Is that a real fire embedded in the wall behind the bar at Kristos, or is it a flat-screen TV showing barely flickering flames? "Everyone asks that," says the extremely nice server. It is real, but they have to keep it turned way down or else the bartenders roast from the heat. It's only one of a few things that weren't super well-thought-out about the space, she says, and she laughs. She's allowed: Kristo is her dad. (He goes by Chris.)
With its cobalt blue color scheme, pendant lamps, and painted-black exposed-ducts ceiling, Kristos seems to have been picked up wholesale in Belltown, then set down near the University Bridge. The marble-topped bar is underlit, making the laps of bar-sitters glow blue; a green glass panel running up the stairs to the balcony dyes the lower halves of stair-climbers. The sort of down-tempo electronica that is programmed to accompany acquisition—of material goods, of a buzz, of a mating partner—works its soothing, vaguely propulsive magic. Orchids are living in strange arrangements, immersed in glass vases. Outside, there's just traffic, blank-faced condominiums, blackberries molesting a hurricane fence, and a slice of a view of boats stacked up on the shore of Lake Union. Nearby: the undistinguished Romio's pizza, the excellent Le Fournil bakery, the recently closed original Red Robin.
This peculiar non-neighborhood, with all its brand-new housing, has adopted Kristos as its heart. At 6:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, the place is full, with every other person greeted by name. While no one here is scruffy, the crowd is surprisingly non-homogenous: a man in an argyle sweatshirt with star-tattooed arms typing on his laptop, two bespectacled women mowing through a quantity of happy hour food, gays on dates, straights on dates, several races represented, and more than one tableful of the gray-haired. Flat-screens show baseball, and Kristo/Chris tours the room, monitoring the proceedings while watching the game. This sleek yuppie bar is in truth a family-run pub—a public house, everybody's surrogate living room.
The Greek food is just all right: A Greek salad, a chicken gyro sandwich, a pita-based pizza, and beef and lamb keftedes left no lasting impression (except for memorably salty red sauce on the pizza and meatballs). It's completely all right with everyone here, especially at happy hour, when the prices are so low, Chris practically pays you to eat and drink. Chris was born and raised in Cyprus; the family has had a Greek place in Shoreline, Suni's, for 30 years, and two other restaurants. Chris's daughter, Nichole, says he swore this one would be his last, and that's why he put his name on it. Maybe the next one will be hers? She looks surprised, then like she likes the idea.
Kristos Eastlake, 3218 Eastlake Ave E, 588-8885