The Barn @ Rocky Fork Creek
Central Ohio locals may remember a place in the not so distant past called Hoggy's that served some of the best "commercial" (read chain) BBQ in the area. Ribs, Pulled Pork, Prime Rib and arguably the best Macaroni and Cheese to ever surface in a restaurant kitchen this side of the Mason Dixon line. One thing that added to the authenticness (did I say that right?) of the joint was that it was housed in what looked like a huge barn complete with a real, full sized tractor hanging from the ceiling that only the bravest of souls would sit directly under while secretly contemplating if their demise would come at the hands of the suspension cables giving way. Not to sound grim, but if you did in fact dine there, you know exactly what i'm saying.
Well around 2012/13 the last Hog was slaughtered and the memorable chain came to a close (for the most part as there is one remaining location with a paired down menu). A victim of overexpansion and changing taste of the public (ironically another local chain with a mediocre menu imo continues to flourish, hey City BBQ), forced the company to liquidate.
Thanks to a local entrepreneur turned worldwide restaurateur, Cameron Mitchell however, Hoggy's flagship location has been reopened and rebranded as "The Barn At Rocky Fork Creek". If you've ever visited one of his establishments, then you're well aware of great lengths in detail he goes to fully immerse you in the experience and totally change the perception that a restaurant's only defining characteristics lie in its menu.
Totally rebranding this space, the only thing you will recognize is the barn facade, but even that was reimagined as the entrance was refreshed, complete with covered lounge space & valet parking for those times your overindulgence prevents you from walking the extra 27 steps to the adjacent parking lot. A brand new deck and outdoor seating area with umbrellas to shade you from the daytime sun and firepits to keep you warm during the summer and fall evenings is also available.
The interior reminds me of the old speakeasies I've seen from the prohibition era. With wood abound and a sitting area with the type of big cushy chairs that make you feel as if you should have a cigar in one hand and a cup of Bourbon in the other while reading the Times & placing a wager on the "horsies".
Speaking of Bourbon, The Barn features "The Bourbon Lounge", much more intimate than your average bar, this space features around 50 different types of Bourbon and pretty much any other liquor you could imagine (double shot of Tito's Vodka, chilled glass please). During the Sunday Brunch there's the Bloody Mary Bar, which keeping with full disclosure, i'm not a fan of BM's (can't get past the tomato juice) and really thought this would be nothing special but mistaken I was. This was a spread and an event as the bartender would be more akin to Merlin the Magician, assembling each drink from a wide range of ingredients you select. I admit, I was tempted to try one just to see him build it. If you're a Bloody Mary lover,then this is your spot! Click HERE to check out the Bourbon list or HERE for the Bloody Mary Bar options.
Now that we've provided you with an overview of this buildings history and reimaging, touched upon its current "spirit" options and allure, let's get to why WE were here.... Sunday Brunch!
Served every Sunday from 10 AM till 2:30 PM (which are lovely hours BTW), this Brunch in greek mythology would be Atlas, as it carries every other Brunch on its back.... Seriously!
Literally any and everything you could ask for is available from Chicken & Waffles (Belgian of course because this place is pretty swanky), Eggs benedict, Biscuits & Gravy, Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Fresh Fruit, Mac & Cheese (Unlike Hoggy's but still good nonetheless), Cold Shrimp, Mashed Potatoes, Crab Dip, Scrambled Eggs (not powdered like my High School Banquet served, yes, its 20 years later and i'm still bitter about that!) Smoked Salmon and enough options to keep the dishwashers employed thru the next Sunday.
Now all of this is great, but let's talk about my plate:
Smoked Chicken - I was very very surprised as I was expecting the typical dried out "Yard Bird" but this was the total opposite, full of flavor and almost falling off the bone. I'm not sure what kind of glaze was on it but it was semi-sweet and perfectly balanced the smokey flavor. KFC should spend some time with the cooks here.
Prime Rib Carving Station - As a "stripes wearing Prime Rib Vet", I know a quality roast when I see one (man I miss Victoria Station). The marbling was spot on and cooked exactly right (Medium Rare however for those that prefer theirs not running away from them, other temperatures are available). The aus ju and house made horseradish, which is a must for Prime Rib, added the kick as expected! It was very hard for me to NOT just keep loading my plate up with this trust me.
Pecan Crusted French Toast - Ok so I added the "crusted" part, but in essence it was. Fluffy slices of bread you pull apart, coated with pecans and what tasted like a maple honey mix, and to top it off, they messed up by allowing me to choose from additional toppings I could add at my discretion. My apologies to the nice lady waiting in line behind me as I took what seemed like 5 minutes shaking the right amount of powdered sugar on top. When I finished it looked like the peak of Mt. Everest! You know when you goto Olive Garden and your told to let your server know when to stop grating cheese onto your salad? Yes, i'm the guy that lets them go a solid 5 minutes before saying stop. Same thing here.
Pancakes - Typical Breakfast Buffet's will have a bin with loads of warmed over pancakes that can easily be mistaken for Nerf products (Hi Shoney's!), but as you should know by now, The Barn is atypical in many regards. You place your order for your flapjacks with your waiter and they cook to order! When mine arrived, my gripe upon visual inspection was that I needed butter and they failed to provide this to me. So I felt like an idiot when the waiter told me to just try it (listen, I don't need directions, I asked for butter, give me BUTTER!), so I did and umm yea, I don't know what kind of Land O' Lakes magic they are working back there but he was right! They were fluffy AND buttery. I apologized and promptly ordered another stack!
The proverbial "Icing On Top" was after plate number 2,355 was polished off, Charisse PAID! I mean, our bank accounts are linked, so really we both paid, but it just feels good to slide the bill across the table! Thanks love.
In summary, well, by this point I think you know how we feel about The Barn. It's a building with history and a surefire future. With so much to offer outside of the cuisine, you'll definitely enjoy your visit here for any occasion, anytime of the year! Seeing how good the Brunch Buffet was, I know Dinner is top notch as well, and we will be back!
Special thanks to our waiter Mike! See you again soon my friend and don't worry, I won't be asking for extra butter next time.