There are some exciting changes to the culinary scene in Vancouver, Washington. New restaurants are opening and mainstay restaurants are changing.
Main Street Vancouver is fast becoming a culinary destination for diners on both sides of the Columbia River. A great example of this changing scene is Charlies on Main Street. We’ve known Charlies Bistro as an excellent place for northwest cuisine with an Italian flair but something has changed at Charlies.
They are now Charlies Bodega: Tapas and Whiskey Bar. Charlies Bodega is a second venture for restaurant owners Peter and Lisa Dougherty of La Bottega (in Uptown). Charlies is now a Spanish inspired small plates restaurant focusing on traditional Spanish recipes utilizing fresh, local ingredients.
Charlies Whiskey Bar focuses on local and international small batch, artisan whiskeys, in house infusions and artistically inspired cocktails.
So we were interested in experiencing the new menu and new approach. The owners had been to Spain to learn about the cuisine and trends there. And, together with key staff members, they sampled the Spanish offerings in area restaurants. So then it was time for them to put together their menu.
We sampled the cocktails and Spanish wine. The Castillo del Corzo Garnacha‐Tempranillo Castilla I ordered was a warm and smooth Spanish red. My friend tried a cocktail offering and noticed that Charlies offers a wide variety of local spirits from Oregon and Washington. She chose the Sage and Rosemary Lemon Drop‐ with Herb infused Vodka, Triple Sec and fresh lemon served with a sugar rim.
We were pretty much through with our beverages by the time we were settled on what to have for dinner. The menu is extensive. Since there are small plates, you can order several and put together a variety of tastes for a hearty or light meal. Our waiter, Joe, was knowledgeable and helped us with our decisions.
Soon it was settled. I was hungry so ordered the smaller plate of marinated flatiron steak with grilled mushrooms and a salad of baby greens, cabrales blue, orange, pickled shallot and spiced pecans to start. Adding in some roasted squash with harissa and crème fraiche rounded out the meal. I heard the roasted Brussels sprouts would have been a good choice too.
The steak was well marinated, tender and delicious. The smaller version was plenty. Although we had a variety different things at our table, everyone was very happy with Charlies offerings.
I’m a bit traditional so enjoy having protein and two side dishes preceded by a salad or soup. So, because the menu was so varied, I was able to put together such a meal with the small plate choices. My friend, having traveled in Spain, just enjoyed the small plates as they were, paired with a beverage. She also reported back that her choices were excellent and compared well with what she had experienced in Spanish tapas bars.
And, their desserts are excellent!
Charlies Bodega is an ideal place to go for a drink and tapas. And, you probably will want to stay for dinner as well. They are open for lunch too. Reservations are accepted.
Note: My five star rating of this restaurant is in comparison with restaurants in Vancouver, WA.
There is parking on the street (metered before 6 p.m.) and Kiggins Theater and shops are close-by.
Address: 1220 Main Street, Vancouver, WA 98660
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:30-9PM, Fri 11:30-10PM, Sat 4-10PM