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November 24th, 2004 KELLY CLARKE | Night Avenger
 

Bar Basics

     
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As surely as air, fire, water and dirt are the Legos of the natural world, three elements make up the bar universe: TV, beats and drinks. Last Wednesday, Night Avenger set out to find 'em all.

TV: On Deck, a new Pearl District sports lounge plopped on top of a new shopping pod across from REI, is a quadriplegic's wet dream. It's a bar where one has only to rotate those drunken eyeballs a few degrees left or right to catch 35 plasma screens of sports action. Of course, On Deck does have a deck: a sexy, commanding, 10,000-square-foot African veld of a deck. And it's totally useless all winter long. This inability to perform its primary function--as a deck--causes the Henry's Tavern-esque space to seem a bit melancholic despite its gurgling sports fans, expense-account menu and well-executed man decor (oversized burgundy and plaid booths and curvilinear spaceship bar). Friends, it's the kind of hole only a brass pole can fill. That's right--this place is screaming for some high-class strippers to steam up its cable-frozen patrons. At least, until they can use that...you know what.

Beats: A little red velvet here, a little black vinyl there: Trading Spaces of the Underworld has gotten a hold of the Rabbit Hole & Mad Hatter Lounge. The Southeast Grand Avenue watering hole underwent a moonlit makeover two months ago, re-emerging as Noir. But aside from adding a bit of darkling derring-do, the underground lair is still the same nice, little live-music and cocktails boîte it always was. That night, the aural flotsam of KPSU Support Night still bombarded the cozy, subterranean space. The long table in the corner was still loaded down with PSU kids trading music-geek trivia. The best update is, actually, Noir's new $2.50 menu: a naughty list of tastes like chicken skewers and sautéed green beans for ampm prices. An order of On Deck's $7.50 onion rings costs the same as three wedges of Noir's moistly addictive carrot cake.

Drinks: Last winter, this column noted that the pirate-y juice bar Squeez suffered from a bit of an identity crisis. Several trips to Goodwill later, the unpretentious Southeast club has reimagined itself as a midcentury flophouse of worn couches and scrappy wall-to-ceiling drawings. Now the bar is identifiably insane--in a good way. While a crew of neighborhoodies shot pool, Night Avenger's group settled into a ring of near-busted easy chairs to shout at each other atop the din of DJ Bisonik and friends. We raised our mismatched pint glasses of boozy, fresh-squeezed strawberry lemonades ($5.25) high for a toast: Finally, a place where all the bar elements were in harmony--at least, two out of three ain't bad.


On Deck, 910 NW 14th Ave., 227-7020.

Noir, 203 SE Grand Ave., 231-2925.

Squeez, 1403 SE Belmont St., 239-5144.

 
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