CMH Gourmand

Eat, Drink, Repeat: Culinary Discovery & Misadventure in Central Ohio

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My Lonely Lunch in Spain (Restaurant)

Posted by cmh gourmand on September 8, 2010

(Note. This location in this post closed and a new location opened in 2011 and closed a few years later RIP)
76 Powell Rd (High St. / SR 23 and Powell Road)

Spain Restaurant might be described as simpatico with Don Quijote. Both share comic-tragic elements as part of their characters but their stories are inspiring. Spain is a Spanish restaurant on an epic quest to avoid being forgotten. It has many strikes against it. One of the owners committed suicide in the restaurant years ago (he was a kind man and great host; I spoke with him several times). The location is best described as horrible – hidden inside the lobby of a Best Western Hotel, hard to reach corner along a forgotten commercial strip. In spite of this, Spain remains open despite a poor economy, poor location and no PR (see my November 2006 post).

Manager Andres Casal remains on duty like a loyal Rocinante or Sancho Panza. He is quick to acknowledge regulars, always cheerful and very committed to good service. He often works in multiple roles during the days – manager, server, bartender, bar-back, janitor and jack-of-all-trades. If you know un poco espanol, he will indulge you and seek out your company for practice.

On a recent Friday, I dined in for lunch. I was the only customer present for my entire meal. There were no signs of previous patronage nor did I see any new faces coming in as I was leaving. Andres reports that lunch is chronically slow but dinner can be brisk at times. Bewildered and disoriented hotel customers expecting to come in for a diner style hamburger as well as local Latinos coming to salsa on Saturdays visit the restaurant.

If you enjoy quiet, full service lunch without having to wait for a table, Spain may be your destination of choice. Tuxedoed servers will bring you a menu with a selection of 10 plus entrees. Prices are as low as $5.95 for a sandwich. Tables are outfitted with linen tablecloths and napkins. I typically select a booth with a view of the hotel lobby for distraction. I also choose to go all out for lunch and order the most expensive item, Paella Valenciana. For $11.69, I get more than what I paid for.

The first course is soup of the day with a basket of hot fresh dinner rolls served with a tennis ball sized mound of whipped butter. Each meal also includes a plate of carrots, green beans and Spanish fried potatoes (think of thick, sometimes chewy but always crisp potato chips). The paella is served in a traditional Paella pot. The Valenciana style includes: saffron rice cooked with onions, bell peppers, olive oil, garlic, sea salt (quite a bit) and peas with mussels, shrimp, clams, scallops, chicken and Chorizo. The meal is filling and can easily serve two gourmands or four typical eaters. Dessert can be ordered as well but I rarely have sufficient stomach space. When available, I have found their flan and tres leches to be divine.

If you have a free afternoon during the week and you would like to indulge yourself while giving a nice restaurant some much-needed company, please drop in to Spain.

Spain Restaurant
888 E Dublin Granville Rd
(161 and Huntley Road – hidden in the Best Western Hotel)
614.840.9100
Lunch:
Monday – Friday 11:30 am – 2 pm
Dinner:
Monday – Thursday
5:00pm – 10:00pm
Friday – Saturday
5:00pm – 11:00pm

10 Responses to “My Lonely Lunch in Spain (Restaurant)”

  1. Marilyn said

    Is this the same Spain restaurant that was located on the southwest side of town? That one had great food but was rarely frequented and had a horrible location as well. I’ll have to check this one out – I would hate to see a restaurant like you describe this one to be go out of business.

    CMH G. reply: Yes. Spain was on the west side years ago.

  2. Caroline said

    I have clicked through your site a few times, and I just want to tell you how much I love it! My boyfriend and I are making a list of restaurants in Columbus that we want to go to before we graduate, and many of them come from your suggestions!

    CMH G. reply: Thanks. Here are some musts for your list: Alana’s, Deepwood, Lindey’s, G. Michaels, Sage, Skillet, Pattycake Bakery, Pistacia Vera, Creole Kitchen, Los Potosinos Taco Truck, Los Guachos Taco Truck, Taco Nazo Taco Truck, Starliner Diner, Press Grill, The Rossi, Surly Girl Saloon, Betty’s, O’Reilly’s, St. James Tavern….to name a few.

  3. One of my favorite restaurants in Columbus! I can’t say that I’ve had anything but the paella. Glad to see that it’s still around. I’ve been gone since 2001, but I do remember when it moved. Technically a better location, but even driving by it, I’d forget it was there.

  4. Ed P. said

    Sad to say, I have not been to the 161 location in years. I have very fond memories of their Sullivant Avenue location. The service was old world and the food was amazing. I hope, for their sake, they can remain in business.

    • Maricelia said

      When it was at Sullivant it was the best and under the direction of Jorge Michalowski even better. He was my brother and I miss him a lot, I worked there from 1995 to 1998. I feel much sadness for him. I also seek contact with a person of the name Jeff Alan that frequented the place.

    • writerhelenrdavis said

      I was a regular there marciela. I miss Jorge too.

  5. Becke said

    I love Spain (great food, great value) and have been meaning to go back and review it for ages. Thanks for the push – I think we’re going to hit it again soon. Agree about the portion sizes too – we used to get the pollo con arroz and share it and still have leftovers…

  6. Dave said

    I don’t know if I want to eat there or go and give the owner a hug for support. It sounds like a wonderful place to eat, if not a bit sad.

  7. Carly said

    Jorge Michalowski was the owner who love Spain with all his heart. My family miss him so much, he was the one who always take good care for us with his smile made us forget our problems and enjoy the meal. We never went back because it is too sad!!

  8. Does Spain still exist? I loved that place when I lived in Ohio

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