Food & Drink

Bar Exam

Size Matters

Nine flat-screen televisions are visible from my vantage point. Most of them are tuned to a broadcast of an NBA playoff game, but one shows racecars. When it's time for a tire change, they cut to a camera apparently lodged inside the hubcap, giving the viewer the unsettling sensation that a new tire is being applied with extreme haste to one's own head. The television above the door is filled with snow and a tidy box with the message "No Signal."

"It's not the number of TVs—it's the size," a sports fan informs me. Duly noted. If size matters, Spitfire ought to be sitting pretty. Besides being plentiful, the televisions are enormous, and the space itself could fairly be described as vast (maximum occupancy, per fire-department-required signage: 268). The walls between what used to be the Laundromat part of Sit & Spin and the rest of the space are gone, creating a mammoth, high-ceilinged hall to house what's been variously described as Belltown's new "indie," "alternative," or "nontraditional" sports bar. While the music tends toward soporific songs that might fit this bill (Mark Lanegan and Elliott Smith, for example), the place itself isn't so much alterna-anything as it is just plain high-end.

The barstools are extremely comfy topstitched black leather, the walls distressed concrete, the bathrooms worthy of a photo shoot. What used to be the band room now has its own bar and a small herd of gigantic, puffy, candy-apple-red leather couches, quietly awaiting private parties. The art's fantastic—the giant painting in my line of sight depicts, surreally, a blackbird giving last rites to another bird with an arrow in its heart, attended by an owl, two more birds, and two bugs standing before an ominously cloudy sky. Other massive paintings vying for attention among the televisions: an aerial view of a boxing ring, a crimson-lipsticked mouth with a pink kitten head, a hipster with two sets of eyes wearing a Rainier cap.

If you want to watch a game and, say, have a $13.50 premium margarita ("hand-shaken," made with Tres Generaciones tequila), this is your spot. The wine list (nearly three-dozen bottles long) includes a couple of Crémant sparklers (very au courant), many thoughtful midrange choices, and a $75 bottle of chardonnay. Draft beers are three in number (and a Bud Light is $3.75). The longish menu is largely upscale Mexican, and the food's fine: layered-style chicken enchiladas topped with a fried egg ($10), chorizo-and-cheese-stuffed mushrooms ($6.50), various tacos.

The dozen or so patrons on this weeknight seem a little lost, cheering sort of quietly and hesitantly, marooned at various tables and the bar. (Eventually, per a customer's request, the volume on the game is turned up in one area, which seems to cheer everybody up.) Service is a little out-there, too; an order of guacamole gets lost, and when the game's over, the bill's nowhere to be found.

Spitfire, 2219 Fourth Ave, 441-7966.

bethany@thestranger.com

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