November 12, 2006

Belltown is dead

How bad is it? So bad that anybody, anybody, can open a storefront on First or Second; within an hour it will be filled with dozens of under-30 bodies. Cute, pulsating, throbbing 20-somethings. They come in all shades; the females invariably petite, wide-eyed, smartly dressed, the males chunkier, slovenly, indifferent. They sip brightly colored cocktails and pick at whatever the kitchen has delivered. (It could be grilled garbage, for they seem to care.) No pleasure, no adventure, but, hey, it's Friday night and we're in Belltown, baby, and that's enough.

David Leong1.jpg karmascallops1.jpg Purple cocktail at Karma1.JPG
Leong demonstrates his skills at Hing Hay Park; seared scallops and Purple cocktail at Karma.

Martial arts instructor David Leong (co-owner of First Avenue's The Apartment) has just opened a new place on Second called called Karma. Your actions in the previous incarnation account for your happiness in this world. (I deserve Veuve Clicquot, surely.) Could just as well call it Chrome, or Shiny, or Silver; nothing remotely Eastern or mystic about the decor, the fixtures or the menu. Can-they-really-come-that-size giant sea scallops with angel-hair pasta, $17. "Purple" cocktail made with blackberry-infused vodka and Gloria Ferrer champagne, garnished with a hideously thick twist of lemon peel, $8. Flat-screen TV has far too much red tint. Karma, eh? One of the babes at the bar promises to send pictures. Of what, one wonders.

Up the street at Buddha Bar, amateur night. Newbie owner Monte Clarke, former barman at Il Gambero, is on a stepladder aiming a spot at the disco ball (tells you something right there, doesn't it?) as the doors part for opening night invited guests. Not-quite-ready-for-prime-time karma (that word again!) extends to bartender ("my first night here") and to tepid steamtable fare (though there's supposed to be a full Thai kitchen). Buddhism, the menu intones, is "the doctrine attributed to Buddha that suffering is inseparable from any existence" (so far, not the best motto for a bar) "but that inward extinction of the self and the senses to culminate a state of illumination called nirvana." Illumination or intoxication, d'ya suppose? Two quick "Cosmic Cosmos" from the neophyte barkeep and I'm g-gone. Monte, who has descended from his ladder, plugged in the DJ's amps, set up the steam tables, stuffed the register with cash, appears at the door. "Thanks for coming," he says. Well, no. If this guy can open in Belltown, then Belltown's beyond saving.

The present is extinguished; can only hope for a better afterlife.

Belltown Buddha, 2222 Second Ave., 206-441-4449 Buddha Bar on Urbanspoon
Karma Lounge, 2318 Second Ave., 206-838-5590 Karma Lounge on Urbanspoon

Posted by Ronald Holden at November 12, 2006 11:49 AM

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Comments

BRAVO Ron. No one can underestimate the ignorance and poor taste of the average U S citizen--apologies to H.L.

Posted by: Jay Conte at November 13, 2006 9:23 AM