Dinner Is Served

The Still Life steps outside of the (lunch)box.

THE STILL LIFE CAFE has long been the best thing about Fremont, but the worst thing about it was its infuriating habit of going into hibernation at dinnertime. Now, faced with increasing megabrewpub and restaurant competition, it's decided to wake up and smell something besides the coffee. That's rightthe Still Life has come to life after dark. It will never compete with the megabooze emporia. But if it's after 5 p.m. and you're looking for a few good beers, eight wines, and nine dinner entr饳 whipped up with taste and skill for a righteous price, you're in for a treat. Even the atmosphere is better than I remember: still artsy, and literally with more atmosphere than most placesif that ceiling were any higher, it would generate its own weather, like Boeing's Everett plantbut more open and less cluttery than it used to be. Bohemian artistes are still welcome, but you no longer have to feel so guilty and out of place if you have a paying job, un-paint-stained clothes, no goatee and a yen for bourgeois comfort. And comfort food: Our garlic roasted half chicken ($10.95) did more than keep vampires at baymoist and tender, it warmed the heart. Green beans are seldom safe in hepcat eateries, but these retained their crunch; the Yukon gold potatoes contained greatness within an artfully browned exterior. (This was welcome, since my mainstay, the Jitterbug Cafe, had let me down at breakfast with potatoes resembling dry leather cubes, a disgrace to the scrambled eggs they were supposed to grace.) The wild greens salad ($6.50) was anything but tame: fresh as a KEXP playlist, adorned with candied pecans, goat cheese, and big beet chunks ideally complementing orange herb vinaigrette. Frankly, I wasn't expecting the pan-seared sea scallops ($10.95) to be on a par with Wild Ginger'sbut they were! Excellent texture, exhilarating taste. The accompanying linguine, al dente to die for, did not swim in sauce; rather, it was ceremonially anointed with pancetta, lemon, and basil. If you plan to confront the Still Life's high-rise espresso chocolate torte ($3.95), bring a friend or maybe two. The chocolate layers were great, but the cake was disappointingly dry. The New York cheesecake ($3.95) proved the better betnot world-beating, but not half bad. You'll be tempted to linger over dessert, and only partly because it's large. Sitting by that vast wall of windows, there's no place better to watch the Center of the Universe go by. tappelo@seattleweekly.com

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