Although the cupcakes at hello, cupcake are served from behind a pristine white counter, the staff isn't afraid to get its hands dirty. The cupcakes?which come in classic flavors such as?chocolate, vanilla, and red velvet?are baked from scratch each day and topped with handmade buttercream frosting. The bakery also offers seasonal varieties and features a different cupcake each month, with flavors such as caramel apple, peanut butter and jelly, and root-beer float making appearances on the menu. And that's not counting the staff's limited-edition cupcakes, such as a vanilla-blackberry version whose proceeds benefited YWCA Pierce County's domestic-violence services.
Metronome Coffee's founders built their business around the idea of fresh coffee, tasty foods, and good music to sooth both cravings and consciences. They acquire their coffee through direct trade with farmers, each cup benefiting the people who did the hard work of growing it. They stock their pastry case with treats from local Corina Bakery and serve up hot pancakes made from scratch. They even squeeze their orange juice fresh. And they pair their food and drink with the tunes of local artists, helping customers discover new music.
At 6:30 each morning, the doors to Rain City Cafe and Coffee open to unleash the smell of freshly percolated espresso and coffee. The baristas pack the deli-counter cases with breakfast sandwiches from Mike’s East Coast Sanwiches, pastries from Corina’s Bakery, and bagels from Bagel Boyz.
While they import all of their morning eats, they craft their own afternoon meals. The resident sandwich artist, Sean, makes a selection of sammies, grilled paninis, giant wraps, and salads.
Amocat brews up a bevy of coffees and teas to accompany a menu brimming with breakfast fare, grilled paninis, and salads. Steps regain their heel-clicking pep with espresso drinks ($2.25–$5.05) brewed from custom roasted Valhalla coffee and Mad Hat teas ($1.50 a cup) available in a flavorful roster that includes Creamsicle, Red Flower Earl Grey, and Egyptian chamomile. Rouse yawning mandibles from their dreams of showing up unprepared for pop quizzes with a scrumptious breakfast sandwich ($3.50) or wrap hands around a grilled Mambo panini ($4.99) showcasing chicken breast that stirs tongue buds into a twitterpated tizzy with the help of artichoke hearts, smoked gouda, and pesto mayonnaise. Amocat Cafe's décor boasts an ever-changing display of artwork from up-and-coming artists and the eatery's occasional live music feeds ravenous cochleae like q-tips fashioned from spun sugar.
The list of ingredients that chefs fold into crepes at Savor Creperie is a bit staggering. On any given visit, you might be tempted to indulge a sweet tooth with a crepe drizzled with creme de coconut and mango lime sauce, or one stuffed with banana, toasted coconut, and Nutella. Then again, the savory-side of the menu has much to recommend it as well, such as crepes with smoked salmon and Boursin, or those rolled up with shredded pork, cabbage slaw, and hoisin.
Of course, no one says you need to compromise, and Savor's chefs have created a number of crepes that combine both sweet and savory ingredients, pairing fresh thyme and aged gouda with juicy pears, and sneaking slices of crisp apple into leek and chicken fennel sausage crepes. Crepe scrambles, meanwhile, sate breakfast cravings any time of day, with a filling of scrambled eggs and a choice of fixings, such as bacon, mushrooms, and brie. And no matter which crepe you choose, the kitchen staff are happy to replace their traditional batter with a gluten-free version to accommodate food allergies or just give the town wheat millers a short break.
If Open Arts Studio’s huge array of classes seems a bit eclectic, it’s partly a reflection of the diverse interests of its founder, John Armstrong. An intent student of visual arts since childhood, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in music and classical vocal performance; today, he teaches both drawing and music classes.
Armstrong, his wife Lucy, and their staff of instructors approach learning through three key elements: technique, creativity, and fun. They use this template to cultivate skill within a noncompetitive atmosphere combined with a structured curriculum—for instance, drawing teachers use the open-arts drawing method to help kids break down objects into easily grasped curves, angles, and shapes while encouraging them to develop a unique style of their own. Artwork lines the studio’s halls, and an exhibition with cookies, juice, and coffee punctuates each session with a chance to share students’ work with friends, family, and agents looking for the next big thing in crayon drawing.