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Restaurant Review: The Walrus Kitchen & Public House

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Restaurant Review: The Walrus Kitchen & Public HouseAll photos by Walker Evans.
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For a while there, it seemed like the secret to recipe-success was adding bacon.

Bacon t-shirts, bacon festivals, bacon in baklava, bacon jelly, bacon sprinkles for ice cream: the modes of celebrating the substance are endless. People love their bacon.

All the same, when it comes to the newbie Walrus Kitchen & Public House, the parts of its menu that shine the brightest, are the parts that don’t involve bacon. At least, that’s true for the intriguing-sounding appetizer: Deep-Fried Deviled Eggs ($7). It’s deviled eggs wrapped in bacon, then beer-battered and fried.

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The fried batter is flawless, thick and crunchy enough to hold its own form. The deviled egg inside makes a dense, flavorful core. But that bacon in the middle ground: it’s squishy. It’s probably plenty cooked in the deep fryer, but its jiggly white parts make it seem suspiciously close to… something not yet cooked. When it comes to pork, suspicion is a heavy burden and effective prophylactic against enjoyment for anyone with OCD tendencies.

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So the Portobello Fries ($7) are a better bet. The same relentlessly crunchy coating gives way to thick wedges of chewy, soft mushroom. They’re even better with salt and dunked into some of the chipotle mayo sauce.

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The entrees are terribly well-priced. For an interesting non-meat option with plenty of zip, there are the Sweet Potato Tacos ($10). Ordinary tacos filled with sweet potato would be pretty boring. These are not. The tuber cubes are mixed with black beans and sweet corn and a mini wedge of avocado plus crumbles of queso fresca. It makes a good balance of textures and flavors.

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There’s also a giant Cauliflower Steak ($10). It is a lot of cauliflower. A Lot. Aficionados of the veggie will marvel at its balsamic drizzle and grilled accents. Non-cauliflower people will note that it tastes like… cauliflower. Even grilled, it’s not beef steak, it’s cauliflower; cauliflower teamed with sweet potato cubes and an artsy squirt of pea-puree.

Something that tastes less like cauliflower is a side option called Cauliflower Mash ($3). Outside the Walrus World, chronic dieters have been hailing the concept of mashed cauliflower as some sort of healthy cheat food. While it’s not starchy like mashed potatoes, it might pass as some sort of cousin to buttery grits. It’s an entertaining side.

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Along with the edgy eats, there’s also a nice hamburger selection in the menu. The original Cheese Burger ($10) is a sizable gourmet burger; thick and juicy, with cheese that melds to the top of its surface. Tomato, lettuce, pickles and onions give it a little extra crunch. Burgers come with appealing fries that boast a craggly, fried-on seasoned coating.

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As might be expected from a public house, The Walrus has a fun beverage selection: everything from sugar-free Red Bull to house cocktails. A little masterpiece called Juan Pablo’s Seeing Eye Dog ($7) is a sweet mix of bourbon, OJ, carrot juice and cinnamon. Maybe it’s not a classic combination, but its sunny hue and flavors are easy to swallow on a summer day.

The Walrus is a comfortable joint at 143 E. Main Street. It’s a long, skinny space lined with a brick wall that bears its name. There’s a pool table in the back, lots of tall tables, and big round booths for dining that are worth fighting for.

For more information, visit www.thewalruscolumbus.com.

Photos by Walker Evans. Photos are taken at a different time than review, so discrepancies between photos and review may occur.

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