Buckeye Hall of Fame Grill - Game On

900 Goodale Blvd., Columbus, OH 43212, (614) 299-6639

 
WHAT:
One doesn’t need to be a Buckeye fan to appreciate the magnitude of the tribute blazoning the Buckeye Grill’s walls. Pictures, posters, trophies – even letters from U.S. presidents flank the brick walls here – all creating a poignant testament of the love of the Ohio State establishment. It’s a museum with great food, with old- and recent-time memorabilia juxtaposed with wine chests, rotisseries, and hand-crafted hall-of-fame insignia. And one thing you must know before stepping inside: this is not the former café. It’s not a new location with the same concept, same crew. There’s no affiliation. The grill stands on its own and has now for nearly a year. It deserves to be noticed as such.

WHO:
Restaurant veteran Gary Petroff took great strides this evening to walk us through the grill to spotlight some of the best showcase pieces. Archie Griffin’s 1st Heisman Trophy and Jim Tressel’s signature vest were just a couple of the treasures we viewed before heading to our colorful-cozy booth in the bar area. There we met Executive Chef Mark Johnston as he guided us through his menu, detailing what makes his dishes unique. The flavors in the dishes here pull from all corners of the earth, Johnston said, but asked to sum up the grill’s core, he promptly defined it as “Southwestern Americana with an Asian persuasion.” To us, as we were soon to find out, that sounded perfectly fitting.

WHEN:
The grill opens daily at 11 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and at 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. You’ll also find some interesting spots within for your next private dining affair. Here, there’s no extra charge for the rooms, simply minimum food bills. The covered patio looks like a cool place to hang out, too, with a block-O fire pit that will certainly be put to use come football season. What better place to watch the game than this gathering place with its multiplex of large-screen TVs.

WHERE:
Grandview Yard. Heard of it? Located in the heart of Grandview Heights, this once-vacant 90-acre site now stands as a vital, growing urban neighborhood. And it’s very conveniently located near State Route 315 and I-670. It was so easy to get to, we almost stumbled over it. It’s easy to get into, as well. Though there’s no valet parking, a free parking garage sits nearby.

THE TEST:
What a feast we were presented with. Executive Chef Johnston was proudly eager to share to his Chicken Tortilla Soup, which highlighted his affinity for southwestern flavors. His bowl blends up perfectly creamy with pureed corn tortillas serving as the roux for the broth, while shredded rotisserie chicken, chunky avocado and cilantro fill it up. We discussed the importance of a good soup on any menu and all agreed: if the soup’s good, it’s likely the rest of the dishes will be as well.

The Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers come pretty as a picture packed with chorizo sausage, cheeses and topped with Applewood-smoked bacon. The simplicity of this appetizer makes it a standout; the jalapenos aren’t fried at all, and the meaty mixture within tastes of no fuss, uncompromising its simple compilation; the ingredients are great enough to stand on their own.

Nachos are nachos are nachos you might say? Not these, and we were dared to distinguish what makes them unique. We won’t reveal the secret ingredient; you have to figure it out on your own, but we’ll give you a hint: it’s sweet. This element added to the rest of the goodies on these hefty chips makes the dish very distinguishable from any others you’ve had – we dare say.

Super salad plates made it into the lineup; the first down was the Seared Ahi Tuna Salad, seared, burgundy-red fish drizzled with a fiery house-made sauce and plated alongside springy-fresh greens, jicama, tomatoes and avocado in miso dressing. We found the fleshy tuna delectable contrasted with the seared outsides. Next, breaking from the southwest-Asian themes, we explored the Spinach Salad, made remarkable by the juicy-sweet strawberries slices within, pecans, feta, and an oh-so-delicate poppy seed dressing that unified the flavor.
Sandwiches galore fill the menu: Grilled Cheese, Patty Melt, and a Buckeye Burger, sometimes criticized for coming with blue cheese and mustard sauce, Michigan colors. We bypassed these treats for a couple entrée plates. Mainstay Ribeye Steak here gets potatoes, here smashed with chewy bits of skin within, and veggie treatment. A meaty Ribs and Chicken plate came next, the ribs succulently moist and chicken straight from the rotisserie. Both are accentuated with hand-cut fries and light and tangy coleslaw.

Like peanut butter and chocolate buckeyes? Then you must try the Buckeye Pie. You likely have never had anything like it. This pie consists of peanut-buttery pastry cream atop an Oreo cookie crust with a pillowy cloud of whipped cream. It looked amazing and tasted even better than it looked.