One of the OSU campus area’s newest restaurant/bar combo spots, Ethyl & Tank, was the appointed meeting site of a recent guys breakfast I had arranged with a couple of buddies, which we usually try to do together every couple of months. Located just about a block off of High St. and right across from the Student Union, Ethyl & Tank is a long, brick building with a slender patio out front, and a cool, retro neon sign that marks the otherwise unassuming exterior of the building. I’ve been wanting to check out E & T since they opened earlier this year, and figured that the trendy campus restaurant that’s also part coffee shop/part bar/part arcade (yes, you read that right), would be a great grub spot on a Saturday morning. I took Grub Boy (aka. my eight-year-old) along with me, and we arrived at around 9:00am and grabbed one of the several empty metered spots right out front.
Ethyl & Tank is brought to us by the same folks who gave us the Crest Gastropub, and as much as people like to down its elder sibling for their struggling quality and higher prices, Ethyl & Tank is making a name for itself as a hip neighborhood joint where you can find tasty, Southern-inspired meals from morning to late night, and for a great price, too! E & T is as visually appealing as any place in town, with bright colors, a wide-open floor plan, exposed brick, high ceilings, and much more to look at. The perplexing name is derived from a now defunct gas station/truck stop somewhere in Georgia, which inspired the rugged concept of the restaurant itself. In fact, much of the original lighting and signage from the shop was used to bring life to this new space.
When you first enter, you’re standing in the space glowingly appointed as “Ethyl”, a full-service coffee shop where the drink menu is divided into “Classics” and “Specialties”. Here, you can order up anything from a basic cuppa joe to iced coffees, frozen drinks, pour-overs, and more. They also offer bagels, cookies, and other pastries for take out or as a pre- or post meal snack.
The restaurant and bar side of the operation is the main focus of the space just to the left of the coffee shop. As I mentioned, the bright and vibrant colors, as well as the rustic brick, make this attractive area a hip, fun place to come enjoy happy hour at the bar – aka “Tank” – where there are almost 40 beers on tap, or the perfect spot to fill up on anything from breakfast and brunch to satisfying those late night hangover munchies.
Speaking of drinks, a lot of people like to partake of them with their brunch/breakfast, so Ethyl & Tank have you covered – aside from the bar, they offer an extensive Bloody Mary bar for just $5.00. I’m not a fan of vodka or tomato juice, but if I was, I’d be pumped at the awesome selection of mixes, spices, add-ins, and garnishes that are available.
I’m more of a fan of coffee with my breakfast, so I decided to ask our server about their coffee selection. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to order something at “Ethyl” and walk it to my table, or if I could order with her. She offered to bring a sample of one of their two house specialties – the “Congo”, which she described as dark and chocolatey, or the lighter, fruitier “Summer Punch”. She brought me this tiny E & T branded sample mug, containing a few sips of the latter, which was later confirmed to be a blend of a couple different Ethiopian flavors. I ordered up a cup, and was very happy to be able to enjoy such a great coffee with my meal.
The menu at Ethyl & Tank seems to lean toward being both a little bit Southwestern, and a little bit Southern-fried. I was hugely disappointed when our server announced to us as soon as we sat down that they were completely out of pork. I had been eyeing the Tank Pancakes all day the day before, as I browsed their menu online, and had my taste buds totally prepared to devour a big stack of flapjacks topped with pulled pork and cheddar cheese. I was crushed. She did offer to substitute steak or chicken for any dish that regularly included the pork, but it just didn’t have the same appeal. Nevertheless, I had to regroup. I wasn’t worried though, because E & T’s breakfast menu is loaded with lots of breakfast options, like breakfast tacos, fried egg chicken fried steak, a chicken & waffles sandwich, orange blossom french toast and more.
We started our meal with a plate of the Biscuits & Chorizo Gravy ($6.00) for the table. The four of us completely devoured these…ok, ok…it was mostly me that devoured these. But the other guys helped (a little). The biscuits were baseball-sized drop biscuits that were dense and moist, and were covered in a lake of creamy, flavorful white gravy. The deliciously spicy chorizo was sprinkled on top, and was proportioned very well. This has got to be one of my new favorite biscuits & gravy dishes in Columbus.
Ethyl & Tank doesn’t have a kids menu per se, but that didn’t deter my son in the least. He spotted his usual favorite, the Pancakes ($7.00). These cakes are thick and fluffy and big – everything you want a stack of pancakes to be. They come with one of four toppings – mixed berry compote, Jameson maple syrup, rosemary apple cinnamon compote, and Nutella banana custard. Being a creature of habit, the boy requested just plain old maple syrup to top his stack. I asked if we could have some of the mixed berry compote on the side in case he changed his mind.
My buddy Roman ordered the American Tank Scramble ($7.00), which was one of those dishes that should have come with the pulled pork but didn’t. I believe he substituted the chicken in its place. It was an extra large portion (looked to be at least a 3 egger) and also included bacon, onion, diced tomatoes, and was topped with cheddar jack cheese. You’ve just gotta love a good scramble some times.
My cousin ordered another of the huge scramble dishes, the South American Scramble ($7.00). This one again was a huge plate-filler that combined eggs, chorizo, green chiles, tomatoes, onions, and was topped with queso fresco and salsa, and came with four corn tortillas. I liked the fact that the tortillas were included, so that you have the option of making breakfast tacos if you wanted to. He really enjoyed this dish, and said that the flavors were really vibrant and lively.
In lieu of the Tank Pancakes, I ordered the recommended Smothered Breakfast Burrito ($7.00). Burritos aren’t something that I order very often for breakfast, but I decided to give this one a try. It was a huge portion, and was filled with scrambled eggs, chorizo, black bean corn salsa, potatoes, sour cream, and was topped with their house made Bloody Mary mix and melted cheddar jack cheese.
The filling was hot and gooey and was a mix of lots of flavors and textures. It was good, but I wasn’t blown away. I’m still trying to find a breakfast burrito where the stuff on the inside has as much flavor, or more so, than the sauces or cheeses on the outside. It wasn’t bad, and it filled me up plenty.
The boy was anxiously awaiting blasting some video game bad guys, so after breakfast we headed upstairs to check out the arcade. E & T’s game room is stocked with a dozen or so 80’s arcade games that are all set to free play. They’ve got some classics up there such as Pac-man, Street Fighter 2, TMNT…
And his favorite of the day, Terminator 2. He could have stayed for hours.
We all really enjoyed our breakfast at Ethyl & Tank. I think the space itself is spectacular, with the beautiful colors and decor. The food was just a bit hit and miss for me, but I think that’s because I’m still disappointed I didn’t get my Tank Pancakes. Everything else was wonderful, including our servers. The restaurant is still very young, but has everything it takes to survive in the ever-changing landscape of a college campus – a great coffee shop, an impressive bar, a delicious menu, and even a free arcade.
It’s a great addition to the Columbus breakfast scene, and one that I’m sure we will be visiting again soon.