Ye Neuvo Poolhall

"I think maybe the money's what's throwing you off here today."
- Vincent Lauria in the 1986 film, "The Color of Money"

Kristin and I splurged a little with our garage sale take on Saturday night. Instead of heading to the North Bend Bar & Grill for some nachos and burgers, we opted for the Tuna House, a sushi place in Bellevue that I heard good things about from my friend Eric last week. And Eric was right to give it praise. The food was fabulous, the service very good, and the portions on everything from the sake to the spicy tuna and sashimi was excellent. Not sure how Eric got out of there as cheaply as he said he did, but it was money well spent.

It was only after draining the last of the sake that we realized we ate a really early dinner. It was barely past 6:00. I had a lot of work to do at home, but we hadn't gone out in a while and I felt like doing something. So we decided to check out the scene at the new Lincoln Square building in downtown Bellevue. This new high rise features some upscale stores and restaurants, a movie theatre, a hotel, and a dozen or two floors with million dollar condos and billion dollar views. Nothing at the cineplex really inspired us to take a seat so we continued to look. That's when we saw the sign for "Parlor".

Parlor is a 22,000 square-foot poolhall with 43 tables, multiple bars, and a drink menu the size of the Yellow Pages. It's the type of place where the male members of the staff is dressed rather dapper and the women elegant but sexy. It's the type of place where you give them your driver's license and they personally escort you to a table, summon a cocktail waitress, and you are free to play for as long as you want. The table is yours.

Wait. Did I say free? Far from it. The wall to wall carpeting, the plush barstools, the plasma televisions, the art-deco lighting and wall coverings, and the shear volume of space Parlor occupies at one of the pacific northwest's most expensive addresses guarantees you that this is not a free source of entertainment. When the clock strikes 7pm on a Friday or Saturday night, your personal pool table costs $16/hour. The drinks you'll be downing while you play hover in the $7.50 range, with some as high as $40.00. The food, while appearing voluminous and appetizing, was also on the pricy end.

This is as far from the smoke-filled dive halls of Fast Eddie's time. This is Las Vegas come to Bellevue. This is luxury and billiards, but being in the nortwest it also means that everyone was dressed in jeans. Kristin and I often remark that after our dogs pass (hopefully not anytime soon), we wouldn't mind selling the house and moving into a nice condo in a high-rise in Bellevue or Seattle. Our time at Parlor showed us why that would be a very bad decision. To be an elevator ride away from such costly distractions would be financial suicide. Especially for a compulsive distractee like myself.

We had a good time Saturday night, shooting pool, downing a few hefeweizens, and despite having just left an excellent sushi restaurant, I even threw back a couple Kobe beef Sliders (with a nice cilantro mayonaise and touch of Russian dressing). But the whole time I was there, my brain kept drifting back to the $16/hr and just how pricey the whole thing was. And I kept thinking of Las Vegas. Not only did Parlor actually remind me of many of the places in Las Vegas (although admittedly less over-the-top) but there's something about such a place being in Bellevue that seems so out of place. Yes, some of the richest people in the world live in the area. And yes, the condos in this particular high rise fetch in excess of a million dollars. But this is the pacific northwest. It's home to jeans and fleece.

Or maybe that's all changing... one building at a time.

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