Chargrilled burgers and 60 draft beers are the featured items on a small menu, but the sides and appetizers from this Pint Room offshoot are well-executed, too
Fans streaming into Nationwide Arena hoping to see the Blue Jackets skate their way into the playoffs again have a new nearby dining option in The Half Pint. At The Half Pint, such fans can expect juicy burgers, well-made sides and appetizers, a wealth of craft beers and volume levels rivaling Nationwide Arena when the Jackets score a goal.
An offshoot of The Pint Room in Dublin, Half Pint occupies prime real estate that's little more than a few slap shots from the arena. Weather permitting, the eatery offers a prime people-watching patio, too.
Inside is a modern room featuring plenty of windows, metal, brick, wood and commendably friendly servers. The open layout includes a big, curved bar and enough TVs to qualify as a sports pub. In addition to the bar, seating is available at simple tables with tall aluminum chairs and at cubby hole-like wooden booths that are sleek but about as comfortable as spending time in the penalty box.
While sipping on one of the 60 draft beers offered, you can peruse a short menu that's efficiently executed even when the place is packed and seems chaotic. On it, you'll find something called Bar Bacon ($5), which you should get. When ordered with the barbecue dry-rub, you'll receive three long, warm and thick strips of charcoal-black pig meat that taste like tenderized, high-quality beef jerky.
Bacon reappears in the pleasant Brussels Sprouts ($9). This is a huge serving of halved and properly roasted vegetables with palate-leaveners of chili flake, lemon, tangy-sweet roasted cipollini onion bulbs and Parmesan cheese.
Want more cheese? The Cheese Curds ($7.50), served in a little fry basket, are popular. And with crisp, not-too-thick beer-batter enveloping molten dairy blobs, why wouldn't they be?
Grated white cheddar cheese and drizzles of sour cream enrich the thick and hearty Short Rib Chili ($4). Loaded with pot roast-like meat supported by pinto beans, black beans and a mild but flavorful tomato base, it's a terrific starter.
When you order a burger — and you should — your server will ask “Pink or no pink?” I like this, as it sidesteps the conundrum of “What is your definition of medium, medium-rare and medium-well?” I recommend “pink,” and I recommend arming yourself with an extra-long section of the tableside roll of paper towels.
Half Pint's burger patties are moderate-sized, but the fresh beef in them has a big flavor from a smoky chargrilling that evokes a backyard cookout. So the meat doesn't get completely lost even when accompanied by forceful add-ons like you'll find in the fiery 5 Alarm burger ($12.50): pepper jack cheese, caramelized onions, crispy onion straws, chilies, avocado, “sweet sriracha mayo” and more. All sandwiches come with a generous side; the creamy mac-and-cheese with toasted breadcrumbs is a soothing partner for this spice-bomb.
The Mushroom & Bleu ($12.50) seems like a missed opportunity for a menu pun — Mushroom and Blue Jacket burger anyone? — but this “bleu” cheeseburger hits its goal. Onions two ways — pickled and lightly battered straws — join the namesake ingredients. Try this with the good but sometimes salty fries.
If the prospect of beef doesn't ring your dinner bell, Half Pint's distinct Turkey Burger ($12.50) is one of the best around. The herbed and chargrilled patty is teamed with pickled red onion, pepper jack, kale and arugula. A “chipotle-cranberry mayo” reminds you that cranberries and turkey are simpatico.
I also liked the inevitable and enormous Buffalo chicken sandwich ($12) with crackly battered breast meat and a spicy, vinegary sauce. I even momentarily thought that eating it caused that goal-celebrating arena cannon to boom in my head — but it was so loud in there I wasn't sure what I was hearing.