Hope's Newest Incarnation
The storefront at 332 15th Avenue East is a repository of dreams, a locus of hope. This space—slotted between the shop with the just-okay bagels and the northward premises of Group Health hospital—makes presumably otherwise sensible people harbor the most improbable delusions, believe the unbelievable. One such person looks at it and draws the inexorable, entirely unfounded conclusion that what 15th Avenue East needs is not only another bar, but a bar that specializes in—yes!—scotch, and lots of it. Another falls under its spell and knows in his deepest heart that what the neighborhood cries out for is an establishment called Mango's, a complete, confused vision that only this lone soul will ever comprehend, as no other human will darken its doorway while it is extant.
Places to eat and drink that have materialized and vaporized here include Kozak's (vaguely barbeque-themed), Maguire's (nominally Irish), Mango's (the aforementioned mystery spot), Jake's (possibly operated or inspired by someone of that name), and Hopscotch (the—yes!—scotch bar, which, to be fair, lasted quite a bit longer than any other incarnation). In an uncertain world, those hereabouts knew that if they didn't like the current occupant of 332 15th Avenue East, they only needed to wait, and not for long.
The latest to attempt success where all others have failed are the proprietors of the popular bar Nectar in Fremont. The prosperity of their other enterprise bodes well; one assumes they have both deep pockets and a clue. At 332 15th Avenue East, they've installed Cypress, a bar and restaurant with a Mediterranean slant. It's got tile-topped tables, lanterny light fixtures, stone and whitewashed walls, a glass-paneled garage door that opens directly onto the sidewalk in an unsettling yet inviting way. On the menu: polenta fries, a lamb burger, pita sandwiches, Greekish entrées, and the long-lost and cautionary-sounding "airline chicken." Specialty cocktails include the Blue Note (Stoli blueberry and "Razberry," blue curaçao, half-and-half, Cointreau), which looks like cream of Smurf, and a muddled seabreeze/margarita concoction redolent of orange rind.
Cypress is barely open (a couple Mylar balloons silently congratulate it in its own airspace), but its hope seems contagious. Customers disparage recently departed Kozak's ("I wasn't too impressed") and declare themselves in favor of the present concern ("I'm pulling for it"). The big, brown pleather booths are new, everyone thinks, and the overall configuration of the room seems different, but as to exactly how, the collective memory fails.
The bartender, jovial, ponytailed, bribes the closed kitchen into making a hummus plate for a hungry patron. Impressively, he pours the bribe—a Long Island iced tea—in an instant, four bottles in one hand.
Cypress, 332 15th Ave E, 322-9420.