Friday, December 25, 2009
The Living Room
1355 E Olive
The concept behind The Living Room is one I really get. A lot of us living on Capitol Hill and downtown have studios and end up going out to area bars with our friends to escape from the tiny rooms where we eat, sleep, and sometimes even work from home. Monika Proffitt understood that we all need a living room, even if it's just so we can get away with leaving our beds unmade.
I was worried as I headed over last night that the bathroom would be a little too Christmassey and that I'd end up with a holiday post instead of one that was representative of how great the bathroom there normally looks. Only a couple of strings of lights were added, along with a couple of tastefully large ornaments. It looks great in there.
You can tell Monika is really enjoying running this business when you meet her. And you will meet her, because she's around quite often and is very friendly. And I must say I was impressed last night when I messaged her via Twitter to make sure the bar would actually be open last night and got an answer right away.
They're closed today for Christmas, but after today you can visit every day from 4pm until closing time, with happy hour every day until 7pm. Last night, I finally got to try one of the new meat and cheese plates, which was so good that I was kind of sad to be sharing it.
I didn't travel for Christmas this year and definitely miss my family. However, my boyfriend, my friends, and the fun we're having around town make me realize that I actually am home for the holidays.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
530 1st Ave North
I've always maintained that it would be impossible for me to live on Queen Anne because of the serious lack of Vietnamese food. It's my favorite cuisine. I'm not even sure what my second favorite cuisine is, but it's a distant second. There was a year or so where I ate Vietnamese twice a day on weekdays and at least once on weekends. It's the best. And until The Signature opened, there was only one Vietnamese restaurant anywhere near Queen Anne and Seattle Center.
The Signature is unique for its amazing happy hour. $2 well drinks, cocktail and beer specials, and a great menu with food specials priced from $2 up to $5. It's the only serious Vietnamese food happy hour in town I know of, and it's every day from 3:00-6:00 and 8:00-Midnight.
They've also got some very lovely bathrooms. Two spacious, unisex ones, as a matter of fact.
There's art for sale, and you can lean in for a really close look at it.
If you're a reader, they've got you covered.
I have to know where they got these lightswitch covers so I can get some for my friends as Christmas gifts.
There's also a very lovely seating area just outside the bathrooms. I really wish more places had these.
Go check this place out. They're open until midnight every day except Fridays and Saturdays, when they're open until 3:30am, so you really have no excuse not to go.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
A bathroom is really only as great as the people using it.
At the beginning of dinner tonight at Long Provincial, I was finishing up in the bathroom when someone tried the doorknob and then pounded on the door. Yeah, if the door is locked from the inside, someone's in there. No need for a neon "OCCUPIED" sign or anything. I would understand if I had been lingering (say, in there taking pictures or something) but that wasn't the case at all. Two employees were outside when I opened the door, but they didn't seem to be waiting.
At the end of the meal I went back again to wash up, and as I opened the door I caught the reflection of one of the cooks just as she shoved the door closed, shoving me back in the process. Luckily, there are two bathrooms, so I opened the other one, only to find a guy standing there peeing. Seriously? Two bathrooms, both with people inside who didn't lock the door.
Maybe I should teach classes.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
15th Avenue Coffee and Tea
328 15th Ave E
There's not much to say about 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea that hasn't already been gone over so many times before. If you aren't familiar with it, it's a Starbucks-owned coffee shop that isn't Starbucks-branded in the spot where a Starbucks used to be. Confusing, eh? Their web site describes the shop as being "inspired by Starbucks" which really doesn't make sense if you think about it.
I can't say that I have a real problem with it the way so many people did. If a coffee shop chain wants to open a new coffee shop with a different feel than the rest, I say go for it. Just be prepared for all the extra unnecessary work. Will each shop like this have to have its own web site and stationery? What a pain. Or is "Street Level" the actual brand? Beats me.
The one person I think has a valid complaint is Linda Derschang. The shop looks way too much like her restaurant next door. Except not as nice. Take the bathroom, for instance.
To me, it looks just a bit too much like someone had a gift card from Michael's and no money for paint. I really wouldn't have even bothered posting about the bathroom at all, but hey. It was clean, and the shop was spacious and has outdoor seating, which is unique for 15th Avenue.
Now that the media frenzy is over, we're left to wonder what the big deal is, and why they're doing what they're doing. It will be interesting to see if this lasts. Remember Circadia and Cafe Starbucks? Didn't think so.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
429 15th Ave E
Coastal Kitchen is a Capitol Hill institution, mainly because of its location. Down on Broadway, there are tons of competing restaurants, but up on 15th, you've only got a few choices if you need some brunch. This is why it wasn't until after about six years of living here that I finally went in; every Sunday morning, there was a huge crowd waiting out front.
