Details make new wine bar a real winner

Bar of the Week: Victory
by: JIM CLARK, Whether it’s stopping in for a sip, a nip or a real meal, Victory satisfies many desires, drawing patrons of all generations.

Occupying a storefront on the corner of Southeast Division Street and 37th Avenue that used to be a mostly overlooked bookstore, newcomer Victory deserves its name for the utilization of the space itself.

Step inside, and you'll discover a whole series of triumphs.

The cramped bookstore has given way to a warm and airy gathering space with an open floor plan and butterscotch-colored walls. The building's plate-glass and transom windows open the interior to the street scene outside, creating the feel of a European cafe burnished with a Northwestern glow.

Grab one of the many tables and settle in. Victory offers a great selection of wines by the glass, each one picked with care.

Choices are mostly European in origin, ranging from an Italian Soave Classico, French Viognier and Austrian Gruner Veltliner on the white side to a variety of French, Italian and Spanish reds. An Oregon pinot noir and California zinfandel also are available.

At a very reasonable $6 to $9 per glass, they won't break your bank - or disappoint.

In the mood for something different? Try one of several sparkling wines, or order a port, Madeira or a glass of sweet Domaine Castera Jurançon Cuvée Privilege.

Unsure of what to choose? Staff members are knowledgeable and helpful. On a recent visit, each of multiple suggestions met with universal approval.

For those eschewing grape-based beverages in favor of grain, Victory has a full bar and a handful of specialty cocktails crafted with the same attention to detail.

Try a Negroni, a traditional pre-dinner aperitif made with Aviator gin, sweet vermouth, Campari and candied orange rind, or a tart tequila blanco, shaken with fresh grapefruit juice, a house-made grenadine and a splash of cava.

The brandy toddy is served warm and spiced, with ginger-lemon tea and Grand Marnier, while the 'cocktail of the moment' combines bourbon, fresh grated ginger, orange cardamom bitters and Blenheim spicy ginger ale - a Southern specialty, and a beverage our bartender held in high esteem.

Though Victory only has been open since mid-December, it's already attracting a multigenerational neighborhood crowd. Hipsters with dyed hair and piercings, young families (children are admitted for dinner from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and gray-haired locals are equally at ease.

Speaking of dinner, while the food menu is limited, it's definitely worth exploring. Plates of cheese and charcuterie are available, but the true triumphs are deeper in the menu.

The champagne anchovy salad with fennel, olives, arugula and satsumas is delightful - a perfect balance of flavors and textures. The hearty spaetzle, with Gruyère cheese and crispy shallots, is on the way to becoming Victory's signature dish, while the soup of the day (deliciously crispy pork belly and white bean on this day) was superb.

'Victory' is a term that's often painted in broad strokes and bold colors. In the case of this establishment, it's an overall outcome reached by a careful attention to detail. Victory is a low-key, high-quality neighborhood spot - and that's a winning combination.

- Barbara Mitchell

3652 S.E. Division St., 503-236-8755, 5 p.m. to midnight Monday-Thursday, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. FRIDAY and SATURDAY