Betty’s Fine Food and Spirits has been one of my favorites in town for the past couple of years. Between the kitschy feel of the place, the lambic on tap (yay!), and the abundant comfort food with an edge, Liz Lessner has a winner in the Short North.
I’ve been here quite a few times, but haven’t reviewed it previously. It’s the kind of place that I go when I want to relax, and being in reviewer mode isn’t conducive to relaxation. As it was, I felt a bit self-conscious whipping out my camera. I needn’t have worried. My weirdness didn’t even get a second glance.
If I’ve got one beef with the joint, it’s the chairs. Ouch. My butt still hurts a day later. I find it helps to usually sit at the bar, where my feet are a little closer to something solid (like a ledge). I’m a big girl, so it’s a precarious balance on tall barstools, and something usually ends up giving, usually the feeling in my legs after about 20 minues. Although I can understand the appeal of the tall chairs, I just wish she had some non-barstool options. The big bottomed girls of the world would rejoice.
But back to the food. It was a late lunch for us, and surprisingly, the restaurant was still fairly crowded at 2pm. We did, however, get seated almost immediately, and perused the menu, which changed just a little from the last time I went (note – their website is down for the count, it looks like; I’ll have to remember to grab a takeout menu next time I go to scan in and upload). We decided on a couple of appetizers to share.
The first, Hearty Potato Pancakes ($5), include two golden brown and crispy on the outside mashed potato pancakes, topped with melted cheese and scallions, and served with a bit of salsa and sour cream. We love these, it reminds us of the pancakes that our parents would make to use up the leftover mashed potatoes when we were growing up. This dish hits on all cylinders for us – taste, texture and nostalgia. Definitely something worth ordering again and again.
Next up was the Corn Salsa Quesadilla ($8 with the optional crab), which was chock full packed with crab and substantial and delicious. I commented to my husband that there was more crab in that $1 add-on than in some other restaurants orders of crabcakes. Just saying. If there’s one thing Betty’s doesn’t do, it’s skimp on the good stuff. Again, it was served with sour cream and salsa.
For his entree, my husband chose the Tuna Noodle Casserole ($10). If Betty’s has a strong point, it’s definitely their pasta dishes – they are creative, a bit spicy, and never a disappointment. This dish was no exception. She once again takes a familiar food and puts her own twist on it to come up with something awesome. The capers add a brininess to the dish that I haven’t had before, and the crumbled homemade potato chips on top add a bit of a crunch that the dish really needed.
I went with the Open Face Turkey Sandwich ($8). My only complaint (and it’s a stretch to call it a complaint) is that it is too. much. food. A couple of slices of thick Texas toast? A huge pile of turkey and gravy? And THREE scoops of mashed potatoes? Yowsa. Needless to say, most of this went home with me.
So the moral of the story? Betty’s rocks. The food is great, awesome and creative drinks, great ambiance, really good value for your dollar. But since it’s not a well kept secret, you’ll sometimes have a wait for a seat. It’s worth the wait, trust me. If everything Liz Lessner touches in this town turns to gold, Betty’s is the crown jewel.
If you’d like to go: Betty’s Fine Food, 680 N. High St, Columbus (Short North), 614.228.6191