Howard Magazine - Page 20 - Stellar speakeasy

Howard Magazine
- Page 20
Stellar speakeasy
By Tim Smith Howard Magazine

Excellent food and drink at 18th and 21st evokes the Prohibition era

With the world even more on edge than usual, there’s something almost therapeutic about indulging in the past — watching classic films and TV shows, for example, or seeking out retro-minded restaurants that recall old days, old ways. 18th & 21st, a terrific arrival in Columbia, is such a place.

The title itself provides the first throwback — those numbers refer to the 18th Amendment, which ushered in Prohibition, and the 21st, which ushered it back out.

The dry years are further evoked in the way you reach the establishment. You first pass through Cured, an airy, casual bar-restaurant under the same ownership and sharing some menu items. If you pretend that Cured is a front meant to fool the Feds, you can imagine yourself furtively heading down a corridor to a speakeasy.

Such a flight of fancy would be easier to sustain if they had put a peephole in the windowless entrance doors to 18th & 21st and made you give a password (like any self-respecting Marx Brothers fan, I was dying to say “swordfish” to someone when we got there). But stepping inside still feels like a reward.

The restaurant’s sophisticated ambience, a little redolent of early 1930s supper clubs, is