Restaurant Review: Press Grill
Located in the Short North, The Press Grill is the sort of place that plays a soundtrack featuring AC/DC and Kiss without irony.
Other joints may position themselves as the next hot dining destination for the haute couture crowd, but that’s not the Press Grill’s scene. It’s a neighborhood bar, and no matter how gentrified the Short North gets, the Press Grill will remain a cozy, neighborhood bar.
And this particular neighborhood hangout turns out some dynamite eats from a kitchen that sits at the back of the house, behind the bar. It is a teeny little nook, a model of efficiency. One — maybe two cooks have space to work back there. And somehow, they can serve a whole houseful of diners from just that little space.
Because loaded fries are a new personal obsession, the Loaded Cottage Fries ($8) seem like an obvious starter. Flat rounds of potatoes are blanketed with a layer of cheddar-jack that overflows and seals itself to the pizza pan upon which the glorious mess is baked. The starter is finished with bacon, diced tomato and a dollup of sour cream that’s about the size of a tennis ball: Lawd yes, that’s good stuff.
Pizza pans are used for more than just loaded fries at Press Grill, they’re also used for making legitimate pizzas. The Original Pizza ($12) starts with a poofy crust that gets topped with endless slices of cheese (you can see the use of cheese slices, as opposed to shredded cheese, because the kitchen action team is so very nearby behind the bar), a dense layering of pepperoni pieces, then sprinkles of parmesan on top. The meat curls up in the oven, making the finished pie a comfort foods masterpiece.
The pizza options go well beyond the classic pepperoni: the custom offerings include a White Pizza and a loaded version named The Works. Control freaks can just build their own pizzas from a selection of eleven toppings.
The favorite thing so far might be the Meatloaf Sandwich ($7). It’s earnestly the best meatloaf sandwich in recollection, period. It’s not the thickness (quite generous) or the barbecue sauce (also good), it’s the meatloaf itself. It’s a savory, meaty mixture of pork and beef and zero weird stuff. There’s no suspicious lumps in there, no surprising flavors or textures: it is a meaty meat lovers’ meatloaf.
Alternately, there are deli options, burgers, and a solid Fried Egg Sandwich ($6): two eggs and cheese on texas toast make it about perfect. Skip the tomato and lettuce.
You can add some sides on that order. The list includes cottage cheese, proof positive that Press Grill isn’t interested in haute cuisine. The Wedge Fries ($2.50) are good. A Small Greens Salad ($3) is a fancy-ish surprise. It’s made of field greens with strawberries and bleu cheese. It’s the sprinkling of balsamic vinaigrette that makes it double fancy.
You can find Press Grill at 741 N. High Street. It’s open Mondays through Saturdays from 11:30am until closing at 2:30 am (the kitchen closes earlier, though). On Sundays, it opens at noon.
For more information, visit www.pressgrill.net.
Photos by Walker Evans.