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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Drink of the Week: Latte, Foam Coffee and Beer

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge NICHOLAS PHILLIPS
  • Nicholas Phillips
The word "foam" connotes something insubstantial, ephemeral. It conjures up images of once-trendy foam parties at neon-lit nightclubs and poufs of carrot foam on top of elaborate plates at very fancy restaurants. This Foam, a new coffeehouse at Jefferson Avenue and Cherokee Street, is more like what happens when you shake a beer or soda and then pop it open -- a bubbling over, the result of energy that can't be contained.

Immediately upon our arrival at the counter, owner Mike Glodeck looked at us and said, "Hey, I know you guys!" He recognized me and my boyfriend from having attended a Rehabbers Club meeting once, years ago, and even remembered that we live in Tower Grove South. We ordered, and while we waited for our drinks, Glodeck continued to chat with us. I asked about a chocolate dessert that my friend had described as "amazing." He explained that it is ganache from Kakao, the chocolatier just down the way on Jefferson. He hopes to have molds made so they can serve it in the shape of their logo.

It seems likely that any topic of conversation will lead back to some aspiration he has for the place. They make their own chai and would like to brew their own beer. They already have a few bands booked to play here and want to make it a regular thing.

Even the name is packed with ambition. Not just a clever turn of phrase, the reference to both the froth that tops a cappuccino and the head on a pint of beer is meant to capture the way the place morphs over the course of the day to meet the needs of the neighborhood.

On this late Sunday morning, the handful of patrons who straggled in and out all got the same casual, familiar treatment from Glodeck. One young lady, who had left her companion and their dog waiting on the sidewalk, was compelled to invite them inside. I took in the scene from our perch at a sunny table in a storefront window, just a few feet from the giant Cherokee Indian statue. It's hard to describe how spare and beautiful the interior is, which clearly reflects his affection for old buildings. The walls are exposed brick, the high ceilings culminate in restored pressed-tin tiles, and all of the fixtures and furniture are funky retro pieces. Along one wall is a vintage Coca-Cola chest cooler stocked with Mexican Coke and Boylan's and Fitz's sodas, all in glass bottles.

Aesthetics are obviously important here. From what I saw, the patrons were invariably young and charmingly disheveled (ditto the employees) -- not surprising considering the burgeoning hipster scene in the neighborhood. In fact, this constituted a theme: the music, seemingly the contents of someone's extensive and assiduously curated iPod; the vintage show posters and album covers on the walls; the selection of magazines on the bar and books in the bathroom. All very, very cool. What might otherwise come off as pretentious is suffused with a genuineness and enthusiasm that is undeniable. The pachinko games that hung on one wall and the milk glass vases scattered throughout struck me as more than just décor, but as personal collections.

Fortunately, this place is backing up the good looks with real chops. My latte was perfect, made with espresso from Northwest Coffee Roasting Company. The tender house-made scone with orange zest and white chocolate that accompanied it was delicious, too. I even heard a song from one of my favorite local bands, Theodore. It turns out the owner of this place is also a fan. He must have heard the cautionary tale in their song that goes
I built you a room with windows of gold
To let all that light hit your face.
If I'd made them of steel
Would you love me still?
Alicia Lohmar is a south-city dweller and accomplished drinker, to which she credits her German ancestry and Catholic upbringing.

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