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(Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff)
By Luke O'Neil
Globe Correspondent / January 22, 2010

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Considering the Regal Beagle’s sitcom pedigree, we were expecting something more ironic. Bartenders decked out in bell-bottoms and butterfly collars perhaps? Waiters with bushy sideburns on the make? While there are a few nods toward ’70s retro-kitsch here - crushed red velvet wallpaper and a Fleischmann Gin poster in which a mustachioed, leisure suit-wearing gentleman oversees the scene with an approving grin - this is essentially your modern, dimly lit neighborhood bistro.

“The name the Regal Beagle we of course chose from ‘Three’s Company,’ ’’ says manager Rich Murphy. “On the show, that was the spot that they went to all the time and met up with everyone from the neighborhood. We wanted our place to be that spot for Coolidge Corner. A place you could go to a few times a week and either meet friends, make new ones, or just run into people from the ’hood. With regards to the design, we went for a more subtle interpretation with the dark reds and wood, as opposed to a literal, kitschy 1970s re-creation. . . . I would describe the feel as warm and inviting with a few unique, whimsical touches. We want people to feel comfortable here.’’

Whether you feel comfortable probably depends on your susceptibility to claustrophobia. This is an exceptionally small space, with a seven-seat bar, and a long, thin dining room that filled up quickly on a busy Saturday night. Everything is so packed together, you’re practically forced to get to know the person next to you. Also there’s no TV at the bar. Looks like you might have to actually talk to someone. Mission accomplished.

It also seems to fill a long-standing need in the Brookline neighborhood for a casually sophisticated neighborhood bar.

“Every night, guests tell me that Coolidge Corner needed a place like this,’’ says Murphy. “Of course, we love hearing that.’’

“One of the owners, Kristian Deyesso, has lived in this neighborhood for years and has always said that the neighborhood needs a cozy bar/restaurant,’’ says Murphy.

“We were looking at places like the Franklin Cafe, Anchovies, Silvertone, Central Kitchen, and Temple Bar as models for what we would like to provide.’’

We were surprised to see a cocktail list with rye, rum, gin, and tequila drinks highlighted. This could very easily have been a flavored vodka-based bummer. But most of them are simply classic cocktails made with quality spirits that have cheeky names referencing the television show: a simple daiquiri called the Dizzy Blonde (La Favorite Rhum Agricole, fresh lime, and simple syrup, $10), an Old Fashioned called the Old Landlord (Old Overholt rye, Angostura bitters muddled with oranges and cherries, $9, pictured), a Manhattan called the Ladies Man (Rittenhouse rye, Angostura bitters, sweet vermouth, Amarena cherries, $10). The Flower Rickey (Bulldog Gin, hibiscus syrup, fresh lime, and soda, $9) is simply a lime rickey with floral sweetening touches. We were more pleased with the beer selection, like the Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA and the Avery White Rascal ($6 each).

“I’m just glad there’s a bar here that isn’t for 19-year-olds,’’ a woman seated next to us said. “It fills a hole in the market. There are plenty of coffee shops, but almost no bars for young professionals.’’

From now on, if we ever accidentally blunder our way into a date with two stewardesses on the same night, this is the place we’d want to be. If we lived in the neighborhood, we’d definitely be back for a few laughs.

The Regal Beagle, 308 Harvard St., Brookline. 617-739-5151. www.thebeaglebrookline.com

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