The Beard and I were invited to the pre-opening for VASO, a new rooftop bar and restaurant inside the AC Hotel at Bridge Park in Dublin, Ohio. While all our food and drinks were covered, all thoughts and opinions are purely our own. But, how could we have any negative thoughts with a view like this one?
This AC Hotel by Marriott is right in the heart of Bridge Park with a view that overlooks the rest of the city. I can only imagine what it will look like at night sitting in one of their private rooftop cabanas. There are less than 30 AC Hotels in the US, so I’m excited to have one here. Spanish Founder and President, Antonio Catalan (AC) grew up in the hotel business so he knows a thing or two about luxury. If this beautiful hotel and wonderful hospitality is any indication of how AC Hotels are across the world, I know where we will be staying on our next vacation. Better yet, I know where we will be staying for our next staycation. Do the same a book a room here. Now that we know the hotel is amazing and the view is spectacular, let’s focus on the best part, the food. VASO is a rooftop bar and restaurant with a private glass elevator that will lead you straight to all the Spanish tapas you’ll need. They open at 4 pm every day and are open to hotel visitors and the general public. Check out the food menu here, the cocktail menu here, and the dessert menu here. Our hosts started lunch off in the most appropriate way, with The VASO Sangria served by Porron. This is a classic Spanish vessel used to pour directly into your mouth. While we didn’t all partake in the drink this way, I can imagine that most guests will by the end of the night. Their Head Bartender hails from Turkey and is an internationally acclaimed cocktail mixologist. With the help of the AC Hotel Beverage Director, they created a menu that tastes absolutely amazing but also has a purpose. Orcun, the General Manager eagerly pointed out all of the thoughtfulness in this restaurant, from the terra cotta floor in the lobby to the homage names of cocktails. A glass of red, white, or sparkling VASO sangria will set you back just $8 but I suggest ordering an entire carafe for $25. Just make sure to order a Lyft when you finish up, or better yet, grab a room downstairs. Our first course (of many) was a selection from their Pan Con (on bread) section of the menu. This Tabla De Queso Y Charcuteria ($15) might be the best charcuterie board we’ve ever enjoyed. You won’t find any lame accouterments on this board instead, thoughtful pairings and pieces that taste magical. We enjoyed Iberico and serrano ham, chorizo, manchego, arzua, and Mahon cheese, pickled onions and grilled sourdough bread. We love every single piece and yes, I even ate the pork. I mean you can’t turn down Iberico ham. Our next food course is also from the Pan Con portion of the menu. The Pan Con Ajo ($7) is toasted bread, whole roasted garlic cloves, and grilled manzanilla olives topped with shaved manchego cheese. This is the salty, briny, delicious toast I didn’t know I needed so badly. I used to hate olives until I discovered quality ones and I haven’t looked back. Oops, I actually ate The Beard’s portion of this dish too. The next lunchtime cocktail is their signature Gin and Tonic, which is apparently the unofficial drink of Spain. I seriously learned so many fun facts during this meal but my biggest learning is that I need to go to Europe, immediately. Their Gin and Tonic ($11) is huge, crisp, and the best one I’ve ever enjoyed. They only use Fever-Tree tonic and after trying it plain, I totally understand why. It’s not pictured here, but they also toss a sprig of baby’s breath on top which makes this the most Instagrammable drink in Columbus. This hotel is so intentional and thoughtful in every detail. They didn’t just see a plot of land and think “hey, let’s toss up a hotel here.” They truly selected each ingredient, partner, and piece to make sure they honor our community. Almost all beer selections are local. They even worked with Watershed Distillery to create a custom Gin for their Gin and Tonic program. None of it seems forced, they just really believe in local craftsmanship and it shows. Next up is also from the Pan Con portion of the menu, the Pollo Rostizado Flatbread ($13). This isn’t your plain ol’ flatbread though. It features roasted chicken, quince-onion jam, Mahon cheese, and pickled onions. It is sweetly savory and just the perfect amount of tang from the onions. I won’t even pretend, when they brought this out, I thought we were getting an espresso pick me up shot. Imagine my surprise when a line of orange liquid poured on out. With this delicious item, we are moving on to the Verduras (vegetables) portion of the tapas menu. The sopa de calabaza ($6) is a roasted butternut squash soup with chili oil and creme fraiche poured on top of crispy pepitas. This is probably the best butternut squash soup ever. The texture was amazing and the simple spice was a welcome addition to make it pop. Oh, I just loved this small plate. Coming off the Mar portion of the menu, this Calamar Frito ($10) was perfection. The dish features crispy calamari, sweet peppers, and a housemade sherry-chili sauce for dipping. The breading was perfection, crispy and light but full of flavor. Here we find the brave little potato, or patatas bravas ($7) hail from the Fritura (fried) section of the menu. These fried potatoes and roasted peppers are served alongside an onion and garlic aioli. They are my new favorite item. The potatoes are Yukon gold variety so they already have that buttery-ness that you desire in a dish like this.
Hey look, another lunchtime cocktail. This pretty little thing is the Spanish Armada ($12). The cocktails features Oloroso sherry, rye, plum shrub, all spice and a little close-pin of rosemary. This is a perfectly crafted cocktail, but it’s a one and done kind of drink. Moving right along to the Bocadillos (sandwiches) portion of the menu with the Chorizo al Vino Tinto ($11). This hearty little sandwich is made with chorizo soaked in red wine, goat cheese, and caramelized onions served with a little salad. This drink was The Beard’s favorite because he is dying for an iSi culinary whip maker. I think what I enjoyed most about the Calimocho cocktail ($10) is the enthusiasm that the Beverage Director showed when explaining its’ creation. Inside this little culinary tool, you’ll find Tempranillo, house-made cola syrup, and of course, carbonation. It creates a sweet, bubbly, and deeply flavored cocktail that will keep you coming back for me. Our final course was amazing and I seriously didn’t want this lunch to end. We ended on the Carne (meat) section. The Pollo Rositzado con Salsa Romesco ($12) is roasted chicken, romesco sauce, onion, piquillo peppers, garlic, and roasted local squash. My only addition would be to snag one of those pieces of sourdough bread to soak up this romanesco sauce. Just seriously so delicious.
What are you waiting for, friends? Make dinner plans as soon as possible for VASO to enjoy thoughtfully crafted cocktails and impeccable Spanish-inspired tapas. Share in the comments what you are going to try first!