3150 Tremont Rd
Upper Arlington, OH 43221
Everything about Houlihan’s demonstrates a wide range of taste. This midsize chain has a location in a wide range of cities around the United States. Its menu generally trends towards Americana but then also adds a huge number of tastes from a number of other ethnic cuisines, and the bar seems like it’s a jumping off point to a lot of other kinds of feels. Cozy is definitely a good word to describe the place, but it’s got to be about the food and in this place I wonder what the strategy is behind that.
The menu shows enormous variety, at least on the surface. Want a burger? A bowl of Ramen noodles? Korean fried chicken? All of it is available in some form here. Here’s what I tried:
- Steak Ramen Bowl: Seared steak in a miso-based broth with egg, ramen noodles, cabbage slaw, and a hard-boiled egg. So the ingredients are right, but the dish is not. The broth’s heavy with beef flavor and not the lighter miso, and the egg in ramen tends to be soft-boiled and there’s a good reason texture-wise. The end result is confusing.
- Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo: Heavy, thick and full of wonderful creamy sauce, topped with a thick grilled chicken patty. The proportion is nice, the chicken patty is bland. It could use some more seasoning, some extra kind of cheese or maybe a bit more garlic? There are a few ideas for really good fettuccine.
The state of the restaurant scene in Columbus is one of this enormous diaspora. Especially in growing mid-sized cities with diverse ethnic populations. You want to really good bowl of Ramen? There’s going to be one restaurant in town that does nothing but it. One good Korean food? There will be two or three restaurants in town that only make good Korean food. In that atmosphere I wonder about a place like this. It commits half heartedly to a wide variety of cuisine’s without ever actually accomplishing any of them in a deep sense.
The variety it’s a good thing, but when it’s not accomplish well it’s just sort of a mess of different foods that don’t really Meet your appetite for whatever you’re looking for. My sense is this place is trying to do a bit too much. Focus would be very, very helpful.
- There are lots of deals for less expensive food; $5 happy hours, a mailing list that promises a free birthday meal; in-restaurant coupons that promise discounts on return visits, and the like.
- Good for a quiet and cozy date or small group.
- The Americana dishes are probably the best kind of thing to eat here. Other stuff can be hit or miss.