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[Cheap Eats]

Wonder Bar
Ambiance in Allston

on the cheap
Gourmet India White Horse Tavern Paris Lee’s Beehive

No wonder it’s called the Wonderbra — uh, Wonder Bar: the place has given Allston nightlife quite a lift. With its high ceilings, red-brick walls, and wood-paneled floors, its dimly lit cognac glow and jazzy flow, the Wonder Bar emits a lively urban vibe, not to mention warmth and accessibility.

The easygoing menu reflects the casual atmosphere; as long as you regard the food with a carefree, come-what-may attitude, you and your meal will get along just fine. Among the simpler pleasures are the sweet-potato fries ($5) — nicely roasted, wedge-cut, and served with tangy barbecue-style Wondersauce. And don’t forget to try the ever-popular chocolate-chip cookies ($6), so thick and soft they’re like hot little pillows for your sweet tooth to lounge around on.

Wonder Bar adds class to its standard repertoire of sandwiches, salads, and stale-crusted but strikingly topped pizzas (hummus, barbecued chicken, and oregano is one of the options) by also serving Mediterraneanesque " terra cottas. " The current kitchen staff goes easier on the jarred garlic than chefs have in the past, so these mini-casseroles finally prove their pizzazz. Though the most original of them (a pear, port, and gorgonzola medley) got the boot some time back, the feta/caper/roasted-garlic/tomato/oregano combo with shrimp and crostini ($8.75) is a keeper, at once cheery and smoky — not unlike the joint itself.

Wonder Bar, located at 186 Harvard Avenue, in Allston, is open Monday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Call (617) 351-2665.

Issue Date: September 20 - 27, 2001