Monday, November 2, 2009

Co'J Monday: Ode to Yelp, Swiss Mochas & Sunsets

mocha + snack waffle, Arosa Cafe

Call me behind the times, but after months of referencing Yelp sites peripherally when they occasionally show up in my Google results, I've finally taken the time to really explore, in depth, recesses of Yelp itself. What a resource! Like UrbanSpoon, it's a fantastic resource for newly minted urbanites like myself. Yelp, for those who don't know yet, is basically a collection of user reviews of everything cities have to offer - restaurants, cafes, parks, retail outlets, nightlife, etc - conveniently organized and browsable by neighborhood, type of venue, ratings, etc.

Cup o' Joe Mondays are getting exciting again, since I'm living in a different neighborhood now and so have all new places and coffeeshops to check out. Nothing like a good excuse to get outdoors during what's been a lovely, sunny autumn week here in Seattle. I was all set to walk this morning to a hip-looking coffeeshop I've run past several times - but upon looking it up on Yelp, I read a series of negative reviews about it having a particularly hostile environment - snobby baristas and management that's been known to scream profanities at patrons, as well as make threats online to those who'd posted negative reviews of their coffeeshop. Really, folks? I thought we left that sort of pesky drama in high school. There's no place for it in a professional environment, nor in my Cup o' Joe Mondays.

So I took a Yelper's suggestion and instead visited a nearby alternative - Arosa Cafe. What a gem! The place is owned by a kind and delightful man from Switzerland named Hans, who opened this espresso shop as his retirement job. In true Swiss fashion, his mocha (again, a unanimous Yelpers' recommendation) was, hands down, the best I've ever had. The European-style snack waffle was pretty darn good, too.

The sign says: "Espresso, Swiss Chocolate Mochas, Snack Waffles, Panini Sandwiches, Good Company" - and nothing could sum up this place better.

Hans, true to everything written on Yelp, was awesome. In the hour or so that I sat there (reading a book on apartment-decorating) he greeted every single person who walked through the door by name. Most of them greeted each other, too; the place obviously has a serious set of regulars. A jovial bunch of men sharing a coffee break together at the next table over occasionally engaged me in their conversation. Being a "non-regular" clearly made me stick out even more than I realized when I first arrived, as I earned curious glances from everyone who came in. Hans made special note of learning my name before I left, and asked how I'd found the place. He said he's gotten a lot of "newbies" lately who've found his cafe on Yelp.

I also learned all about his pet raccoons :)

It's a very small place - just three small tables with a few chairs - so not like many of the coffeeshops I've been to, where you can really lounge around for hours. Not even sure whether they have wireless or not, because somehow pulling out my laptop seemed intensely antisocial.

I have more to write about the social habits of Seattleites, and what protocol seems to be here on interaction between strangers, but I'll save it for another, more in-depth entry. Soon, though (!), as there's lot to say about it. First though, a strong need to share photos from my spectacular run yesterday - which was also guided by Yelp, and suggestions of the best park in all of Seattle, which I had yet to visit. It's more of a scenic outlook than a park, but again, the Yelpers were right: this place is incredible. And suddenly I know where all the scenic photos of Seattle (including the infamous "Frasier" view!) are taken...I'm clearly living on the wrong hill; Queen Anne has, by far, the most stunning views of the skyline out of anywhere.

The sunset over Puget Sound wasn't too shabby either.

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