It’s a tough assignment when a new restaurant occupies the space of an old, beloved, now-closed restaurant. It’s even tougher when the space being occupied is so iconic that both the new restaurant and the old restaurant took their name from the space itself.
That’s the challenge for the Flatiron Tavern, which opened this month at the northern edge of downtown Columbus. It’s located in the Flatiron building — a skinny, multi-story brick structure — and it replaces the Flatiron Bar & Diner, which was one of my favorite lunch spots and also a pretty good place to have a beer on a Friday afternoon after work. The old Flatiron was known, by me at least, for its interesting, Cajun-infused menu and specials and its consistent ability to deliver one of the very best cheeseburgers in town. It was a sad day indeed when the old Flatiron suddenly shut its doors — but my great experienced with the old venue also made me eager to give the new spot a good early look.
The Bus-Riding Conservative and I legged it over to the Flatiron Tavern yesterday for lunch. I was glad to see that the space looks pretty much the same — with the exception of a some TVs added to the walls, which thankfully were not playing at high volume — and that at least one of the old Flatiron staff members was manning his familiar station behind the fine old wooden bar. When the BRC and I got there the place was packed, which was a good sign, so we sat at the bar.
The Flatiron Tavern menu is a bit more limited than the old Flatiron carte, and there wasn’t the blackboard with specials that the old restaurant featured. So be it! Not surprisingly, I ordered a cheeseburger, which is served with chips. In my book, the cheeseburger is a pretty good test of a new restaurant. This cheeseburger didn’t reach the exalted level of the prior Flatiron burger, but it was perfectly good — and the next time I’m going to get a double. It’s pretty clear, too, that the new restaurant is still working out the kinks, with the staff hustling like crazy and things taking just a bit longer than they will when routines are established.
Still, it’s good to see an iconic space filled again, adding to our downtown dining options. I’ll be back.