Save the Rimrock!

As much an institution as Denny's, but with better cocktails.

Enjoy the Rimrock Steakhouse while you can: The Lake City institution is up for sale, and has been for months. After the smoking ban went into effect a couple of years ago, the morning till in the Stirrup Room (that's the restaurant's lounge) took a hit, and apparently hasn't recovered to the point where owner-operator Connie Dunn is ready to pull her quasi-namesake—the place is also known as Connie's Rimrock, as noted on the menus—off the market. If the Ballard Denny's merits landmark consideration, the Rimrock certainly should as well. Like that doomed Denny's, it serves as a time capsule for old, rough-hewn, so-not-world-class Seattle. Unlike Denny's, it's much more attuned to the city's independent ethic, with a Wild West flair that'd make it every bit the mainstay in downtown Butte that it is in Lake City. Should the Rimrock change hands, the collective prayers of congregations throughout the region must be marshaled in hopes that the place will remain exactly the same. While the entrées are mediocre and overpriced—chalk it up to the "steakhouse" delusion—that flaw actually has a backward charm, as the Rimrock experience is a singular one. If price matched caliber (in fairness, the prime rib sandwich is damn good, and breakfast is supposed to be first-rate), that would signal a kowtow to exterior, El Gauchoian forces. The interior forces at the Rimrock—namely the Stirrup Room—are enough to keep anyone fully stimulated. The Stirrup Room is very dark, with a reddish hue. The bar is cramped and the ceilings are low. There are tons of pull tabs to choose from, and if a patron rings a bell by the bar—presumably after a lucrative score—it's free drinks for the house (the cocktails are stiff and, when the bell remains silent, cheap). For an hour every Wednesday, an elderly, tuxedo-clad magician named Cliff roams the floor, making full beer cans appear out of thin air. A little later, a band featuring Fred Holzman on drums takes the stage. Currently, Holzman plays in three bands—the Davanos, N'sane, and Powercell—that rock the Rim weekly. Holzman, a tall, fun-loving guy who lives near the Fred Meyer down the street, looks like the long-lost love child of Frank Zappa and Mick Fleetwood. After every third song or so, he leads the crowd in a communal shot of whatever they've got in front of them. Pursuant to each shot, the Davanos (this is the act we're best acquainted with), led by Holzman, sing the words "right on" in three-part harmony before launching back into their wildly versatile set of cover tunes. A country standard (lead guitarist Jerry Battista moonlights in the Dusty 45's) followed by a Crowded House obscurity isn't out of the question. Neither is a 15-minute version of Don Henley's "Boys of Summer." The best bars have strong personalities, and the Rimrock has one of the strongest in town. Every visit is virtually guaranteed to be a memorable one; you're likely to walk out of the Stirrup Room's doors with a wide smile on your face, bug-eyed as though your bourbon's been laced with B-12. So in light of that "For Sale" sign, don't wait until it's too late to give Dunn second thoughts.

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