Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Garage and The Parlor

Bellevue, oh Bellevue. All the riches in Washington, the best wine, the best booze, the finest overdressed underpaid underweight cocktail waitresses, how did you become so? Ah, yes, that’s right, you sold your soul.

Yesterday evening Rishi treated me to an early-winter-hum-drum-healing outing to a new-to-me pool hall, The Parlor. Located in downtown Bellevue in the Lincoln shopping center (named for the street, surely, and not Abraham), The Parlor offers all the amenities of a 1950s era classy shooter’s pool hall. There’s a dress code, even. Sadly, it is not restrictive enough.

The host walked us to our table and even racked the first rack of balls. A light above a giant martini glass would indicate to our server that we required attention. Tables were wiped down between guests; barstools were reorganized constantly; and the menu was classic American fare. At first, I was in love with the private room in the back, the lounge, the lighting, and the atmosphere.
But, I quickly came to my senses. Outside of Disneyland or Vegas, the Parlor was the most vacuous place I’ve enjoyed myself in years. The music was too loud and repetitive top 40. The carpet was right out of a casino. The felt was worn, the table unlevel, and there was no hand chalk available (though, they did offer to sell us some; good thing we brought our own). The tables were oddly close given the wide walkways and open spaces for eating. The company, save Rishi, unbearably was Microsoftie. The dress code, sadly, did not limit undersized team sweatshirts or un-tucked seersuckers.
I was longing for the simplicity and hipness of The Garage on Capitol Hill in twenty minutes. The Garage just opened their expansion, and it’s beautiful. The new smell is prevalent, and the money they spent on keeping the design theme consistent with the existing structure is well spent. The lanes are gorgeous, well lit, and surrounded with cool colors and designs. The beams are majestic; the hardwood floors a delight to clip-clop across. The two tan-felt tables in the middle of a lounge (complete with bowl of carnivorous plants) are positioned perfectly for those who want to watch and be watched. The staff is as friendly as you will find anywhere in Seattle.
I’m looking forward to next week at The Garage already: new tables and new views, in a building that looks as if it could be a historical landmark in Seattle. But for now, get back to work.

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