That's no Mojito!
The Watering Hole: The Benbow Room, located at 4210 SW Admiral Way in West Seattle, is the bar inside the Heartland Café.
That's no Mojito!
The Atmosphere:It's fucking rad because the inside of the bar is shaped like the hold of a pirate ship. Except this irks me because the pirate ship bar was originally called the Admiral Benbow, but 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. Even though I notoriously disagree with today's rampant pirate mania, I fucking LOVE the Benbow Room. It's the most civilized instant dive bar in Seattle. I keep wanting to hear Clarke's Trumpet Voluntary or the Mauret Rondo or any other Baroque trumpet fanfares that pierce your eardrums with gleaming clarity like lances made of sunlight, but instead they're playing the next best thing: Vintage Iron Maiden and Metallica MP3's rumble in the background. 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 the Redline on June 26th. Burlesque is hot even when your mom does it.
The Drink:a Maker's Mark Manhattan, up. (Is this now every dive bartender's favorite drink?) 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 of the fucking alcohol. I chased my Manhattan with a $3 PBR tall boy. What's Dawn's LEAST favorite drink? She must be after my own heart because she hates Mojitos as much as I do. "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 in the City, gay-ass drinks like the Mojito or the Cosmopolitan rank a close second to $800 shoes.
The food: The Verdict:
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. Tasty. The chicken fried steak ($12.99) is actually a FUCKING NEW YORK STRIP. It's coated in a crumbly shaggy 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 a slice of pie a la mode ($6.95) boasts a scoop of vanilla ice cream from Husky Deli and a slice of berry pie with an awesome crust but too much corn starch or arrow root or whatever constitutes the filling.
The Verdict:The Benbow Room obviously isn't a Michelin 3- Star establishment, but I love this goddamned place. The beer is cheap, cocktails are stiff, and the background music is killer. The food might be heavy enough to form its own miniature black hole, right there on your plate, if your chicken fried steak for some reason collapsed upon itself. But fuck it--the Benbow Room does what it's supposed to do: take the edge off of the hangover you got the night before while pestering Mario Batali with stupid questions.