Alone in Dateland

Even the unattached get a dash of romance at Bleu Bistro.

I seem to have bad timing with the boyfriends; whenever another romantic restaurant needs to be scoped out for the paper, I find myself at romantic loose ends. Which explains my arrival at one of Seattle's coziest restaurants with two close friends and no hot date. But regardless of my single status, I feel that I, too, can appreciate an establishment like Bleu Bistro whose ambiance essentially oozes with intimacy and romantic intrigue. Upon entering Bleu you feel transported into an oversized jewelry box, brimming with colors and textures; dim lights hanging from the dark beams crisscross the restaurant and separate the room into cozy alcoves and nooks, some of which even a contortionist may have difficulty squeezing into. We slid into our own little booth stationed across from the bar but tucked away behind a decorative partition. The table's small candle was the only prominent source of light in our corner (which made deciphering the menu a little difficult) but shows Bleu's value as the perfect date destination: romantic and enticing if you're in love, thankfully deceptive if your date turns out to be far different than the picture posted on their Internet profile. The menu at Bleu Bistro is a hefty binder, the bulk of it consisting of drinks imaginative and obscure. I enjoyed my classic gin fizz ($7), as did one friend her refreshingly minty mojito ($8.50). We agreed that our other friend's vanilla lemon drop ($7.75) should only be consumed by those with a severe sweet tooth. We noticed the cute snuggling couple in the corner behind us were sipping one of the many varieties of wine available, in case you find that more appropriate for a romantic evening than, say, Sex With an Alligator (some sort of Jaeger-based concoction said to be popular with the clientele). Bleu's food also varies, from the inexpensive and traditional but delicious baked macaroni and cheese ($6.99) to the fancier romita chicken pesto ($14.99), which though rather lacking in chicken, was bursting with sun-dried tomato flavor. Just beware of mischievous green chunks of pesto before smiling coyly at your date; as even dim candlelight can't disguise that moldy-teeth look. Bruschetta ($10.99) with its thick, tangy sauce and fresh garlic flavor might be a safer option (as long as you share), but our best luck came with the portobello sandwich smothered in fake bacon ($9.75); perhaps not the most exotic-sounding entrée on the menu, but by far one of the most delicious, prepared with a vegan marinade and served on a fresh foccacia roll. The service at Bleu also contributes to a smooth and pleasant experience. Drinks arrive almost as soon as ordered, with the meal following not too long after. Our waiter was courteous, not pushy or over-persistent (no head popping into our nook every five minutes demanding reassurance about the quality of our meals, just diligent but inconspicuous service that won't disrupt intimate conversation . . . you could probably even sneak in a kiss or two behind those elegant booths' sheer curtains. Bleu Bistro, 202 Broadway Ave. E., 206-329-3087, CAPITOL HILL. Lunch noon–5 p.m. Wed.–Sun.; dinner 5 p.m.–2 a.m. daily.

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