Uptown Barrel Room cozy and delicious

Vancouver eatery serves expertly prepared dishes

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Dining Out review: Uptown Barrel Room

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. Happy hour is 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The late-night dinner menu is served 9 p.m. to close Tuesday through Thursday and 11 p.m. to close Friday and Saturday.

Where: 2011 Main St., Vancouver.

More information: www.uptownbarrelroom.com or 360-949-7255. Uptown Barrel Room is also on Facebook.

Health score: Uptown Barrel Room received a pre-opening inspection, for which a score is not available, and is scheduled for a routine inspection in the near future. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.    

Why: Uptown Barrel Room in downtown Vancouver provides another local spot this side of the Columbia River to enjoy a vast selection of imported and local wines, house-infused vodkas, draft and bottled beers, cocktails and a menu with some delicious food options to enjoy a full meal.

What I tried: I settled on the elk burger with Brussels sprouts, and my dining companion had the New York steak strip served with fingerling potatoes and green beans.

The elk burger was made on a fresh brioche bun and topped with lettuce, mayonnaise, beetroot relish, tomato and red onion. I also had cheddar cheese on mine. The half-pound elk patty was delicious, and I especially enjoyed the sweet beetroot relish, which I thought brought an original flavor worthy of being paired with the elk. The Brussels sprouts were roasted with pancetta bits. They were soft with a caramelized coating, and the pancetta added a salty, meaty element to them.

The steak was prepared medium-well, just as my dining companion specified. It was topped with a tasty, rich, mushroom demi-glace with fingerling potatoes and garlic green beans alongside, both of which were expertly cooked.

Both entrees met our expectations and were priced right for the portion sizes.

Atmosphere: Two levels of floor space provide highly varnished, wood-topped tables paired with black, contemporary chairs for a moderately sized crowd, and there is a full, wrap-around bar with seating just inside the entrance on the first level. Oak toned, wood wainscot rises above the concrete floor and imparts a cozy vibe to the atmosphere along with the open-beam wood ceiling. An attractive chandelier adds interest and beauty on the upper level near a wall cabinet filled with wine and a large framed mirror, which sets the space apart with a touch of homey elegance. Decorative barrels are wall mounted and carry the theme throughout the space. A potpourri of other items, such as art and iron scrolls, tastefully adorn the walls, and TVs provide entertainment.

Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Macaroni and cheese at Uptown is loaded with Dungeness crab, and shepherd’s pie is made with bison. Pan-seared halibut and a Philly cheesesteak are among the other dinner entrees. Small plates include pork shanks, cheese fondue, hot crab bread and steak bites with mushrooms. Salads include a kale and steak salad and a poached pear and Gorgonzola wedge salad. Sides offered include steak fries, garlic green beans and baked macaroni and cheese. Lunch options include sandwiches such as a chicken club and a lamb gyro, in addition to a personal chicken pot pie and a chicken pesto pizza. The late-night menu has steak fries, a mixed green salad, fondue with bread, pork shank with spicy aioli and a hummus plate with pita chips and veggies. Among the brunch offerings are steel-cut oats, biscuits and sausage gravy, three-egg omelettes, eggs Benedict, beer batter pancakes, stuffed French toast, chicken fried steak, and New York strip and eggs.

Other observations: The atmosphere is comfortable and welcoming. On the evening of my visit, it was a full house and a bit noisy and difficult to converse at a normal volume. Seating is open and can be a challenge to navigate if someone goes for the same table. This was really the only downside to my experience. It could be remedied by a standard wait list to ensure proper order of seating. I found the ticket turnaround time was longer than usual, but our server was apologetic and comped our drinks as a consolation.

Cost: Brunch items range from $6 to $17. Lunch entrees start at $9 and top out at $18, and small plates are $10 to $14. Salads cost $9 to $12 (you may add chicken for $4 or salmon for $8), and sides go for $3 to $5. Dinner choices include entrees for $9 to $22, and small plates, salads and sides cost the same as they do during lunch. Happy hour options cost $3.50 to $5 with $1 off well drinks, draft beer and house wine. The late-night menu items cost $3.50 to $6. Alcoholic brunch drinks cost $6 to $10. Wines by the glass range from $6 to $8. Cocktails are $8 to $12. Bottled beers are $4 to $8.