Super Bowl XLI is showing at the Spectator, Seattle's newest sports bar, and all but a few seats are occupied by the behinds of spectators. It's a middle-aged crowd, maybe 75 percent male; some sporty types look like they might actually participate rather than spectate on occasion, while some portly types look to be firmly in the spectating-as-exclusive-pastime camp.
At the bar, tin pails of ice are loaded up with bottles of "Bears Bud and Bud Light" or "Colts Coors and Coors Light," at a celebratory price of $18 for seven beers; the team allegiance seems based purely on alliteration, and it's impossible to say whether it's Budweiser or the Bears that's more popular. Also popular: healthy-sized Jägermeister shots, ferried out on trays, and 24-ounce cans of PBR that cost $4 and look ready to take to go, enveloped in small brown paper bags. A beautiful yet somehow sorrowful-looking cocktail server with braids in her hair carefully rolls the top of a paper bag down around a can. The main bartender, also lovely, tattooed with tropical blossoms, assesses the presentation as "cute" and smiles an illuminating smile.
Many orders of wings, nachos, and chili are consumed with apparent satisfaction by sports fans whose eyes are glued to any one of 16 large televisions. A hamburger named Edgar is messy and good, served on focaccia with guacamole and slightly spicy peppers; the chicken in a black-bean quesadilla is a little dry, but the tortilla's better than most and it's got cotija cheese. Salsa's of the mild variety, probably from a giant plastic tub, but no one cares, and hot sauce appears as if by magic.
The former Mirabeau Room space (before that, Sorry Charlie's) has been transformed into a sports bar by the addition of the 16 televisions and the elevation of the Mirabeau's retro-lounge light fixtures so that the 16 televisions are unobstructed. The lighting level is brighter; the wall of smoked-glass mirrors (also leftover from the Mirabeau era) seems incongruous, belonging in the '70s or maybe a strip club. The pool table occupies the area that was the Mirabeau's stage, where before that Howard Bulson played piano while patrons of different levels of vocal skill and drunkenness sang. The other element of the changeover (affected by the owners of the Showbox): a wall with depictions of sports figures in the categories of "FAME," "A FINE LINE," and "SHAME." The famous include the likes of Edgar Martinez, Seattle Slew, Pelé; the shameful, Dennis Rodman, Brian Bosworth, Howard Schultz; the current sole occupant of the fine line between the two is Shawn Kemp.
The crowd's subdued, probably demoralized by the home team's near miss at being in the big game. A commercial for Snickers gets the biggest reaction: The sound's fuzzy, but the sight of two men greedy for candy ending up in a lip lock over the engine of a car is apparently shocking and hilarious.
The Spectator, 529 Queen Anne Ave N, 599-4263.