The beautiful, besuited, and golden name-tagged lady holds the door to Seattle's new Four Seasons Hotel open, ushering you into an alternate reality. Outside, the new economy is accompanied by pitch-black night and sideways rain, by sodden miserables at bus stops. Inside, palpably, no expense has been spared, and everyone glides instead of walking. On the left in the lobby, people fete the luxe new Fran's Chocolates boutique at its private opening celebration. Ahead, a line of flames in a mod gas fireplace glow among what look like pieces of ice or, possibly, uncut diamonds.
The restaurant and lounge is called ART, a tribute to the property's Pacific Northwest art collection and an all-caps shout-out to the Seattle Art Museum across the street (and maybe also a calling-out of SAM's restaurant/lounge, TASTE). It's the third day of ART's existence, and the place is packed. Chef Kerry Sear is seen beaming and shaking ARTgoers' hands—he recently sold his posh Belltown restaurant Cascadia to return to the deep, plush pockets of the Four Seasons chain, and he looks like it was the best decision he's ever made. (Before Cascadia, Sear ran the kitchen at the Four Seasons Olympic, which is now the Fairmont; Cascadia's been bought by Grupo Lezama, a fancy Spanish restaurant chain founded by Catholic priests.)
Inside the lounge, the coasters are made of snowy white cloth with scalloped edges and an embroidered logo-tree. Specialty drinks are served in hybrid martini-cocktail-glass/goblets. A server—who's ingratiating in the best sense of the word, as well as adorable due to her braided hair—says they're very heavy to carry a tray of, that they're "powerful—a king's cup!" If your drinks take a few moments too long—it's very busy—a manager materializes, apologizes, and murmurs that they're on the house. They cost $10 or $12, and they handily pass the specialty-cocktail test: Order one you don't like the sound of, and you'll love it. Imported from Cascadia: Sear's signature miniburgers, $12 for three.
A man in a navy blue suit embraces a woman and says, "Are you having fun in the new see-and-be-seen place?" He's correct: ART has much more energy and much less anonymity than a typical hotel bar, perfect for running into someone you'd like to know. "I just got off a plane from SF, where I closed a huge deal," he says. Nearby, the team behind the light rail campaign drinks champagne.
The decor is predictably contemporary, with a few outlier elements: a Gary Faigin painting, also imported from Cascadia, depicting (marvelously) an exploding apple against a foreboding night sky; backlit panels cycling through (painfully) vibrant hues (will this unfortunate trend never end?); and floor-to-ceiling windows meant to showcase the Sound, but, due to gloom, providing a sweeping view of taillights on the viaduct and an enormous Public Storage sign.ART, 99 Union St, 749-7000