First Call: Inarrgghuably Awesome

Bret Michaels is bad luck at the Benbow Room.

The Watering Hole: The Benbow Room, located at 4210 S.W. Admiral Way in West Seattle, is the bar inside the Heartland Cafe.The Atmosphere: Fucking rad, because the bar's inside is shaped like the hold of a pirate ship. Except this irks me, because while the Benbow Room was originally called the Admiral Benbow, in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island "Admiral Benbow" was the name of a hotel, not a boat. So shouldn't they have made this place look like the inside of a hotel?It's dim, and seafaring crap is all over the place. The Benbow Room is the most civilized instant dive bar in Seattle. Vintage Iron Maiden and Metallica mp3's rumble in the background, and the plasma screen is muted. Inside Edition is REALLY FUCKING WEIRD with the sound off. They keep showing the same photo of a tiger. Then the tiger disappears, replaced by a still of Bret Michaels with the caption "I'm lucky to be alive." Bret Michaels' survival was luck, all right: bad luck.The Barkeep: Dawn, who didn't want to reveal her last name but DID want everyone to know that she'll be performing under her stage name, Loretta Sin, with her burlesque troop the Boudoir Bellas at West Seattle's Redline on June 26.The Drink: A Maker's Mark Manhattan, up. Dawn mixed the drink with just a little sweet vermouth and hardly any bitters. Perfect. But what is it about making Manhattans that appeals to her? "I love that first sip with the ice crystals in it." Me too, Dawn. But even more than the ice crystals, I love all the fucking alcohol. I chased my Manhattan with a $3 PBR tallboy.What's Dawn's least favorite drink? She must be after my own heart, because she hates mojitos. "A lot of consumers of mojitos see it on TV and don't know what's in it," Dawn explained, "Then when they drink it, they complain 'There's mint all in my teeth!'" Indeed. Of the very many crimes against humanity perpetrated by Sex and the City, gay-ass drinks like the mojito or the cosmopolitan rank a close second to $800 shoes.The Food: $7.99 gets you three sliders: tiny hamburgers with melted orange cheese served on soft buns with a ramekin of horseradish sauce, or something, on the side. The patties themselves have an almost apocalyptic slag of smoky char on the outside, but are still a little pink inside—and tasty. The chicken-fried steak ($12.99) is actually a fucking New York strip. It's coated in a crumbly breading and pan-fried—well-done of course—and topped with a comforting beige blanket of sausage gravy. A side of buttery mashed potatoes is a bit gummy, but generally satisfying. Coleslaw is a great foil to all the fried beefiness: sweet, not too much mayonnaise, with crisp green and red cabbage and julienned carrots and flecked with plenty of ground black pepper. And the pie a la mode ($6.95) boasts a scoop of vanilla ice cream from Husky Deli and berry pie with an awesome crust, but too much cornstarch or arrowroot or whatever constitutes the filling.The Verdict: The Benbow Room obviously isn't a Michelin three-star establishment, but I love this goddamned place. The beer is cheap, cocktails are stiff, and the background music is killer.Catch the Surly Gourmand's inimitable rants at least twice each week on Voracious, SW's food blog (seattleweekly.com/voracious).

 
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