Lotsa newcomers to report from up north: Aster, a new “coffee lounge”

Lotsa newcomers to report from up north: Aster, a new “coffee lounge” in Ballard, opened last Saturday. With sparse, simple furniture and cement floors, it says “office away from home” more than “hot hangout,” but the (read: my) essential ingredients for a successful coffee shop are there: they’re serving (Intelligentsia and Novo) drip from a Clover, desserts and pastries from Upper Crust Bakery in Magnolia, and a limited selection of local beer and wine.I’m already plotting my perfect work day: Breakfast from up the street at Cafe Besalu (whose pastry chef, James Miller, is up for a James Beard Award, go James!), followed by a morning at Aster (there’s Wi-Fi, of course). Good day? Caffienate and work like hell. Bad day? Screw it and head next door for a pedicure. Return for happy hour beer ($3).I do have to wonder how my favorite local roasts would taste out of the Clover, though.Aster Coffee Lounge, 5615 24th Ave NW, 784-0615, BALLARD.Open Mon. thru Thurs. 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fri. 6 a.m. to midnight, Sat. 7 a.m. to midnight, Sun. 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Happy hour daily 4 to 6 p.m.Other news from the area:My Ballard reports construction began on the Whole Foods in Interbay.The Monkey Bridge, Ballard’s newest Vietnamese restaurant, is now open.Farther north, the folks from Olive You near the corner of 85th and Greenwood are opening a sweets and gelato shop on the southeast corner, to be called called Sweet On You. I hope the flavors make up for the garish hot pink and yellow paint job.