Anyone that’s been within viewing distance of downtown Columbia has seen the familiar sight of the Adluh Flour Mill and its towering presence looming over the Vista. It’s actually one of the few buildings downtown that still operates in the true fashion of the original area, milling flour and corn. But the mill hasn’t used a huge chunk of its building that juts out towards Gervais Street and decided to rent it out to add to the bustle of the ever-growing downtown entertainment district.
What’s settled within the once rarely-glimpsed confines of the mill is now Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, a small-ish franchise out of Colorado. Being that the Blakes are people about town, we are friends with the mill (it’s true, they even follow me on Twitter!) and scored an invite to their VIP/soft opening this weekend.
So off we went, and I prepared by only eating a small bowl of cereal for breakfast to save room for all the food, because in true food-obsessive fashion, I scoped out the full menu online ahead of time. For this though, they were only serving a limited menu, which was still pretty chocked full of options.
I started off with a cocktail recommended by our server, the OC Tea, a tea-lemonade drink with a few different flavored vodkas, including vanilla. It tasted like a vanilla-tinged Arnold Palmer, and I definitely would order it again. It was refreshing and the flavors didn’t compete with or change the taste of my meal.
Their beer selection is pretty great too, and I like how the menu organizes them by type and flavor profile for those who may not know a lot about different beer styles. The server also told us that every visit comes with a free taster of beer so that patrons can get to know about new beers they may have never tried before or a reminder of one they’d like to have a pint of.
Next up, we had a choice between an appetizer and a starter, and while several looked really good, I let Patrick choose and he went for the nachos. They were solidly constructed nachos with an excellent topping to chip ratio. We chowed down on about half of these and he’s been eating the last dregs today.
For Patrick’s entree he chose the mushroom double swiss burger. He said that it was “bangin’ and would eat again A+++++!” He did indeed scarf it down. On the side he chose the jerk fries which we were warned were spicy but they only had a hint of heat but were still good. I agreed, they were barely spicy enough to alarm a toddler, but in my opinion, that was totally ok. Plus, it’s a fun variation on the same-old fries that come with burgs.
And my pre-pre-pre-chosen selection was the Oh My Spaghetti Pie with creamy tomato-vodka sauce, which I wasn’t really sure what to expect what it would be like when it came out. But it came out as a cheesy pie triangle, where the spaghetti was cooked into the pie shape along with plenty of cheese throughout. It rested upon a bed of sauce (of which they have six different choices), and topped with fresh julienned basil. A hunk of buttered bread rested on the side at the ready to sop up extra sauce and cheese.
I really, really enjoyed this dish. It was unlike anything I’ve had here in town, and the vodka sauce tasted spot on. In fact, I had to decide between finishing it off and feeling overly stuffed or having some self control and getting a to go box. My pants and stomach thanked me for erring on the side of leftovers which were consumed about two hours later anyways.
Overall, we really enjoyed our experience at Old Chicago and I look forward to trying a pizza next time and seeing if it’s actually a Chicago-style deep dish pizza. The porch will be perfect for a post-work brew while watching traffic go by on Gervais Street. And I love how they’ve retained a ton of the industrial-warehouse aesthetic that is true to the building and its origins. Opening Monday, February 2, 2015, Old Chicago, new to Columbia, is worth checking out.