Restaurant lounges often don't get the respect they deserve. Sometimes smaller in size than a full "bar," they may be considered more of a waiting area for hungry diners than a place to hang out with friends and enjoy a drink.
Think again, especially in the case of the lounge at E.B. Green's, the upscale restaurant that regularly ranks as one of the Top 10 steakhouses in the country.
This is a lounge in a classic sense. It's low-key and relaxing. If it had a dance floor it could be a setting in a 1950s film in which glamorous couples take slow, romantic spins while a live band plays in the background. There may not be a full band in the lounge, but it has the next best thing. Pianist Jackie Jocko, who has serenaded such famous people as President Nixon and Marlene Dietrich, performs starting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays.
His grand piano is one of many elegant touches in the rectangular-shaped lounge. A low, gleaming bar seats about 10. Cozy round tables with comfy chairs are perfect for two and can seat four. There's only one small TV on a wall near the bar. While it's usually tuned to a game, it's refreshing to notice that the majority of people are facing each other or Jocko, not the TV.
A long, wooden banister topped by festive red flowers and white lights (perfect for this time of year) separates the lounge from the step-down dining room. The full menu is available in the lounge, but there is also a smaller "appetizer" list which includes the delectable Angus Beef Cheeseburger ($13), one of the best burgers in town, a variety of salads ($9), seafood apps including crab cakes and clams casino ($10 each) and duck fries ($3).
The lounge offers a traditional list of domestic and imported beers (including Stella Artois, Beck's and Heineken) starting at $5 and is known for its martinis ($10), especially the chocolate martini and lemon drop. Generous pours of wine are $8.50.
Because E.B. Green's is on the first floor of the downtown Hyatt hotel, it's not unusual to see famous faces in the lounge including visiting athletes and celebrities. Musicians including members of Metallica and young indie rocker Grace Potter have been seen interacting with Jocko – who, in turn, interacts with customers. ("Welcome to E.B. Green's, where are you from?" he asks throughout the night).
There are the regulars, too. At the table next to the piano, you may see "H" enjoying a glass of red; Paul and Nathan, two music encyclopedias who like to quiz each other; or David, who quietly sings along to Jocko's music which could be anything from show tunes to the Great American Songbook and even some Rachmaninoff.
It's a great soundtrack to a relaxing – and if the evening calls for it, romantic – night out.
> E.B. GREEN'S LOUNGE
Where: Hyatt Regency Hotel, ?2 Fountain Plaza
Scene: Low-key and upscale, it's a great place for conversations and drinks. Suits and dresses or comfy and casual are both fine, but treat yourself and dress up a bit.
Drinks: Traditional list of domestic and imported beer; wine, liquor.
Hours: Both the lounge and restaurant open at 5 p.m. daily.Entertainment: Piano music by Jackie Jocko starts at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.