Story and photos by Mark Sterling-Ogle, April 9, 2015.

The Vig has four locations in town – Uptown, Arcadia, Fillmore and McCormick – all of which offer just about the same menu and the upscale neighborhood tavern theme with inviting patios, but you’ll find a little individual flavor and flair depending which one you visit.

The Vig Uptown, located near the corner of 16th Street and Bethany Home Road, is housed in what was once a bank, but you would never know with all of the renovations. Now the artfully decorated dark wood and stone, complimented with inviting lighting and large windows that open on a horizontal swing to let in plenty of natural sunlight, combine for a cozy-chic vibe. Parking is limited, but complimentary valet is provided.

On our first visit, we were looking for a bite after one of my busy shifts at work (at another restaurant). Even late at night the venue was still nearly full, but we managed to find two comfortable chairs at the bar. Although there is a limited menu for late night diners, there are quite a variety of options available.

We started with the steamed edamame, laced with a soy and ginger dressing instead of the sea salt alternative. The sauce was so impressive that it had me deconstructing the flavor profile in hopes of duplicating it at home.

I also ordered the grilled fish tacos – large chunks of grilled rockfish complimented with a spicy slaw, fresh pico de gallo and a tomatillo and avocado salsa. Even my husband, who is not a seafood lover, appreceated the naturally light flavor of rockfish and wanted to indulge.

The Trifecta, more his speed, is three plump beef sliders, topped with American cheese. The spicy mayo added a slight kick and the grilled onions perked up the tiny burgers with a wonderful smokiness.

The bartender was attentive, without being obtrusive, and offered an industry discount after taking notice that I was a restaurant employee (due to my garb).

On another visit, to celebrate my husband’s birthday, we were expecting a party of seven and the only table large enough to accommodate us at the time was on the covered patio. The restaurant’s open-air concept helped to diffuse the DJ spinning beats with a live trumpeter that was loud, but not too loud. It turned out that The Vig Uptown was also celebrating, this occasion was their fifth anniversary of operation, and the music added quite the festive feel.

Sunday brunch at The Vig Uptown draws a diverse crowd. We spotted many friendly and familiar faces, including the Storm rugby team and many members of the LGBT community.

On Sundays there is a Bloody Mary bar set up with all sorts of additions for perfect personalization: assorted pickled vegetables, a dizzying array of hot sauces and various tomato-based juices all await the hefty pour of Tito’s vodka, on the rocks, that’s delivered to your table by your wait staff. For those who prefer mimosas, the bottomless option is also available here.

We didn’t waste any time in ordering appetizers to share while waiting for the rest of our party to arrive. We decided on Hot Vings, skipping the spicy sounding Thai Chili sauce in favor of the traditional. We all agreed the heat level of the plump and meaty wings, dressed in grill marks and caramelized sauce, was just right.

We also ordered a side of onion rings, opting for a large order at the suggestion of our helpful server. That was a good call, as the crispy golden-brown rings disappeared quickly.

To round out our appetizer selection, I asked for the smoked salmon. A good-size piece of house-smoked salmon arrived on a bed of arugula that had been tossed in lemony vinaigrette – a perfect accent. The plate was adorned with warm pita crisps, slices of ripe tomato, hard-boiled egg, a dollop of chive and lemon-infused cream cheese and diced red onion and capers dotted the top of the salmon. This was my favorite dish; I actually ate all but one bite myself.

When it came time for entrées, our server eagerly suggested an item off another menu that my undecided friend might like: The Prime Rib Vig Dip. She obliged and was presented with medium-rare slices of beef, topped with smoked Gouda cheese and grilled onions, on a pretzel bun. The tender beef was so moist that there was almost no need for the small bowl of au jus that accompanied it. Thankfully, she shared half of the sandwich with me and I delighted in the addition of diced green chili that the server had delivered upon request.

Two of our guests were happy to continue the appetizer theme and ordered the Double Down, roasted garlic and red pepper hummus with warm pita bread, and the special of the day, half a dozen wings, a shrimp cocktail and a small flatbread with sausage, black olive and cheese.

Unfortunately, none of our party was in the mood for some of the tasty-sounding brunch selections. However, the next time I am in the mood for Tres Leches French toast or a twist on a Monte Cristo (a French toast sandwich with ham and Swiss cheese), I know just the spot.

So, if it’s a menu that will appeal to all palates or just a comfortable place to grab a beer or handcrafted cocktail, the website sums it up … “Let’s just go to The Vig.”

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