Why: Back Alley Bar & Grill was established in 1999. Patrons come for top-tier billiard tournaments and karaoke, accompanied by food and drinks. Back Alley is a neighborhood establishment known for its great service and welcoming atmosphere.
What I tried: To start, my dining companion and I had the fondue appetizer. I settled on the blue cheese crumble and mushroom burger with fries, and my dining companion had the same burger paired with a salad instead of fries. For dessert, we had the mud pie.
The fondue was smooth and flavorful and tasted similar to white cheddar cheese. Bite-sized pieces of soft, fresh sourdough and rye bread accompanied the fondue for dipping.
The burger was larger than standard and consisted of a beef patty, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, crumbles of blue cheese and sautéed mushrooms on a gourmet-style bun. The result was a medley of flavors mostly dominated by the blue cheese. I found the burger appetizing and filling.
The crinkle-cut fries were fried to a golden, crisp finish. The salad that accompanied my dining companion’s burger was basic and fresh, topped with a few croutons.
The mud pie was a classic version made with dense, creamy ice cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce. It was a satisfyingly sweet end to our meal.
Overall, the food at Back Alley is straightforward and fresh. Although the menu is not extensive, it offers a good variety of items.
Menu highlights beyond what I tried: The pepper jack cheese sticks sounded like a tasty departure from traditional mozzarella sticks. There is a Cajun chicken salad available, and a patty melt. The pulled-pork wraps on the Bar Bite menu sounded delicious, as did the Canadian bacon and tomato flatbread pizza. Back Alley has beer on tap, in cans and in bottles, as well as wine, cider and cocktails.
Atmosphere: This sizable establishment has room for six pool tables, a karaoke stage and seating. There is ample lighting at the bar and above the pool tables, and more subdued lighting near the karaoke stage. A giant screen and several other TVs provide more entertainment. Back Alley gives a very organized and clean impression.
Other observations: The service was pleasant, friendly and attentive. The food was tasty and uncomplicated. Party packages are available for 10 to 40 people, ranging from $50 to $120, which includes wings, chips and salsa, decorations, a drink special, a reserved pool table and seating. Karaoke hours are 10 p.m. to close on Wednesday and 9 p.m. to close on Friday and Saturday.
Cost: Appetizers cost $6 to $10, except for the All Day Every Day Appetizers, which range from $2 to $11. Salads are $7 to $13. Sandwiches cost $9 to $11. Flatbread pizzas are $7 to $11. Burgers are $9 and $11. Bar Bites cost $5 and are served 5 p.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday and 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. The steak dinner is $14. Desserts cost $5.
Hours: 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday. Noon to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Full menu hours are 5 p.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday and 2 to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Where: 6503 E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver.
Contact: 360-694-6873 or www.thebackalleyonline.com
Health score: Back Alley Bar & Grill received a score of zero on Feb. 12. 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.