New bar: Arch City Tavern

From the February 28, 2013 edition

The long-awaited (official) opening of the Short North’s Arch City Tavern may be just around the corner on March 5, but its owners have implemented an extended soft opening to get feedback from the neighborhood. By offering a limited cocktail and food menu, along with a solid wine and beer list, owners Komi Memushaj and Xhevair Brakaj are putting the finishing touches on everything, while also creating word-of-mouth buzz.

“The idea is to have people come in, give us their thoughts … so when we open those doors everything is running smoothly,” said Memushaj. “We really want the community to be at home here.”

No finishing touches are needed to the impressive year-long renovation process. The prominent hardwood and brick décor is elegant and inviting, and a wall-sized mural in the back corner is the standout — a black-and-white graphite depiction of 19th century High Street with intricate detail. Hanging adjacent to the mural is the iconic Short North arch. Memushaj says the idea is to celebrate the city’s history, hence using Columbus’ turn-of-the-century nickname, Arch City.

While much of the ambiance is rooted in the past, the cocktails offer a modern update on a bygone era. Created by consultant Nicolene Schwartz, the architect behind a number of Columbus’ top drink lists, the list features classic cocktails with contemporary flare. The Columbus Experiment (clove and cardamom infused OYO bourbon, Laird’s Applejack, green Chartreuse, maple syrup and lemon) is one I can’t wait to try.

Because the full cocktail list wasn’t available, I had to choose from Arch City’s list of 24 drafts. Don’t feel too bad for me though, because there are some fantastic options. North Coast’s Brother Thelonious — something I rarely see on draft — is my recommendation, and there are solid options from Flying Dog, Rivertown and Three Philosophers.

On the food side, Arch City offers upscale comfort foods. The lobster mac and cheese was creamy, hearty and stuffed with plump lobster tail. I can’t wait to go back for the hamburger made with four types of beef.