"The guy from Zoka says to put the shot over the ice-then the milk," says Alexis Howard, the woman behind the counter at Woodstock's Busy Corner (4927 SE 41st Ave., 777-5101). "I like the milk, then the shot," says her husband, Greg Patton, who stands with her in front of the big espresso machine. Then both fall silent in the sticky summer afternoon heat-and ponder the secret of the perfect iced coffee.
Busy Corner, the bare-bones market and coffee shop Navarre co-owner Susan Chaney and her husband, Kyle, opened about a month ago, invites musings like these. The building has served as a corner store since the early 1900s. But the Busy Corner simply isn't all that busy yet. The sparse space offers little distraction from your own thoughts. Inside the creaky old French front doors lurks a huge 1940s-era refrigerator holding staples like eggs and Martinelli apple juice. A bowl of free cherries beckons at the canarywood bar, where the Chaneys will soon serve inexpensive wines by the glass. Until then, the shop just pours robust cups of Seattle's Zoka Coffee and a tiny menu that skips from well-chosen cheese-and-salami plates to hunks of gâteau l'orange.
This truly is a neighborhood joint: Tour de France fans followed the race on Busy's tiny TV; more locals drop by in the evening. True to 'hood form, Howard and Patton, the sweet couple manning the counter on Bite Club's recent visit, don't even work here. Since the Chaneys run the shop from 7 am to 7 pm daily, Howard and Patton, who live in the neighborhood, had volunteered to pinch-hit for their friends.
And now, a multimedia report from WW's Karla Starr: Cinetopia (11700 SE 7th St., Vancouver, Wash., 360-213-2800) is billed as a high-tech marriage of cinema, gourmet cuisine, a wine bar and an art gallery-but it's still in the 'Couv. In an attempt to mimic Hollywood's fusion-forward ArcLight Cinemas, owner Rudyard Coltman has combined all these venues into one pseudo-futuristic, DIY environment. Gadget-diggin' Jetsons fans (like WW's own copy chief, who drooled over the main theater's hi-def projection)-you're gonna love this shit.
For many of us, however, the wine-tasting room, lined with metallic self-serve wine dispensers, comes off as tacky. The dispensers read a cash card you purchase from the bar, spewing one-ounce tasters of high-priced wines. Though the entertainment-plex claims its menu was created by a four-star chef, it's hard to imagine Alain Ducasse allowing diners to place orders on oversized Palm Pilots. But can a computer explain why that small plate of flavorful salmon topped with soggy apple-shallot-bacon crust costs $15?
Once you get inside one of Cinetopia's cushy "living room"-style theaters, you're already maxed out on staring at screens. A trace of genuine comedy was spotted on its walls, in the form of a $35,000 collage by digital artist Lesley Schiff. Oddly enough, the artwork was still available at the end of the preview party.