Blue skies shine through the open, retractable roof at Benchmark, the newest offering from the Four Corners Tavern Group (the group also runs the Brownstone, Kirkwood, Schoolyard and WestEnd). Benchmark opened just in time for the pleasantly warm August weather, and if you don’t mind the loud music and chatter from the many people that the place can hold, sitting on the rooftop is one of the more pleasant spots in town.
The two-story space has handsome, dark woodwork throughout, and a mix of high tables and banquettes fill the space. Tables on the rooftop are competitive, so try to grab a stool that’s on the rooftop but looks down over the first floor, and you get the best of both floors: You’re outside enjoying the sunshine but also get to people-watch bar-goers downstairs, where there also are a few large flat-screen TVs.
Lots of guys in polo-style shirts and girls rockin’ tank tops sit together and soak up the atmosphere. Meanwhile, dudes in button-up shirts mingle among many well-sculpted women looking as if they just got spray-tanned.
Chicken quesadillas ($9) are decent and satisfying, just like they are at sister bar the Brownstone. Other small-plate items include mini-cheeseburgers, hot soft pretzels, fried calamari, chicken wings, and chips and salsa. Salads, pizza and sandwiches also round out the menu: cheeseburgers, turkey burgers, Cuban sandwiches, fish tacos and chicken sandwiches.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Mary Susan Littlepage