Restaurant review: Arch City Tavern provides relaxed atmosphere, craft beers, delicious meal
Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 22, 2013 13:03
The Short North might have a new hidden gem in a recent arrival to the local food scene.
And I’m completely serious when I say hidden, because my friend and I drove by the new Arch City Tavern, which opened officially on March 5, twice before we actually located it. But the relaxed, candlelit environment and seafood smell that met us when we walked in the door will be hard to forget.
We were greeted promptly and politely by the bartender who motioned us to sit anywhere. For a place that seemed small from the outside, the inside was spacious and offered a variety of seating from the bar — which ran most of the length of one side of the restaurant — to high-top tables and quiet booths scattered throughout.
We chose a booth along the wall that was cozy and allowed a clear view of the flat-screen TVs, of which the restaurant had six scattered throughout, above the bar. Our server approached the table within five minutes. She was personable and explained the lengthy list of craft beers to us while offering suggestions.
The restaurant offers 24 different drafts and 28 bottles of craft beers from around the world. Prices on a pint ran anywhere from $5 to $9, and bottled beer runs from $4 to $28 for a bottle. It also offers a nice wine list with a variety of whites and reds priced from $7 to $10 per glass or $30 to $44 for a bottle. Along with the beer and wine, Arch City offers a full bar with house-specialty cocktails.
After much debate, my friend ordered a pint of Ballast Point Big Eye for $6, and I had a Mountain Dew. Our drinks arrived quickly while we tried to decide between the appetizers. Although the menu is quite small, it offers a number of dishes that sound appetizing or, at the very least, interesting.
I decided to start with the French onion soup for $6, and my friend ordered the lobster mac ‘n cheese for $12. We were both very interested in ordering the charcuterie platter, which offers a variety of meats, cheeses and pâtés, but we decided against it because it cost a whopping $15.
Next, we chose our entrées from a list that I hope expands in the future, since it only included two burgers, three pizzas and fish and chips. I ordered the Arch City Burger for $13, and my friend chose the $12 Margherita Pizza. I was quite curious about the fig pizza that has arugula, roasted pine nuts, black mission figs and goat cheese on it among other ingredients, but decided that it was a little too adventurous for my taste when considering the $14 price tag.
My friend and I received our food in good time, but we were confused as to why we received our appetizers at the same time as our entrées. However, the thoughts were quickly forgotten once we got a look at the meal before us.
The French onion soup was like none I had seen before. The warm soup came topped with croutons and a melted Gruyére cheese crown that ran down the sides of the hand-hollowed sweet onion bowl. I have never seen French onion soup served in a hollowed onion.
However, my friend was a little less impressed by his lobster mac ‘n cheese. He felt the seafood was not as fresh as it should have been for the small $12 dish, however the cheese was creamy and the noodles cooked correctly. He believed he could have made the same dish in his own kitchen.
We moved on to our main dishes. I was taken aback by the delicious creation after just one bite. The burger was made up of the finest sirloin cooked to a perfect medium-rare and topped with Muenster cheese, cilantro, grilled red onion, avocado, seasoned bacon and some amazing sauce that I could not figure out. The dish came with fresh-cut fries that were pretty good but could have been a bit crispier. However, I was very happy the fries came with a bottle of malt vinegar to douse them in.
My friend’s pizza was nothing spectacular, but he said it was good nonetheless. It was topped with roasted garlic oil, cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil and had a light, buttery crust that was a giant step up from our usual $5 college budget pizza.
After devouring as much of our food as we could, we chatted with our server for a bit about the food and the restaurant as she tried to convince us to order some dessert. The restaurant offers a variety of different pies daily from Der Dutchman Bakery. Our choices were black raspberry, coconut cream or peanut butter chocolate cream pie, of which we chose a piece of the black raspberry pie. It had a creamy white, pudding-like top with a base of the black raspberry fruit all over a soft, buttery crust that complemented the soft pie perfectly. It was sweet end to a great meal.
The crowd seemed to be mostly young professionals, and I think the prices would deter many college students. However if you are looking to splurge, have a delicious meal and try some new craft beers, I certainly recommend a trip down High Street to this bar.
Arch City Tavern is located at 862 N. High St. and is open from 4 p.m. until 2:15 a.m. daily with the kitchen serving food until 1:30 a.m. every day.