First Call: Blueberry Vodka, Two Ways

Unusual drinks-and manicures-at Room 38.

The Watering Hole: Room 38, 38 Front St., 425-392-3836, ISSAQUAH. The Atmosphere: As Pac-Man would tell you, if he could actually form intelligible words with his razor-sharp beak, ghostbusting really works up an appetite. So after researching all the spooky goings-on at Issaquah's Rolling Log Tavern, I was hungry. We were directed to Room 38, which is just around the corner in historic downtown Issaquah. I was told that Room 38 serves legendary mini-burgers so delicious your tongue will explode in your mouth. That's because your tongue knows it will never taste anything more delicious than Room 38's mini-burgers and will become despondent, thus committing tongue suicide. True story! Room 38 is a typical upscale bar, with a full menu and top-shelf liquor. It's small inside, with just a few little tables barely big enough to hold a mini-burger, and definitely incapable of holding a maxi-burger. The Barkeep: Christina, a minx with a unique fashion sense. "Defend your manicure," I told her. "It looks like you've been working on engines all day." She wore a strange variation of the French manicure: The tips of her nails were painted black instead of the traditional white. "I change it a lot," she said. "I obviously pay the Asian ladies who talk shit about you the whole time. It's not the usual manicure." The Drink: A blueberry lemon drop. I didn't know such a thing existed, but Christina assured us it was delicious. "It targets a lot of people. And it looks cool. We get a lot of middle-aged clientele, and older chicks love it." I completely believe that. It's made of blueberry vodka, blue curaƧao, and whiskey-sour mix, muddled with lemon wedges and served in a martini glass with a sugared rim. The twist is that Christina wanted to make us two drinks. In addition to the blueberry lemon drop, she gave us her own personal concoction, made from blueberry vodka, lemon juice, and Pama (a pomegranate liqueur), called the Heaven Martini. The Mini-Burgers: We ordered the famous mini-burgers and a plate of fries. The mini-burgers were not at all what I anticipated. You get eight open-faced ones, each patty about an inch and a half across, placing these dwarf burgers on the smaller end of the burger-size continuum. They're served perched upon wedges of pita, topped with a caul of melted provolone, and doused in a drowsy sea of viscous orange chipotle sauce. The burger patties themselves were expertly cooked: The meat was flavorful and still pink inside. Unfortunately the rest of the dish sucked. The chipotle sauce was so sweet even an Oompa-Loompa would reject it. And provolone is, and always will be, the world's most noncommittal cheese. Plus, they're nearly impossible to eat: Drenched in a diabetic pool of chipotle sauce and lacking a top bun, the mini-burgers cannot be picked up, so you have to eat them with a fork and knife. Only the British eat hamburgers using cutlery. Do you want to be British? If you want free health care and to eat a hamburger with utensils, then maybe you do, traitor! The fries, on the other hand, are superb. They are obviously hand-cut, and come fresh from the fryer with a glittering coat of hot oil. They're crisp outside, fluffy like a baked potato inside, perfectly salted, and so delicious that not to eat them all would be as weak as Neville Chamberlain, who infamously allowed Hitler to occupy the Sudetenland. Are you going to follow a policy of pacification when your stomach tells you to stop eating, or will you defy the odds? Do you want to be Chamberlain or Churchill? Show a stiff upper lip, and then continue to stuff fries into the space just below it! The Verdict: Room 38 is OK. The blueberry lemon drop and the Heaven Martini are both instantly chuggable, if you're confident enough in your sexuality to get drunk on girl drinks. You may, however, regret downing six of them: They're deceptively strong, so the Heaven Martini may leave you with a hangover from Hell. Plus they taste like a bag of melted Skittles. Stick to beer and French fries, and you'll be fine.

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