Restaurant review: Park Creek Kitchen

  • (Rebecca Zimmer photo)
  • (Rebecca Zimmer photo)
From the 05/19/2010 edition

When I walked into the brand-new Park Creek Kitchen in Upper Arlington, I was startled. Yes, to see the space's reincarnation into a stylish and modern, bar-equipped restaurant out of a former bare-bones, carryout-oriented pizza place bordered on stunning. 

The pleasant surprises kept coming when I scanned PCK's smallish, interesting and focused menu, which concentrates on creative takes on American comfort favorites. And the positivity kept flowing as I munched through some of PCK's easy-to-love snacks and sandwiches (there's also half a dozen entrees) whipped up by its real-deal chef - Jeff Headley, a graduate of Tucci's and Johnson & Wales cooking school.

Decor-wise, Park Creek, which probably seats 30 or so people in a single room, dramatically pits green walls against red cloth-covered chairs in a manner that conjures up cocktail olives. That seems fitting, given PCK's two paintings: a hatted ('40s-era) gent in one and a woman in the other, individually perched over drinks in the same bar and apparently fated to meet in a third artwork.

Similarly, Park Creek seems like a perfect match waiting to happen for this grown-up-restaurant-starved section of Arlington. Given the impressive food I tried, I'd say PCK's a good partner for me too. 

I started off with a dressed-up junk-food appetizer - PCK's super-pleasing Fried Homemade Pickles ($6). Those golden brown, crispy, lightly battered discs (which worked better than spears) bounced a brisk exterior crunch off a nifty blast of juicy tartness. On the side was a complementing mayo-based tarragon mustard sauce. 

Lush and attractive and spiked with herbs and wine, PCK's Artichoke Soup ($6) was downright elegant. A quartet of nice, fatty shrimp populated the thickish broth along with strands of artichokes and diced, roasted carrots.

Considering this terrific starter had more of a root-veggie than artichoke character and resembled a squash soup, maybe it was misleadingly named; if so, that point was moot since the soup tasted great anyway.

I was also wowed by the excellent house-ground Southwest Burger ($8). So large it was difficult to get my mouth around (and my gob is massive), that rockin', fresh-tasting juice bomb sat atop a wonderful, crusty fried green tomato and got taco-like Southwestern flavors from a quillija chili sauce. 

Like that formidable burger, the inspired We Three Pigs sandwich ($10) rested on a nice, perfectly toasted kaiser roll and was sided with fantastic hand-cut root veggie fries (you can sub in a terrific, tartly dressed salad). The pig-out sandwich corralled crispy bacon, chunky bbq-tasting pulled pork and a big, beautifully deep-fried pork cutlet that unfortunately was rather fatty.

An extremely moist Smoked Chicken sandwich ($7.50) combined barbecue-like poultry with a "vinegar and orange soda" sauce, melted cheddar and a nearly upstaging slaw that was chunky with onion, red cabbage and raddicchio.

There were no desserts when I visited, but I eagerly anticipate returning for those as well as PCK's promising dinner entrees. Stay tuned. 

For more local food news and reviews, click to G.A. Benton's blog Under the Table at