Bar Exam columnist Joseph "Jeb" Bernert says the Clintonville tavern presents an enjoyable experience overall.

The Crest Gastropub seems to be trying to be everything to everyone, and it might actually be succeeding, for the most part.

For anyone who has been keeping a finger on the pulse of the local bar and craft-beer scene, the humble Crest Tavern in Clintonville has undergone a complete transformation. With its revamping, the Crest Gastropub has gone from a dingy neighborhood haunt to one of the most vigorously hyped new pub/restaurants in recent memory.

The Crest, 2855 Indianola Ave., has traded in its brooding past for sleeker contours and brighter days. Both warm and sleekly polished, the interior of the Crest meshes precise decor with brick walls and ample amounts of scotch-shaded wood that invoke the "instant classic" look.

On two separate visits, I saw separate sides of the Crest.

On my first trip in early summer, there was an impressive and eager energy to the service, but there were more than a few missteps: out of date tap lists, wrong drinks poured and disorganized service.

But, to be sure, growing pains are a part of life, especially the life of a new restaurant, and I was happy to find my second trip to the Crest markedly improved.

Adopting the trend of crafting a menu that takes traditional pub fare and elevating it to ever greater gastronomic heights, the Crest's menu seemingly strives for something akin to comfort food for foodies.

I was most impressed with the eponymously named Crest Burger, which features locally sourced, grass-fed beef, caramelized beer onions, herb mushrooms and havarti cheese on a brioche bun ($9). It was stunningly delicious, and I don't suspect that I'll find many better pairings with a Headhunter IPA ($5) any time soon.

On top of its unsurprisingly large craft-beer tap list (50 cents off from 3 to 7 p.m.) and enticing cocktail menu, the Crest also features a small but deliberate wine-on-draft selection, which consisted of a rose and a red blend, both from Charles & Charles, a high-quality producer from Washington State, and both were $6 a glass.

So is it a cozy neighborhood pub or high-concept gastronomic destination for the entire city? If any place seems capable of wearing both hats, it just might be the Crest.

Jeb Bernert is an associate at Gentile's, the Wine Sellers–