Underneath it All

The latest in the gastropub craze.

From Jasper Avenue, you take an escalator down, past display cases of empty beer cans and bottles and arrive in a neat lounge decorated in blacks and browns. The music: A bunch of bands that sound like Joy Division – with the washed-out guitar, the singer with the rueful, moaning voice and the bass player carrying the lead – the soundtrack for downtown thirty-somethings and forty-somethings who cling to the last shreds of their hipster cred.

The Underground Tap & Grill is part of a wave of new beer-focused gastropubs that have taken over Edmonton in the last six months. And, understanding that beer appreciation is still a new phenomenon in this city, The Underground has split its 72 taps into four taste levels. Mellower, less alcoholic brews are aimed at the beginner, where the more complex and hoppy brews are recommended for the aficionado.

And the food? The menu is very sandwich-and-salad oriented, but the portions are hearty. Maybe the most interesting option is the green onion cake sandwich. You guessed it – instead of bread, green onion cake slices keep this package together. And inside is a healthy portion of pulled pork. You can’t eat it without using a fork and knife.

As well, the shrimp po’boy can’t be grabbed without one or two of the darn shrimps falling to the plate. A light, spiced dressing goes into the fresh baguette, as does the peppery crunch of some arugula leaves.

Finish it all with a Baileys crme brle; the coffee is nicely restrained. Crack the still-warm, torch-fired candy shell on top to get to the cool cream underneath. The mix of temperatures is as pleasing as the sugar rush. (10004 Jasper Ave., 780-425-1880, undergroundtapandgrill.com)

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