Why: The shopping and dining options continue to impress within the small grid of streets that make up downtown Camas. On a recent visit, I stopped in at the Birch Street Uptown Lounge. It makes a classy first impression without being pretentious and the menu is substantial enough to enjoy a small healthful meal.
Atmosphere: The space isn’t very large, but that’s part of the charm. Vintage charisma defines the decor. Music from big bands, the Rat Pack and various other artists with similar sounds lend to the vibe of the lounge. The walls are painted dark tangerine above a black wood wainscot. Tables are set for two and four, in addition to bar seating. Decorative copper tiles define a handsome back bar, and lighted glass shelving displays liquor. Pendant lights add a warm amber glow at the bar, individual tea lights cozy up the tables, and a sparkling chandelier beautifies the back hallway’s cranberry-color walls.
What I Tried: My dining companion and I tried the Olive Melange, Pulled Pork Sliders, Uptown Mac & Cheese and the Meat and Cheese Combo Plate. For dessert we sampled the liquor-filled chocolates.
The Olive Melange is a blend of kalamata, Ionian green, Amfissa, cracked green and Atalanti olives, all pitted and naturally cured. They are served in a sweet wine vinegar brine with a pinch of herbs for added appeal. These were delicious and the variety kept them interesting down to the last one.
The Pulled Pork Sliders were served with a small portion of coleslaw. The sliders are made with fresh petite hamburger buns and filled with extra-lean meat. Each bite had a smoky sweet flavor. They were so scrumptious that, had we not ordered other items, we could have easily polished off another serving of sliders. The coleslaw consisted of large shredded cabbage and it had a classic flavor.
Uptown Mac & Cheese is rich without being too filling. It is topped with bread crumbs and smoked cheddar cheese. Served bubbly hot, it paired well with the sliders.
The Meat and Cheese Combo Plate comes with three cured meats, a smoked cheddar, triple creme blue cheese and white cheddar. Hot mustard accompanies the selections. Fresh fruit, a hot baguette and marionberry jelly complemented the meats and cheeses.
The liquor-filled chocolates are custom-made in Seattle and filled with Kahlua, amaretto, port, or Baileys Irish Cream. We tried the amaretto and Baileys. They were good but they were served cold; room temperature would have better brought out the full flavor of the chocolate.
Menu Highlights Beyond What I Tried: On my next visit, I’ll try the Hummus Plate garnished with sun-dried tomatoes, which comes with a generous portion of pita chips, and the Fruit and Cheese plate, on which a hot baguette is served with fresh fruit, Beecher’s Blank Slate farmer cheese with honey, an imported Stilton cheese with mango and ginger, and Ford Farms Wensleydale cheese with cranberries.
Other Observations: The uniformed bartender, Dennis Kinsey, was friendly and very knowledgeable about everything we ordered as well as the era the lounge portrays. He provided an outstanding experience.
This was one of those great experiences — everything pleased, and I’m looking forward to my next visit.
Cost: Items range from $4 to $15. Desserts are $2 to $5.
Hours: 4 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday through Saturday.
Where: 311 N.E. Birch St., Camas.
Health Score: Birch Street Uptown Lounge received a score of 5 on March 7. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants that score 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.