Out of Place on the Frat-Tastic Ave.

Located across from each other in the U District, Flowers and Kai's seem out of place in contrast to the frat-tastic drinking establishments with which they share the Ave. While the former acts as a hideout for Capitol Hill-to-UW student commuters copping a drink before the next No. 43 arrives, the latter manages to retain an air of dignified, highbrow academia without the pretension. A tiny, crimson-walled affair that caters to regulars, Kai's is split into two separate seating areas, each with its own ambience. On the smaller lounge side, which features the bar, you'll likely see an economics prof holding office hours over a row of the bar's famous crab cakes, hitting on one of his T.A.'s by expounding his thoughts on the Pacific Rim economy. Opposite is what I would call the bistro side, a slightly larger, and more open, seating area. Here, watch for poverty-stricken grad students arriving for pints of Manny's and the massive $4 happy hour burgers, discussing whether they'll be mocked for having their research published in Stroke Smart magazine. 1312 N.E. 43rd St., 547-2784, www.kaisbistro.com.

 
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