by Karen Fisher
The crowd's accessories of choice range from black tights to briefcases, which makes WAB a great place for people watching. A young family with a curious toddler sits across the way, while a triple-pierced pair of tattooed 20-somethings chow down in the next booth. The buzz of friendly chatter and laughter mixes throughout.
A rotating collection of local artwork hangs on the exposed brick walls upstairs (noted illustrator Glenn Barr is among those who've shared their wares). Rich red paint, industrial metal accents and sparkly white lights decorate the large space. Take a seat at the bar or sit in one of the booths next to the window and watch the world drive by on Woodward Avenue. On some nights, there's a live band; otherwise you can shoot pool or choose a tune from the impeccable choices on the jukebox.
Downstairs during the warm months, the sidewalk café vibe is a little more lively. Mixed groups of beer-lovers congregate after work or to start off a night of club hopping. Window boxes full of hot pink flowers and lime green vines urge you to sit and sip a while.
The food is simple, but tasty and fresh. Quesadillas are perfect crispy triangles of grilled cheese, served with real avocado slices and fresh tomato salsa. Sandwiches are stacked high with a flavorful mix of ingredients, and "big salads" are colossal enough to satisfy Elaine Benes.
But you're probably here for the beer, right? You'll need to try them all the crisp Custom Blonde (plain or sweetly flavored with raspberries), the smooth pale ale, the nutty brown, the rich and luscious custom porter the menu changes seasonally. There's also homebrewed root beer and cream soda (plus a fully stocked bar).
Some clubs attempt to create a particular scene through calculated effort and a policy of including only the hottest and latest. WAB's got great food, great beer and a great location, but its real strength is in the loyal and diverse community of customers it's managed to collect without even trying.