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Stood Up at the Redwood Room

[whitespace] By Jenn Shreve

Several weeks ago I was stood up. My would-be date and I were to meet at the Redwood Room at the Clift Hotel for after-work cocktails. He never showed; he didn't even call. But I wasn't all that angry, because there really is no better place to be ditched than the Redwood Room.

When you enter the room you are immediately struck by the grandeur of the place: a classic Art Deco cocktail lounge whose original 1933 carved redwood panels stretch way up to a high ceiling. Impressive Klimt reproductions cover the walls--their golden hues a sign of luxury, their subject matter erotic. The mournful sounds of the grand piano fill out the space. No imitation retro bar can reach the swank heights of this place.

I spent an hour simply sipping my double gin and tonic, absorbing the grand atmosphere (and cursing my déclassé date). The cocktails are a bit pricey, but the singles more closely resemble the doubles you'd find elsewhere. And though I'm not exactly a martini fan, I was told by the various (sympathetic) patrons that they are quite fantastic.

The Redwood Room is the kind of place where the Mrs. Robinsons (of the film The Graduate) call out, "Waiter! I'll have a martini," in a high-class accent while plotting illicit affairs. It's the sort of bar where a psychotic writer might find himself talking to an imaginary bartender before chasing his wife and son with an ax (eerie shades of The Shining). In short, it's the kind of place that Hollywood likes to make legendary because it's all things glamorous, mysterious and posh.

And, yes, it's even a good setting for being stood up. A gorgeous setting is, after all, better than most for playing out the human drama.

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From the April 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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