CASUAL Table Toppers & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & K & lt;/span & athleen (Kat) and Arne Hill refurbish furniture, and their search for a storefront to sell said furniture led them to an abandoned caf & eacute; near Hillyard. Kat says she wanted a place to get a good cup of coffee in her neighborhood, so they decided to open the OLIVE IT CAF & Eacute;, where you can get coffee and lunch -- and if you really like the table, you can buy that, too.
The floors are hardwood, the front of the coffee counter is copper, and the walls and display cases offer works by local artists, but the coolest d & eacute;cor item is not for sale: a fabulous vintage phone booth, complete with phone.
"We call it Superman's changing room," Kat says with a laugh. "My husband works for a phone company, and one day he called and said he was on his way to the dump. I asked him what he was taking and he said, 'A phone booth,' so I said, 'Can I have it?' ... A while later, there was a payphone."
Coolness aside, I'm here for lunch, which I'm delighted to discover starts with a bowl of fresh popcorn.
The roast turkey sandwich ($7) starts with Kat melting provolone between pieces of flatbread in the panini press, then pulling them apart and quickly adding house-roasted turkey, crunchy green and purple "spicy sprouts" and cranberry-cream cheese spread. The result is one of the best turkey sandwiches I've had in a long time.
The Yukon Sweet Potato salad ($3, small/$4, large) starts with diced Yukon Golds and "a dab of sweet potato" to give a slightly sweet note to the crunchy dill pickle, green onion, crispy celery and hard-boiled egg. Dill weed is sprinkled on top for good measure. The result is a creamy-chunky-crispy salad with a solid amount of dill and an audible crunch that's ever so slightly sweet. Yum.
And the good cup of coffee that Kat was looking for? It's 100 percent certified organic, fair trade coffee from Backcountry Roasters, located in Twisp, Wash., and it makes for one good cuppa joe.
Lunch comes with a dill pickle spear and a pitted, ripe black olive.
Love it. All of it.
-- M.C. PAUL
Olive It Caf & eacute;, 3402 N. Crestline St., is open Mon-Fri 6 am-3 pm, Sat 7:30 am-4 pm. Call 413-1589.
DINING Full Circle
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & e're taking a lot of backward glances in this week's paper, rummaging through memory back 15 years, to a time when all of us were a lot younger. In the first few months of The Inlander's existence, a new restaurant opened up in the historic Whitten Building downtown, at the corner of Sprague and Post: Fugazzi, which impressed natives and newcomers alike with its balance of historic ambience and creative cuisine.
But 15 years is a long time in the food business. Owners change, chefs come and go, trends evolve. In recent years, Fugazzi had slipped from its position of prominence to one of benign neglect in the minds of many diners as new places opened and attracted the limelight.
Now, another change -- Fugazzi has become 360, a name chosen by new owners William Webster and Michael Ravens (of Isabella's and Zola) to reflect a full-circle return to the restaurant's prominent position.
"It's taking something we know that's a great staple in town and bringing it all the way around to where it used to be," says Ravens. And that means going back to a menu with an Italian influence, like back in Fugazzi's earliest days, he says. "We'll have things with an Italian flair, but we'll still have great steaks and seafood."
Some of the menu items at this time have been adopted from Isabella's -- like the champagne halibut ($20) and the filet mignon ($30). Dinner entr & eacute;es highlight pork chops, veal (with gnocchi), salmon and halibut, notably in the grilled halibut stew ($20). Ravens says the garlic steamers ($13; an appetizer at both lunch and dinner) and the One-of-a-Kind Mac and Cheese (featuring smoked gouda) have been popular.
The lunch menu offers sandwiches that are a step above the ordinary, like the Monte Cristo ($11), made with French toast and cream cheese, and the South Philly sub ($10), honoring Webster's Philadelphia roots. Salads and soups ($3-$14) round out the midday choices. And just this week, 360 is now open for breakfast as well.
Ravens says he and Webster are excited at the opportunity to operate in such a visible central location downtown. "We've always thought that this was a prime location," he says, "so this is the chance of a lifetime."
-- ANN M. COLFORD
360, at 1 N. Post St., is open daily 7:30 am-2 pm and 5 pm-close. Call 624-1133.