What I thought would be the run of the mill hang-out at the brand new Crown Bar on Sixth Avenue with friends ended up as a trip through the wild and crazy club scene that's heating up on the avenue.
The new Crown Bar struck me first and foremost as a comfy-casual perfect spot to have pub atmosphere and food elevated to the kind of perfection that you'd expect from Charlie McManus and his wife, Jacqueline.
Taking their interior cues from a James Hume painting of Steve McQueen purchased at a show of Hume's work at Tempest Lounge, the dynamic restaurant duo took the existing exposed woodwork, bar-back and basic bones of the former Gary's Steakout (Gary was in the house, too) and embellished it with a vibrant red and unexpected splashes of silver. The latter, creating a sort of campy-pop texture out of what could have been a ubiquitous interior focal point "river rock fireplace and posts" sort of fits as a metaphor for the food, as well.
Kebabs and sausage --not necessarily standard bar fare in Tacoma, but pretty standard in the U.K.- could have been basic and bland, but I found the Currywurst with curried ketchup one step beneath divinity (divinity was my Pimms with rosemary infusion) while both the Chicken Tikka and Veggie Kebabs made me feel health-consciously happy in all the best of ways. I especially loved the cucumber yogurt dipping sauce with the Chicken Tikka, miked with bites of the cous cous- mmmmm.
McManus' commitment to sustainable agriculture extends to the Crown Bar, with beef from east of the mountains, local chicken and vegetables, and a fish deal in the works with the Nisqually tribe also added to my overall warm fuzzies- it was exactly the embodiment of community and individuality I so love about my city.
I did not agree with my hottie-mom girlfriend-s assessment that the Veggie Kebabs were bland- on the contrary, I found the seasoning to be subtle and oh-so-yumm mixed with the tart radicchio and rice noodles.
I could have stayed at the Crown all night, watching notables and recognized friends as they came and went, but the gals were restless, and a huge crowd was gathering at the door, anxious to bump us out of our seats.
Our group moved on. We were three housewives and one interior designer- two had Seattle club scene days (and men met then) in common, three had school days in common (kids in classes together), four had a love of art in common, two had an urgent desire to rock the house down in common.
We worked our way down the Avenue, picking and choosing between a plethora of venues, finally landing at Masa, where we were delighted to find seats and a scene that was heating up. Carter and her husband. Eric, as well as bagpipe player and massage therapist Bruce, all provided commentary on the evening that about made me pee my pants. Fortunately, my own drinks were slow in coming, because that meant that I was alert enough to assess the happenings while I played some bizarre sort of den mom, a rare and fun role for me.
What I noted, and loved: artist/filmmaker Teddy Haggarty, who we had seen at the Crown Bar, letting us know about his film screening at the Tacoma Film Festival, His brother, Leonard, let us know about a potential crazy campy cool karaoke gig coming up at Tempest. James Hume, unassuming, charming and winning more of my respect, all showing up to view Teddy-s work upstairs at Masa- the familiar Haggarty motifs are all rendered in yarn and beeswax by indigenous Mexicans.
Then: the entertainment value of the gal, rumored to be a Vegas "dancer" in the very short skirt undulating in ways that those around me assessed as either erotic or frightening.
Also: the Masa scene. It was a crazy-cool mix of clubbin' sparkles, big hair, military buzzed hair, makeup, cologne, designer jeans, shades of skin-tone ranging from mahogany to porcelain, and bodies shakin' as Latin beats thumped. There was energy and some drama, even within my own band of four.
Toward midnight, while my booty-shakin' Cinderella mom friends were nearing the apex of their fun, I took a minute to take it all in: here, in Tacoma, we had a viable "scene" with choices like The Red Hot, Hell's Kitchen, the West End Tavern, Chopstix, Six Olives, O'Malley's, Primo Grill, Il Fiasco, The Crown Bar, Masa, Asado, the Engine House- and so many more.
And here, at the start of the evening, I was thinking I might show my friends the whole Tacoma scene- but there was no way we could hit Pacific Avenue, my favorite spots at the Hilltop and the West End, not to mention Stadium and beyond, after so much heat on Sixth Avenue.
Like they said in "Almost Famous" "It's happening!"- Jessica Corey-Butler