Star-lite's bar food is a cut above the standard fare. 

More than Drinks

The latest occupant of the space that once was Soble's is the , and it looks like this place, unlike its immediate predecessor, is here to stay. Its owner's résumé includes a part ownership in the successful Bandito's Burrito Lounge, which brings with it a certain measure of credibility. Interior embellishments, such as large contemporary paintings and whimsical metallic light fixtures with stylized martini motifs, transform this traditional and attractive Fan building into a place that feels hip. Perhaps its biggest draw, at least for the drinking crowd, is a sizable, covered patio from which to see and be seen. It's the kind of place one could imagine stopping in for a late afternoon drink, staying for dinner and lingering until last call.

The Star-lite's fare is essentially good bar food with a few nice surprises and a few disappointments. Starters (around $6) include a number of selections that would make a good late-night snack such as Buffalo wings or beer-boiled shrimp, as well as more sophisticated appetizers like grilled crab cakes and escargot. Star-lite has a wide selection of conventional sandwiches also priced in the $6 range, including the Paul Soble Memorial Bacon Cheeseburger. Finally, for slightly more involved dining, there are a number of entrées priced about $9 to $13 that include such items as spice-rubbed New York strip and linguine with a choice of four traditional sauces.

We started off on a disappointing note. An order of crostini ($5.95) turned out to be slices of dubious French bread thoroughly soaked and soggy with tomato sauce and topped with melted mozzarella. But things got better from there. Pan-fried pot-stickers ($5.95) (steamed and then fried Asian dumplings) were stuffed with a savory mix of ground pork and served with intensely spicy Chinese soy dipping sauce and a milder honey mustard sauce. These would go well with a cold beer on the patio.

When I asked about the specials, our server disappeared to study a chalkboard too far away to read. She returned to recite her findings one by one until she got to the Italian sausage sub, after which she interjected emphatically, "But I wouldn't order that thing, some dude tried one at lunch and said it was like awful!" We thanked her for the tip, and tentatively ordered an entrée called chicken Star-lite, pausing to gauge her reaction. "That's the best!" she said smiling, and we were relieved to have her blessing.

On a tip from a discriminating vegetarian friend, we also ordered the sautéed veggie sub ($5.95), which, in the universe of veggie subs stands out because its vegetables are sautéed in garlic and wine before being baked in a roll with tomato and cheese. It's a nice touch that adds a distinctive flavor.

The chicken Star-Lite ($9.95) also turned out to be a pretty neat dish. A sautéed boneless chicken breast is topped with spinach, smoked ham, roasted red peppers, onions and Gorgonzola cheese and flashed under the broiler. With all those flavors and textures, it's a dish that will hold your interest for a quite a while.

I learned something new about desserts at the Star-lite lounge. Contrary to what I have always thought, it seems there are qualitative gradations of the ubiquitous Snickers pie. The one Star-lite serves — and I cannot believe I am about to say this — is actually pretty good. So, too, was a coconut pie.

The Star-lite Lounge is a bar, and its food, for the most part, is pretty good bar food. Its attractive patio invites lingering and its bartender has just the antidote should you find yourself running out of steam while the night is still young. Star-lite serves an Austrian energy drink called Red Bull that combines caffeine, vitamin B-12 and a supposedly energy-boosting amino acid called taurine. People mix this drink with vodka to extend the life of their partying — at least, in the short-term. So grab a bite at the Star-lite and stay until closing — there are no

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