GA Benton

Understory is actually three stories. And each constitutes a new chapter in the skillfully crafted Wolf’s Ridge Brewing book of food and drink.

An expansion into the wonderfully renovated Open Air building in Old North Columbus by Wolf’s Ridge Brewing – a celebrated Downtown restaurant and brewery – Understory comprises three separate entities: a cocktail lounge, the “Commons” (a de facto brewpub) and a private-event space ripe for spring weddings.

I’m unlikely to attend any weddings soon (fingers crossed) and the recently opened Commons isn’t yet brewing its own beer, so the Understory you’ll be reading about here is the super-popular cocktail lounge, aka Columbus’ current “ It ”place.

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Occupying a former classroom – Open Air is literally an old school – the lounge blends a casual-yet-refined aesthetic with vintage-yet-contemporary accents into a metaphorical ambience “cocktail” consistent with the terrific drinks the bar features.

Note: The dean of Columbus mixed drinks – Travis Owens, formerly of Curio at Harvest – oversees Understory’s liquor-laced beverages.

Ahi tuna and paloma cocktail at Understory in the University District

Decor-wise, exposed bricks, wood, distinctly large old windows and a chalkboard bearing the definition of this nature-trail-adjacent place’s name (understory is “vegetation beneath the main canopy of a forest”) mix with a stylish bar, mod soundtrack and fashionably mismatched furniture.

The latter includes sleek sofas, blue armchairs and stout wooden tables. If less eye-catching, the stout tables are the most practical, as you risk being served on tree-stump-evoking, tiny round end tables otherwise.

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