Licorous is open at last. The papered-up storefront was scheduled to be uncovered many moons ago, in March. Getting all gussied up takes time. The name sits in a circle painted on the window, and if you're wondering what it means, it also sits with its definition in a circle painted at the end of the hallway inside ("lic-or-ous: tempting the appetite"). The definition of the word (obsolete, a variant of "lickerous," related to "lecherous") is also printed on the coasters; on the obverse is the address and so forth, along with what resembles a magnetic credit-card stripe and a tiny greeting: "Hello."
Licorous is the restaurant Lark's femme little sister, and the advice to ladies of yore preparing to go out—get completely dressed, then remove one accessory—comes to mind. The sheer curtain in the front window is a rather violent fuchsia/salmon color, and the pink light reflects bountifully in the very shiny, very silvery tin ceiling. Another sheer curtain in an alcove of cushiony banquette seating is a browner hue, and part of the wall is covered in squares of various textures and shades of mauve. Behind the bar, a strange, dark-swirled pane of shadowy glass is backlit by two orange-glowing light bulbs; an elaborate railing cordons off the bar itself. Wooden beams are exposed here and there. Bare bulbs encased in bell jars hang overhead; then there are chandeliers made of clusters of these, like asterisks; then there are some different-colored hatbox-type affairs. There's a lot going on here. You'd think Lark—lovely, calm—would've told Licorous she didn't have to try so hard to be pretty.
It's only the place's second night in business, and a couple local chefs are here. Everybody loves Lark; Licorous is destined for popularity. People will come in for drinks while waiting for tables at Lark, which is next door, or just to eat chef John Sundstrom's work at bargain rates. The menu (sure to change with regularity) is, yes, tempting: Lamb chops are sold singly for $5 each, and the snacks top out at $10 with a portion of geoduck ceviche. Favorites tonight: chilled foie gras bonbons, with one red and one yellow cherry lined up next to each ($2 apiece); toasts topped with thin-sliced porcini mushrooms and tiny fried quail's eggs ($4); a shot of English pea soup, lent a smoky flavor when sipped through a straw of lovage ($4). Manila clams ($8), though, are a little rubbery, while squares of raw tuna ($9) are inedibly stringy.
House cocktails ($8.50) include the 12th Avenue, rhubarb-infused vodka with Lillet, which is pink but not girly, and the bracing Prickly Pear, made with tequila and Clear Creek pear brandy. If you don't like your specialty drink, the martinis are big and beautiful—and relative to Lark, Licorous is a cheap date.
Licorous, 928 12th Ave, 325-6947.