A new restaurant opened in an old spot. The Mandolin is in the back of the Union Club's bar.
The location earned a reputation for fine dining just slightly separate from a lively bar under the helm of Marianne Forest and was called the Hob Nob. The Hob Nob moved across the bridge to the Hip Strip about a decade ago under new ownership and has been successful there. Even so, the Old Hob Nob still haunts the Union Club. It's been hard for a restaurant to stick there since. One of the biggest challenges I can imagine is maintaining a presence in the back of a very active bar popular for live music and swing dancing. Plus, the bar and restaurant servers are divided so if you want wine or a refreshing V&T with your dinner, you need to get up and go to the bar. Not a huge thing but an odd thing that most people don't expect.
We ate at The Mandolin for the first time last week. On Tuesdays, they have live mandolin jam sessions in the front corner of the restaurant, but they also had live jamming the night we were there (Friday was it?) as well, so expect music. We enjoyed our burgers (as you can see) plus they also serve pasta and other fare. The multiple slices of citrus in the water was a small but nice colorful touch. The staff all seemed to be on their toes and it was a busy night. Perhaps they've conquered the space's ghosts or at least are on their way. I'll be going back to lend a hand making way for the new and now.
Check out their website which indicates the restaurant is a hub for all things mandolin instrument related, with classifieds and notes from history. Did you know Steve Earle just had a birthday on January 17th?
Update on May 13, 2011: This restaurant has closed!