In the heart of Ogden on East Avenue resides The Vault, a quaint, original brick building that is now a sports bar, previously a bank.
My husband and I gave this place a try on a crisp autumn afternoon for late lunch/early dinner (whatever the evening version of brunch is), and we were starving.
While a smaller joint, there is a nice variety of seating, with some tables up against a bench that lines the wall, and a bar that boasts a nice number of stools. They have cordoned off a small area for video gaming just next to the main dining space, but the lights and sounds are minimal and unintrusive.
That said, the staff at The Vault have bedecked the main space with plenty of large TVs to watch a number of games (or perhaps the game, depending on the sports season in question). The day I went, it was all about college football. Despite all the televisions being on, they kept the volume low enough so you could still carry on a conversation without becoming hoarse by the end of the meal. A distinct pro for a sports bar. (Note: this may change after a certain hour of the day and depending on the game.)
Our friendly waitress quickly brought us beverages and took our appetizer order; out of the three mainstays on the menu (loaded tots, wings, or chili fries) we went with the loaded tots ($8). My husband ordered a side salad, as well. Served in a miniature cast iron skillet, the tots were piled high with pulled pork (smoked in-house and you can tell), barbecue sauce with a kick, some cheese, and whatever “boom boom sauce” is. They arrived hot and garnished with slices of pickle and pimento cheese, the latter of which helped cut through the richness of the pork and barbecue sauce. These really hit the spot and we destroyed them. As for the side salad, it was generously sized with fresh lettuce and ingredients (cucumber, tomato, onion, cheese), served chilled. The Vault has a nice selection of salad dressings to boot.
While we were stuffing our faces with the tots, I ordered one of the bank-themed drinks on the menu and went with the Lucky Penny ($8), which was heavy on the cherry flavor, as it is their take on an old-fashioned. While it was a bit too sweet for me, generally, if you want something that emphasizes cherry and orange flavors, order this drink. The cocktails are well priced between $6 and $10 each, and all have catchy names like Safe Deposit Box, Over Draft, and Off-Shore Account. The best deal for a non-alcoholic beverage that isn’t water is the Blank Check, which is cranberry juice blended with lemon lime soda and a twist of lemon for one dollar and served in a martini glass. That’s right, one dollar. Black coffee is more expensive than this drink. I like that they offer something fun for a younger crowd or a DD.
We continued our meal with our entrees; I ordered the sloppy joe ($8) and my husband ordered the steak sandwich ($14). Both came with a ton of piping hot fries. The Vault does not disappoint on the food, both in serving size or in flavor. My sloppy joe was plated nicely with an onion ring on top. It did not let me down on the sloppy front. It probably would have been easier to eat with a knife and fork, but that takes some of the fun out of it. I did enjoy that the sloppy joe came with a slice of pepperjack cheese, but I believe it was put on while it was still cold instead of being grilled with the sandwich filling, so the sandwich arrived a tad on the lukewarm side. It was still full of flavor and quite peppery, both in seasoning and due to the green and red peppers that were part of the sloppy mix. Because the portions are so generous, I was not able to finish my sandwich or my fries. I ordered a side of ranch to go with all the fries — the sharp vinegar flavor from the buttermilk complemented them nicely.
Both my husband and I appreciated the grilled buttery buns for the sandwiches. He enjoyed his steak sandwich that was cooked to his preferred level of doneness. It was topped with a flavorful aioli, although he said he would have preferred a bit more seasoning on the steak.
We rolled ourselves out with very full stomachs, considering we didn’t have to spend very much. The food is well prepared, the staff are friendly, and the TVs are tuned to all the sportsball games. Just as we were finishing up, orange-and-blue bedecked Illini fans trickled in for a hearty post-game meal. Go for the food and stay for the ambience, especally if you're a sports fan.
121 East Ave
11 a.m. to midnight, daily
Photos by Zoe Valentine