Food & Drink » Bar Review

Java Monkey business in Decatur



Whether gearing up or winding down, caffiend or oenophile (makes wine drinkers sound kinky, don't it?), there's a spot a block off the Decatur Square aiming to feed the monkey on your back. Pick your poison -- uppers or downers -- and Java Monkey has the fix.
Opened 18 months ago when Church Street Coffee changed ownership, Java Monkey is the younger sibling of the Brick Store Pub (within walking distance for those looking to perpetuate the myth that coffee sobers).

No strangers to alcohol, then, Java Monkey's owners decided their new venture would have a dual identity as coffeehouse and wine bar. Offered simultaneously are up to 14 teas, four blends of Equal Exchange coffee ($1.25 with 50-cent refills dine in/up to $1.75 to go), as well as 20-25 wines ($4.50-$8 a glass, also available by bottle) that change seasonally. Beer drinkers can enjoy up to 14 microbrews ($3.50-$4.50).

One of the reasons Java Monkey -- recently written up in Southern Living, for god's sake -- has heard little but compliments is because it provides a soothing, full-service environment. From the textured tones and distressed decorations of the lounge-like interior to the partially covered crisscross-enclosed courtyard, Java Monkey don't monkey around with the business of being personable.

Sandwiches ($5-$6.50) and desserts by Pastries a Go Go and Southern Sweets ($1.75-$4.50) make for light meals that keep patrons glowing in their seats.

While Java Monkey's clientele seems to skew older than the image of black turtlenecked college students, that doesn't mean the environment is any less lively. Biweekly Thursday wine tastings provide an informal, nose-firmly-in-glass-not-in-the-air environment in which to sample a constantly changing selection of wine. More proof that comfort is key: There's a massage therapist on hand at tastings to help further melt the tension away. On Wednesdays, there's bluegrass at 8:30 p.m., and Kodac Harrison hosts open-mic poetry Sundays at 8:30 p.m.

Something or someone's always buzzing. With their pub business, Java Monkey's owners are surely no strangers to cutting off occasional patrons, but thankfully have had no reports yet of anyone getting so hopped up on the dark roast that their keys had to be confiscated.

Java Monkey, 205 E. Ponce de Leon Ave. Mon.-Fri. 6:30 a.m.-midnight; Sat. and Sun. 7 a.m.-midnight. The next wine tasting is Thursday, Sept. 12, 7-9 p.m. $10. 404-378-5002.

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