I was in a grumpy mood on Sunday afternoon while walking on 15th Ave. I then caught the glimpse of a large wine display that I’ve never seen before. “What’s this?” I asked my wife, Abbie as we both ventured into The Shop Agora.
I must have stood there with my jaw wide open as my eyes soaked in what was before me: a center table with samples of bread, oils, olives, vinegar, and truffle popcorn, a large wine display to my right, and specialty food items such as pastas, anchovies, and breads to my left.
“We love hosting. We love to pour wine and serve food for people sitting down, whether it's at our home or here at our shop” Alexis preached as she sat down with me over a glass of wine. “We can’t do that at our other store. It’s just way too small with only one stool to sit on” Alexis laughed. “We want people to feel welcome.”
Nikos and Alexis’ first store have been providing Northern Mediterranean products to the good people of Phinney Ridge for the past 4 years. Both Nikos and Alexis shared their excitement about opening their 2nd store here on 15th. “We’re excited to have more space and be part of the Capitol Hill Neighborhood. Our opening night was so much fun; we had live music and a lot of people in the shop. Everyone seemed excited for us to be here.”
A large selection of premium olive oil, nuts, pastas, truffle products, vinegars and more decorate the northern wall of the store. Olive oil by the same name of the store was also on the shelves. “I grew up making olive oil and wine,” Nikos proudly said. Towards the back of the store is a deli display that showed off a wide variety of cheeses, sandwiches, olives, cured meats and salads.
A small bar invites customers to sit down and try small Mediterranean bites with wines and beers by the glass. I ordered some kalamata crown figs that were wrapped in pancetta, stuffed with penacorato blue cheese and marcona almonds. I also had to have the burrata ali panna, Italian fresh cheese served with homemade crostini brushed with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.
Alexis, who is working on her Masters degree in nutrition at Bastyr University, spoke about their menu at the tasting bar. “It’s important to me that there are some vegan and gluten free options on our menu.”
Curious about Alexis’ influence on the menu, I asked her which dishes can she take credit for. Proudly, Alexis smiled and said “The Kalamata crown figs and the Maida Italian Artichoke hearts!”
One bite of their figs immediately prompted a huge thank you for placing them on the menu.
Nikos then came and guided me through wines of his home country, a wine country of which I know very little about. The Sigalas Santorini, which featured the white grapes Assyrrtiko and Athiri was a white crisp wine with balanced minerality, acidity, and fruit. Nikos explained how they grow on an island in the middle of the Aegean Sea where the vines are trained to shape into low spiraling baskets. The grapes hang inside to protect from the sun and the wind. The Mercouri Foloi Roditis was another white that is from Niko’s hometown and was much dryer with a bit more minerality than fruit. Finally he poured me a red from Halkidiki Limnio Merlot that was surprisingly light and easy to drink with a subtle and elegant red fruit flavor.
A quick browse through the wine section highlighted wines mainly from, Greece and Italy, but there were many wines also from Spain, France, South Africa, and the Northwest. “We want to highlight wines from the Northern Mediterranean, but I also want to have wines that I love from all over the world” explained Nikos.
I saw a handful of customers who happened to wander in the store, and they all appeared just as wide eyed and astonished as I was. The Shop Agora offers such a rare combination of a boutique retail food store with a warm and welcoming sense of hospitality that the Capitol Hill community is sure to embrace.
As one of many Capitol Hill foodies, I'd like to be one of the first to welcome Alexis, Nikos and The Shop Agora to the neighborhood.
346 15th Ave E
Seattle, Wa 98112