The people behind Vetted Well would like to make one thing very clear: This bar and restaurant is its own thing. Yes, it's located above the new Alamo Drafthouse — and accessible via the movie theater's lobby — but it's also, the owner says, a stand-alone bar and restaurant with its own menu, vibe and, eventually, its own event programming.
When DFW's second Alamo Drafthouse was in the works, owner Bill DiGaetano says one thing about the Cedars location stuck out to him. "It was the views, initially," he says. "We had these great views, so we wanted to have this second-floor bar." Vetted Well certainly isn't the first spot in this ever-growing neighborhood to capitalize on unobstructed views of the downtown skyline, but it does a decent job of it.
Here's the breakdown: Vetted Well serves beer, cocktails and a relatively small food menu that's currently available only from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays. While their kitchen is only open for weekday lunches at the moment, the bar is open until Alamo Drafthouse closes on weeknights and until 2 a.m. on weekends. When the bar is open but Vetted Well's kitchen is not, you can order off Alamo's food menu while still partaking in the aforementioned views. Eventually, DiGaetano says, Vetted Well will serve dinner and brunch. "We want to enter the market slowly," he says. "It's an unforgiving market when it comes to brunch especially." Damn straight — Dallas takes its mid-morning chicken and waffles very seriously.
With 13 dishes, this menu is small but pretty solid, with an emphasis on local ingredients and house-made everything. The chicken-fried chicken ($13) is coated in a dark, crunchy Ritz Cracker crust and gets a touch of sweetness from the local honey drizzled on top. The croquettes ($8) are filled with smoked gouda and bacon and come with a dill ranch that feels light and fresh, even to a long-standing hater of ranch dressing. This was no Hidden Valley, and thank God for that. The sandwiches, made with Empire Bakery bread, feature a PB&J made with neither peanut butter nor jelly. This PB&J ($12) stands for pork belly and Jarlsberg, adorned with onion confit and tomato basil coulis.
On the drink side of the menu, there are two dozen taps, a selection of craft cans, a few token wines and a decent cocktail list that contains what may become one of our favorite summer libations: the Kentucky Buck ($10), made with bourbon, strawberry, lemon, bitters and ginger beer. Vetted Well kept this cocktail list approachable. "Alamo the brand is very genuine and that's something we wanted to show with Vetted Well," DiGaetano said. "We want to be genuine — no pretentious bartenders."
Nothing says "We're totes chill" quite like Vetted Well's boilermaker menu, a list of beer/liquor combos that will net you one half-pint of beer with one shot of liquor. The Grassy Knoll ($6) pairs a shot of Mellow Corn whiskey with a pony bottle of Miller High Life. "How can you resist a pony bottle of the Champagne of beers?" DiGaetano asks. It's a valid question.
How you consume the boilermaker is up to you — some drink the beer and take the shot, others alternate between sipping each. Others still may opt out of the boilermaker menu and instead take advantage of the fact that Vetted Well allows beer drinkers to order half-pints of beers, which makes it easier to taste multiple brews in one sitting.
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Just past Vetted Well you'll find karaoke rooms you can rent for $20-$40 an hour, should you have enough boilermarkers to work up the courage, and the bar will host Wednesday trivia nights, Motown Mondays and movie nights on an outdoor screen.
So will Vetted Well be successful outside Alamo's circle of movie buffs? Time will tell, but there's certainly room for growth in this neighborhood. So far, in terms of both food and drink, it appears that this menu really is vetted well.
Vetted Well, 1005 S Lamar St., facebook.com/VettedWell