Update: Hoover Grille is now closed. A new restaurant, Bel-Lago Waterfront Bistro, is in its old location.
We’ve tried to go to Hoover Grille before during dinner time, but have always been faced with an impossibly long wait, so when we were able to go recently for lunch (and a very late lunch at that), we were surpised that even then there was an almost hour wait for an outside table. There’s a stunning view from this restaurant – it sits right on the Hoover Reservoir (off Sunbury Rd), and is one of the few waterfront restaurants in Columbus. So we were curious whether all of the long waits were for the scenery, or if the food itself is worthy of the crowds that this restaurant obviously gets. Instead of waiting for an outdoor table, we decided on one by the window, where we could still see the water, just without the cool breeze of outside.
The menu (at least at lunch time) is rather run-of-the-mill – we didn’t see any items on there that couldn’t be found at a number of other restaurants in town. The question is, how do their versions compare to others?
We started with an appetizer of Baked Stuffed Brie ($9.95), a smallish wheel of a rather mild brie that was topped with a balsamic dried fruit compote and served with sliced fruit and baguette. Because the brie was so mild, the strong flavors of the compote (very cinnamony) overwhelmed it a bit, so we ended up scraping a bit of it off. The baguette was completely unnecessary, and the brie was nice just scooped up with the apples and pears.
For an entree, I chose the Beer-Battered Fish and Chips ($15.95), a honkin’ huge slab of battered cod served with fries, tartar sauce and cole slaw. The fish tasted nice, was perfectly golden, but I found it a bit on the greasy side. The fries were great, and were sprinkled with a nice coarse sea salt. The rest of the platter was unexceptional.
I also got a side garden salad ($2.95 additional) with my entree, and was happily surprised to see that it was more topping than greens, the complete opposite of what one usually sees with a side salad. The veggies were fresh and it was a nice complement to my entree.
My husband chose the Glazed Salmon ($17.95), which was grilled and glazed thickly with a ginger miso/teriyaki glaze, and served with basmati rice and veggies. The salmon was great, cooked correctly and still moist and juicy, but the dry rice took away from the dish and he ended up leaving most of it. The squash was well seasoned.
He chose a Caesar side salad ($3.95 additional), which was well-dressed, but rather unremarkable. For the cost of the upcharge, we expected something a little less pedestrian.
Overall, I guess we just don’t get it. The food is good, not spectacular. The view is great, but you can get the same view for free at a picnic table a couple hundred feet away in the park. The food is definitely not a good value – our bill was over $50 for just a single appetizer and two entrees – at lunch time. Service was average at best. So where’s the appeal? Maybe if we had an expense account, we’d give it another try – but truth is, Hoover Grille is just a little too rich for our blood and we don’t feel the view is worth the cost of admission.
If you’d like to go: Hoover Grille, 170 N Sunbury Rd, Westerville, OH. 614.891.0200