With food as comfortable and cherished as its worn-in, well-loved wood chairs and sturdy tables, the Still Life Coffeehouse in Fremont has remained constant and has adapted with Fremont's trajectory over the years: from the neighborhood's rough, industrial roots to the current crop of fancy-pants boutiques. Still Life continues to be a bright spot, and the consistency and warmth of the place can be credited to owner Ruth Quinet and her solid staff, who, over the years, have stuck to their vision of wholesome, good sandwiches, salads and soups, and an assortment of baked goods both tempting and satisfying in that almost good-for-you way (such as the giant wheatless peanut butter chocolate chip cookie, $2). Far from froufrou, it is impossible to leave the table hungry--cups of hearty daily soups and vegetarian chili ($2.75) are served with enormous hunks of peasant bread; nourishing sandwiches come stacked as high (with the ripest tomatoes and greens) as they are wide.

This beloved coffeehouse institution now spreads some of its solidity to the beleaguered café space adjacent to the Grand Illusion Cinema. On the corner of 50th and University Way, the Still Life on the Ave exudes precisely the affection and stability the U-District needs right now. It provides its usual vegetarian (and not) sandwiches, daily special salads, soups, and, a personal favorite, open-faced sandwiches in the afternoons, and simple granola/oatmeal breakfasts in the morning (plus all the baked goods a hungry student heart could desire), and espresso and juice (and eventually beer and wine) to the undernourished college neighborhood. Perched on top of a bookstore and open late--until 11:00 p.m., to accommodate cinemagoers' thirsts--this satellite Still Life has transformed the old café space with lots of plants, floor lamps, a cozy green velvet couch snuggled up next to the fireplace, and new window-counter seating.

"I was looking for something new to do," Quinet says of her decision to open an additional café, "and when [Northwest Film Forum, which operates the theater] told us the café was up for sale again, it was perfect timing. I've always loved this place." This is exactly what the Ave needs right now--some baked-goods affection, mingled with a sense of history and place.

Still Life on the Ave

1405 NE 50th St (U-District), 729-3542. Open Tues-Sun 7:30 am-11 pm.