The Inn Between is a old-school Downtown lunch spot that was recently rebooted under new ownership. I never dined here until last week, so I don’t have a complete frame of reference, but to most people it will appear as if nothing has changed here for many many years.
The Inn Between is located in the ground floor of a parking garage located a few blocks east of The Statehouse. The restaurant itself is quite large with dim lighting, lots of wood paneling and a bare-bones bar that runs along the entirety of the back wall. The large glass windows on the front of the building do offer a nice view of Downtown office buildings.
The menu at The Inn Between is very lunch-centric with a variety of basic salads, sandwiches, burgers and entrees. In addition to regular items like Fried Bologna, Ruebens and Chicken Alfredo pasta, there’s a rotating mix of special items featured on different days of the week.
The Rumplemeyer ($8.45) is a specialty unique to The Inn Between, though not overly complex. It’s essentially a BLT topped with chicken salad on toasted bread. The two-sandwiches-in-one actually works well together and the creamy peppery chicken salad tasted fresh and homemade.
The Classic Cheeseburger ($7.95) is a mammoth sandwich with a half pound of meat in an oblong bun. Toppings include onion, lettuce, tomato and your choice of cheese. I ordered mine medium and found it to be cooked well to order. The beef patties were freshly hand-pressed giving the burger a homemade taste. While nothing really stood out as unique other than the large bun, I found this to be a well made burger, and a lot of food for the price. Thankfully, a smaller version is available for $6.50, which I’d probably recommend for most people.
The Chili Dog ($6.50) is another super-sized menu item with a quarter-pound beef dog topped with cheddar cheese, red onion and a healthy slathering of chili. The dog was almost brat-like with a thick skin and sausage-like seasonings, and the sub sandwich bun reinforced the idea that this was much more than just a hot dog. The bun did hold together nicely despite the massive amount of chili, making it still easy to pick up and eat (I assumed it was going to be a fork-and-knife dog when I first saw it). I found the chili to be a big disappointment though. It was overly sweet and flavored much like sloppy joe mix, rather than a true tex-mex chili. The cole slaw side was a nice treat though, providing a classic rendition of this creamy dish. Once again, there’s a lot of food here for the price, but I can’t recommend this dish without a serious upgrade to the chili.
The Breaded Fantail Shrimp ($8.50) is a new menu addition. Six large round shrimp are breaded and fried to a golden brown in a pretty straightforward fashion. Fantail shrimp are typically farm raised rather than caught wild in the ocean, which gives them a milder flavor. Lemon and cocktail sauce are served on the side, but I would have preferred some sort of unique house-made sauce to jazz them up. The french fries gave the impression that they had been fried in the same oil as other breaded fish, which personally I loved. They were almost beer-battered with an extra bit of crispiness, and made for a good accompaniment to the shrimp.
Overall, nothing really blew my socks off at The Inn Between, but I don’t think its supposed to. It’s primarily your standard bar food offerings with a smattering of unique twists that have permeated the menu for several decades and continued onward under the guidance of new ownership. Combined with the interior decor, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time dining at The Inn Between, which could be heaven for some if that’s the type of environment that you’re looking for. Personally, I can appreciate the unpretentiousness of the restaurant and the familiar comfort that this type of environment brings. I wouldn’t take out of town guests here to impress them, but I would meet up with old friends here for a drink and a cheap dinner after work.
The Inn Between is located at 30 South Young Street in Downtown Columbus, and is open from 7:30am to 7:00pm, Monday through Friday. More information can be found online at www.innbetweencolumbus.com.
Photos by Jennifer René of Jennifer René Photography.