Poco Wine Room
Poco means "little" in Spanish. Poco Wine Room, newly installed in the ground floor of the Braeburn Condominiums on Capitol Hill, is small, but it is also tall, encompassing both a street-level bar and, up above, a triangular loft. The wines available in the small-but-tall room are nearly all from small producers in Washington and Oregon; the two gentlemen that opened Poco Wine Room were inspired not by the wine bars of Spain, but by a wine bar they visited in Manzanita, a small town on the Oregon coast. In Spanish, Manzanita means "small apple." Washington State is our great nation's largest producer of apples. Braeburn is a variety of apple, and the Braeburn Condominiums stand on the former site of a supermarket called Red Apple. (The Braeburn's unforgivable tagline: "The core of urban living.")
The Braeburn Condominiums are an exercise in an urban-planning concept known as "hiving." (Bees, the originators of the concept of "hiving," pollinate blossoms in orchards, making apples possible.) The hive that is the Braeburn seeks to unite its young urban professional residents, encouraging their social intercourse by way of public spaces such as a theater, an art studio, gardens, and a billiards room. Poco Wine Room is, by extension, part of the hive, the part where the worker bees relax at the end of their days of service to Queen Commerce with a glass of wine and a snack. (Should the worker bees wish to continue intercourse with their laptop computers during this end-of-the-day period, they must retire to the Braeburn branch of the Online Coffee Company, a few doors down; while the complex provides ambient free wireless internet to its denizens, Poco has a no-computing policy, to facilitate relaxation. If a latte is desired instead of wine, the bees must likewise move on down the hive; by contractual stricture, the Online Coffee Company may serve espresso, while Poco may not.)
One wall of Poco Wine Room has a sculptural, vertical arrangement of unfinished lengths of lumber, best examined from the landing halfway up the staircase. Downstairs feels spare and industrial; upstairs, intimate and urbane. The bar—a thick, compressed wood slab, glossy with polyurethane—has a twin counter that overlooks from above. Wines range from entry-level reasonable to I-got-a-raise indulgent; a small menu offers appropriate, tasty snacks like lovely little canapés, Marcona almonds, meats cured locally at Da Pino, a few desserts. Well-groomed people murmur, candles flicker, contemporary music plays.
Through the expansive windows of Poco Wine Room, the Braeburn's courtyard, with its multicolored tiles, is visible, as are active knees and elbows and equipment through the windows of the Braeburn's fitness facility across the courtyard. Also: the beautiful upholstery, rows of nail polish, and the lovely receptionist of Swoon Boutique Spa, another part of the hive, from which as if on cue a rejuvenated-looking man carrying a small dog emerges.