Say wine bar. Say cheese and charcuterie. Say Romanesque moldings, burgundy walls, dark woodwork, candle-lit. Though true, these scarcely conjure Underbelly. The Pioneer Square bar occupies a below-ground space on the corner of First and Washington, but a streak of subterranean fun mediates its standard trappings: the cracked tile floor, the candles more two-bit seance than violin romance.
Wines are natural and decently priced—eight dollars for a quaffable house red, $12 for a brisk and nicely tannic cabernet franc blend—but the beer and cocktail lists are plenty robust. Music, on recent nights, shimmied from Talking Heads to the Replacements, then gave way to movies projected on a large screen—maybe a Dario Argento Italian horror classic, maybe Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Perhaps the food best typifies the space. Get the cheese board, sure, but you’re just as well off with the hot dog or the French Nachos, both of which involve baguettes draped with melted, comfortingly salty raclette.