Welcome back to the books, and school, and studying. We are now working towards spring break and fighting for those spring break bodies. To me, it sounds like the perfect opportunity to start writing a food column and binge-watch a few seasons of “Friends.” So while the rest of you indulge in protein shakes and bland chicken breast, I will be eating at as many local restaurants as I possibly can. The point of this is to showcase what local restaurants have to offer to us as Mizzou students. Each restaurant has a specialty or a wonderful atmosphere to offer. I will go. I will eat. And I will share my opinions of the places with you, dear readers.
Columbia has a great downtown area with shopping, dining and bars galore. At 115 S. Fifth St., across from the Islamic Center of Central Missouri on the brick streets, sits Flat Branch Pub & Brewing. The restaurant has been around for over 20 years after opening in 1994 in a renovated 1927 brick warehouse, a design that adds to the austerity of the classic brewhouse feel. With table seating and a bar area available, the pub works for all occasions. Whether you want to stop in after work for one of the roughly eight craft beers and watch a game, or sit down to dinner with your significant other, Flat Branch Pub & Brewing is the place for you.
As far as the Columbia restaurant market goes, Flat Branch is extraordinarily diverse. The restaurant offers half-priced wood fired pizzas and appetizers after 10 p.m., making it a great place for a late night snack after a long day of studying (wink wink). With four big-screen TVs, the venue is also a great place to catch a game at the bar. But if conversation is more your style, the outside patio is open during warmer weather with ivy-covered fences surrounding the patio, setting the stage for those warm weather adventurers trying to get some grub.
Like with most things, let's begin at the beginning: the appetizers. My favorite thing to do on a Flat Branch date (get your pens out and take notes, this is a life lesson) is to order the Soft Pretzels for two, with the Spinach Artichoke Cheese dip. Order one pretzel with salt and one without so you can have the best of both worlds. There is a lot of debate as to whether women like food to be ordered for them or not; I guess it varies on a case-by-case basis. In my opinion, showing a clear understanding of the culinary confections offered at any given restaurant is slightly impressive.
There are many choices for a main entree. The pub offers traditional pub food (i.e. Catfish and Chips, Meatloaf, Prime Rib, etc.), but my favorite selection from Flat Branch is one of its sandwiches. The extensive menu, which I am fairly positive (but not yet certain) changes during the summer, has a long list of burgers and sandwiches that are phenomenal. My parents always make a point of bringing me and my older brother here when they visit, so I have had the chance to try a variety of items on the menu. You cannot go wrong with a Flat Branch burger. Period. No matter what you like, there is something here for you.
Now for a pro tip: My absolute favorite thing at Flat Branch is (drum roll please) … the Stout Brownie. This delicious morsel is made with a stout beer crafted in the brewery, smothered in locally made ice cream, and topped with caramel and chocolate sauce. No matter how much food you just ate, you will always have room for this dessert. You might want to get two spoons, though.