Barley’s Alehouse No. 1
467 N High St
Visited on February 10, 2008
A lot of my first brewpub stops were in Ohio, which makes sense, given that I grew up in Ohio and my parents still live there. Of those initial stops, Barley’s Alehouse No. 1 was one of my favorites.
Located directly across the street from the Columbus Convention Center and right next to the North Market, the location couldn’t be better. The building itself, however, could. The decorations and woodwork aren’t spectacular by any means, but they’re not bad either.
The same could be said of the beer. While nothing is of outstanding caliber, everything is extremely well done. But what sets this place apart in my book was the food. Sure, it’s pub grub; but it’s really well done pub grub. The meatloaf sandwich I had on my first visit was everything I want a sandwich to be.
This brewpub is one of three breweries located in downtown Columbus. It’s located in a part of town called the Short North, which has a lot of history behind it. The building is nothing special from the outside, and inside they’ve done very well with what they have to work with. The dining area is long and narrow, but not very big, so I’d hate to see what the place is like during lunch, since it’s right across the street from the convention center. The walls look sponge painted in a pleasing pale yellow. Giant posters sporting beer ads from Europe’s past adorn the walls along with lots of bottles of craft beers. The bar area is small, but does offer three or four televisions.
The food consists of absolutely wonderful pub fare. I had a meatloaf sandwich, and I loved every single belly-filling bite. I don’t doubt it was made in-house. The meatloaf was flavorful and juicy. The bread was fresh and moist. The onion straws were crispy and perfectly prepared. The dipping gravy (yes, I said dipping gravy!) tasted better than mom makes, and she grew up on a farm in Indiana. They have several interesting side choices, including a roasted corn polenta, which was creamy, but needed a bit of salt. Not bad, but I’d get something else next time. There didn’t seem to be any dessert offerings, but that was fine with me, because the North Market is right outside their back door, which means Jenni’s Ice Cream (the best I’ve ever had and featured on Food Network’s Unwrapped) is but a short walk away.
The beer was good, but nothing special. They offered tastes for $.75 each, and pints were $4.25, which is reasonable. The Scottish Ale was sweet but filling, the Christmas Ale was spicy enough that the flavors weren’t lost in with the food, and the Auld Curiosity Ale was complex and fulfilling. I liked these three the best. The stout was disappointing, and the Russian Imperial Stout did not surpass many of the regular stout’s I’ve had other places.
Very solid service, kept my glasses full, and provided a receipt with the list of my sample beers on it so I could keep them tracked. I don’t know why they don’t have a standard sampling rack or list on hand for samplers, but it got the job done.