Kyle Houk

The Watering Hole: Cyclops Cafe and Lounge , 2421 First Avenue, 441-1677, BELLTOWN

The Atmosphere: Having spent some early afternoon quality time with


Eye Enjoyed the Cyclops

Kyle Houk

The Watering Hole: Cyclops Cafe and Lounge, 2421 First Avenue, 441-1677, BELLTOWN

The Atmosphere: Having spent some early afternoon quality time with my new friend Evan Williams, I hitched a ride on the 41 from my home turf in Northgate and barreled down the express lane to the Westlake station. From there, I took in this beautiful, gray city as I ambled down to the corner of First Avenue and Wall Street. Standing before me, as it did for Odysseus, was the Cyclops.

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Though I've passed it many times (I used to be a Belltowner), I really hadn't given Cyclops the full treatment. The best I can say is that I used the bathroom in there once, either before or after getting a trendy haircut at Rudy's, just around the corner.

But this time I took her out for a test run, and the ultimate compliment I can pay the Cyclops is that, as I write this, I have one of the worst hangovers I have ever had.

The space is expansive with the bar on one side and a dining room on the other. The bar itself is L-shaped and made of stone. Hardened acrylic ponds rest within the cool rock, holding, in suspended animation, Mardi Gras beads, dice, Matchbox cars and other playful trinkets. On my left, a man and a woman talked about Castro Street. On my right, a pair of fellows chatted over a brewski. The older of the two said he comes in several times a week. Though there are many tables, they were all vacant. There wasn't a single empty seat at the bar, though. That's always neat to see, as it means people aren't afraid of snuggling up next to a stranger. Number one Gonzaga played on the tube overhead. They were fighting for the West Coast Conference championship, but, on this occasion at least, Cyclops proved not to be much of a sports bar, as the customers were much more interested in their conversations.

I was flattered when I passed a homeless lady standing at the bar. As I headed for the restroom, she looked me up and down like I was a piece of meat and said, quite audibly, "Gorgeous." She may or may not have licked her lips. Through the clouded lens of memory, she definitely licked her lips.

The Barkeep: Dylan Randolph is friendly and courteous. He's worked at the Cyclops for seven years. His salt and pepper hair is gelled upright and shaved on the sides making him reminiscent of a graying Guile from the Street Fighter series of video games. He tends bar like he's having fun, just hosting some friends. With a smile, he brought me a second round without me having to ask. Though this may sound a bit presumptuous of him, it was the right move. A good host taps into their guest's wavelength, and Randolph did that with ease.

The Drink: I had Boundary Bay Brewery's Cyclops 1 "Eye PA." It's amber in color and refreshingly crisp as its bubbles tingle the tongue. This beer is made exclusively for Cyclops and not sold anywhere else. It's not as hoppy as most of the beers I enjoy, but exclusivity is always cool.

The Verdict: Cyclops is a fun, easygoing bar to get your evening going. Though this hangover I am fighting is not due exclusively to the three drinks I had at Cyclops, it definitely owes its existence to the good mood I was put in by bartender Randolph and company. I left seeing the world through rose-colored glasses, much like the X-Men's Cyclops character. The night marched on, and I ended up meeting some people who work for the railroad all the live-long day, but that is another story altogether.

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