Hefty, comforting and relatively inexpensive meatloaf sandwiches are the main draw in this welcome new restaurant with deli-like characteristics

Do you think Newfangled Kitchen is an unlikely title for a restaurant specializing in meatloaf? I did, at least initially. Instead of exercising my brain much over Newfangled’s name, though, I’d rather spend more time enjoying the cute and amiable eatery’s well-prepared food.

Serving in the heart of Bexley since December, Newfangled occupies a bright and inviting, modest-sized space where obvious attention to detail has been paid to design and branding. The establishment’s recently painted yellow-and-gray walls — which are echoed in stripes that grace shiny wooden tables — are decorated with impressive graphic artworks that highlight menu items.

Assessing this setting and the nicely organized, sandwich-heavy menu, it becomes clear that, rather than a diner-style business — which seems to be a preferred natural habitat for meatloaf — Newfangled resembles a modern deli. There’s an apparent reason for this.

Co-owner Eric Dennison is a veteran of Lexi’s on Third and Katzinger’s Delicatessen. Laura Dennison, his wife and the co-owner of this family-operated shop, often works the counter where she provides notably warm and personable service.

The deeply comforting, righteous meatloaf the Dennisons showcase isn’t as simple to prepare as it might seem. Arriving in hefty, firm and structurally sound slabs with appealingly crusted edges, the onion-speckled loaf is springy and juicy, and neither too soft nor too dense.

The Fang ($8), one of five sandwiches with meatloaf, is an excellent illustration of this place’s strengths. Newfangled’s beefy claim to fame is accessorized with lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles, American cheese and “Fang sauce,” which tastes like mayo mixed with barbecue sauce. Placed in a nifty egg-washed bun, the whole shebang — basically a meatloaf sandwich built like a cheeseburger — is heated in a sandwich press that imparts the puffy, flavorful, golden-brown roll with a warm and crinkly exterior.  

Some like it hotter. If that describes you, try the Lucifer’s Hammer ($8.50), a similar sandwich fired up with pepper jack cheese, spicy, mayo-based “diablo sauce” and pickled jalapenos. 

If heat isn’t your thing, order the Joe Cool ($7.25). I was moderately skeptical about this chilled meatloaf sandwich — until I bit into the big and satisfying construction with lettuce, ketchup, pickles and good-quality white bread.

Meatloaf sandwiches are Newfangled’s forte, but nothing I tried was a stinker. The recommended Bella Donna ($8.50), assembled with mushrooms, roasted red peppers, spinach, mozzarella, oat-flecked whole wheat toast and more, is a hearty if somewhat messy vegetarian sandwich with sweet and creamy accents.

Grilled bologna so thick it might’ve been cut with a band saw anchors The Big Deal ($8), a pleasant sandwich with American cheese, mayo and salad toppings. Bulky chunks of respectable roasted chicken breast join cheese, plus smoky bacon and barbecue sauce in the gratifying if somewhat unwieldy Hunter S. Chicken sandwich ($8.75).

Newfangled’s sandwiches are sizable, but if you’re famished you can tack on deli-style, mayo-fortified sides such as the rib-sticking Dill Pickle Potato Salad ($2.75), punctuated with onions, or the likable minced Cole Slaw ($2.50).

A daily soup such as homey, herb-scented chicken noodle($3.75), plus a few entree salads are offered, as well. From the latter group, the Tuna Nicoise ($9.25) is a pretty faithful rendition of the classic made with canned fish, kalamata olives, green beans (Newfangled’s are lightly pickled), hard-cooked egg, tomatoes and boiled potatoes. Tied together with a lemony house dressing, it’s a healthful ensemble that will definitely fill you up.

The Chocolate Kettle Chip Cookie ($1.75) is guaranteed to hit your sweet spot — and a salty one, too. It’s a big soft-yet-chewy cookie packed with chocolate chips and dotted with crushed potato chips. Like many of Newfangled’s old-school items, it’s a simple and soothing pleasure. 

Photos by Tim Johnson