Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bar Natasha

It was almost 7:00 on a Tuesday when Wes, Chambord and I walked into Bar Natasha at 1911 Main. We had just had drinks at the 13th Street Bar and Grill and toured the Power and Light District. The idea was to get a bite to eat someplace out of the way. This was a Garth Brooks night so we wanted to get a couple of blocks away from the Sprint Center. We decided on Bar Natasha since only Wes had been there. When we walked in the door we saw a vast room with a circular stage in the middle. On the stage was a grand piano. Also, the room was virtually empty. A couple of girls sat at the table closest to the door and none of the other 15 or so tables were occupied. The sign at the door said "Please Seat Yourself", it wasn't a problem.

We grabbed a table right by the stage just in case there was going to be a show. We looked at the menu and saw that Marilyn Wood was hosting the open mic night at 8. We thought we'd be out of the place long before 8 so we wouldn't get to see the show (nor participate, natch). Luckily happy hour was rolling for another 10 minutes or so and PBR was the highlight of the happy hour. Wes and I ordered PBR in the can (the container not the place where you relieve yourself) and Chambord ordered a glass of red wine. When our waitress brought out our orders 10 minutes later the contrast on the tray was pic worthy so I snapped the picture below (too bad it didn't turn out very good).

I hadn't eaten all day and I was already 3 PBR's into my evening so food was quickly becoming a necessity. Chambord and Wes felt the same so we ordered after asking about virtually everything on the scant menu. I decided on the $10 bacon wrapped shrimp, Wes had the $11 steak covered in blue cheese and Chambord ordered the pasta of the day. The time was already 7:30 and we had been there 40 minutes with barely a drink and just now getting our food order in. Guess we'll be staying for the show. The food came about 10 minutes later and we were not impressed with the portions. I had 4 medium sized shrimp on my plate and Wes had about 6 steak chunks on his plate. Chambord was severely unimpressed with her pasta plate, basically begging Wes and I to take some bites. We surmised that it was made with canned tomato sauce and a $1 box of bowtie pasta. I can't insult this dish enough. Finally Chambord had the waitress bring her some Parmesan cheese and she smothered the pasta with Parmesan giving it some much needed flavor. My bacon wrapped shrimp was overcooked. When cooking something that is bacon wrapped I think it is important to resist the urge to cook it until the bacon is crispy. They don't do this at Bar Natasha which rendered my shrimp severely overcooked. It was still alright, I mean bacon was involved, how bad could it be? Wes said his steak was good he just wished there was more to it. So when we were done eating we were all still hungry.

It was almost 8 at this point so we got another round. Chambord and I were discussing my love of raspberries so as we perused the martini menu we found a couple of drinks made with Chambord. I decided to have something that was a raspberry limeade creation. I asked the waitress if they were going to use fresh limes and she answered in the affirmative. I gave her a little bit of backtalk not believing she was going to use fresh limes, but she assured me they would. Wes, Chambord and I were discussing something really important while they made my drink, I'm pretty sure we settled the whole Middle East situation. When our waitress came back she told us she was yelling from the bar when they were squeezing the limes. And when I looked back I saw a juicer sitting right there on the bar. So, they have fresh fruit juice in their drinks. Good thing too because my martini was lime juice with Chambord sunk to the bottom, pretty but not very tasty, unless you like straight lime juice.

The show started up as I was choking down my lime juice. As negative as I've been about Bar Natasha before the show, I knew this was a place to be enjoyed while the show was going on. Marilyn Wood, apparently well loved at the Bar Natasha, was putting on a pretty good show playing the piano. Then she started up "When you Wish Upon a Star" and a really great singer was belting the tune out. But, she wasn't on the stage, we were looking all around for the singer and Wes said "it's our waitress". The best part of it was she was singing really quite wonderfully while she was making coffee behind the bar. I was amazed, she was scooping the coffee out of the bag and putting it in the filter while singing a nearly flawless song. When she got done with her song they called up the cook from the kitchen (the same jerk that cooked our meals) and he sang a flawless song as well. I'm glad these people are good at something because they shouldn't have careers as cooks or waitresses (she was nice, just not around very much).

So, Marilyn announced the workings of open mic night and the teasing at our table started. I know that none of us are singers, but Wes has done the most spectacular version of "Like a Virgin" at Karaoke and I love a stage even though nobody wants to see me on stage. Chambord offered to buy either of us a cocktail if we would sing a song. It didn't take much prodding for me to go and get the book with the songs.

Chambord's boyfriend, Weston, showed up after his basketball game (directly from the game, still in his basketball clothes). So we had to fill him in on how crappy our meals were and all the goings on at the Power and Light district. He started in saying I should sing "I am Woman" or some crap like that. Wes told us a story of how he saw Larry from "Three's Company" at Bar Natasha one night which was a REALLY interesting story at that point in the evening. Five or six drinks with no food really makes some stories interesting. We decided I would sing "Brown Eyed Girl", I told them to sign me up while I went to the bathroom.

Apparently there are regulars at open mic night because some people who weren't signed up before me got on stage to sing their songs. Then I felt like a giant jerk, this wasn't a Karaoke night, this was a night for people who like to sing, are good at singing and can perform while singing. The first guy who sang "Fever" would have made Peggy Lee proud. The girl who sang second completely nailed her song. Then Marilyn reached back for the pad and I knew I was in trouble. She called out my name (they even signed me up as "Bull") and I glided up on stage. I had to ask for a sheet with the words on it, the other people didn't have to do that. Unfortunately she didn't have the sheet for "Brown Eyed Girl" so I hastily chose "Fly Me to the Moon", I love Sinatra. I'm not afraid to say it, I ruined everyone in the room's evening. I have video of the whole thing and trust me, you don't want to see it. It's not funny at all, it's embarassing. To everyone at Bar Natasha that night I apologize, but I did get a free cocktail.

I don't remember what my free cocktail was but it was good. I also got an added bonus of a free shot because I was the first to sign up. I'm pretty sure our waitress wanted to throw that drink in my face for mucking up everyone's evening and sucking the good vibes out of the room but she served it with a smile. The shot was nothing special, I remember it being real sugary and sweet, nothing I would actually buy.

To sum up, don't eat at Bar Natasha, but go for the entertainment. If there's no entertainment happening, it's really not worth your time. But if the entertainment is there it's well worth your time, your service will suck and the drinks are spotty (by the way there are no taps, only bottles and cans of beer) but it's a good time. The music isn't so loud you can't have a conversation, you're bound to have a good time with several friends, just don't go on stage unless you can really sing.

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