**The Vault Closed Summer of 2011 – Sushi Mountain Moved to The Hunt Club**
I asked for brave, adventurous souls to join me.
It wasn’t because we were going to one of the haunted businesses in Fort Collins, where I’ve heard some pretty hair-raising ghost stories, it was because we were going to eat “back door sushi.” I’d heard about it, read the sign flashing “Late Night Sushi” in the window, and listened to people’s less-than-positive opinions about eating sushi in one of the biggest dive bars in Old Town.
As friends responded with excitement about eating sushi since it was one of their favorite foods, I was hoping they knew we’d be eating what we assumed to be sketchy rolls. This wasn’t a trip to Suehiro. I didn’t want anyone to get the wrong impression and be disappointed with the experience. I wanted to make sure that everyone who came with me, did so with low expectations and an iron gut.
That night eating sushi at the Vault tops out as one of my most favorite nights in Fort Collins.
I’ve been to the Vault many times before, and it’s always been an interesting place to drink. They have a variety of DJ’s on different nights ranging from Dubstep to Bluegrass, and the bartenders make a mean Mai-Tai. But, I’d never had the sushi.
The bar is named after the large bank vault that is right behind the taps from when the building was originally the Commercial Bank & Trust Co. in 1907 and converted into a bar in 1999. With 18 foot high ceilings, walls covered with local art, torn up chairs, horrific bathrooms (both in function and one of the haunted places in the building), graffiti penned on the patio tables, pool tables, DJ’s spinning beats, and an interesting late-night clientele – it’s a total dive bar.
And I love it.
A large group of friends joined me – one being Lara (my super awesome guest blogger and copy editor). We started with some beer, and grabbed some space on the patio, pretending we weren’t there just to eat sushi. We were coy. “Oh, there’s sushi here?” I asked Ken Minkes, sushi chef and owner of Sushi Mountain, who is renting the kitchen space from the Vault. After taking a look at the sushi menu, I was fortunate to have brought an adventurous group, and we basically left the sushi order up to Ken to surprise us with. He seemed to be as excited about this adventure as we were.
Working hard in the kitchen by himself at first (until he called in for back up), we were served organic seaweed salad, a plate of gyoza, and a bowl of organic edemame. Next there were large bowls of oysters and mussels which he just picked up fresh that morning, and a plate of blackened tuna. We dug in. Slurping, laughing, ooing, ahhing, drinking, eating – the party had begun. Ken had so carefully prepared our dishes and I was in awe – shocked that while not the very best sushi in town, this certainly overshadowed many well-known sushi restaurants in Fort Collins. There was nothing sketchy about this sushi.
This was a fantastic find. A true hole in the wall gem.
He brought out five more rolls for us – a mix of variety from the menu. There was more laughing, more joking about ghosts in the ladies bathroom, more eating, more drinking, more ooing, more ahhing, nods and appreciation for the incredible service and downright respectable sushi.
The beer was flowing and the sushi was rolling. Some rolls were a little bland, and the rice could have used a bit more of a sweet vinegar kick – but overall, it was nice. Here we were, on a dark patio that backed up to a downtown alley, eating organic sushi and having a blast.
And then our hospitable sushi chef Ken bought the table a round of shots. The night could not have been more fun.
I had asked for brave, adventurous souls with iron guts to join me, for people to have low expectations of the quality and service. Maybe my expectations were so low that my mind was blown away when I tasted what we were eating and treated so well with top-notch service. The next time someone cringes at the thought about eating “backdoor sushi” in a dive bar next to an alley, I’ll make sure to tell them they don’t know what their missing – it was an unforgettable experience.
Parking: Old Town Street Parking.
Healthy Options? There are organic vegan and vegetarian options to choose from!
Budget-Friendly? Average sushi pricing $7-$11 per roll
Recent Health Inspection: Excellent