The idea of The Underground is awesome. Why not use a large, downtown basement space, and turn it into a bar? Sounds like a plan to me. It seems like the entrance to an LRT station, with the escalators going below the building on Jasper Ave and 100th Street.

The entrance.
The entrance.

The space is quite nice down there, with a lot more room than I had anticipated. The washrooms are very large and spacious, which is nice after a few beers. You don’t want to be elbowing your way around in there, accidentally making some new friends for the wrong reasons.

There are a few positives and some negatives about this tap house.

Some of the good:

  • The beer selection is great. There is tons to choose from, and all of their beers are on levels (like the 100-level, 200-level, etc), which seems to go in order of either price or alcohol content. Or maybe neither. But they are on levels!
  • The descriptions of the beers are very accurate. Finally, they had someone who really knows beer taste them and write about them. I was surprised at how accurate the descriptions were to the taste of the drink.
  • I tried four different beers that I had never had before, and all of them were delicious. No disappointments for me.
  • The appetizers are good. Our group shared a couple of appetizers, the vegan fritters (kind of tasted like overcooked McDonald’s hash browns- meaning they were good) and the bacon-wrapped scallops (you could wrap anything in bacon and they would be good- these were particularly tasty, and it came with a pretty good slaw). The fritters cost about $12, as did the scallops (for 4 of them).
  • The main course is something a little different. I had a chicken apple sandwich. Pretty good, and fresh tasting. I got it without guacamole, because I hate it, but that would have added more flavour. The chicken itself was average, there wasn’t much done to it that would be different anywhere else, but overall, it was a tasty sandwich. Also, the fries were really good.
  • The clientele. Not as hipster as I would have thought. Usually, the newer downtown bars have become hipster central in Edmonton, but this place was pretty good. A nice place for the 25-35 crowd to go to.
  • Space between tables. I really don’t like it when they are all packed together, and you have to dodge chairs and arms to move anywhere.
  • The music. While there were a couple of times when it veered to a techno vibe that was not needed, the majority of the songs played were a nice collection of 90’s hits, which is perfect for the age group of the patrons. No force feeding of amped up pop hits here, which is nice.

undergroundroomSome of the bad:

  • Parking. Being right on Jasper, options are limited. The cheapest place is to park in the confusing, and busy, library garage. It was $5 on the weekend after 5PM. I hate paying for parking, any time, any where, so I found this inconvenient. The only other places are an impark lot nearby. There really is no street parking that is close.
  • The cost. I found The Underground to be very expensive. My evening cost me close to $100, which for a sandwich, split appetizers and a few beers, is too much for this guy. I found that there were lots of beers I would have tried out, but the cost slowed me down. I find it hard to justify paying $9 for a pint. No matter how good the beer is. The “cheaper” options will run you about $7 a pop, which is a little better, but then you are getting smaller pints. I get it, that this is the craze for these craft-style beer places. I knew the prices going in, but was still surprised at how much I ended up spending.
  • It’s hot in there. Being underground, with no windows, it definitely heated up to nearly uncomfortable levels by the end of the evening, when the bar was full. I hope they have a solid A/C system for the summer months.
  • The decor was nice, but I think with that space, it could have been a lot cooler, and they could have played up the whole “underground” thing. I am no interior decorator, and they made a nice looking bar down there, but I feel it could have been taken further.

Overall, a cool place to hang out for the evening. I would definitely go back, although the prices are prohibitive for me. It would be a place to go for a quick pint and a little bit to eat. Not the kind of place I can afford to spend an entire evening in again, however. For those who have a little better cash flow than myself, The Underground is a good place for eats and drinks.

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