The Bar Formerly Known as Artemis: Checking Out the Lookout
The intersection of Bellevue, Bellevue, and Bellevue lives up to its triple French namesake with a view so belle, you can hardly stand it. It's a Capitol Hill favorite for fireworks-watching, so it's a safe bet that the Lookout—the new bar incarnation of what was the restaurant Artemis—was full to bursting with thirsty patriots on Independence Day.
As far as the view goes, only those at tables in the Lookout's back windows and on the smallish back deck get to partake of the sunset, the Space Needle, and any ambient explosions. When it gets full out there, it'll be tempting to hop the fence into the neighboring area, which looks like a garden tended by an obsessive-compulsive (it's the plant-and-tree holding pen for the landscape architects next door). The massive new Italianate Bellagio condominium is the vista to the south; Lookout owner Oscar Velasco-Schmitz said by phone that no noise complaints have been reported so far, which he attributes to triple-glazed windows and the ambient rush of the freeway. All things considered, it's a sweet spot for a summer evening—a couple giant maples make a canopy overhead, and people stand by the railing and smile for photos with the city behind them.
Inside, a few booths have been added in the front, but the differences from the days of Artemis are not dramatic. Graffiti-ish murals make a bid for urban hipness, depicting ocean-borne bottles and, across the room, a bearded, plaid-shirt-and-newsboy-cap-wearing man peering through a telescope (maybe looking for a fresh style). Overhead, there are new light fixtures: the butt-ends of wine bottles, stuffed with lengths of Christmas lights, protruding from lowered panels. The effect is club-contemporary at a glance, do-it-yourself upon further inspection, and quite a contrast with the faux-Tiffany lamp shades that remain over the bar. Other Lookout innovations include a Frankenstein pinball machine, one of those jukeboxes that conjures any pop song known to humankind out of the ether at the touch of a finger, and a flat screen over the bar (playing Starship Troopers with subtitles; if you thought Starship Troopers was stupid, try reading it).
Drinks do not ascend to the level of craft cocktails, but nor do their prices: A pint-sized jalapeño margarita, made with muddled lime and orange and a handful of sliced peppers, is $7; a gin and juice, $6. Opening weekend featured a Malibu Rum promotion with the Malibu Rum girls, which Velasco-Schmitz said went well. Depending on your predilections, you may get excited or be warned: More such events are planned. Velasco-Schmitz was receptive to criticism about the $11 cheeseburger, a very flat, not very big, nonlocal, nonorganic patty served with nondescript steak fries; they're still tinkering with the menu, he said.