1554 Polaris Pkwy. Columbus, OH (614) 781-7829
The original founder of The Pub chain, Nick Sanders, is a definitive entrepreneur. Even before graduating college, he had already taken claim in part of the Long John Silver’s franchise, and by 1981 he had reopened his father’s restaurant, deSha’s, in Cincinnati. After that, he had nowhere to go but up, and Sanders quickly made his mark as a restaurateur, creating three additional brands, including The Pub chain. The Pub was inspired by Sander’s long appreciation of the British pub concept. A British pub is friendly and enjoyable—it’s rooted in community and often is a meeting place for locals. Sanders carved out a unique upscale-casual brand, using the British pub model, but tweaking it a bit for Americans, creating a gastropub of sorts. Nick Brunotte, the General Manager of The Pub at Polaris, is a young, emerging face in the restaurant business himself. Brunotte opened The Pub in December 2008, and has witnessed a consistent increase in patrons since.
The Pub gives an illusion of privacy within the five-square miles that surround the consumerism-saturated Polaris Fashion Place. Tucked within the newest, alfresco part of the mall, The Pub provides an escape from the hoards of shoppers and congestion of Polaris Parkway. As one can quickly surmise from the name, the restaurant emphasizes beverages for the twenty-one and uppers, but it’s kid friendly, too. It’s a place that welcomes everybody—from corporate executives, ladies on shopping sprees (and their husbands who might just need to take a load off at the bar), the college-aged crowd and everyone in between. What is amazing about The Pub is that they’ve managed to chisel out a niche; a task that becomes increasingly difficult in an area where 250 restaurants have already staked claim. What The Pub is not, is Irish. It’s open and pleasant as a proper British pub is supposed to be—not dark and cavernous, like its Irish counterparts.
The Pub serves lunch and dinner, and stays open late for those finishing their pints at the bar. On weekends, the doors are open until 2:00 a.m., and weekdays, until midnight. Speaking of pints, The Pub offers imported ales and lagers from the UK. The Belhaven Scottish Ale, the Leffe Blonde and the Harp must be sampled. But if you’re thirsty for a glass of wine, try the Martin Codax Albarino, Brunotte’s favorite. Don’t miss The Pub’s happy hour, 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, to get a taste of all of the above for cheap. The experience doesn’t end with traditional British food and drinks—the entire décor was shipped from the UK and the wait staff is always decked out in Scottish skirts and kilts.
The Polaris site is the newest of the chain, which has nine other locations spread between the midwest and Florida. Although it seems rather oxymoronic to plop a pub—a place that is supposed to thrive on community, remember—within the impersonal façade of a mall, it works here. The Pub is attracting a growing crowd of regulars, as they should, and shoppers often crave a sense of seclusion and privacy after a day spent in the claustrophobic environment of the numerous department stores.
The Pub has everything that one would expect a British joint to carry: Fish and Chips, Bangers and Mash, a full English breakfast and Sheperd’s Pie. Other dishes may throw diners for a loop, like Jamaican and Indian inspired fare. The reasoning behind the seasoning: The Pub’s menu encompasses cuisine from the entire British Empire—including former colonies, giving life to what has the potential to be a bland assortment. Traditional British cuisine does not receive a great deal of culinary praise; instead, descriptors like “heavy” and “unimaginative” are used. The Pub has broken from the mold, at the hands of Executive Chef Lonnie Sholar, who is unafraid to experiment with flavor and spice, taking advantage of a little something called creative freedom.
We tested a sampling of Brunotte’s favorites, starting with two appetizers: the Seared Ahi Satay and the Spicy Jamaican Jerk Shrimp. These two dishes work perfectly as a meal for two to share. The seared tuna was served over a light noodle salad, with a dab of wasabi and mixed greens. The Jamaican shrimp came in a ceramic ramekin with a light jerk sauce. Toasted slices of baguette accompanied the dish for a hands-on starter plate.
We couldn’t go to The Pub without trying a few of the most traditional British dishes. We dug into the Bangers and Mash first. The bangers are two thick sausages, one fennel, one sage. They’re served over chive whipped mashed potatoes, accompanied by fresh greens. Next, we shared the English Pot Roast, which could easily rival your mother’s secret family recipe. This, too, is served with mashed potatoes and greens. Both dishes have the flavor and warmth that one yearns for on a cool fall day. We also noshed on the Grilled Salmon, which is prepared perfectly and paired with haricot verts and red skin potatoes.
For dessert, we were treated to the Jamaican Cheesecake. Slices of banana, caramel and whipped cream surrounding a to-die-for cheesecake with an Oreo crust made for a sinful final course–truly encompassing a highly unique dining experience.