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Best night out: Readers share favorites for live music, romantic getaway
Some of the Valley's venues for an evening out are obvious choices.Live music? Boxley's. Romance? The Salish. A look at yesteryear, complete with animal trophies? The Woodman Lodge Steakhouse and Saloon.
Yet these businesses are finding some competition in their niches from unexpected places.
A retro café called Sliders, opened less than a year ago in Carnation, for instance, was a finalist for best live music spots, along with Irish-themed Finaghty's on Snoqualmie Ridge. And Boxley's is becoming competitive in the Best Romantic Spot category, in which the Woodman Lodge also ranked high.
"Romantic?" asked Woodman owner Peter LaHaye. He was a little surprised, because to him, the steakhouse that he painstakingly restored with turn-of-the-century fixtures, reclaimed timbers, zinc-topped bars and a plumbed spittoon trough, is more historic than anything else. "I hear it all the time. ‘When you step inside, it's like stepping into 1902,'" LaHaye said.
Both men and women clearly like the spot, though, which has a very popular ladies night on Thursdays, and has hosted at least one bridal couple's photo shoot – they had an old-time saloon theme, LaHaye said.
Vintage is big throughout the Valley, though, and Marty Lepore and Phyllis Kenworthy are making the most of it at Slider's Café.
"We are named Sliders because I play slide guitar and have performed in the Northwest since 1979 on dobro and lap steel in many bands," said Lepore, by e-mail. He is also known as Dr. Slide, and with his singer-songwriter partner Kenworthy as "The Slide Factor," which makes its home at the café.
"Our biggest aim is to be a place where people of all ages can enjoy live music," said Kenworthy, with an emphasis on the more home-grown sounds of acoustic music. Slider's features all things Americana, bluegrass, Texas swing, country, blues, rockabilly, folk, and rock music.
At Boxley's the readers' first choice for live music, you're much more likely to hear jazz. Restaurant owner Danny Kolke is a professional jazz pianist, and his dream, now come true, had been to open his own jazz club. Boxley's Place features live jazz every night of the week, and welcomes student musicians to perform alongside professionals on "Future Jazzhead" nights.
"Live music is so important because it has an energy and passion that comes from the musicians as they perform," says Kolke's wife and business partner, Robyn. "It's much more fun to hear music live and hear how it changes from moment to moment as the musicians create it."
The music also contributes to the cozy and inviting atmosphere at Boxley's. Kolke thinks the restaurant's warmth, along with its large fireplace, contribute to the romantic aspect of the place, but adds "Wine and good food help too!"
Couches surrounding the fireplace are the best seats in the house for Boxley's popular happy hours (4 to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to closing), but readers chose Finaghty's in the Best Happy Hour category.
What makes their happy hour the best? It could be the drink and food specials, or maybe it's the 19 high-definition TVs showing a variety of sports, or just the goal of the four year-old pub to offer something that appeals to everyone. It's a family-friendly place with crayons at the tables, plus a sports bar opening early for major sporting events (regular hours are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight Sundays), and an Irish bar, hosting a huge music festival every year for its anniversary.
Live music is a regular offering at Finaghty's, says Phil Stafford, who co-owns the business with his wife, Lisa McCord.
"We bring in a variety of live music, but always top quality local and northwest bands including national acts," he wrote in an e-mail message, and there's no cover charge.
When our readers want their nights out to be more of a quiet affair, involving a sitter, candlelight, and a table for two, few spots can contend with the Salish Lodge for romance. With its stunning setting atop the spectacular Snoqualmie Falls, the Salish is a common choice for couples celebrating their special days. Last year, the lodge hosted 140 weddings, said general manager Rod Lapasin, and was the site of who knows how many proposals.
If the falls, the wood-burning fireplaces and two-person jetted tubs in each room, and the menu of couple's spa services weren't enough, though, Lapasin says Salish staff go above and beyond to make guests' visits wonderfully memorable. They also are often drafted into helping with the proposals themselves.
One recent guest wanted to have the words "Marry me" spelled out in rose petals on the bed before his beloved checked into the room. "He asked 'is that possible?' We said, 'of course,'" Lapasin said.
One of the in-room serving staffers prepared the room as directed, but since he had to leave work after his shift, he called back that evening to find out from other staffers if she'd said yes.
For more information:
• Salish Lodge, 6501 Railroad Ave., Snoqualmie; ( 425) 888 2556; www.salishlodge.com
• Boxley's Place, 101 West North Bend Way, North Bend; (425)292-9307; www.boxleysplace.com
• Finaghty's, 7726 Center Blvd SE, Suite 110 Snoqualmie, (425) 888-8833; www.finaghtys.com
• The Woodman Steakhouse and Saloon, 38601 S.E. King St., Snoqualmie; (425) 888-4441, www.woodmanlodge.com
• Sliders, 4721 Tolt Avenue, Carnation; (425) 333-0577; www.slidersandcowgirls.com.