photo: courtesy of Bridget Cicenia
If you find yourself praising the Violet Hour's distinct ambiance in expressive verse, you may be channeling its literary roots; the name alludes to the phrase "the evening hour that strives homeward" in T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land
. Or, it could be because the decor—part 18th century propriety, part Alice in Wonderland-chic—virtually explodes from the pages of a schoolgirl's poetry book with its heavy dose of romance and aristocratic flair.
Despite its proximity to the chattering Damen L stop, the lounge evokes a fantastical experience in an ultra-urbane, speakeasy setting, and the unmarked entrance is easily overlooked by the PBR-soaked set blitzing nearby Pontiac Cafe. Violet Hour caters to patrons that don't mind using soft voices and tucking away their iPhones for the night, as the lounge, purportedly, doesn't allow cell phones.
Once past the barren hallway, a maitre d' greets you warmly. He'll lead you into the dimly lit main room, where sweeping, dusty-blue curtains bring together the brilliantly monochromatic color scheme. Slip into the sky-high-backed chairs—when pushed together they create a hushed and exclusive "pillow fort" sensation—and gather around the small white tables hosting votive candles that reflect off the chandeliers above.
Served in mini goblets with a sidecar for refreshing, the cocktails here are made fresh-to-order by master mixologist Toby Maloney. Try the Honeysuckle (honey, lemon and gin) or the Gruet Sparkling (pineapple, cointreau, orange bitter and sparkling wine), but beware of the potency—and the $11 price tag.
A seasonal finger-food menu (crafted by heavy-hitters from Blackbird and Avec) includes curry Rice Krispy squares and chorizo croquetas with garlic aioli. We're looking forward to the panko-breaded, deep-fried peanut butter, banana and bacon, served with wildflower honey.
For the time being, the crowd is mixed and unpretentious. Go on a Sunday for an intimate experience; but, whatever you do, go soon. End of story.
Centerstage Reviewer: Libby Ramer