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

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

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

Decor-wise, Park Creek, which probably seats 30 or sopeople in a single room, dramatically pits green walls against red cloth-coveredchairs in a manner that conjures up cocktail olives. Thatseems fitting, given PCK'stwo paintings: a hatted ('40s-era) gent in one and a woman in the other, individuallyperched over drinks in the same barand apparently fatedto meet in a third artwork.

Similarly, Park Creek seemslike aperfectmatchwaiting to happenfor this grown-up-restaurant-starvedsection of Arlington. Given the impressive food I tried, I'd say PCK'sa good partner for me too.

I started off with a dressed-up junk-food appetizer -PCK's super-pleasing Fried Homemade Pickles ($6). Thosegolden brown, crispy, lightly battered discs (which workedbetter thanspears) bounced a brisk exterior crunch off a niftyblast 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-veggiethan artichoke character and resembled a squash soup, maybe it wasmisleadingly named; if so, that point was moot since the souptasted great anyway.

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

Like that formidable burger, the inspired We Three Pigs sandwich ($10) rested on a nice, perfectly toastedkaiser roll and was sidedwith fantastic hand-cut root veggie fries (you cansub in a terrific, tartly dressed salad). Thepig-out sandwich corralledcrispy bacon, chunky bbq-tasting pulled pork and a big, beautifully deep-fried pork cutlet that unfortunately was ratherfatty.

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 ColumbusDiningGuide.com