Almost 20 Ohio craft taps offer hoppy distractions in a loud and rowdy room with a trendy rustic-chic look. Cool instrumental mood music bounces insignificantly in the background. From a little chef-driven menu, bold-but-controlled and salt-envelope-pushing flavors burst out of creative, yet accessible, dishes.
Almost 20 Ohio craft taps offer hoppy distractions in a loud and rowdy room with a trendy rustic-chic look.
Cool instrumental mood music bounces insignificantly in the background. From a little chef-driven menu, bold-but-controlled and salt-envelope-pushing flavors burst out of creative, yet accessible, dishes.
No, this isn’t a hip restaurant in the Short North; all the children are a tip-off. It is the terrific new Kraft House No. 5 in downtown Powell.
The chef driving Kraft House No. 5 is Marcus Meacham, formerly of Bodega. Hired by owners Louie and Michael Pappas (of Milo’s and Tommy’s Diner fame), Meacham knows a thing or 200 about contemporary style — in which Kraft House No. 5 is awash.
Gastropub-mandatory metal and reclaimed-wood accents break up a predominantly slate-gray open space. (The host stand is a halved beer barrel.)
The decor includes butchering diagrams of a pig and a cow. After a meal, the sketches seem gratuitous because Meacham clearly already knows his way around bovines and porcines.
In addition to highlighting local brews, Kraft House No. 5 offers a few smartly chosen wines, some available on tap ($8 a glass).
Among its impressive “house original” cocktails ($10), the intensely refreshing “Ginger 101” (Hendrick’s gin, Domaine de Canton, Green Flash West Coast IPA) is like a cannily reimagined Tom Collins. The bittersweet adult lemonade offers smoky notes from a torched-lemon garnish.
Smoke, a hot ingredient in the culinary world, is popular here. While it dominates an intriguing and savory tomato soup ($6), it lends a subtle puff of magic to the mini smoked lobster roll ($13). Sold as an appetizer, the wonderfully buttery and toasted duo of miniature New England-style top-loading buns holds smatterings of sweet lobster meat flattered by a crunchy, mayo-free celery-and-onion salad with a whiff of vanilla.
Comfort comes in a cute little skillet with the killer mac and cheese ($6). Supplying counterpoints to its five-cheese creaminess are toasted breadcrumbs, chili flakes and summery herbs.
Silliness comes in lurid red — and in sweet-and-sour spears — with the cherry-Kool-Aid-dunked Delta pickles ($1). Reinforcing the kitchen’s affinity for Southern foods, the whimsical jaw-poppers are a fun (if acquired) taste from the Deep South.
More serious fare arrives with the superior crispy kale salad ($8). Unlike chewy, bitter and funky kale salads, the graceful version tosses both crinkly oven-baked and tender baby leaves with spring greens, bourbon-marinated dried cherries and pistachios in a refreshing “ pickled-spring-onion vinaigrette.”
Equally interesting, if less successful, is the entree-sized chop house salad ($13), like a chef salad. Still, its ingredients of lettuces, gargantuan croutons, smoky bacon lardons, plentiful turkey chunks, cucumber puree and a mustardy peach-vinegar dressing sound better than they taste.
Conversely, the menu description of the knockout double chop ($20) doesn’t do justice to the huge, thick and succulent piece of beautiful pork. Contributing crispness and intermittent sweetness are a maple glaze and an “almond-walnut brittle” crust. Balancing the flavors is a chorus of scorched Brussels sprouts, bacon and potatoes plus a ring of toasted-garlic oil.
The umami-bomb hanger steak ($22) is another home run. Resembling an open-faced sandwich, tender and juicy edge-seared beef crowned with onion straws is fanned atop a prettily browned potato-and-truffle cake. A compound butter flavored with shiitake mushrooms and roasted serrano peppers makes it even more memorable.
And don’t forget dessert. “24 Karrot Gold” is a witty essay on carrot-sweetening. A wiggly slab of bruleed carrot-marshmallow “frosting” tops minced-carrot-threaded tangy cheesecake yielding to a moist and nutty carrot cake. As advertised, it is as good as gold.
* * *Kraft House No. 5
5 S. Liberty St., Powell
Rating: 4 stars (out of five)
Hours: 4 to 11 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 4 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays, and 4 to 10 p.m. Sundays
Price range: $10 to $22 (sandwiches and entrees)
Ambience: small but stylish gastropub that is surprisingly family-friendly and often loud
Children’s menu: yes
Reservations: for parties of eight or more
Liquor license: full
Quick click: contemporary, Southern-tinged and comfort-food dishes reimagined by a talented chef, plus cuts-above beverages