At around 9:30 p.m., I walked into the Coastal Kitchen on Capitol Hill for two things: oysters and jazz. The cost of the oysters: $1.25 a pop during the jazz; cost of the jazz performance: nothing. The type of oysters: sea cow; the name of the group: Pork Chop Trio (sax, bass, drums). The raw oysters, which came from the Hamma Hamma delta, were served on a small bed of ice that came with a slice of lime; the jazz was basically standards, performed right next to a short flight of steps that lead to the second, raised section of the restaurant's seating areas—the third is outdoors in the back. The oysters provided me with no surprises and no disappointments (I sucked, pressed, burst, and swallowed the flesh).
As for the music, the first session was a touch too loud, but the second one was just perfect, and I believe this unevenness had something to do with the drummers. In the first set, the drummer was a woman who was clearly filling in for somebody, and so the set wasn't that tight, with each player seeming to be nowhere else but in his/her own world. In the second set, a male drummer replaced the woman, and the trio's performance was much more grounded and coordinated. (When I googled the male drummer's name, Davy Nefos, on my smartphone, the images presented by the search matched the appearance on the drummer in the second set—the other two players were Josh Clifford on sax and Geoff Larson on bass.)
Two other things about my visit: One, I had three nearly perfect manhattans; and two, I learned that the man who shucked my oysters was a former tenant of mine. Yes, I'm a Marxist, and yes, I have been a landlord; but no, I never owned a factory like, you know, Friedrich Engels. The oyster shucker informed me that he started working for Coastal Kitchen after he decided not to renew the lease of a seafood shop he opened in Issaquah two years ago. "I saved some money, got the place, but it turned out there wasn't a strong demand for good seafood out there. People just wanted shrimp skewers and things like that." Indeed, like the light radiating from a lightbulb, gustatory perception diminishes the farther one is from the core of a city. To live in the rural is to live with a completely blind tongue.