-top bar or the sleek black-leather seats or the mirrors back-lighting liquor and wine bottles behind the bar. The space has energy.

Plenty of fun can be found on the bar menu, which has a mix of old favorites shifted from the dinner menu and larger plates priced for a casual night out.

"The bar menu really got derived from that older menu that had too many things on it, " said owner and chef Kent Rigsby, referring to the dining-room menu that has been revamped.

He didn't want to get rid of popular dishes such as deviled eggs and Sicilian meatballs, he said, so the dishes were shifted to the bar menu. Sandwiches, pizza and pasta dishes were added to round it out.

The menu is a mix of small bites that are great to share and dishes that make for a hearty meal. There are great simple bites, including sopressata rolled and stuffed with thick herbed goat cheese ($5) and tender smoked salmon crostinis topped with chive and horseradish cream ($5). Larger plates include the spaghetti d'Angelo ($10), smoked salmon club ($15) and pizzas, including a margherita ($12) and a pie topped with house-made sausage ($15).

One of my favorite dishes lately has been the mozzarella and sourdough kebab ($7) that is almost like a skewered panzanella salad minus the tomatoes. Charred chunks of sourdough, made by Rigsby's bakery Eleni-Christina, are strung with mild mozzarella and smoky Nueske's bacon. A drizzle of balsamic adds a vinegary bite. I'd order the large medjool dates ($7) simply for a few more spoonfuls of the accompanying tomato sauce pleasantly spiced with cumin. It's a great counterpoint to the dates stuffed with slightly spicy sausage and wrapped with bacon.

A little-known fact at Rigsby's: Very little butter is used in the kitchen. It's part of Rigsby's personal mantra: Food can be delicious and nourishing, and eating out doesn't have to equal indulgence. But, he'll interject, fat is great in moderation. Nowhere else on the bar menu is that better illustrated than in the crisp lard-fried french fries that come with the huge Pat LaFrieda beef burger ($15) topped with Canadian cheddar and aioli.

Sit in the bar area from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and you can take advantage of happy-hour pricing on drinks, including $5 select wine quartinos, $2 select beers and half-off well cocktails. On Mondays, the $1 raw-oyster special starts at 4 p.m. and goes until the supply is gone.