October 9, 2016
If you’re more concerned with substance over style, or just want to grab some of the best bread in Seattle to up your dinner party game, check out bare bones Sea Wolf Bakers in Fremont. They do one thing, and do it really well – bread and pastries. They have a warehouse/wholesale type space with a couple tables and minimal service, but the folks there are friendly and hardworking and most importantly, excellent bakers of bread.
I bought a baguette and a loaf of sourdough rye, as well as a couple pastries. The baguette was of the traditional French variety – meaning it cuts up the roof of your mouth and has a high crust to dough ratio. The rye was dark, very like Russian black bread, with a wonderful fermenty-tasting bite to it. As for the pastries, one was a chocolate croissant and the other a huckleberry danish.
Both were outstanding (especially since they were still warm), with crispy, flaky outsides and buttery but light innards. There is definitely a level of perfection and hand-made care that sets Sea Wolf apart from lesser, grocery-store ready spots (ahem, Essentials) and makes their bread worth seeking out whenever possible. I know I will.
September 18, 2016
I’ve lived in Seattle for a decade and somehow I’ve never been to Magnolia – not even Discovery Park. I decided to rectify this situation while also checking a couple bakeries off my list, including Cereal Box Bakery. Cereal Box doesn’t have a storefront, but operates a delivery service (baked goods and fresh baked bread delivered to your doorstep!) and has a booth at the Magnolia Farmers Market. That’s where I found them, and selected a peach muffin top and a jam-filled scone.
Both were notable in their lower-than-usual sugar levels, which I actually appreciated. It was more like breakfast and less like dessert, which was fine… because my next stop was Petit Pierre Bakery. No shortage of sugar here!
I started with a homemade pop tart, which was nothing like the grocery store variety. Flakey, with a lovely jam filling and homemade icing – you don’t need to be a kid to appreciate these. For later, I got a raspberry chocolate brownie type thing, which was less impressive but still enjoyable:
It was a little on the dry side. I would stick to the pastries and more traditional French desserts – their lemon tarts and macarons looked pretty good. The cafe itself was cute and popular, with excellent espresso and friendly service.
September 7, 2016
The South Lake Union Saturday Market has a wealth of dessert options (including macaron ice cream sandwiches, as mentioned below). One spot that’s gotten a lot of hype is Susu, an on-trend rolled ice cream stand. If you’re wondering what rolled ice cream is, it’s like a cooler, more modern version of Dippin Dots. The flavored cream is poured onto a freezing surface and spread out like a square crepe. Cookie crumbles or other toppings are added for texture.
Then, sections are rolled up with the spatula, just like you’d roll up a yoga mat. Susu’s flavor/topping choices range from S’mores to Tiramisu. I got the earl grey tea with sesame seeds.
The joy of Susu is partly in the flavors, partly in the texture, and largely in watching the process. It’s ice cream art and it’s worth savoring (and Instagramming).
July 26, 2016
If you’ve lived in the Atlantic Northeast, it’s hard to eat Italian in the Pacific Northwest. Sure, places like Spinasse will impress, but when it comes to the neighborhood deli/market, pickings are slim. That’s why I was excited to try Pellegrini Italian Market in West Seattle – it brought me home for a minute and I could enjoy the very Seattle experience of the West Seattle Farmers Market while eating a Sicilian slice. The desserts were varied, colorful, and almost overwhelmingly abundant. It took some time to choose so I started with a nutella cookie and espresso while I thought things over.
The cookie was nutty and fresh with a healthy dollup of nutella (and went well with the espresso) but I needed something a bit more iconic. Enter the rainbow cookie!
These Italian confections are found all over the Northeast but are hard to get right, the main problem being that they get stale quickly (and this cookie was indeed on the dry side). They can also be too almondy or too sweet (this one had the right balance of both). But the real showstopper was the peach sandwich cookie:
Loved the crunchy sugar “crust” and loved the jam-like filling. With “pretty” desserts like this, I worry that the instagram value outweighs the flavor, but in this case, both were unbeatable. Verdict: Pellegrini tastes like home SWEET home. (Sorry for that one.)
