the stranger

A man who has eaten every week at the Queen City Grill for years e-mailed Chow Bio just to say how much he likes server Lorenzo Boini, calling him "the quintessential waiter." "Being a waiter isn't just about bringing people food," Lorenzo told me at the Grill. "When people know you by name, that's when you've succeeded." Lorenzo can anticipate what will make you happy—things like high-proof bourbon and secret rooms. Lorenzo ordered me a Booker's manhattan with cardamom bitters and said, "Come, I'll show you where we keep the expensive wine." The room he showed me, which looked like it could have been Alfred Hitchcock's broom closet, also contained the restaurant's music collection, which, bizarrely, is entirely on VHS tapes.

Lorenzo loves music and moved to Seattle from Rome in part because it's Jimi Hendrix's hometown. He's worked at the Queen City Grill since the '80s. "I've served some superstars—Pearl Jam, Sound Garden, Elton John," he said. Lorenzo also once handled the table where the Seahawks were sold. He brought out a photo of the restaurant from before the regrade, when it looked like the set of an old western, and pointed out a mustachioed man on the balcony—the great-grandfather of the building's current owner. We went down a floor, into Belltown Billiards, to see the entrance to a hundred-year-old tunnel below the restaurant. "This is a really special place," he said, patting the old bricks affectionately. recommended