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Caffe Lisette: Coffeehouse cool in suburbia 

A welcome escape from corporate coffee

Caffe Lisette, located among retail stores and fast-food chains off Chamblee-Tucker Road, is a welcome escape from corporate coffee. Oversized pillows and modern comforters allow for instant relaxation. Picasso-esque artworks and giant checker games lend a whimsical Alice in Wonderland air. There are business types clicking away on their computers, but there is also casual conversation and a customer scribbling passionately on a napkin. Could be the next great novel or just a shopping list. No matter. The atmosphere and activities are both comfortable and kinetic.

While the coffee drinks and prices are comparable to those at the big-boy cafes and the food items are not necessarily cheap, the atmosphere and menu variety make for a deal, nonetheless.

More than coffee brewing: Breakfast, available daily until 10:30 a.m., is the best bet. There are fresh breads and croissants, egg sandwiches, and a small selection of omelets ($6.55) mixed with fresh veggies, meats and cheeses, and served with a side bagel. The most affordable and exceptional items are the thick, made-to-order waffles flavored with nuts or bananas for $2.95.

Lunch highlights include the turkey grilled pressed sandwich ($6.25), grilled French bread filled with melted cheeses, smoky turkey and a happy hint of garlic and diced mild peppers. The smoked-salmon wrap ($7.95) offers something a bit more exotic for the price.

Wind down and fuel up: The pastries and desserts are the most enticing feature. Lisette features cakes and pies from Southern Sweets. The selections vary, which makes for a daily surprise. Ask what's fresh in and go for the luminous layer cakes such as the gorgeously girlie orange marmalade or the caramel crème, which tastes like a flan puffed into cake form. While the cake slices are generous, the apple pie seems pricey at $4.50. In addition to coffee concoctions, there are healthy frozen-fruit tea blasts pumped with vitamin C. Try the blueberry pomegranate.

Jive with your java: A big draw is that Lisette also offers beer and wine by the glass. On most Friday nights it features live music (there is a cover charge). The acts vary from a solo saxophonist to small jazz or blues bands to alternative music.

While the prices are borderline expensive, Caffe Lisette is still a fine place to grab a caffeine jolt and go, or linger in the classic coffee klatch.

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