July 16, 2016
If you’re tired of the retro decor/food scene, Shug’s probably isn’t for you. But if you are looking for a spot you can take your kids, hipster friend, date, or silent reading group, Shug’s will work for you! (Yes, there was a silent reading group there when I visited, and no, I didn’t ask how to join even though I really, really wanted to.) The space is light, friendly, and hip without being pretentious or gimmicky, and the location makes it a perfect post-Pike Place Market cool-down.
There are novelty items (which would actually be standard items in New York) like an egg cream and lime rickey, beer floats, shakes, sundaes, and house-made sodas. The Sundaes were the most intriguing part of the menu – the Brown Derby involves a Mighty-O donut – and I selected the Crested Lourie:
Coconut ice cream, pineapple, Grenadine, and cashew-coconut brittle. I gave the sundae a thumbs up overall, although the pineapple could have been fresher and the brittle would have been easier to deal with if it were broken up. My date got the Kitty Canutt:
Cinnamon ice cream, apple compote, and graham cracker crumble. I’d like to return and try their egg cream, malts, and sodas… and maybe that Brown Derby sundae. Because donut.
July 9, 2016
I don’t spend a ton of time in Pike Place Market or downtown Seattle, but for various reasons I’ve found myself there several times in the last few weeks. I’ve been surprised to discover the many hidden gems to be found below the market, on Western, including the newly opened Choukette – a bakery specializing solely in eclairs. Apparently, however, it’s not secret enough, because the shop was almost sold out by noon thanks to some unexpected publicity from Seattle Met and an eclair-loving populace.
There were, luckily, a few eclairs remaining and I was able to try the lemon curd and the salted caramel flavors.
To be sure, these works of art are meant to be appreciated by aficionados – while they are neither large nor cheap, neither are they bland, stale, or overly sweet. The pastry dough was light and pillowy and was the perfect accompaniment to the cream. The best part, however, were the toppings. The lemon curd was bright and tart, and the salted caramel was the right notes of sweet-salty. Hopefully this little shop can keep up with demand so that I can come back and try other flavors!
May 21, 2016
After a few rainy weekends, it was time for some carbs and coziness at Leschi’s trendy-but-classic Meet the Moon. The wide-plank floors and farmhouse feel complement the generously-sized cinnamon rolls and friendly service. Customers can get coffee and pastries to go at the counter or settle in at the bar or tables. Whichever you choose, do it early – cinnamon rolls were gone by the time I left (which was around noon).
I had dessert for breakfast and lunch – that is, I got French toast as well as a cinnamon roll. The Challah French toast was thick and caramelized on the top and bottom, with a berry compote on top. Fancy and addictive, if a little less custardy than I usually prefer.
The cinnamon roll was not only enormous, it was gooey, fresh, and simple with plenty of frosting. I wouldn’t have minded a heavier hand with the cinnamon but overall I think this place is a winner… and I still need to try the cocktails!
May 6, 2016
Who would have thought a waffle on a stick could be served up in so many delicious and creative ways? My Sweet Lil Cakes food truck does waffles, and they do them well. Not only are their recipes innovative and creative, they genuinely work. Everything, not just the waffles themselves, is nicely crafted and thoughtfully presented (especially considering it’s a food truck!). What’s more, service is friendly and full of smiles.
I was pretty excited to find this truck at Fremont’s Food Truck Rodeo, and ordered myself a healthy helping of Chocolate Waffle stuffed with Dark Cherries and topped with frosting, berries, and powdered sugar.
The photo doesn’t do justice to the excellence of this dessert, since you can’t see the “dark cherries.” I don’t generally prefer cherries in any form except raw, but these were different (and indeed, dark). Not too sweet, soft but not mushy, and nothing like the candied cherries I was fearing. I’ll need to hunt this truck down again to sample the other dessert options, and the savory ones too (chicken and waffle on a stick? Yes please!).