The people of Seattle have been romancing one another at Dilettante on Broadway for decades, but since the chocolatier/cafe moved one block north, hopeful pants-getters-into have an extra advantage: Dilettante's Chocolate Martini Bar.
One night last weekend, a man and a woman sat as close to each other as legally possible, drinking the bar's namesake drinks and staring into each other's eyes from a distance of approximately four inches. (The signature Ephemere Martini is the house chocolate-truffle sauce and "a generous portion of vodka," served up with a bittersweet cocoa rim. While it's a little lacking in deep richness, it's not at all too sweet, and it's likely to be the quickest $10 you'll ever drink.) At another table, two gentlemen gave each other slightly more personal space while having milk shakes, presumably from the "Fortified" section of the milk-shake menu. (The version made with vanilla ice cream, chocolate truffle sauce, and port [$8] is another test of self-discipline—the port adds a winey-raisin hint, but it also thins the shake, which is served with a straw and easily vacuumed up in a matter of moments.) At the third table—the bar is small—the bartender conferred with two women about the five choices of hot cocoa, from 41 percent (milk) to 72 percent (extra dark) with a white-chocolate option (shudder). One ordered extra dark, no liquor, saying to her friend, "Have I mentioned how much of a lush I've been lately?" When the cocoa came, she said she loved it. They also ate one of Dilettante's dozen kinds of cake.
At the bar, two more men discussed wainscoting while looking at the menu with a tiny flashlight. The bar has wainscoting of dark-stained wood, and while it's appropriately dim for nuzzling lovers, bringing your own illumination isn't strictly necessary. The decor nods to a certain classic European style—tile floor, marble accents, an inlaid square of pressed-tin ceiling, light fixtures with beads and crystals and metal leaves. (Framed photographs of a cocktail and a milk shake, so close-up they're two feet tall, stray from this theme.) Etched on the mirror above the liquor bottles is a crest with a griffin, a rose, and "1898," the year the owner's great-uncle began a confectionery apprenticeship that led to a position as the pastry chef and chocolatier to Hapsburg Emperor Franz Josef I.
When it comes to nonsweet edibles, the menu reflects this Eastern European heritage with varying degrees of novelty. There's traditional borscht ($8), and then there's Romanian pork sliders ($7), like big pork meatballs (without much evidence of promised paprika and garlic) with pickled onions, lettuce, and tomato on pieces of seeded baguette. It's better than it needs to be, considering everyone comes to Dilettante with things other than food on their minds.
Dilettante, 538 Broadway E, 329-6463