Introducing Amazon Go

The latest Amazon project is an actual grocery store, but one that promises no lines ever.
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The future is awesome. And terrifying. But mostly awesome.

Today in Amazon announcements, the local megacorp introduced us to Amazon Go, an 1800-square-foot brick-and-mortar grocery store at 2131 7th Ave, on the corner of 7th Avenue and Blanchard Street, that requires no checkout. You read that right: You simply use the app to scan in when you arrive at the store, grab your items and stash them away as if you’re shoplifting (you’ve got a great new excuse, criminals!) and walk out. You’ll be charged to your Amazon account and sent a receipt.

No lines! No waiting! No human interaction!

The video above tries to explain the technology—something about computer vision, deep learning algorithms, and sensor fusion, a combination they’ve named “just walk out” technology. It’s apparently the same idea behind self-driving cars. 

Understandably, this store seems geared toward the young Amazon professional: Mostly ready-to-eat foods, pantry staples, and Amazon Meal Kits, which have the necessities for a quick home-cooked meal.

What excites us more is the rumored location of a drive-through grocery store in Ballard, a mysterious “Project X” that Amazon’s tight-lipped PR manager wouldn’t give us any info on (“We don’t comment on rumors or speculation,” she says).

When do we install the big sign on I-5 that reads “Amazon welcomes you to Seattle”? 

Three Impressions of Sovereign

Three Impressions of Sovereign

AJ is a fan of the underground bar
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The Black on Gold cocktail at Sovereign

One of my favorite spots from my drinking youth, Auntie Mae’s in Manhattan Kansas, was 75% below street level, and since then I’ve always loved underground bars. There’s something wonderfully clandestine about entering a bar at street level, then proceeding down. All that activity above, all those people walking by. I recently had a chance to go with my wife into the newer (it opened in late September, from the same folks who own and run The Forge Lounge) Pioneer Square bar Sovereign, which is in the basement of the Maynard Building, to see if it rose to the level of other great subterranean bars. Here are three impressions from the visit.

The Drinks: When walking in, we were excited to see Cara Stuber making drinks behind the barwe always dug her cocktails when she was at Bar Noroeste. Sovereign has eight selections on the mixed drink menu, including house creations like the Black on Gold, which combines hotsmoke bourbon (bourbon infused with chili and smoke), apricot, lemon and crystalized ginger. The citrus and apricot pairing, with undertones of smoke and spice, was like a spring afternoon at dusk. They had one of my favorite local cocktail inventions on the menu, too, The Trident, originally put together by genius local cocktail guru Robert “Drink Boy” Hess. It’s an herbal and spice masterpiece, with sherry, Italian amaro Cynar, aquavit and peach bitters all bringing layers of flavor. You’ll also find a tight, but well put together, list of wine and beer, and a punch that changes seasonally.

The Food: You won’t unearth an expansive menu of edibles, but what’s available is a great balance between snacks for while you sip and a few larger items. There’s a section of Table Bread that’s awfully fun, especially the Faux Gras. This veggie spread of walnuts, lentils, and mushroomserved like all the spreads with either a Grand Central baguette or gluten free crackershad a beautifully substantial texture and an earthy nuttiness offset perfectly by accompanying whole grain mustard. There are trios of baguette sandwiches and deviled eggs on the menu, and the latter contains a rotating seasonal option; when we were there it was chicken curry. For those with bigger appetites another trio of larger Specials is available, with the Sticky Jerk Chicken, coming with a side of sweet potatoes, a hit so far.

The Space: As mentioned, you walk down a set of stairs to get into the Sovereign, which is darn cool. The rest of the space is cool, too, with an art nouveau essence that adds personality without becoming affectation. A trio (they love trios!) of antique chandeliers, delicate sconce lights and artsy accents over doors, tiled ceilings, and a William Morris-esque print wallpaper would be at home in 1924 on a few walls. The bar itself, where I suggest you sit to interact with friendly shakers like Cara, is marble topped, with 12 low-backed bar stools, while the main area is split into two sections with wooden topped tables and wood chairs, a couple low slung comfy chairs, and lots of space for standing. That space is good, because the Sovereign is already developing a crowd of neighborhood and post-work regulars, and starting to be noticed by the pre-and-post game sports crowd.