I love their bathroom. Orange is my favorite color for bathrooms and they've got a lovely shade of it on the walls.
I also always appreciate when there's a little bit of art to liven the room up.
And these hand dryers are amazing. Have you used one? They blast the water right off. The air isn't warm, so you don't come away with that satisfied feeling you're looking for, but your hands are actually dry enough that you won't wipe them on your pants. Unfortunately, it's placed so close to the sink that there's not enough room for the next guy to wash his hands while you're drying yours.
I think that this bathroom has got to be one of the hardest ones in Seattle to maintain. Not because of any challenging surfaces or plumbing issues, but because they always record a language lesson to play as a companion to their ever-changing country-specific menu. Right now, they're doing Cuba.
This leads me to the main issue with the restaurant. Their menu changes constantly, always focusing on a new cuisine, and I don't think they ever have enough time with any of the menu items to get used to making them well. Which isn't to say that they're bad, they're just not great. I was thankful that I had an early bird special there a couple of days ago, because I felt the prices matched the quality only after the discount.
Do stop in sometime and see for yourself, though. Consider ordering off the regular menu instead of the regional one.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Smith Tower Observation Deck
506 2nd Ave
I admit it. I'm weird. I love doing touristy things in my own city. I wish more guests would come to town so I'd have an excuse to do them.
The Smith Tower's observation deck is one of my favorites because it's easy to get to, it's beautiful, and it's flexible. Unlike museums and tours, it can be whizzed through in a few minutes, or you can linger and enjoy the view. If you're there long enough, you'll eventually need to head down to the bathroom.
Head down the stairs, be jealous of the amazing private residence above, wonder what's behind the tiny doors, and check out the crack in the vintage floor tiles.
Here's where I have to admit, my memory of the bathroom was nicer than the bathroom actually is. I'm not saying it's bad or anything, I just remembered vintage fixtures that aren't actually there.
There's also a lovely bench to wait on outside while your friend takes too long, next to a big mirror he or she can admire him- or herself in upon exiting.
I wanted to sneak into the women's restroom for some photos, but figured the last thing our city needs is dudes with cameras scaring German tourists in ladies' loos.
I could easily veer off topic and go on and on about the building's history and possible future, as well as great places to go nearby. Instead, I'll end with a warning. Be sure to call ahead because a sign I saw a block away from the Smith Tower said they'd only be open until 3pm, while their web site said 5pm.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
In the grand scheme of things as we move forward with urban planning, there are certain types of businesses that no longer make sense in certain neighborhoods. The BMW dealership just moved off Capitol Hill, and I suspect many other luxury car dealers eventually will as well. Capitol Hill has become a residential and nightlife district, so the cost of a large car lot is hardly worth it. A similar out-of-place business is the funeral home, and several years ago, one of the hill's two funeral homes converted into an office building. Its stunning chapel is now a bar. A fabulous bar.
There are three very different bathrooms onsite. One is a unisex bathroom which makes excellent use of the "infinite mirrors" effect, wherein you see copies of your reflection trail off into the beyond. It's always an amusing effect, but it makes it impossible to get a picture without you in it.
I'm serious. I tried.
There are two more bathrooms near the front door. One was once unisex, but is now girls only. Because I'm a dedicated journalist, I went in anyway. It used to be a little nicer, back when it wasn't so brightly lit.
They did make nice use of the mirrors again.
The bathroom next to it has a urinal and a stall, which is why it has always been for men only. Like the one next to it, it was nicer when it was lit a little less. My flash didn't do it any favors, either.
But really, how often do you see cool details like columns in a bathroom? Still great in any light.
Happy hour at Chapel is now daily 5-9 in spite of what their website says, and they also have a great upstairs lounge area and outdoor patio. For you furniture freaks out there, they've got hilariously tall barstools, fabulous white vinyl padded seating along the sides, and a whole bunch of those really famous Vitra Panton chairs. A lot of bars in the neighborhood have come and gone since it arrived, and I'm glad it has become a fixture.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
1221 E Madison
Pony's new location on Madison is now open for business, in a more permanent home that still may end up a temporary one. The lot it sits on has been under review for a possible condo project for ages, but it's unlikely anyone will want to build there now that several other projects in the neighborhood have been sold at auction. It's obvious by looking at their sign that they plan to be around a while this time.
The space is an old flower shop that has been extensively remodeled and features an outdoor deck with walls made of discarded street signs. (If you want to build your own Pony at home, signs are available here.) The bar has a very different feel in its new location. Still naughty, but more established. It's as though the bar has a paid profile on Manhunt instead of its number on the truckstop wall. This all makes sense because they're going to be around for more than six months this time.
There are two bathrooms this time, labeled MEN and BOYS. They're nearly identical with their Stryper-meets-Beetlejuice-in-a-Jane-Fonda-workout-video stripes, but MEN features a black light and a strobe light. The black light isn't strong enough to have much of an effect, but the strobe is a lot of fun.
