It wouldn’t be a visit to Lucky Enough without a friendly greeting to “sit anywhere!”, the anticipation of seeing what’s new on the specials board, and someone dishing the latest gossip around town within earshot of the stool or seat you bellied up to. A casual neighborhood bar and eatery that crept onto the scene just over a year ago, Lucky Enough has quickly become an essential West End haunt inside new-build digs with old-school vibes.
Though there’s an element of familiarity – and nostalgia, with a portrait of the King of Rock ‘n Roll gazing down upon patrons and an impressive vinyl collection – luring guests back, no two seasons at Lucky Enough are exactly the same. Summer saw skilled cooks crouched in the alleyway stoking meats in a smoker, while a recent winter visit was abuzz with World Cup energy – and the big screen behind the bar is broadcasting Sunday football this month, too.
Even when there’s neither game nor holiday, Lucky Enough owner Art Chamberland and team make up their own reasons to revel. Cage Against the Machine on January 7, for instance, celebrates Nicolas Cage’s birthday – infusing the winter gloom with a little hilarity (and live music).
Opting for a table close to the sweeping bar and in view of guests taking aim at the dart board, my partner and I browsed a cocktail menu of drinks named after lines from songs, deliberating over a T Swift-inspired “Baby, I’m Gonna Shake, Shake, Shake, Shake, Shake” while a Bruce Springsteen song played overhead…and ultimately settling on Kiss and Todd Snider namesakes. Party Every Day, served in a martini glass, combines the pleasingly peaty Laphroaig 10 Single Malt and Old Forester Bourbon, with earthy notes from an amaro and the sweetness of vermouth – I couldn’t recommend a better drink to make the transition from work day to happy hour. In lovely juxtaposition to my stiff drink was the medicinal tonic-like Part 2, Book 3, Verse 4, Jackson 5, Nikki Sixx, a mezcal cocktail with ginger liqueur, lemon, honey, and mole bitters.
My first Lucky Enough love – a smoky barbecue cauliflower melt – had been replaced with a new flame, the Butternut Squash Melt. This sweet and savory selection features a hearty portion of roasted squash with oozing cheddar and brie between slices of sourdough. Cranberry jam, pickled red onions, and arugula add color and depth to this sandwich, which garnered the following praise from my partner when it arrived: “That’s a nice cross section.”
It’s easy to be a vegetarian here and not order a salad (though the The Greek is your best bet if that’s what you’re into), with vegan hot dogs, Spicy Potatoes (think buffalo wings but steamy starch pockets instead of chicken), and other hearty meat-free bar snacks on the menu. For a side, a cup of delightfully spiced vegan chilly hit the spot.
When we learned from our friendly server that it was Mad Dog Monday – with rotating specials each week – my partner decided at the last second to order the chipotle dog. The loaded hot dog had a nice level of heat tempered slightly by a drizzle of sour cream, though pickled jalapeños brought the fire back, with a carrot slaw adding a little bit of crunch. I couldn’t stop snacking on the side of sweet pickles.
To round things off, we sipped Late Nights and Coffee in Bed (a homage to the Squeeze song) before braving the chilly walk home.
Whether you’re bonding with strangers over the big game or cozying up in a corner with a couple of close friends, Lucky Enough is a social experience; it’s a place to dish over scratch-made sandwiches and chat with the bartender about the extensive whiskey list (which boasts affordable pours). It’s a true third place you’ll want to return to over and over again.
Lucky Enough • 1492 Westminster Street • 401-642-2749
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