As I mentioned in yesterday's review of Tamara Murphy's Elliott Bay Cafe, Seattle's (remaining) bookstores are giving their cafes some love. (Movie theaters need to stop whining about declining profits and take a tip from these places. I'd gladly buy a $5 snack if it wasn't crappy nachos.)
A few months ago, Thomas Soukakos, owner of 19th Avenue's much-loved Vios, took over the cafe at the Ravenna Third Place Books, where he's now serving three square meals and providing food for the Pub at Third Place downstairs.I'm a big fan of Vios, and like the more modest format of the Vios Cafe even more. You can get a souvlaki sandwich for $6.50, or a bowl of hummus and some pita for $5.75 (octopus with chickpeas and toasted-cumin dressing for $5.75!). The lunch plate I ordered last week -- one pork skewer plus two salads or dips -- cost $10, which sounded a little steep but was so generous that I could have tacked on another salad/dip and filled two bellies. A densely herbed pork skewer, some warm sauteed greens, and a pile of brussels sprouts with walnuts and cabbage was perhaps the healthiest lunch I ate that week.
I was a little less fond of the flatbread, but only because it seemed to be trying too hard to be a pizza, and I have rather fixed ideas about pizza crust (crisp, light, thin). It took me a couple of slices to get over the puffy, soft flatbread and enjoy the combination of roasted pepper puree, roasted cauliflower, green olives, and salty manouri cheese on top.
The other advantage of eating lunch at Vios Cafe rather than the original Vios is that the adult-to-child ratio is higher. However, the day I was squashed between a fidgety baby and a couple of slow-talking Ravenna hippies commiserating over their vague health concerns, I discovered that I much preferred the infant. At least she returned my smile.
Vios Cafe, 6504 20th Ave. N.E., 525-5701. Open 8 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. seven days a week.