Well, it’s three days into Columbus Restaurant Week 2009, and with six meals down and five to go, I’m still not tired of eating out. I’ve been extremely impressed with the way that all the restaurants have been going all out and showing off their best efforts. From my viewpoint as a critic, it’s heartening to actually enjoy virtually everything about every meal I’ve had so far.
Surly Girl Saloon is the only one of the restaurants in the Betty’s/Tip Top Kitchen/Surly Girl trifecta that I hadn’t been to previously. For some strange reason I figured it would be impossible to find parking in the Garden District (because of the lack of on-street parking), but duh – it turns out there is parking on the side.
Back to Restaurant Week. They, like all of the other Dine Originals Columbus restaurants, have a special this week – 3 courses for $15. And when I break it all down for you, you’re going to have to agree that the value for your dollar potential of this restaurant is amazing under normal terms, and even more so during this week. Best yet, they don’t take reservations, so it’s not too late to head out, even tonight – they’re open from 11am to 2am daily.
I kind of had a feeling that I would like them before I even stepped foot into the restaurant. I mean, any place that has Lindeman’s Pomme on tap (lambics are the only types of beer/ale that I enjoy) already has a check in the plus column before we get anywhere near the food.
Co-owner Carmen greeted us and got us settled in – we chose a cozy spot near the front window that made for some really interesting people watching of the people strolling by outside. After a couple of minutes of trying to decide, our server came by (whose name by the life of me I can’t remember – which speaks badly of me because we talked the poor guy’s ears off) and jotted down our choices.
For the first course, my husband went with the Frito Pie, topped with chili. We were both uninitiated to this whole concept of Frito Pies, and were quite fascinated with them, actually. The reality didn’t disappoint. Really good chili with a lot of bulk topping a mound of Fritos and topped with a helluva lot of fixins. Great contrasting textures, nice deep flavor without being too spicy.
I went with the Small Garden District Delight Salad, which was a deconstructed salad of sorts. The big chunks of veggies/eggs/etc. made it a bit awkward to eat, but I managed. The Avocado Caesar dressing that comes with this salad is spectacular.
We both opted for the Southwestern Mac and Cheese, and added chicken to it ($2 extra). This was a huge portion, so huge that I ended up taking half of my entree home lest I not have enough room for dessert. Extremely comforting, nicely spicy in spots, and again, the veggies provide a nice crunch and texture to the whole dish.
For dessert, my husband opted for one of the women-made beers, while I went for the cupcake of the day, a Fresh Lemon Cupcake with Berry Cream Cheese icing. Loved it, because it was moist and not sickly sweet as many cupcakes are prone to be.
Needless to say, we both left stuffed and wanting to come back again to try some stuff off of the regular menu. We’re not bar people, per se – but this is the type of place we could see ourselves meeting friends for drinks/food and spending some time at. Can’t wait to return! Our server said that the place has an entirely different vibe at night and we’d love to find out for ourselves.
If you’d like to go: Surly Girl Saloon, 1126 N. High Street, Columbus (Garden District), 614.294.4900.