A new bar, in a new mall, in downtown Bellevue. What could conceivably induce one to journey across the wintry waters of Lake Washington on the seismically doomed 520 bridge to the cultural vortex that is the Eastside to go to such a place? Once there, drinking excessively to ease the existential pain would be inadvisable, as one would then have to contend with driving home. It's a misadventure that has wrong written all over it: insufficiently liquefied despair, bracketed by valuable time and fossil fuel wasted.
But this bar—an upscale pool hall called The Parlor on the third floor of the fresh atrocity Lincoln Something (Galleria? Center? Who knows)—featured a technological advance so stunning, yet so simple, I had to see it, touch it, perhaps even lick it. Surely every bar in Tokyo has this fantastic feature, but the press release for The Parlor was the first I'd ever heard of it. What is this amazing leap forward in drinking, you ask? It is a stripe of freezing-coldness running the length of the bar. The purpose of this stripe of wonder? It is for one to rest one's drink on, to keep it optimally chilled. My friends, the future is truly now.
Vast only begins to describe the interior of The Parlor, which wraps around two or possibly three sides of the Lincoln Whatever, and hundreds or perhaps thousands of people were exclusively previewing it. More or less every person joyfully clutched a free martini in a zigzag-stemmed glass and a skewer of indeterminate meat. In the distance, a bar with a stupendous number of martinis lined up all along it awaited, and a beeline was accordingly made.
The stripe of freezing-coldness was not exactly as I had pictured it (miracles seldom are). In my mind's eye, it was shiny metal (the better to get one's tongue stuck to), maybe, or somehow underlit; in reality, it was a shallow trough about the width of a coaster filled with a solid layer of ice. Picture a long, narrow ice-skating rink for martinis—one's drink could, in certain spots, be glided nicely down the track. (The Parlor should groom the rough patches with a miniature Zamboni and usher in a new, vastly improved era of sliding a drink down the bar.)
The bar staff demonstrated a genuine, unbridled enthusiasm that, once gotten used to, was entertaining. An as-brief-as-feasible tour of the premises revealed approximately 43 very nice pool tables; a portly gentleman performing feats of billiards with varying degrees of success before a captivated audience; another bar (no stripe of freezing-coldness, alas); a private room with several more even nicer leather-bound pool tables; additional millions of happy previewers with martinis and meat-sticks; and a snooker table with, surreally, its verdant felt loose around the edges, like a Shar-Pei. Turns out it wasn't finished yet.
The magical stripe of freezing coldness is located in Suite 300 at 700 Bellevue Way NE in Bellevue (425-289-7000).