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Restaurant Review: Service Bar

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Restaurant Review: Service BarPhotos by Lauren Sega.
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Middle West Spirits’ Service Bar is a heavy-hitter on the local dining scene. Frequently spotted at the top of dining lists, it secured the number-one spot on the most recent Columbus Underground’s reader favorite list.

There’s a reason for its success.

The kitchen works an angle that infuses popular favorite foods with extra and vaguely exotic angles. The place is like a gateway drug for wanna-be foodies and gourmands, a way to test drive something fancy, in a context that is comfortingly familiar.  

Ambience-wise, “intimate” is probably not a term that will ever be used to describe the dining experience, wherein seating is invariably close. If Service Bar isn’t exactly intimate, though, terms like “bustling” and “engaging” certainly apply.

So, consider engaging in something that has become its signature dish: the Gordita. Well, not really a gordita, that’s Taco Bell’s name for the dish. At Service Bar, it’s properly called the Cheesy Brisket Crunch ($17), and it is indeed a take on the classic Taco Bell offering. The dish has caught the eye of not only the local media, but also national attention in Food & Wine. For the uninitiated, the Taco Bell version includes all the traditional Taco Bell fixins (cheese, lettuce, tomato, strange meat) within a folded flatbread.

Service Bar’s version ups the ante with Bengali fry bread, and something that is a giant step up from T-Bell’s mystery meat: smoked, seriously smoked, brisket. Here, it’s all the things the original Gordita could be for about five times the money. But the experience is worth it. Plus, you get two in your order. And unlike fast-food versions, your stomach won’t hurt for days after eating Service Bar’s fancy tacos.

From there, guests can continue in a fast-food bent, test driving the house take on a Big Mac, with its two “mostly beef” patties and special sauce in its Burger ($17). While Columbus has plenty of places that specialize in burgers, Service Bar’s name should be among the serious contenders. It is as carefully constructed as the rest of its offerings, right down to the bits of crunchy lettuce. Thick cut fries make for excellent companions, with a double-crunchy shell that gives way to warm potato goodness.

The Cheese & Poof ($11) offers the house take on trendy pork rinds. Aptly named, fresh-fried, large-scale, puffy “poofs” of pork skin are teamed with a contrasting fire-roasted pimento spread that give the combo heft and depth. Or, there are more sophisticated dishes on the menu too, wandering away from the familiar, there are the achingly tender Lamb Dumplings ($16); plump pods with an Asian influence and a notable kick.

Service Bar is part of Middle West Spirits, which is already a trailblazer in the local drinking scene. There is a paralyzing array of interesting, provocatively beautiful cocktails available, including the bratty Beez Nuts ($11). If you can get over the name, it’s built on a double dose of OYO Honey Vanilla Bean Vodka and honey-nut syrup.

Service Bar offers off-street parking. The restaurant is open evenings, Wednesdays through Sundays, and can be found at 1230 Courtland Ave.

For more information, visit servicebarcolumbus.com.

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