The Seattle Weekly

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Canal Street Coffee (Fremont)

I have my feet up on an end table, and am fully ensconced in a worn, faux-leather couch, staring out a window at the constant drizzle running between a grey sky and the Fremont Canal. I hate couches like this. They are phenomenally comfortable, but carry with them a nagging sense of unrest wondering which one of these sweaty Burke Gilman athletes sat here last. Ew.

Canal Street Coffee has an interesting flavor. But as I say that, I think it comes across entirely wrong... Canal Street Coffee, the place, has an interesting flavor. Canal Street Coffee, the espresso, is actually just Tony's, and doesn't taste anything like one would imagine coffee from a canal to taste. Allow me to try this from a different angle.

One of my favorite "restaurants" in the Portland area is The Galley at Harbor 1, a tiny deli at the end of a dock, literally a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Portland Sailing Center. It's the best place to be on a summer day, watching the ducks beg for bits of whatever you're eating as boats sail by and jets practice drills overhead. There is nothing profound about it, the food isn't particularly good, the service is non-existent, but it's a floating deli, with sailboats moored to it, and that makes it charming.

Canal Street Coffee is not a floating coffee shop, but I think it would feel awfully at home if the canal suddenly flooded and it were. I can't think of a better way to define it. Everything, as at The Galley, is slightly askew. None of the furniture matches itself. There are framed maps on the walls, and various pictures of the canal (and construction along the canal), and a faded "flags from around the world" chart. And though I just noted my love of chalkboard menus, I now know that I only love them if they've been well cleaned, and organized to make sense.
I don't dislike this. It's just... like sitting in someone's living room. In their houseboat. Which needs a good deck-swabbing. But has a great view. And a really comfy couch. And no sense of hurry-up whatsoever. And doesn't accept your company after 5:00 pm. Let's say: less of a place to go, and more of a place to end up if you're already out and about. And perhaps, in the mood for checkers or something.

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