2005_05_food_izu.jpgThirteenth street is getting luckier. Izu, a new sake bar with grade-A sushi (for us plebes that won't ever be able to afford a $300 omakase without a sugar daddy) is adding value to the block between University and Fifth Avenue. Next to the newest location of the coffehouse Joe and one of the most wheelchair-accessible bars we've ever visited, Izu is beautiful and affordable. A variety of sakes start at $7 for a "single," a serving of more than a cupful, and top out at $19 and "doubles," which last a through entrees or at least past the usual pleasantries. We tried a double with a friend, the milky mild ($15 for a double) and were impressed by the strong, full-bodied liqueur flavor. It could stand on i's own as a before or after-dinner drink but worked well with spicy sushi.

The sake list also includes unusual banana flavors (too sweet for us) and plum (different from the plum wines of your neighborhood Chinese franchise). The fried calamari we tried ($6) was light, airy, sea-salted and not at all like bar food. We also tried the house special Red Dragon roll($11) a gorgeous roll with tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, cumcumber and roe and throughly recommend it on both counts of presentation and sumptuous protein high. Our friend had a seafood udon that they did just as well as the sushi.

Open and airy itself, Izu is welcoming and beautiful from the waitstaff (as pretty as any at Coffee Shop but with some capacity to actually wait on tables) and the decor and lighting, chosen by the owner, are as interesting as any of the art directed building