Anyone who's supped on stale Chex Mix knows that good bar vittles are hard to come by.

Anyone who's supped on stale Chex Mix knows that good bar vittles are hard to come by.

Surely burgers, subs and wings provide adequate sustenance during an evening of beer-fueled bedlam. Most tavern owners, however, give as much thought to their menus as they do to the blazing neon signs they put up in their windows.

Not so at the Lost Shepherd in Powell, which fits into the emerging gastro-pub grouping, meaning the food is as important as the alcohol. There's a real chef in the kitchen, Chris Newton, who's been involved with the Flatiron, Rigsby's and the Pig Iron -- all good in their own right.

From stem to stern, the menu is terrific. Almost everything, save for a few odds and ends, is prepared in house, almost unheard of in any tavern. Portions are noteworthy: Nothing is grossly oversized and starches aren't intolerably allocated. Case in point: Sumptuous lamb loin ($15), cut into thin slices, is placed over a tile of polenta, lapped by a pool of tomato sauce fortified with chopped kalamatas.

Placed over a crispy risotto cake, walleye ($12) is skillfully pan seared, drizzled with a cream sauce that has just enough citrus to complement the fish.

Sandwiches, the standard on any pub menu, are far from boring. The roast beef rolls ($9), tantamount to a French dip, are luscious, displaying slow-roasted meat on crusty rolls with a topping of melted cheese. A side of whole-grain mustard provides a good punch, while the cup natural beef jus is mellow and savory. Likewise, the two tenderloin sliders ($12) are nothing fancy, and they don't have to be. It's just an honest plate of food, offering up ample cuts of buttery beef, topped with sweet caramelized onions and cheddar, and served on quality ciabatta bread.

Even the BLT ($7) is an original: Strips of bacon -- firm and crispy but not tough -- are layered with ripe tomatoes, field greens, a touch of mayo and cheddar on grilled sourdough.

Newton gives a nod to one of his favorite restaurants, the late Tapatio, by naming a dish after it. The pudgy shrimp are cooked to firm, placed over cornmeal pancakes and black beans, and lavished with a rich cream sauce. Those who remember the Short North-area restaurant will be overwhelmed with delight -- and nostalgia.

Don't write off salads as rabbit food. The Shepherd's artichoke salad ($8) eats like a meal, offering tender hearts, grilled asparagus, shaved pastrami and Parmesan flakes dressed with a tart red-wine vinaigrette. The Greek salad ($9) gets a crowning of four shrimp, a definite plus, but the real treasure is the house-made dressing, which gets an important infusion of dill.

Many people might roll their eyes at the thought of chicken fingers, the heavily battered, most frozen variety served at most casual joints. Not here. The buttermilk chicken-breast strips ($8), served with a sweet honey mustard sauce, are lightly dusted with cornmeal and fried to the right degree - good to the last bite.

For dessert, cheesecake is the thing. A classic slice ($4), which uses a firm graham cracker crust, is perfumed with vanilla.

As stated, portions are reasonable, not overstated, so hungrier patrons can order from a number of quality sides. Here's something you don't see every day in a bar: a respectable risotto ($3) displaying bright yellow dots of sweet corn -- chopped right off the cob.

Servers are generally professional and affable, eagerly touting the food's homespun traits.

The wine list is limited but there's a more than admirable selection of imported beers and microbrews, and a dozen drafts.

On Olentangy Street near the quaint downtown area, the Lost Shepherd is minimalist in design -- brick, dark woods, a cement floor and low lighting. The few TVs above the bar are tuned to sporting events. But who needs distractions? The most exciting things are happening on the plate.