Why: UnderBar opened in June in downtown Vancouver in a basement space long used for AA classes for court-ordered offenders. UnderBar is Vancouver’s first speakeasy, which harkens back to Prohibition Days, when the term was used to describe an illicit liquor store or nightclub. The bar serves all manner of alcohol, accompanied by a small food menu.
Atmosphere: Thirteen stairs and one landing descend into the basement space, which has a stained concrete floor. The walls are painted green and the ceiling is white. Modest tables and chairs fill in the open space without being too cramped. A love seat and a few upholstered chairs are available around the perimeter. Walls are decorated with a potpourri of different items. It is a no-frills sort of space that feels more about what you come for than all the elements or ambiance.
What I tried: My dining companion and I tried the fancy deviled eggs. Beyond the eggs, I settled on the flatbread. My dining companion had the Chicago dog. To drink, I tried the Coconut in the Lime cocktail and found it a tropical, refreshing mix, which I would come back for — or have another if I were to linger for a while.
The deviled eggs, four halves total, were served on a bed of arugula, which rested on a small wooden cutting board. Each half was filled with the typical deviled egg deliciousness, but they really took off with the toppings; whoever thought of topping them with blue cheese crumbles, spices, pickled red onion and bacon bits is to be commended.
The flatbread is topped with caramelized onions, mozzarella, arugula and tomato before it is drizzled with a thick balsamic glaze. This, like the deviled eggs, had an unexpected flavor, which I thought was very appetizing. The onions bumped up the ordinary a notch or so.
Dining out guide: UnderBar
Where: 1701 ½ Broadway, Vancouver.
Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, 4 to 10 p.m. Thursday, 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. to midnight Saturday; closed Sunday through Tuesday.
Contact: 360-521-4349; www.facebook.com/underbar.vancouver
Health score: UnderBar has received a pre-opening inspection 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.
My dining companion enjoyed the Chicago dog made with a Nathan’s Frank brand hot dog. It rests in a poppy seed bun and is joined by a dill pickle spear, white onion and creamy stone-ground aioli. Yukon potato chips are served alongside.
Menu highlights beyond what I tried: The New York dog is topped with pickled slaw, “Srirachup” and aged cheddar. The cheese plate consists of three kinds of cheese and either crackers or artisan bread slices. Bruschetta is on the menu. The Capone Italian Sami combines fresh mozzarella, salami, coppa, Mama Lil’s peppers, basil aioli, arugula and tomato. Pork sliders are topped with pickled red onions and cabbage. The Italian piadina starts with warmed flat bread and is then layered with fresh mozzarella, basil pesto, salami and coppa. Soup is served on Friday and Saturday, and dessert is available, as well.
Other observations: The vibe on my visit was very mellow and the service was friendly and casual. The food exceeded our expectations and the drinks were expertly made.
Cost: Food items cost $5 to $9. Alcohol prices vary and are comparable to other bars.