Goodness Gracious!

There's a whole lotta camp going on at Chopstix in Queen Anne.

The Cloud Room atop the Camlin Hotel, a venerable establishment that was once the height of sophistication, has closed and left its former patrons with no piano man to fill their lonely nights. Alas, the new dueling-piano bar, Chopstix, will not be the place to fill that void. Slick vinyl pervades this out-of-place Lower Queen Anne bar, which wants to be trendy but comes off as goofy instead. With bright-red walls and black-and-white tile floors, Chopstix is reminiscent of a game-show set. Oversized, color-washed black-and-white photos of famously boisterous piano heroes—Elton John, Billy Joel, Ray Charles, and Jerry Lee Lewis—are made to show how fun! the place is. A semicircle of tables at varying heights draw fidgeting young couples who might look comfortable in Fremont's ToST or Suite G but seem out of place in this campy ode to show tunes, old standards, and piano-banging rock and roll. Some seem to be avoiding eye contact with each other as if to say, yes, we are here but looking at you makes it all too real. Before 8 p.m., Chopstix is not unlike any other upscale corny theme bar (think Hard Rock Cafe or Cowgirls, Inc.), but once the show starts, it's not a place to mingle or converse—definitely not a first-date destination; people go here to be part of an event. It is neither romantic nor leg-slappingly funny. Regulars—often older and, inexplicably, hetero men in business attire—go for the "hysterical" comedy and "fabulous" music. The players who bang on two baby grands put on a goofy show, but they're legitimately talented and can take on seemingly any customer request, from Sinatra to AC/DC. One wonders why talented musicians who seem to enjoy performing and cracking jokes don't take their skill somewhere it could be showcased for what it is worth. The most hilarious thing about Chopstix is that it takes itself so seriously; it presents one of the campiest scenes in Seattle with the equivalent of a straight face. Of course the clichés don't stop with the show. The contemporary American dinner menu features cutesy dish names such as Great Wings of Fire (fiery chicken wings, $7.50), Whole Lotta Fries Going On ($6.50), (Bringing Down the) House Salad ($2.99) and Jolly Mon Steak ($10.99). The Chopstix Burger ($8.50) is, as they put it, a huge hunk of meat. Annoying monikers aside, the food is plain—just a lot of good old American cholesterol. There are no vegetarian dishes but the kitchen staff is accommodating; they'll prepare rice with vegetables on the side. If you go, check out the "Tightwad Tuesday" happy hour, with food and drink specials from 5 to 10 p.m. Once the dueling begins, first-time visitors interested in lasting more than 15 minutes would be wise to order plenty of cocktails from the full bar. zbugaighis@seattleweekly.com Chopstix, 11 Roy St., 206-270-4444, LOWER QUEEN ANNE. 5 p.m.–1:30 a.m. Tues.–Sun.; happy hour 5–7 p.m.

 
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