Restaurant review: Pint Room

By Columbus Alive
From the January 17, 2013 edition

Please refrain from breaking anything — like your neck — as you spasmodically grab for your car keys after reading these jarring words: The Pint Room has 101 craft beers on tap. If you’re not wildly driving toward Dublin yet, I’ll describe how the three-week-old Pint Room is more than “just” a crap-ton of brews.

With enough flatscreens to function as a large and semi-upscale suburban sports bar (oh, be kind), The Pint Room is cozily lit and overseen by an enthusiastic (if learning-on-the-job), jeans and black T-shirted staff. While some of its denizens of couples, families and friends can get pretty colorful during a game or fantasy football meeting, design-wise, the masculine Pint Room is plain-spoken. By this I mean (apart from seasonal ornaments) its undecorated walls and windows, handsome blond wooden plank ceiling and hard-candy-striped, chocolate brown banquettes tell us this place favors a clean, simple and bare look.

The Pint Room’s meat-and-potatoes and fried-things-happy menu is also masculine, if less plain-spoken. Dominated by dressed-up, XXL-sized, hand-pattied hamburgers (fashioned from a “signature blend of USDA Prime Chuck and Kobe Beef”), it’s rife with crowd-pleasing yet carefully constructed, mostly scratch-made items.

So after ordering a beer or three (that hypnotizing, whole-wall suds selection features more than just the usual hopped-up and dumbed-down specimens; and it’s corralled into about a dozen categories), try an appetizer such as the poutine-y Bistro Fries ($9). Like huge, crispy quarter slices of Idaho bakers, they’re graced with moist and fragrant braised short rib meat, beefy jus, ribbons of sour cream and Ohio cheddar. Breaking up the richness is a tangy roasted vegetable relish (diced peppers and squashes) I wish was available in side dish form.

Also recommended are the playful Bottle Caps ($6). Served with a mayo-y sauce, they’re thickly battered and fried hamburger-style pickle slices, but were good and crispy — and trashy fun to munch on.

I also enjoyed Pint Room’s chunky and tomatoey Chili ($4), which sported a blend of beans, pot roasty meat and a boldness that never swerved into spicy-hot. As for a soup special ($4) of Beer (natch) and Cheese, its relative lightness and pronounced brew character made me think it should assume permanent menu status.

OK, those good, glossy-bunned, backyard-like-grilled burgers. Served, as are all sandwiches, with (my rec) puffy tempura-style onion rings, fries (long and thick, un-greasy, obviously hand cut) or cinnamon-y sweet, real sweet potato fries, about a dozen styles are offered. They come topped with everything from Taleggio, avocado, arugula and alfalfa sprouts (California, $12.50) to bacon and eggs with hash browns (Hangover, $12) to crab cakes ($14) or even lobster ($19). I tried and liked the Cajun ($12), whose Louisiana-esque spices, Ohio pepper jack and tasso ham amped-up its inherent chargrilled smokiness; bright contrast arrived via punchy, housemade pico de gallo.

Apart from burgers, Pint Room also scored well with high-five-worthy beer buddies like a Kobe Hot Dog ($8; think huge and juicy, casing-popping charred garlicky knockwurst overlapping a split, New England-style weenie bun with winning sweet and spicy accents from colorful, rough-cut slaw and a roasted corn and bean salsa — more garnishes I wish could be sides); a zesty, “meaty,” Southwestern-scented, rice and black beany homemade veggie burger ($10; tasted great, but coulda been moister, and the “vine ripe tomatoes” weren’t) on a multigrain bun with sprouts and roasted sweet pepper slabs; and a huge, crackly battered, junk-tastic blue cheese-smeared Crispy Buffalo ($10) chicken breast sandwich.

Photos by Tim Johnson