Archive for the ‘Madison’ Category

Simply Soulful

June 9, 2014

When I first moved to Seattle, I complained a lot about the relative lack of good soul food – how else was I supposed to get through the winters? But these last few years Seattle has seen a real upswing in the number of Southern-style food joints. Simply Soulful seems ready to join the ranks (although for now it’s mainly a bakery).

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If the space looks familiar, it’s because it used to be Inez Patisserie (which has moved to Cap Hill). You can find their products at various stores and farmer’s markets, but my advice is to spot by their cafe in Madison Valley and chat with the very gracious ladies (mother and daughter) who run this venture. I stopped by last month when I happened to see a sign with what appeared to be a pie. A new dessert spot in Madison Valley that I didn’t know about? Impossible. Turns out they had only just opened, and only a few products were available. Rather than wait for the official opening, I decided to grab a few things:

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On the left is a sweet potato muffin, and on the right is a Pecan Pie (I had to capitalize because it was so Good).  What I liked most about the muffin was that it tasted like real sweet potatoes, not just sugar with orange food coloring. What I liked best about the Pecan Pie was that it was the best. Truly. I ate that Pie in one sitting and didn’t share with anyone. I will be back. Just need to do a few yoga classes first.

Madison Kitchen

May 3, 2014

Madison Park just keeps getting tastier, and with Madison Kitchen you can now get your coffee, pastry, deli, and sweet tooth fix. Cozy on a rainy day, and sidewalk seating when it’s sunny, this little cafe has it all. I got a half sandwich and salad and sat back to consider my dessert options.

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While munching away on my BLATT (bacon, lettuce, avocado, turkey, and tomato sandwich), I eyed the selection of goodies. There was a solid variety, some traditional and some more unusual. I got a bit of each category:

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On the upper left is a mini rustic apple tart, which I quite enjoyed served warm (although the bottom fell out). The crust was lovely and the tart had that homespun, made with love, feel. On the upper right is what I’ve always called a Dream Bar – a bar cookie with coconut, pecans, and brown sugar. It’s like a pecan pie with coconut, but I found it a tad too sweet. My friends really enjoyed it though, and it seemed like a popular item. The last is the brownie, which I thought was perfect. Cocoa-y and somewhat fudgy, crackling top… very satisfying. I heart this place.

 

Arosa

March 14, 2014

The Arosa Waffle Cafe and Coffee Shop is tucked away in a dessert-heavy corner of Madison Park (you’ll find Oh! Chocolates and the Northwest Catering Company in the same little shopping center, and it’s also not far from Belle Epicurean). But if you’re looking for a low key coffee spot and a snack, it does the trick – especially if waffles are your thing.

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Along with my Americano (which was fine, not sour or acidic), I got two waffles (they seemed surprised by this, seems like everyone just sticks to one, but that didn’t stop me!). One was plain – they make them with a very faint coating of caramelized sugar, so you don’t need syrup. The other was topped with nutella and banana:

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Needless to say, I preferred it with toppings, although the waffle is a little small for so much banana. Overall I was pleased, but I was disappointed that instead of making the waffles fresh they just reheat them. A fresh waffle is so much tastier! Still, for being not-fresh the waffles were decent. They are obviously made with a good batter and I liked the slightly sugary coating – not overly sweet but sweet enough that it feels like dessert.

Oh! Chocolate

June 23, 2013

I’ve done Theo’s and Fran’s, but for some reason I never had thought to stop in at Oh! Chocolates on Madison, even though it’s a few minutes car ride from me.  Oh! originated on Mercer Island (or Hawaii, depending on how far back you go) and they have a great tradition of being very generous with the free samples (I ended up having as many free truffles as I bought).

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After a careful tasting of some of the more unusual creations (the vegan truffle was surprisingly good), I made my selections: Americano Truffle, Tiramisu Truffle, Grand Marnier Truffle, and Hawaiian Caramel.

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The white one is actually the Americano, and inside was a coffee and dark chocolate filling. I’d pick that as the best of the four, followed closely by the Grand Marnier which was deliciously dark and complex. The Hawaiian Caramel had an interesting coconut addition, and the tiramisu was a little sweet.  This is definitely the place to go for true chocolate lovers – with little of the milk or white chocolate to weaken the experience.

Belle Epicurean

May 15, 2013

Why am I just now discovering the wonders of Belle Epicurean, a quaint and classy French bakery/restaurant with locations downtown and in Madison Park? I’ve wasted previous years of my life NOT eating here, it seems. At any rate, this place is the real deal. There’s a full counter of all sorts of decadent desserts, ranging from almond tortes to macaroons – a whole tower of them, in fact:

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I didn’t sample the macaroons because I am not a passionate macaroonist, but I did get a red velvet petit four, a flourless chocolate decadence, and cinnamon brioche bun. The flourless chocolate decadence, while not mind-blowing, did live up to it’s name. The brioche bun was ultra buttery, with a lovely caramelized sugar crunch. The petit four impressed me the most of the three desserts. It was very moist, with no dried, stale edges, and was basically just heaven in a bite (actually 4 bites).

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Perfection! Belle Epicurean is most definitely a keeper, and it will keep me coming back for more. Maybe I’ll even try a macaroon.

Famous NW Catering Co

April 30, 2012

Although the Famous Northwest Catering Company is mainly (duh) a catering business, they do have a take-out deli in Madison Valley. You can get lunch and dinner items to go, and those are pretty tasty, but don’t leave without some dessert. There are simple baked goods (I enjoyed the banana bread) and there are more complex cakes. It may not look like much – outside or inside – but I promise it’s worth a stop.

