Two distinct versions of the same innovative idea—bike shop with food—have opened within a few months, even blocks, of each another. Metier Racing and Coffee sits along Pike/Pine’s Union Street corridor, and is as sprawling as Peloton, on Jefferson in the commercial district off 12th, is cramped. Each offers bike builds and retail on one side and a cafe on the other, with coffee from Slate Roasters (among others), six beers on tap, KEXP jumping out of the speakers, and a fancy French word for a name. In both, knots of cyclists loiter—hydrating and refueling after rides.
And there the similarities end.
Metier is as shiny as a stainless crankset, the endeavor of a pair of former pro racers who fashioned a lofty timbered three-level multiplex to meet a cyclist’s every need: yoga and conditioning classes (with locker rooms and memberships), specialty bike fitting, cycling accessories and healthy food and drink for sale. Metier even has a cycling team, ranked number one in Washington state.
This will seem deeply obvious as you browse among the $300 helmets and $18 training classes, the patrons with their German-engineered calves and their taste for PlantFusion protein smoothies. The food even leans Belgian, that cycle-crazed land, in a menu centered on Belgian waffles. They’re topped with intelligent novelties like a creamy chickpea tempeh salad with baby arugula and curls of iberico cheese: lovely against the waffle’s plain, sturdy crunch. Sides like avocado or kimchi liven dishes up declaratively, and a few small grilled sandwiches and homemade pastries round things out. A narrow purview, yes—until you get to libations. Cyclists, it appears, need coffee, then beer, perhaps wine, even booze.
A few blocks away is Peloton, humbler in everything but culinary reach. The enterprise of four pals who met playing bike polo, the tiny brick-lined storefront is all rumpled DIY charm and fixie clientele; more bike messenger than pro cyclist, no blinding lycra in sight.
No dilettantes these patrons, however. When you walk in they might be debating the relative merits of Ethiopian and Brazilian coffees with Aaron Grant, the owner in charge of coffee (and bike fitting). Two other owners run the bike mechanic operation; folks can wait out a tune-up over breakfast or lunch.
That food is the enterprise of fourth owner Mckenzie Hart, and it defies every veggie-scramble-and-better-get-some-ketchup expectation such a joint inspires. Hart, formerly of the London Plane, brings the most delicate, seasonal aesthetic you are likely to find this close to a set of combination wrenches, including shrimp frittata bright with English peas and spring onions and topped with fistfuls of lemony arugula and dollops of chevre. Vegetable hash features multicolored potatoes, cauliflower, and leeks over pine nut aioli. Baked goods are original; each day brings new buoyant salads and hot sandwiches.
Two bike cafes, two kinds of cyclist—two kinds, I’ll venture, of new Seattleite. In a city that increasingly feels suspended between the shiny, spendy, and high-end versus the youthful, scrappy, and down-to-earth—at least there’s a bike cafe for everyone.