Dinner and a show may finally be on equal footing in Columbia. For years, fans who flocked to Merriweather Post Pavilion had precious few dining options if they wanted to grab a bite to eat then walk to the concert. Cured Table & Tap is aiming to change that. Located just a long guitar riff from the music venue, its ambitious menu includes a diverse selection of craft beer, cocktails, and dishes such as bone marrow and game steaks.
There’s nothing rock ’n’ roll about the restaurant’s exterior. It’s housed in an office building occupied by MedStar Health, and from the outside, it’s tough to tell whether you’re walking into a restaurant or a doctor’s office. Inside, framed posters of legendary Merriweather concerts adorn the walls of a large open space with high- and low-top tables. (There’s also a more formal—though rather sterile—dining room.) On an afternoon about two months after it opened, we grabbed stools at the long, winding bar for lunch. We started with jackfruit tacos: kimchi, avocado, and jack pickled slaw packed into corn tortillas that were a flavor revelation, although, at $10 for two, an expensive “snack” (their category on the menu).
Of our sandwiches, at least on our visit, the pâté melt outpaced an average oyster po’ boy. Made with pork and chicken and served on fluffy ciabatta topped with greens, smoked gouda, cured relish, and grainy mustard, it was a rich treat. For a side, better to go with a house salad than the good-but-not-great fries or fried Brussels sprouts and chickpeas, which were a tad greasy for our taste.
While we ate, our bartender, Michael, was creating a vodka-based cocktail for an internal competition. The winner’s concoction was to be served on tap alongside the “Burt Reynolds or Something. . .” (acronym: BROS), which is what we started dinner with when we returned the next week. Made with mezcal, agave nectar, and Angostura, Peychaud’s, and chocolate bitters, it shouldn’t be skipped. It paired well with a tasty charcuterie plate of smoked gouda, duck pastrami, and bresaola, which are thin slices of air-dried, salted beef. Our entrees were solid, if not spectacular. The coconut-braised short rib was the best of the bunch, although the carrot purée, freekeh, and squash gremolata didn’t add much to the lovely tender meat.
After dinner, we strolled to 18th & 21st, an attached sister restaurant that features live jazz most nights. It struck us as odd that one of the dessert cocktails offered at both establishments (their menus are not identical) is named for a movie rather than a band. Still, “The Dude Abides” (vodka and nitro coffee stout, vanilla tincture) was a satisfying nightcap to an enjoyable meal. True, that’s just, like, our opinion, man, but it’s one we’re confident you’ll share after dinner—with or without a show—at Cured.
CURED TABLE & TAP 10980 Grantchester Way, Columbia, 667-786-7111. HOURS Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.- 11p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.- 11 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.- 9 p.m. PARKING Free in adjoining garage. PRICES Appetizers: $6-14; soups and salads: $8-18; sandwiches: $11-18; entrees: $17-32; desserts: $7-10.
AMBIANCE Business casual.