I was deliberating between Famous NW vs Oh! Chocolates, and decided to try compromise with a chocolate mousse “tower” from the Catering Company. I was very pleased with my selection:

I’m not generally a huge fan of chocolate mousse, but this was different. The mousse was layered with chocolate cake so that the texture was neither cake nor mousse, and the chocolate was of high quality. The cake was light but completely satisfying (although I wished I hadn’t agreed to split with my friend). On the next warm day, I’m heading here for picnic provisions to enjoy at nearby Madison Park.

New York Cupcakes

October 29, 2011

A couple Saturdays ago I decided to take a trip to Madison Valley to see what I could round up for lunch. Imagine my delight when I realized it happened to be the grand opening of the new location of New York Cupcakes.  Originally located just in Bellevue, NY Cupcakes is inspired by the cupcakes made famous by Sex and the City’s trip to Magnolia Bakery in Manhattan.

I was never a huge fan of Magnolia’s cupcakes because they are all done with buttercream frosting, as are the ones at NY Cupcakes.  Still, I couldn’t argue with the tower of free cupcakes offered on this special day:

NY Cupcakes offers up to 40 flavors, and there were about 10 to choose from in the pyramid of free samples. I ate the cookies and cream mini-cupcake in a single gulp, and then decided to make a purchase (lunch was quickly forgotten) before grabbing one more free sample on my way out.

I chose the peanut butter and jelly and the black and white cupcakes.  Even though I normally avoid buttercreams, the free samples I had indulged in convinced me that these were worth the calories. The cake was especially good – moist and flavorful, not just a conveyance for the frosting.   I will definitely return for another cookies and cream cupcake (and I want to try the snickerdoodle – after all, I could only consume so much in one sitting).

 

Ines Patisserie

May 30, 2011

There’s a relatively new player in town when it comes to croissants – Ines Patisserie in Madison Valley. In the space that used to be Suess Chocolates, Nohra Belaid has opened a small but delightful cafe selling sweet and savory snacks.

There isn’t a huge variety, and nothing’s cheap, but everything is good. Very good. It took me ten minutes of drooling over the various items displayed in the counter to decide on a flaky tomato and goat cheese tart, which I ate as I debated over desserts. I watched as Nohra bustled around behind the counter (it seems she does everything – serving the customers, mixing the batter, popping things in and out of the oven) and enjoyed the cozy atmosphere of the cafe.

In the end, I decided on a chocolate bouchon (a rich little muffin-shaped chocolate dessert) and a chocolate croissant. The bouchon was the highlight for me – not much flour with a very intense, dark chocolatey flavor. Chocoholics take note – this is a must-have. I saved the chocolate croissant for the next day:

I warmed it up for breakfast the next morning and thought it was perfect. I found no hint of dryness that reviewers on Yelp had complained about – instead it was just buttery, flaky, crispy-on-the-outside goodness. In my opinion, Ines has croissants that rival Honore and Besalu… might be time for a three-way taste test??

 

La Cote

February 14, 2011

I remember the day I said I would never eat another crepe. I had been studying in Paris for almost six weeks, and had been averaging about 1.5 crepes per day. Crepes with nutella and strawberries, crepes with mushrooms and swiss, crepes with every ingredient you can imagine. Finally, it hit me. I had maxed out on crepes and decided that I never wanted to eat another crepe again.

Obviously, a food fiend like me never really swears off any kind of food forever (although I still don’t like parsnips), and I’ve had a few crepes since then. But I don’t actively seek them out, and in this case, it was a last resort. It was Superbowl Sunday, and I wanted something sweet right before the game started. I headed out around kickoff time, and was shocked to find everything closed! So I headed into La Cote Creperie in Madison Valley, a crepe restaurant that’s usually too packed for me to bother with. Today, however, I had it all to myself:

This made for a very pleasant afternoon – I could eat and photograph to my heart’s content while chatting with the waitress, a very friendly young lady who recommended the crepe with pear, chocolate sauce, and ice cream. It turned out to be a bit much to pack into one pancake (they fold the big ones into a square and you eat it with a fork), but still delightful (but be warned, crepes are not very photogenic):

As I said, it tasted much better than it looks (my grandmother asked if this was a picture of chicken thighs). The ice cream and chocolate sauce were of high quality, and the pears were fine (I would have preferred fresh instead of canned). I think it would be better if there were a little bit less of each ingredient in order to emphasize the crepe, but I hear amazing things about the lemon crepe.

 

Madison Park Bakery

February 6, 2010

Encouraged by the unusually warm weather these past few weeks, I ventured out to Madison Park, where the winds blowing off Lake Washington were not as icy as they usually are this time of year. I hadn’t planned on stopping for a snack, but the location of Madison Park Bakery was too good to pass up after a sweaty yoga class. What caught my eye immediately upon entry were the bright colors and quirky shapes of the goodies:


Obviously a great place to take kids, but also perfect for any Marzipan lovers out there:


MPB has been around for a long time – 80 years in fact. They pride themselves on making everything from scratch – pretty impressive when you consider their large selection of bread, doughnuts, cookies, cakes, and pastries. I limited myself to three items at first: the scone with jam, a mini cinnamon roll, and a cinnamon sugar doughnut.


My favorite by far out of the three was the cinnamon roll. It was the perfect size – not sickeningly big, but not pathetically small. It was very cinnamon-y (just the way I like it) and quite sweet. The best cinnamon bun I’ve eaten a quite a while, actually. The cinnamon doughnut was also good – perfect for finger-licking afterward.  I was not quite as impressed with the scone. It was a little too cakey and the “jam” was too gelatinous.  But I wouldn’t want to end on that note, so…


allow me to finish with the chocolate ganache cupcake! Even though I would have preferred a vanilla cupcake with ganache frosting, this was a more-than-adequate substitute. I bit off the very bottom, and then ate the top in three bites. Chocolate ganache is, to me, always a winner (and a perfect way to finish this post!).