Star Club: Hearty happy hour

Happy hour at the Star Club, enjoying a Ginger Lavender-Toddy and the Drunken Honeybee with our sandwiches. PHOTO BY RYAN RUSSELL

by Aaron Apple and Aaron Kayser

Located in the beautiful brick Odd Fellows Hall across Holly Street from the YMCA, The Star Club immediately sets itself apart with its atmosphere, and as we found out, the food and drink. The bar is the first thing you see as you walk in, and you can place your order there or proceed left into a large common room for table service, or right into a smaller room, perfect for small or medium-sized parties.

We sat in the main dining area, where the low lighting, high ceilings and classy decor set a somewhat romantic tone for the meal (too bad we just missed Valentine’s Day). In other words, this is probably a great place for a date. They also offer a range of events throughout the week like Irish night, trivia night, open mic, karaoke and more.

Both Aarons were feeling a bit under the weather so they decided to start with some fancy drinks that might provide better “health benefits.” Local beer and coffee came later. Kayser started with the Ginger Lavender-Toddy ($9) that consisted of Bushmill’s whiskey, a ginger liqueur, lavender syrup, fresh lemon, and piping hot water. This was the perfect hot drink to soothe a sore throat. And headache. And congestion. It was slightly sweet, floral, and “healthy” thanks to the ginger and lemon. While it didn’t instantly cure him, the whiskey at least helped numb the pain.

Apple picked the Drunken Honeybee, made with Bellewood Gin, honey syrup, fresh lemon and Wander Belgian Blonde Ale ($9). It was the perfect yellow blend of booze, tart and sweet, served in a fancy cocktail glass. Since honey can provide a natural way to boost your immune system, Apple attributed part of his quick recovery to the drink. In fact, he probably should have had two or three!

Being that it was happy hour, our server kindly informed us that all small and large plates were half off until they finalize their upcoming menu. Apple and Kayser decided to split the bacon wrapped dates ($3.50, normally $7) and the fromage plate ($6, normally $12). As soon as the food was placed on the table it was instantly clear what a great deal the happy hour is right now. The bowl of large bacon wrapped dates, served with Hempler’s bacon and red wine reduction, disappeared much too quickly. There’s something life-affirming about biting through the salty bacon and getting into the deep richness from the dates.

The cheese plate was also impressive, including Brie, Manchego, Stilton, and Dubliner cheese, along with a medley of dried apricots, cherries, and marcona almonds, served with crackers and honey. Our server graciously brought us more crackers upon request, because the amount of cheese was that generous.

For the main course, Kayser ordered the BLT sandwich ($10), which consisted of candied Hempler’s bacon, sliced Roma tomatoes and fresh basil leaves, all piled onto a baguette smeared with roasted garlic aioli. Kettle potato chips were served on the side. Kayser has had his share of BLTs, and this one did a great job of elevating the sandwich to almost something else entirely. The candied bacon, garlic aioli and basil in place of lettuce makes this not the best BLT in Bellingham as the menu says, but one of the better sandwiches to be found around here.

Apple had the turkey sandwich ($11), made with oven roasted turkey breast, sharp cheddar, green apple slices, fig aioli and arugula, served on rosemary bread. Just like with the BLT, this isn’t your grandma’s turkey sandwich (unless she happens to have really good taste). In addition, the sandwich was so massive that half of it made a filling lunch the next day as well.

Get to The Star Club and enjoy the half-off happy hour while it lasts, and wonderful drinks and creative sandwiches. The Star Club is located at 311 East Holly Street and open Sunday through Wednesday from 4 p.m. to midnight, and Thursday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Call (360) 656-6075 or see www.starclubbellingham.com.