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Case Study #3: Over The Counter (Worthington)
Though I didn't know it when I started, Worthington's Over The Counter is the third of a trifecta of places I had targeted in this mini-series. The first blog post, featuring Pat and Gracie's in the Graceland Shopping Center, is a great neighborhood-style hangout in an place I always expected to have a little more restaurant action than it does. Meanwhile, Old Beechwold/Clintonville-based Bareburger and its burgers that strive for something higher (grass-fed beef as well as more exotic proteins like elk, duck and boar) had been a bit on an culinary island in the metro but now find themselves surrounded by competition.
Over The Counter (OTC, as I'll call them from here on out) turns out is in a location that I never even considered for a restaurant, but succeeds not only because of that location but also because of its quality-for-the-price comfort classics focus.
Even now, OTC remains a bit incognito in the Sharon Square shopping mall where Worthington and Columbus meet; you're much more likely to spot retro-styled Collage Salon sign on the property next door on a quick passing by. With Natalie's Coal Fired Pizza (and its sister speakeasy The Light of Seven Matchsticks downstairs) and longtime red sauce institution Villa Nova drawing crowds directly across the street, I figured this not be a great location for another eatery.
However, OTC, which resides in a former drug store, has proven my initial instincts wrong. This eatery is not really a direct competitor to either of the two previously mentioned restaurants, going for a much more casual, neo-retro vibe combined with reasonably-priced comfort food/diner creations. While we haven't had to wait for a table even when the place was buzzing (a small outdoor patio area helps handle the crowds during the warmer months), my spouse and I are hoping to test out the vintage vinyl couches that make up the waiting area one of these days.
We also discovered that OTC's menu is focused and diverse at the same time, if that makes sense. Numerous sandwiches from a Grilled PB&J to Black Bean to a Fish & Chips dot the menu, but they don't go overboard on variety. I had initially figured there'd be more than one burger on the menu, but they only sport just one model (The Counter Burger, which is pretty tasty.) However, this base model is customizable with a fried egg, bacon, cheese, and/or an extra patty as options.
More menu items are dedicated to the venerable hot dog, which features their 1/4 Angus Beef dog straight up, wrapped in bacon (their Charlie Dog), and split down the middle and slathered with Sloppy Joe sauce, cheese, relish and onions. This Sloppy Dog isn't terribly picturesque, but it's pretty darn satisfying.
Continuing in on the hot dog theme, OTC's version, which come as an appetizer form, are also pretty addicting as finger food. In fact, the appetizers make for a good meal - the chicken fingers also earn the thumbs up from us, and OTC offers up a platter featuring your choice of three appetizers (fried veggies and pretzel bites are also options) if you so choose.
The sides, like the standard local potato chips (you can upgrade to fries and onion rings on sandwich orders) are for the most part decent but not why you'd drop by this eatery. As someone who does like my Cole Slaw, I wished OTC's version sported some kind of kick in one direction or another (tangy or peppery), but as it stands, it's kind of bland. We'll be planning to exploring other sides like their Mac N Cheese and Seasonal Veggies (either steamed or sauteed) on future visits.
On the other hand, OTC duplicates that focused yet diverse theme with the adult beverage selection, with 10 beers on draft, plus many more cans and bottles, wines (OTC sports a wine happy hour on weekday afternoons), as well as mixed drinks. Locals that we've seen include but are not exclusive to Rockmill, Columbus, Zaftig and North High.
OTC has quickly become a favorite neighborhood spot for my spouse and me, and we haven't even explored their brunch (typically our favorite meal together) yet. I guess that just adds a little extra incentive to get back there sooner rather than later, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Over The Counter
5596 N High St. (Google Maps)
Worthington, OH 43085
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