Archive for February, 2012

Boulangerie

February 26, 2012

La Boulangerie in Wallingford has intrigued me for some time, partly because the reviews on Yelp seem to either give one star or five – not much in between. I have to say my own impressions were more mixed. The main issue with this place, for me, was the unpleasant smell and the general impression that nothing had been cleaned for quite some time.  There were a few tables, but there was no real incentive to eat there in spite of the good location and cute exterior.

However, I have to disagree with many of the reviews on Yelp in terms of the pastries themselves – or maybe I was just there on a good day.  The brioche I had was maybe a little more dense and eggy than what you might find elsewhere, but I actually really liked it.  People have complained about the overwhelming butter flavor in the pastries, but personally I’m a fan of using a heavy hand with the butter.

I also had the almond creme croissant, which I thought was fine. It was not super fresh, but it was not rancid or incredibly stale as others have claimed (again, maybe I was just there on a good day). At any rate, I probably wouldn’t return here, since there are far better (and cleaner) bakeries in Seattle.  Still, at least I got a good brioche out of the trip.

 

Regent

February 20, 2012

Imagine my joy upon discovering that Regent, a new bakery (with an additional location in Redmond), would be opening right around the corner from me.  And imagine my further happiness upon seeing that they also offer a full menu (Chinese food) and bar (which is really a cozy, hip, and tasty little space).  I explored some of their many offerings in all three areas (dinner, drinks, dessert), but came away feeling that the main reason to visit this place is to stock up on cakes and breads.

The cakes looked good, but what really made me drool was the bread selection:

While I find Asian cakes to be too light for my taste, I LOVE the extreme eggy bread you find at Asian pastry shops. To be fair, though, I tried one of each – a cake and a bread.  For the cake, I went with the owner’s recommendation and got a piece of the chocolate-hazelnut cake.

It was indeed pretty light, but nearly as airy as some others I’ve tried, and the chocolate-hazelnut flavor was intense enough for me (and wasn’t too sweet).  LOVED it, and now I have to rethink my antipathy toward Asian cakes. Even better, however, was the bread. I chose a loaf of raisin bread to take home with me, and ate a couple slices for breakfast the next morning:

That night, I brought the rest of the loaf over to a friend’s house, and we ate the entire thing (lightly grilling each piece in a generously buttered skillet). I’ve never enjoyed raisin bread as much as I did this loaf, and I will surely be back for more.

 

Cake Envy

February 13, 2012

Cake Envy in Green Lake sells some of the loveliest-looking desserts in Seattle of the cake/cupcake variety, and their location right on Green Lake makes the proposition of spending a sunny afternoon noshing on cake that much more attractive. I visited this relatively new establishment on a sunny, warm day in February(!) to see how it stacked up to Trophy, Cupcake Royale, and I Love NY Cupcakes.

Cake Envy doesn’t stop at desserts; they also serve tea sandwiches, coffee/tea, and beer/wine in a light, modern atmosphere perfect for studying, reading, or just pigging out. They offer free wifi and outdoor seating (or just take your cupcake a few steps to the lake). I opted to stay inside and sample the coffee, after ordering four cupcakes to go.

I thought the best thing about their cupcakes were the unique flavors. I chose (from left to right) Creme Brulee, Espresso, Cookies and Cream, and Green Tea. I was a little disappointed that everything was buttercream (is Royale the only place that does ganache?), and that the icing was so airy. I know some people would die for a light buttercream frosting, but I prefer dense and flavor-packed. The Green Tea cupcake was definitely interesting, although a little bitter. I did like the cake itself, but I remain a Cupcake Royale fan first and foremost.

 

PIE

February 5, 2012

The name says it all at this Fremont cafe – PIE offers a variety of sweet and savory pies accommodating everyone from the traditionalist (try the apple pie a la mode) to the gluten-free (I thought the crust tasted like gravel but my gluten-free friend said it was good).

Besides its colorful storefront and cheerful interior, what I like about this place is that the menu is constantly changing. I had a more traditional breakfast pie (eggs, cheese, and bacon) but if I had been a different day it could have been huevos rancheros or mac and cheese with peas (they also have dinner pies with tasty-sounding meats).

After thoroughly enjoying my breakfast pie, I moved on to dessert. Wanting to try multiple pies, I took advantage of their bite-sized offerings and snapped up a tiny apple pie to go. Not having the same restraint when it comes to peanut butter, I opted for a full size:

To be honest, I wasn’t in love with the crust, which was dry and tasted like a cracker. This was strange, because I loved the breakfast pie crust and the mini apple pie crust – maybe because I heated those up and allowed the moisture to soak into the crust.  The peanut butter filling, however, was perfectly delightful. And, although I’m generally not an apple pie person, I could have eaten a dozen of those mini apple pies… it was superb.