The Bar: Kate's Pub was still positively soaked through with St. Patrick's Day regalia, but the atmosphere at the Wallingford favorite was so warm and homey that you could hardly fault the bar for seasonal spirit. For its relatively small size, Kate's Pub has sectioned its dining area and main bar from its pool tables fairly dramatically. The partition between gaming and dining dropped around 9 p.m. from the humble public house's surprisingly powerful PA system.
I knew the community aspect of Kate's was even stronger than first impressions when Quizmaster Billy Clinton began the quiz by wishing a fond farewell to one of the quiz's regular contestants as she was moving to Paris after tonight's festivities. However, it wasn't until the host actually stalled the quiz for about 10 minutes in order for one of the regular teams to arrive late--even though the pub had already accumulated a more-than-healthy number of teams--that I realized I was dealing with a trivia night that really treasured its return crowd.I might've been a little annoyed by this delay of a quiz with an already relatively late start time, but the idea of a trivia night that misses you is just too precious to critique.
The Quiz: (Mondays, 9 p.m., $6 per team) Kate's Pub got the special effects out of the way right quick, beginning with an audio round and visual round to rouse the spirits early. After a quick break from the multimedia panache, Clinton ground participants down with 50 verbal questions of general knowledge. While the majority of these were multiple choice, they were a far cry from the multi-choice questions of bars like Bourbon. Compare "How many years has Qadhafi been in power--40, 42, 44, or 45?" to Bourbon's "Who is the protagonist of Shakespeare's The Tempest--Prospero, Romeo, Caliban, or Ariel?" While I don't mean to trash another strong quiz, Kate's Pub is definitely a bar that isn't afraid to stump its audience.
One easily overlooked but stunningly versatile detail of the quiz is that all the questions are worth two points. At this point, you might be skeptical that I'm harping on any mildly unique detail just to fill out a column, but this really is a game-changer when it comes to grading. Some questions (and when you're asking a roomful of pedants, MOST questions) have some inevitable room for give in terms of multiple answers. Allowing two points per question instead of one lets the host award full credit to the ideal answer while still being able to defuse the oddballs who are only incidentally correct.
If your team didn't fare too well after The Final Score, don't fret! Billy still usually has four or five questions he'll ask the entire bar individually. The first person to raise their hand (not just shout out the answer, you obnoxious drunk) and provide a correct answer gets a free beer. I've really only seen anything like this done at Geeks Who Drink quizzes, and it's one of the few methods I've seen to provide miffed teams with not only some consolation booze, but also the bragging rights that so many pissed brainiacs are ultimately there for.
The Host: Billy Clinton might possibly be the most experienced quizmaster in Seattle, logging over 10 years of hosting experience at both Kate's Pub and a London joint named Greyhound Pub before that. He's charming, lenient, sharp-witted, and his lovely brogue is only occasionally indecipherable. There are a lot of hidden gems in Seattle's barely publicized trivia scene, but Billy Clinton has to rank among the top.
The Verdict: The 70+ questions and the late start time were definitely a sharp contrast to last week's quick-and-dirty quiz at Montlake Ale House, focusing on a heftier load of questions for quiztakers who might be looking to stick around and jabber with their compatriots a little longer. If you're looking for a seasoned and captivating host, one of the best-balanced quizzes you can find in Seattle, and can stand being out past 11 on a school night, Kate's Pub is not only a good place to start, but a great place to settle into.