"There goes the neighborhood," is the classic phrase, but ask any bike messenger you see on Division these days, and they'll tell you the real horror: "Here comes the neighborhood."
Division and Damen's boutique bars draw big crowds on the weeknights, but they clash strongly with the older selections that still inhabit the strip – The Boundary and the Rainbo Club are only a couple spitting distances away from each other, and the regulars at Rite Liquors probably have a few things to say about Angels and Mariachis that isn't fit to print here. So another bar with large picture windows, a patio and a backwards letter in its backlit brushed metal sign is probably a book that can be judged by its cover.
But while this entrant in Division's big bar scene still has flat-screen TVs plastering the walls, here they’re showing French New Wave selections instead of college football. The crowd is more likely to be wearing a cardigan and cap than a popped collar and gel in their hair. And there's more light coming from the streetlights outside than anything else – the small candles at the tables provide most of the lighting, and even these are diffused.
The small food menu contains appetizers, or main meals in the size of an appetizer. The mango stuffed chicken breast comes stuffed with a variety of vegetables and is covered in a mango sauce containing pepper, white wine and garlic – a compact but flavorful plate for $9. Salmon rolls, coconut shrimp, and other classy fare can be had for $10 – but don’t expect to leave with a full stomach.
The menu also shows off a formidable list of cocktails, from the $9 "Timeshare" (with vodka, lime, champagne and Chambord) to the triple threat of the Clingstone – vodka with peach bitters, peach puree, and peach syrup (and another splash of champagne for good measure). The beer list offers a good selection of domestic and foreign brews, and as long as you’re going the beer route, you may as well spring the extra dollar or two at most that separates the domestics from virtually all of the more exotic fare, including quality Belgian-style brews from Canada’s Unibroue.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Dan Morgridge