The Stranger

Ghosts are not to be found in the country, but in the city, because nothing retains the memory of a dead person or a past event like a building. And so the worst thing that can happen to a ghost is the destruction of a building—when it is gone, all of its ghosts go with it. I had this on my mind when, last week, I walked into LloydMartin, a restaurant/bar on the first floor of a relatively new brick building (a developer's idea of a sound investment of his/her capital) that replaced an old brick apartment building that once housed a woman I dated 18 years ago. The 7-Eleven that supplied our love affair with condoms and cheap beer is still across the street from where her living-room window once stood.

Her name was Laura, we first met at a bus stop in Belltown, we went on a date on Capitol Hill the following week, and the affair, which lasted for four months, mostly happened in her apartment. Our breakup was not painful because neither of us really fell in love. Eventually, she moved to another city, and all that remained of the romance was the apartment itself. The ghosts of our lovemaking would be reanimated every time I passed it. But this time around, there were no ghosts because the building is gone, and the one that replaced it, called the Gilbert Apartments, has no place in my past, in my memories.

Though there's nothing remarkable about the Gilbert Apartments as a whole, LloydMartin is indeed a very special space. It's small, it's dominated by dark wood, and it has a simplicity that I wish more restaurants aspired to. The place looks great without making a lot of fuss. While drinking there (at happy hour, an excellent glass of white wine costs only $5), I had a number of small plates, all of which (pork pâté, pork belly with fried egg, roasted asparagus) were as perfect as I care for food to be. I also enjoyed the modern jazz streaming out of the speakers behind the bar and some of the conversations that drifted to my ears ("Yes, I agree," the lady says, after taking a sip of her martini, "it's hard to find a good property manager these days"). LloydMartin is not cheap, but the food is excellent, and the space is handsome. recommended