If it's your first time using a bathroom with a strobelight in it, you might be shocked to learn that urine doesn't leave the body in a steady stream. It actually comes out in small droplets. I made a video of this for you, but you'll have to click over to flickr to watch. Don't say you weren't warned.
If the strobe is too much for you, there's a lightswitch you can turn on for additional light. You can also visit the BOYS room, which I hope ends up with a disco ball in the future.
During our visit, I found an issue of Honcho from 1989 laying around, which reminded me that we always found porn hidden away at the old location. They also produced a PONY zine, which I bought. If they start it up again, I'll happily pick up every issue.
CC Attle's is going to close in a couple of years, and the future of The Cuff has been uncertain for quite some time. The Eagle also tried to expand into the space next to their bar several years ago, but couldn't get approval for their plans. With the sleazy gay bar scene in Seattle petering out, I'm happy to report that Pony has risen again, and has brought their air hockey table along for the ride.
One last thing I'd like to mention about Pony: the music was fantastic. Kudos to whoever mixed it!
Monday, September 7, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
953 6th St S, Kirkland
My man took me all the way to Kirkland because he was dying for a falafel from Meze, which has been his favorite place to get one since 1995. They've been open since 1993, so you can stop in without worrying that they haven't gotten their act together yet.
His falafel was amazing, and I wish I'd gotten one for myself, but I'm glad I tried the open-face chicken pita. It was served in layers, with the pita chopped into small squares underneath. It's a very creative presentation that I plan to copy at home.
Today was just supposed to be a shopping trip, so it didn't even occur to me to bring my camera. I just need to carry it all the time. Meze's bathroom is quite lovely, and my phone didn't deal well with the light. In fact, I was only able to get two pictures and I had to face away from the light to get them.
Kirkland's a ways out so I'm sure it'll be a while before I'm there again. Hopefully one of my eastside friends will stop in and grab some pictures soon.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
620 Stewart St
I started following @hotel_max on Twitter several months ago because Jen, their Captain of Makin' it Happen, knows how to make the best use of social media. Following her is a good way to find out about fun things to do in Seattle, because she's just as interested in promoting the city and other local businesses as she is in promoting the hotel itself.
I went to the second Hotel Max tweetup on June 15th, which was held in Red Fin's bar. The drinks were strong, the appetizers were tasty, and Jen was a fun hostess. It was also great to get a tour of the hotel, because it's one huge gallery; there are over 350 original works of art, and each room's door is a huge picture. Search "hotel max" on flickr and you'll find thousands of photos, because it's the kind of place where you almost can't get a bad picture. When I started this blog, I knew I'd have to come back for some bathroom photos.
Jen was nice enough to meet me again yesterday and stand guard at the women's bathroom door so I could sneak in and get some shots.
I had a bit of a revelation, though. Women's bathrooms are inherently less interesting than men's because so much is hidden away in stalls. Plus, urinals are just plain interesting, and they don't get any. The men's room has 'em, and is quite posh.
If you're worried about fish breath after sushi in the bar, they have mouthwash.
They have an outlet for your electric razor and flat iron.
It's also the only bathroom I recall seeing which has fixtures that actually protrude from the mirrors.
Hotel Max is an excellent downtown spot for food and drinks, an overnighter, or a home base for out-of-towners. Take advantage of their Twitter rate and see for yourself!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Pony was another well-known bar from the beloved 500 block of East Pine, but it was different from the others. When the owners of Cha-Cha Lounge and Bimbo's moved to their new location up the hill on Pike, they decided to remodel the space they still had a lease on and create something legendary. If you knew you only had five months to live, wouldn't you try to have as much fun as possible?
There were three unisex bathrooms onsite. The two in the old Cha-Cha side looked much like the rest of that part of the bar, covered in vintage beefcake shots and mail-order ads for sex toys. There was also something you're not likely to see anywhere else ever again.
That's right, a clown mouth glory hole. Don't worry, it was full of splinters and way too long and narrow to be used. Mostly it was fun to send a friend into one bathroom while you went into the other so you could talk to each other like you were kids with some cans on a string.
The third bathroom was a remodeled version of the old Bimbo's bathroom, which was great in its own time. Back in the day, it was painted up in bright colors and lit with black light, which was fun because urine glows under black light. The mirror was less fun because your teeth always looked terrible. The old Bimbo's space became Pony's game room, and I liked to think of it as an arcade midway with the bathroom serving as the big top. The reason? It was decorated with stripes and insane horse heads.
Pony's new location (with a new owner) should be open soon. Hopefully they're working hard to recreate the dirty, fun atmosphere.
Special thanks to my friend Alan who provided all the photos for this entry.