by Clint Burgess

High atop the Ridpath Hotel in the heart of downtown lies Ankeny's. Here you'll find a classy, award-winning restaurant with a complete offering of everything from filet mingon to steamed clams. You will also find a smashing bar and superbly swanky lounge. In true lounge act fashion, Ankeny's usually serves up jazz as the choice for house entertainment, but Saturday night featured blues in the form of Don Larson and the Cynics.

I found the setup of the lounge to be highly conducive to whatever it is you may be seeking in a late-night hangout. There was a bar for those who must throw back the cold ones continuously, multiple cocktail tables for entertaining and a few spacious booths lacing the perimeter for a quiet drink. The d & eacute;cor of this place is a little outdated, unless everything black and brass is back. Adding to the static are brightly colored pieces of pop art hung neatly on the wall, rivaled only by the ultra-cool zebra skin-covered chairs. Despite some of the distracting ambience, the most impressive amenity at Ankeny's is its view. In the lounge, there is a 270-degree view of the downtown skyline. This was enough to make me want to just stay and stare out the window all night.

Instead, I took in the soothing sounds of Don Larson and the Cynics. This group of seasoned musicians laid down the blues with an easy delivery and even picked it up for a few tunes to get the dance floor moving. The four-piece employed guitar, drums, a baby grand piano and Don Larson on bass. This group hit the standards with precision, and Larson's voice was pleasantly soulful and in tune. Early on the mood was kind of slow, but as the evening progressed more people showed up and the party got started. The circular dance floor was elevated and flanked by brass railing -- very Studio 54. This served as the perfect arena for both young and old to get their groove on. The highlight of the musical festivities was the bands rendition of "Margaritaville" by Jimmy Buffett. You know your night is gonna be off the hook when you're kicking it Buffett-style. The dance floor continued to heat up as everybody boogied on down. From an onlooker's vantage, it was quite entertaining. Let's just say I'll never listen to "Brown-Eyed Girl" the same way again. At one point, things got so crazy that a gentleman with a button-down shirt loosened his tie, unbuttoned his top button and threw caution to the wind.

The majority of the time, Ankeny's features jazz. You can find anything from the smoky piano bar type to guitar and everything in between. The lounge is aptly staffed with friendly wait staff, and the drinks are nice and stiff. Steer clear of the $6 Italian coffee, but do check out Ankeny's for some cooled-out after-dinner entertainment.

Publication date: 10/02/03

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