Why: The Old Ivy Brewery & Taproom, next door to By the Bottle, offers casual dining to accompany house-made and guest brews on tap in downtown Vancouver.
What I tried: I had a bowl of the house-made chili and a mixed green salad, and my dining companion had the MooOink burger and a bowl of the daily soup, which was chicken taco.
The chili had a hearty consistency and was served with a bit of grated Tillamook cheese on top. Kidney beans, black beans, peppers, tomatoes, onions and ground beef were suspended in a soupy base. Its bold and spicy flavor was very appetizing and it had a slow, simmered character that was appealing as well.
The green salad was a pre-mix made of dark greens. Fresh sliced cucumbers and tomatoes were arranged alongside, and the balsamic and olive oil dressing was served on the side. The greens were slightly wilted and lacked freshness — evidenced by a few decomposing pieces. The balsamic in the dressing was not sweet enough to complement the more bitter greens in the mix.
The MooOink burger is made with a patty that is 50 percent bacon and 50 percent beef, which is topped with homemade barbecue sauce, Tillamook cheddar, sweet onions and more bacon on a brioche bun. My dining companion enjoyed the juicy quality of the burger and found that although the bacon was the star ingredient, it did not dominate the overall flavor too much for his liking. The chicken taco soup was mostly broth; there was an absence of chicken pieces in it. The soup was good, but I would not consider it as a stand-alone meal.
Atmosphere: Ivy appropriately shrouds the entry to the establishment, and seasonal, outdoor patio dining is available. Inside, a handsome slate floor sets the foundation for the blend of classic and modern decor. A sturdy wood bar stretches lengthwise along two-thirds of the space, and the rest of the floor is set with dining tables that accommodate up to four people. Walls are painted a mellow orange, yellow and tan, and the ceiling is covered with embossed panels in an artful design. Lighting comes from amber-colored glass pendants below iron, tendril-style hardware.
Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Burgers include the NoMoo, built with a house-made veggie patty topped with lettuce, tomato and sweet onion aioli, and a delicious-sounding Killer Cortez, made with a beef and chorizo patty, grilled poblano peppers, cheese, avocado and cilantro pesto mayonnaise. A classic selection of sandwiches is available and includes a tuna melt made with Oregon Coast, line-caught albacore and fontina cheese on Como bread. Chips and homemade salsa, and mussels in Belgian beer and served with Como bread, are among the smaller-sized options. Pork sliders are on the happy hour menu. The beer selection includes 12 in-house brews. Cider, Coke products, iced tea, coffee and hot tea are available as well.
Other observations: The service was very warm and friendly and knowledgable about food and beverage options. The restaurant is pleasantly clean and tidy. Along with the mainstay menu items, seasonal changes are made on occasion. Outdoor patio and pet-friendly seating is available during nice weather.
Cost: Burgers cost $9 to $12. You may add bacon to a burger for an extra $2, or cheese or an egg for an additional $1.25 each. Sandwiches range from $7 to $11. Soup and salads cost $4 to $10. Happy hour selections cost $3 to $5.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Where: 108 W. Evergreen Blvd., Vancouver.
Contact: 360-993-1827 or www.oldivybrewery.com. You may also find Old Ivy Brewery & Taproom on Facebook.
Health score: The Old Ivy Brewery & Taproom received a score of 10 on March 29. 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.