Finally! I think I have more readers nagging me to continue the burger hunt than times my mom nagged me to stop wearing all black in high school! That's why, when Sunday came around and our game wasn't televised, I suggested to Husband we visit Gallo's Tap Room at the recommendation from a reader.
Gallo's Tap Room is located on the NW side, in the Olentangy Plaza shopping center, which is home to one of my favorite Asian Grocery stores (Columbus Asian Market) and what might be the most depressing place on earth (KMart, but that's neither here nor there). Gallo's is kind of a sports bar for beer snobs, which is just fine with me. I'm not really the sports bar sort, so it had never occurred to me to wear some sort of team-related paraphernalia ("should we get matching Steelers jerseys?" I said to Husband, who merely replied with a glare); I wasn't aware of the sports-bar code. It's this: if you are wearing a Steelers jersey, your server will kindly tell you what giant TV screen will be showing your game. Who knew? If you happen to be wearing a green tee shirt and a tan cardigan, your server will just assume you are out of place and not mention that you are about to watch the Browns.
As mentioned before, and as the name of the joint implies, Gallo's Tap Room has lots of beer on draft. Each specialty beer is poetically described on the menu, making ordering very helpful. They have Brooklyn Lager on tap, which is just fine with Husband, who is quite fond of it. I chose the Unibroue (the fine folks behind such Cbus faves as Fin du Monde) Éphémère, which is a delightfully crisp and light apple beer with a nice sweet & tart apple flavor. Perfect for the time of year. The beer was served in a snifter (every time) which seemed a nice touch for a sports bar, especially given how busy they were for football Sunday.
Husband, strangely enough, wanted to start off with the fried mushrooms. Tiny button mushrooms are coated in crunchy breading and fried, served with a side of housemade horseradish mayo. The portion was generous, the nuggets were great with beer, and I really appreciated the hot bite of the horseradish sauce (which begged for some prime rib).
Okay, have I said enough good things to get to the burgers? Gallo's burger is a hand-formed Angus beef patty, served with your choice of cheese on a ciabatta roll, with fries on the side. The fries, which are very potatoey (I'm not being cutesy - sometimes fries taste more like used fryer oil and seasoning than potatoes), had a light and dry interior and persistent crunch which alluded to either double frying or the rare fryer frying at the correct temperature. Our server was nice enough to take a temperature on our burgers (we ordered them medium); unfortunately, they came out well done and dry. I think these burgers suffered from at least 2 problems - overcooking and not using a fatty enough cut of meat to begin with. I know everyone wants you to think 90% lean ground beef or ground sirloin is really good for you, but we're talking burgers here, folks. If you want healthy, get sushi. If you want a juicy burger, use the 80% "lean" ground chuck, which will even stand up to overcooking. These burgers had no juice. Although the meat tasted good quality and was well-seasoned, neither of us could get over the dryness, which was exacerbated by the chewy (although toasted) ciabatta roll. There were also no pickles on the burger (a spear came on the side); I did ask for a side of the housemade mayo (an extra 50 cents), which was light and studded with black pepper. Although I don't typically go for mayo on burgers, this did quite a bit to save the dryness of the patty.
I liked the burger slightly more than Husband, and was willing to give it the "average" 3 fries, but Husband grimaced when I asked for the fry count - "I think only 2," he said. Which is too bad, because I think the folks behind Gallo's seem really nice and hardworking. Fortunately, I think the burger can be saved with a decent burger bun, fattier meat, and including the mayo and pickle on the plate.
Service at Gallo's was efficient, especially considering our server was serving the entire room of about 35 people single-handedly, without taking notes, remembering everyone's drinks and keeping their tabs straight. The crowd was far better behaved than I had expected, especially considering there were a few holdouts from the 1 o'clock game. Although Gallo's was a good place to watch the game, Husband and I nonetheless petered out around halftime, took our loss, and headed out into the rain.
Verdict: 2.5 fries - although the fries, mushrooms, and beer selection ensure a revisit. If we lived in the area, we would certainly put Gallo's in our bar round, so there's no reason to let the burger issues keep you from visiting. As a bonus, they actually have a few healthy selections on the menu.
Info: Gallo's Tap Room 5019 Olentangy River Road (actually in the Olentangy Plaza Shopping Center) 614.457.2394