The Bear’s Lair Tavern 2465 Bancroft Way/Telegraph Ave., in Eshleman Student Union, (510) 664-4191. L-D M-Sat.
|interior of The Bear’s Lair Tavern in Berkeley, California|
The BLT isn’t your grandpa’s Bear’s Lair. With a new name and a new menu, the Lair has also opened up into the light. No longer the dingy downstairs retreat of yesteryear--a real lair--the Lair today has moved away from the original Student Union and is now a first-floor, table-and-chairs kind of place with an abundance of light provided by walls of windows, one of which looks out to Lower Sproul Plaza and has a view of the Campanile. However this Lair does make a nod to the good old days with its blessedly familiar upbeat sound track--think “Good Vibrations” and Sugar Pie, Honey Bun.” The bar dispenses an assortment of local brews and a variety of cocktails. Whatever you do, don’t miss the refreshing vodka-powered Butterfly Soda made with exotic butterfly pea blossoms from Thailand. Through a biochemical reaction, the drink turns from blue to lavender right before your eyes as it is prepared.
Now inching away from typical student fare towards gourmet gastropub cuisine, the menu offers sambal chili-honey chicken wings and a signature fried chicken sandwich. My dining partner and I shared a simple salmon filet atop quinoa topped again with a dab of chimichurri sauce for a little kick (I would have liked a lot more of that tasty sauce),
|salmon with quinoa at The Bear’s Lair Tavern in Berkeley, California|
and a Cobb Salad consisting of romaine lettuce topped with the expected ingredients--avocado, hard-boiled egg, bacon, and bits of that delicious fried chicken.
|Cobb Salad at The Bear’s Lair Tavern in Berkeley, California|
Of course, this menu must have a burger and so it offers several--a classic patty on a toasted brioche bun, as well as the highly-publicized Impossible Burger. Pizzas are also an option. Ordering at the counter helps keep costs down and makes service faster. The bar offers prime TV seating, but communal tables and traditional private tables are also available. In good weather, a large beer garden complete with fire pits provides plenty more seating outside.
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images and video ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers