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At this Columbia gastropub, beer isn’t the only star

The Kraken’s interior
The Kraken’s interior Deena C. Bouknight/Special to The State

The Kraken is not about your average bar-focused foods.

Thus, the name – gastropub, which means a pub that offers high quality food – not just the typical bar fare. Customers at The Kraken Gastropub can try flights of beer to enjoy different tastes with food flavors. There are approximately 30 on tap, along with a large assortment of bottles. According to owner Aaron Klugh, when one keg “blows,” he brings in a new beer to try; some are local or regional.

Starters are distinct and substantial.

The Garlicky Lemony Sweet Pea Hummus is served with celery and house-made tortilla chips. Starters also include fried green tomatoes with spicy ranch, seared pork belly tacos, duck confit spring rolls, and moules frites, which is a half-pound of mussels in a lager and red-curry sauce with truffle fries.

Even some of the “classics” have a twist. For example, there is a lobster grilled cheese with bechamel and brie. Some other “classics” include fish and chips, smoked wings, and a half-pound burger with topping options. For heartier appetites, there are entrees like a blackened chicken alfredo, barbecue pulled duck confit sliders, and a vegetable lasagna.

Diners may not expect to find creative desserts at a gastropub, but The Kraken has sriracha peanut butter glazed doughnuts and homemade bread pudding.

How did The Kraken Gastropub get its start?

Four-and-a-half years ago, Klugh was a sales manager with a retailer and decided that since he loved distinct food and drinks, it made sense for him to open a place that offered both.

He said he is a “malt-head” when it comes to beer, and really loves Kraken’s shrimp and grits and smoked wings. “I’m on a wing binge right now. They smoke for six hours and are so good.” The restaurant was named for a line in “Clash of the Titans (2010),” one of Klugh’s favorite movies – “Release the Kraken!”

What does the place look like?

The Kraken is tucked underneath a Rosewood street-level building. Parking and the entrance is in back.

Inside is an intimate atmosphere of ceiling-and-spot lighting, tables and a bar. There is a cozy corner spot with a sofa and television. Seating is for around 50 total, including on an outside deck area. A cannot-miss statue of a large octopus tentacle greets guests at the door.

Who eats here?

According to Klugh, the Rosewood and Shandon neighborhoods are the “backbone” of the clientele at The Kraken. Plus, the restaurant draws from the faculty and staff at the University of South Carolina, as well as law and graduate students.

The Kraken Gastropub

WHERE: 2910 Rosewood Drive, Suite 1, Columbia

WHEN: The bar is open daily 4 p.m. until, except for Sunday. The kitchen is open 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Closed Sunday.

COST: Under $20

WORTH NOTING: Monday and Wednesday offer $2-$3 bottle specials. Tuesday is $3 pint and open-mike night.

INFO: (803) 955-7408; Facebook; www.thekrakenpub.com

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