Stay-at-home mom and lawyer-on-hiatus Liz Hasson could use a lot of words to describe West University's Hudson Lounge (2506 Robinhood), but she picks just one — quickly, clearly and without a doubt.
If I had to use one word to describe this place," says Hasson, 40, "it would be 'sleek.'"
"Sleek" works. So do these:
Fashionable: Designed and built by custom homebuilders and brothers Alexander and Adam Kliebert, Hudson shows off every bit of its pedigree. Rocks made of black recycled glass surround the concrete stepping blocks in the garden patio, which connects the front and back sections of the bar. The lounge's small, chic tables are made of marble, while the entire venue is mostly white — a rich white hue, not State Ward white.
Contemporary: The structure of the two white buildings is very boxy, a mid-century design that somehow looks postmodern. Hudson's flat-screen TVs, meanwhile — an almost guaranteed faux pas for a place trying to be really high-class — hang behind one-way mirrors, which render them invisible when not in use.
Buzzy: "This is the hottest place in the city right now," says Mary Rambin, who helped put on a recent charitable event at Hudson. The bar's crowd leans toward mature and lunges toward well-off; Rambin appears to fit into both categories nicely.
Classy," "purposeful," "impressive" and "interesting" also work, as does any other adjective you could throw out to describe a high-end lounge that manages to be grand without being grandiose.
One of Hudson Lounge's many impressive features is the custom-made swivel doors. They're very wide and swing open almost from the middle, which makes them resemble walls more than doors.
Once closed, they're almost imperceptible if you're not looking for them. This means you might spend 20 seconds or so unsuccessfully bumping against the normal (but locked) glass door beside the swivel doors like a goddamn bumblebee trapped in a car.
But they're not impractical or ostentatious. Neither, for that matter, were the people we noticed in the crowd — although they were plenty sleek.
Tonight, for example, one woman near the bar wears a pair of immediately recognizable shoes (Christian Louboutin, $600) and eagerly dances along to Kanye West's "Stronger" as the DJ does his very best to overcome the crowd's loud, loud conversational murmur.
A gentleman wears a leather jacket that very well may be made out of alligator skin. Another sir, graying and tall and handsome, completely ignores the few girls dancing near him (and probably for him) while he concentrates on some tiny foodstuffs on a glass plate.
That these things happen is not remarkable in itself; in this setting, it would be unnatural if they didn't. The remarkable thing is that the aristocracy on display doesn't appear showy or hollow. Save one or two guys with haircuts like Christian Bale in American Psycho and smug smiles like Bale has every day of his life, Hudson actually feels warm and inviting.
"I love the ambience," says Hasson. "And it's a great crowd — really handsome, well-dressed, highly energetic people. I love it."
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Go ahead and add "surprising" to that list.
Gorilla Battle of the Bands
We can't be certain why, but we've always enjoyed those battle-of-the-bands-type shows that venues host every so often and most people think are corny beyond belief. We understand that no matter how hard we wish against wish or hope against hope, they will never turn out like the battle scene in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World featuring the DJing Asian twins. Still, there's just something appealing about them, which is why this week's Last Call will be used to plug the Gorilla Battle of the Bands show Sunday at Fitzgerald's (2706 White Oak). Did you even see Scott Pilgrim? A friggin' magic dragon came roaring out of an amp and fought a heavy-fisted magic-monster thing that came out of another amp. How is the possibility of that happening not worth a few bucks?