Restaurant News & Reviews

Wake up and get buzzing

File this week's news under "B" for "buzz." As in "caffeine buzz."

At Bliss Boutique Bakery (431 W. Franklin St.; 636-3090; ), which has taken over the former 3 Cups spot in Chapel Hill, you can get a serious sugar buzz, too. Owners Dennis Steigerwalt and Mike Taylor have transformed the adjoining office space into a kitchen, where former Carolina Inn pastry supervisor Howard Allen is baking an assortment of goodies. Cupcakes are a specialty, with options including every conceivable variation on the vanilla and chocolate theme (including ganache), as well as rotating flavors and at least one vegan cupcake offering daily. You'll also find muffins, scones, cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, brownies and cookies among the temptations in the display case.

Initially, Bliss will offer a single drip-brewed Counter Culture roast on a rotating basis, as well as a limited selection of espresso drinks. The caffeinated offerings will expand over time, according to Taylor, who says the partners are also looking into bringing back the French presses that were popular at 3 Cups.

Just around the corner in Carrboro, California transplants and experienced coffee roasters Jon and Chyenna Jesse have taken over the operation of Padgett Station coffeehouse. The couple owned two coffee drive-throughs in San Diego before moving to the Triangle. They have been operating a roastery/mobile espresso trailer in Carrboro since November. Now that they have a permanent location, they're serving coffees made with their own roast at Padgett Station.

In the interest of a smooth transition, the name of the shop won't change to The Kind (401 E. Main St.; 929-0445; ) for a few weeks. For the same reason, the couple won't be making changes to Padgett's food until they've had a chance to evaluate it. "We do plan to keep serving beer and wine," Jon Jessee notes. "The bar is cool."

In Durham, Christine Callan has opened Copa Vida (2816 Erwin Road; 383-4900) in the former Shade Tree Coffee space in Erwin Terrace. It's the first retail venture for Callan, who modestly says she was "a ski bum in Colorado" before deciding to open a coffee shop. She has also worked as a barista in the highly competitive coffee shop environment of her native Washington state, experience that bodes well for Copa Vida's success. It won't hurt that she's serving Counter Culture coffees and Guglhupf pastries.

Finally, it saddens me to report that the downtown Raleigh dining scene has lost two of its institutions. The nationally acclaimed Enoteca Vin has closed, just a few months shy of its 10th anniversary. Joe's Place (which had closed briefly in 2006 only to reopen because of overwhelming response from fans) has closed -- this time for good, according to owner Joe Sciolino -- after three decades.