Unafraid of Oddity
Ballard's brand-new Hazlewood is awkward but elegant, tiny but grand. What seems like the foyer—a high-ceilinged room with a crystal chandelier—is, in fact, the place itself. The only immediately apparent seating is four upholstered stools at the minuscule marble-topped bar; you can also perch along the front window. Tables and chairs have been dispensed with in favor of a small expanse of bare floor. When it's empty, it's a little confusing—what's supposed to happen here, exactly? When it's crowded, people stand around, spilling their drinks slightly, with a vague air of expectancy, like they're waiting to be ushered into the party in the rest of the mansion after the butler takes their coats.
But the only thing down the hall, with its row of butterflies mounted in velvet-lined shadow boxes, is a single candlelit bathroom. The place to be is upstairs. If the butler were here, he would, in a low but insistent tone, urge you to watch your step; even with the fine metalwork handrails, the stairway is precipitous. If someone hasn't already pitched down it dramatically, it's only a matter of time.
The lounge area at the top is even smaller than downstairs, and even weirder. The ceiling's so low, it's like you've ascended into Being John Malkovich, except that it's a smoky, dim, funny-shaped drawing room instead of an office. One of the weirdly angled walls is exposed brick. A few antiques are wedged in—a standing ashtray, a gilt-legged end table—and the furniture crouches, upholstered and inviting. Tiny tables convert into cushy ottomans if you lift off the top.
Hazlewood's not about pre-fab glamour, and it's not afraid to be odd. Sconces with dangling teardrop jewels weren't ordered from Restoration Hardware, and recessing them into the wall took extra time, thought, and money. If you ask about food, the cocktail waitress might profess embarrassment—they only serve Lean Cuisine, and only for legal reasons, and at $12 a pop—but then she'll happily produce a menu that details each meal in hilarious, delectable-sounding detail. The funniest feature of all, though, is located on the back wall upstairs: It's an alluring, protruding red button with a shiny brass fitting around it and an old-school adjustable eyepiece above. If you sit on the sofa directly beneath it, your conversation's liable to be interrupted by those who want to take a peek at the illuminated scene within (which features the bar's namesake, plenty of partial nudity, and superfluous facial hair).
One of the owners, of Soundgarden fame, brought some friends upstairs in order to show the portal off recently. A man sitting there, confronted by the looming crotches of the curious, complained, "You should've put that somewhere more accessible." The owner just smiled and gestured broadly. Hazlewood's like a strange but civilized private club, located through the looking glass, and this guy clearly wasn't meant to be a member.
Hazlewood is located at 2311 NW Market St, 783-0478.