Been a few years since I went downtown and was in the mood for a bit of comedy. Went to Charlie Goodnights on West Morgan Steet and decided to have some dinner before the show. Champagne Charlies was booked but they said I could get some chow downstairs. "At the rundown ol Old Bar?" They said it was under new management and so, curiosity peaked, I decided to check it out.
The Old Bar is now called "Underground." Not "The Underground", but just "Underground" which the hostess was quick to point out. I remembered this place from my college days as a student hangout with Tex-Mex food and lots of beer. I had no idea the surprise awaiting me.
This place is now a Tapas Restaurant. They have a wine list. The menu changes daily. The chef has worked in several upper class local restaurants and just got back from a year in England. Hmmm. So how's the chow?
I ordered the grilled flatbread with hummus, monkfish wrapped (actually encapsulated) in bacon, and BBQ Pork on Mashed Potatoes. Wow. No, that doesn't do it justice. WOW! Everything is made fresh of course and the quality and flavors were extraordinary. I ordered more flatbread and a Sam Adams Winter on draught. Midway through the meal, chef Dan came out and visited my table to see how I liked everything. It seemed he really wanted to know, so I told him the pork tasted a bit too salty. He said it was probably the hoisin sauce and then brought some out to me to taste. Yep, it was the hoisin, but still rather savory. Chef Dan didn't look old enough to play with a stove, but when I asked him about the stuffed Quail and he launched into a 5-minute diatribe on how it's prepared, cooked and served I figured he might be handy around the kitchen.
I had an apple tart for dessert and left vowing to return. Of course with an ever changing menu, I can't be sure the monkfish (my favorite) will be there waiting for me next time around.
Outside of the food, the decor was typical for an old building. It used to be an old creamery (info courtesy of the bartender) and they've even left some old equipment in place making it interesting to look at. The tableclothes and napkins were linen and the waitstaff very professional.
I'm told that after 11 PM the place transforms into the old place I remember, as they stop serving food and the students begin shuffling in. There was a sign offering a reward for the best bar dancer and they even had a (working) disco ball. I'll save that experience for another time.
Cheers and good eating...