It's midafternoon on a Saturday, and everywhere I look, people seem to be hard at work. Laptops are whirring and fingers are flying across keyboards. Noses emerge from books just long enough to take a sip of an iced latte. I get the feeling important things are happening here. Maybe the bleached-hair nose-ring guy in the corner is storyboarding a new cartoon for Adult Swim. The tall guy with the nerdy glasses and the giant MacBook is probably working on a piece for Wired magazine. Lucky for lazy old me (sans laptop or reading material), there's good downtempo music, excellent coffee and interesting lunch companions.
Urban Hang Suite: Octane's long, angular space is chic in that trademark West Midtown sort of way, with lots of concrete and exposed brick. Sunlight streams in through big industrial windows. A sleek bar runs along one wall, and throughout the space, vintage cafe tables mingle with low-slung sofas and retro easy chairs. If it all sounds tragically hip, I'm happy to report that Octane doesn't have the standoffish vibe you sometimes get at ultra-cool coffeehouses where creative types congregate. The perky girl behind the counter is friendly and down-to-earth. "Those cookies are insane," she tells me with a grin as I ogle a giant sugar cookie sandwich filled with frosting and raspberry jam. I can vouch for that -- they are indeed insane.
Coffee With a Kick: A newly acquired liquor license means Octane doubles as a bar, and a sexy one at that. As night falls, the music gets louder and the crowd gets friskier. Beer enthusiasts who are over the crowds at the Brick Store Pub's Belgian tasting room should check out Octane's eclectic selection of exotic and high-octane brews.
Something to Nibble, Perhaps?: Octane has achieved the perfect fusion of coffeehouse and bar, and it wears those two hats so well you'd expect the food to be an afterthought. But it's not. The menu of homemade sandwiches and snacks is substantial and well-conceived. Ingredients are all of the highest quality, from chewy ciabatta bread to pungent, salty prosciutto. My favorite sandwich was a roast beef and cheddar melt with caramelized onions and a whiff of tangy horseradish. I also enjoyed the clean, assertive flavors of prosciutto with fresh mozzarella on country Italian bread. I washed my sandwich down with a fizzy Italian soda before moving on to dessert, which turned out to be one of the most decadent I've had in quite a while. Calling it a cookie wouldn't really do it justice. It was a monstrosity -- two big, crumbly sugar cookies sandwiching white chocolate icing and raspberry jam.
Coffee, beer, deliriously yummy cookies -- I mean, really. I don't know about you, but I don't need much more in life. Actually, wireless Internet would be nice. What? Octane has WiFi? Goodness. They may never get rid of me.
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