Had I not been searching for Suite 100, a new bar and grill in South Anchorage, I might have driven past it another 100 times.
That would have been my loss: Suite 100's lounge should be promptly added to your list of places to dine with friends or simply sip martinis before a night on the town. It fills a niche in South Anchorage, where bars of any kind are few and far between.
Suite 100 sits on the south side of Dimond Boulevard between the Seward and Old Seward highways. It's not a spot where you'd expect a bar. Neighbors in the brown building include a dentist, a podiatrist and an X-ray technician.
But I'd heard of this place enough that it was time to check it out. On recent weekends I headed to Suite 100, swept past the smiling hostesses and charged toward the rear of the cavernous room, where the establishment boasts a large and lovely bar.
On my first visit, a Saturday night, patrons packed the large restaurant. Where had all these people come from? We sat at the bar, where the competent bartender told us that although the place has been open since Valentine's Day, it has launched no mass ad campaign. Word of mouth is filling seats, he said.
The restaurant area is big and impressive, but my focus was on the bar. There are plenty of stools lining the bar, but you'll also find tables that can comfortably sit a handful of people. Try the southwest corner of the bar for a more casual set-up with comfy loveseats and armchairs.
The decor at Suite 100 -- in burgundy, honey, apricot and melon -- is warm and inviting. The wait staff is smartly dressed in black and white, and everyone is knowledgeable about the menu.
There are about 20 beers on tap, including gems like Portland Brewing Co.'s Oregon Honey, Homer Brewing Co.'s Broken Birch Bitter and Silver Gulch's Pilsner. Most cost $4.50 per pint. Specialty cocktails stand out. My favorite: The Mangolicious Martini ($7.95), a blend of Finlandia Vodka and mango nectar, garnished with a curl of dried mango. The Jungle Boogie Punch ($7.50) is served in a pint glass over ice and tastes like a classier version of a Long Island Iced Tea.
Most appetizers are $10 and involve seafood. If you're on a budget or thinking light, try a salad ($4 to $7). My spinach salad -- with a mango chutney vinaigrette, blue cheese crumbles, red onions, bean sprouts and mushrooms -- was fresh, sweet and worth the price. For bigger appetites, the menu has a variety of pasta, seafood and meat dishes ($11 for a cheeseburger on up to $36 for king crab).
It's rare that Anchorage gets a new bar and even less frequent that one succeeds. It's happening at Suite 100. Tell your friends.
-- by Katie Pesznecker