Verve Wine Bar & Cellar
Opening date
April 11, 2007.
Why we love it Poise. The best-kept secret of the year is this sure-handed little neighborhood wine bar off an alley in Columbia City. The wine list is small but trenchant, accompanied by a few good ciders and Belgian ales, and brilliantly served by a changing menu combining equal parts imagination and implementation, and by waiters offering equal parts warmth and wine smarts.
What to order You’ve heard of eating locally: How about from within a few blocks? Verve’s menu of salads, soups, small plates, mains, and desserts stars products from Columbia City Bakery, Bob’s Meats, and Da Pino.
Who to bring A vegetarian. Meat eaters will not be disappointed—not when their organic New Zealand lamb chops arrive tenderly roasted over garlicky kale drizzled with sweet pomegranate jus—but herbivores (particularly seafood-eating, cheese-loving herbivores) have a wide range of choices at Verve.
But sheesh… Why is no one here?
Verve Wine Bar & Cellar, 3820 S Ferdinand St, Ste 102, Columbia City, 206-760-0977; www.vervewinebar.com


Voluneer Park Café & Marketplace
Opening date
January 11, 2007.
Why we love it Authenticity. From the folksy flour-sack decor to the comfort-food-focused menu to the real butter in its Bundt cakes, this soul-rich collaboration hews to an uncompromising standard on the purity of its food sources and veritably worships at the altar of flavor.
What to order In the morning, an orange-cranberry scone so perfect it will ruin you for any other. In the evening, pot pie of the day with puffed crust.
Who to bring Whoever you find in your bed when you wake up Saturday morning: the spouse, the kids, the pooch (to be leashed outside and mollified with the café’s home-baked dog biscuits), or, ahem…the latest.
But sheesh… A girl could mark several birthdays just waiting for her cappuccino.
Volunteer Park Café & Marketplace, 1501 17th Ave E, Capitol Hill, 206-328-3155; www.alwaysfreshgoodness.com