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Strip Mall Surprise: A treasure trove of bourbons, pub food at McClellan’s

Aaron Wetli

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Welcome back to Strip Mall Surprise, where we highlight locally owned restaurants and bars that just happen to be located in a, wait for it, Strip Mall. Today’s installment is a little different as it focuses on a Irish pub with great food and one of the largest bourbon, scotch, and whiskey selections in Central, Ohio: McClellan’s Pub.

Opened six years ago by Amy Schirtzinger and nestled off of Sawmill Road, McClellan’s is easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it. Upon arrival, patrons are greeted by a friendly and knowledgeable staff and offered seats at a large bar or medium sized dining area, where they can peruse a high-end pub food menu and get lost in the bottle selection.

Bourbon is uber popular right now and in Ohio, November is a big month for new releases. If you can’t locate that small batch release from a giant distillery or the single barrel offering from a smaller operation, odds are with their 500 bottle selection, McClellan’s Pub can pour a shot of what you are looking for.

And what a selection it is: Whistle Pig, Weller, Woodford Reserve, McKenna, Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace, Elmer T and Pappy Van Winkle (among others) for as far as the eye can see. When I asked Schritzinger how many of the notoriously hard-to-locate Pappys she had, her response was simple, “All of them.”

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So what made service industry veteran Schirtzinger decide to open a bourbon-centric Irish pub?

“I’m Irish and proud and love whiskey and pubs,” she said, adding that she also admires all the unique and creative brown liquor bottles.

One of those unique bottles that will soon (think Christmas time) be behind the bar is the W.L. Weller Full Proof. McClellan’s won’t be the only location in Central, Ohio to get this particular pour, but it may be the first, so make sure the bourbon nerd in your life is aware of this fact.

As for the food I mentioned earlier, my go-to selections are the spicy and rich Sriracha Bourbon wings (70 cents each on Wednesday) or the crispy and robust Fish and Chips ($6 on Tuesday). You can also can’t go wrong with Guinness BBQ Pork Sandwich, Prime Rib Sliders (love the horseradish and caramelized onions) or the Irish Nachos; a concoction of sliced potatoes topped with pulled pork, beer cheese, sour cream and jalapenos all smothered in the Guinness BBQ sauce.

What are you waiting for? Get out there, drink some brown, and support local.

McClellan’s Pub is located at 6694 Sawmill Rd. Visit mcclellanspub.com for more info.

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Food & Drink

We Sheet you not, Sheetz is coming to Columbus

Mike Thomas

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Regional gas station chains seem to accumulate cult followings of loyal customers. While word of a new convenience store coming to town may not seem like a big deal at first, just ask your friends from Pennsylvania about Sheetz.

The popular chain of convenience stores and coffee shops headquartered in Altoona, Pennsylvania has announced an expansion into the Columbus market with this remarkable hype video posted to Facebook:

Sheetz locations offer fresh, made-to-order food options that set the chain apart from the usual gas station fare.

No open date for the Central Ohio location has been announced at this time. For more, visit www.sheetz.com/

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Food & Drink

Raising the Steaks: Ruth’s Chris returns to Columbus with new Short North digs

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With no shortage of local competitors welcoming carnivores, Ruth’s Chris Steak House has opened its doors in the Short North. After shuttering its Crosswoods location in 2016 due to “market changes,” the Florida-based steakhouse is back in the Bus.

The new restaurant promises a fine-dining experience tailored especially to the Columbus market and its location.

Photos: Rebecca Tien

“Knowing that we are across from the convention center, this is one of our bigger locations to allow room for a larger bar, private dining rooms and main dining room,” says Maria Policastro, general manager of Ruth’s Chris Columbus. “We kept the Short North Arts District culture in mind during every step of the design process as well, making sure we included elements that incorporated the downtown skyline and ever-present Ohio buckeye trees.”

Indeed, the entrance feels homey and features local art on display to bring some “Columbus” to the space. The building was once home to a hotel, and while undeniably formal, the dinner-only restaurant nevertheless offers a warm and welcoming feel. The waitstaff has its service down to an absolute science. Hand-polished wine glasses top each table and every element of the dining experience is expertly attended to.

Regardless of whether diners care to indulge in one of its more than 250 wines or a vintage-inspired craft cocktail, the main event here is the food. Its extra-thick-cut, wet-aged USDA prime steaks are broiled in a trademark 1800-degree oven and served sizzling on a 500-degree plate so every last bite stays warm.

“From our food to our service, Ruth’s Chris really stands out on its own,” said Policastro. “Ruth believed in treating her guests and employees as family, so that’s how we treat them too—by being warm and welcoming and paying attention to every little detail.”

Ruth Fertel mortgaged her home in 1965 and purchased Chris’s Steak House, a 60-seat restaurant located in New Orleans. After a fire forced her to move locations and rename the restaurant, she settled on Ruth’s Chris Steak House, hence the somewhat strange moniker.

Fertel, who died in 2002 at 75, would likely be shocked to see the size of the private dining rooms in the Columbus restaurant that bears her name. “Our private dining rooms are some of the largest at any Ruth’s Chris,” says Policastro. “When designing our private dining rooms, it was important to us that we made enough space to accommodate our customers in this busy area, along with larger parties who choose to dine with us after visiting the Convention Center or coming from the Ohio State University nearby.”

The private dining rooms each have their own unique Columbus vibe, with names like the Goodale, Victorian and Buckeye Rooms. Which is fitting because, “we’re around the corner from Columbus’ historic Goodale Park, we’re part of the Victorian Village, and we are in the heart of Buckeye nation,” Policastro said. Ruth’s Chris Steak House Columbus is already seeing its private rooms booking up for upcoming events and holidays. “We cannot wait to host these special moments for those who live in and visit the Short North Arts District.”

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse is located at 511 N High Street. Learn more at ruthschris.com/restaurant-locations/columbus.

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Easton’s “dramatic” rooftop bar and restaurant opens this week

614now Staff

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Heads up, Easton, a snazzy new concept is opening this week. Restoration Hardware, or RH, will open The Gallery at Easton Town Center and RH Rooftop Restaurant & Park and Wine & Barista Bar on Thursday, December 12, at 11am.

According to a release, The Gallery "represents the brand’s quest to revolutionize physical retailing," with "immersive experience features artistic installations of luxury home furnishings in a gallery setting."

The three-story, 55,000-square-foot space will serve as "one of the most comprehensive collections of luxury home furnishings in the world."

The "dramatic" Rooftop Restaurant will offer "a year-round, skylit garden escape offering a timeless, ingredient-driven menu beneath a soaring atrium with retractable glass walls, and sparkling crystal chandeliers.

The restaurant will open onto a landscaped park with outdoor lounge spaces and trellised London plane trees.

Situated just off the grand stair, the Wine & Barista Bar will serve craft espresso, fresh-baked pastries, and artisanal wines to enjoy in the Rooftop Park.

This development will act as the anchor for Easton's new $500 million expansion.

RH Columbus, The Gallery at Easton Town Center is located at 4120 Worth Ave., Columbus. For more information, visit eastontowncenter.com.

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