Archive for the ‘University District’ Category

Wann Yen

June 17, 2017

A lot of Americans wouldn’t expect to see the words “Thai” and “dessert” in the same sentence, but it would be a shame to reduce Thai cooking to Phad Thai and Thai iced tea (when I spent a summer in Thailand I never even saw these things offered). Wann Yen, in the U-District, will change your perceptions of what Thai food can look and taste like – they do a few more traditional Thai dishes, but their main focus is on their sweet beverages and attractive desserts (although, to be fair, these are mostly Taiwanese and Hong Kong “inventions” with some Thai twists). There’s a full range of dessert-like drinks and shave-ice concoctions – I chose the “caramel glass jelly” drink.

Sweet and textured (the squares of “glass jelly” were like the tapioca balls in bubble tea, this would have been enough of a dessert on it’s own. But to round out the meal, I decided to try their bubble waffle:

And yes, that’s a scoop of Thai iced coffee ice cream on top, cuz why not? Wann Yen is a fun spot to try new sweet Asian food fads (I still need to come back and try the shave ice). It’s a perfect place to see what food looks like when cultures mix (and make waffles!).


Sweet and Savory

January 17, 2017

The only way to get through Seattle’s winter is to get out. I made myself do just that last Saturday – it was sunny, so I decided to visit the U-District Farmer’s Market where I found the delightful new stand Sweet and Savory Catering by Cynthia Brock. Huddled in the freezing temperatures, she was selling her homemade cookies and pastries along with more savory fare like her “winter jam” – a sort of chutney with nuts, quince, and spices that is amazing on sandwiches or paired with Stilton cheese. I chose an assortment of treats, including an apple-fig galette, lemon bar, and apricot bar:


The lemon and apricot bars were spot-on with a lovely shortbread crust and flavorful topping. The galette was a bit heavily spiced for my taste, although the crust was solid. This woman knows her way around a stick of butter.  Just as amazing were her Christmas cookies:


I didn’t share. I ate them all myself and didn’t feel bad about it at all – they were that good. Plenty of butter, sweet but not overly so, and tasting so incredibly fresh. This catering company is worth checking out while Cynthia is still at the U-District market!

Standard Bakery

January 25, 2016

The Standard Bakery, AKA Pocket Bakery, used to operate a pop-up in the Central District. Sadly, I didn’t make it there before they left to focus on their bread business and pop-ups at the Fremont and U-District Farmer’s Markets. Luckily for me, I got to sample their baked goods a few weekends ago at the U-District Market.


They have a nice selection of pastries, ranging from plain croissants to seasonal sweets. I went with the twice-baked blackberry croissant and the chocolate chip cookie. The croissant was the standout of the two (the cookie being too salty for my taste):


The true magic of the pastry was found in the interior, which had layers of buttery flakiness and blackberry preserves. The ends of the croissant were a bit dry and crunchy (maybe from the twice baking?) but overall it was a satisfactory snack.

Portage Bay Cafe

June 10, 2015

I’ve always had a weakness for dessert for breakfast. Also dessert for lunch, or even dessert for dinner, but breakfast holds a special place in my heart. At Portage Bay, it’s easy to do. The berry bar, the pancakes, the French Toast… all are worth the calories. The huge number of calories. But I figure, if you’re going to overeat, make it count, so I got the Bananas Foster French Toast.


This classic New Orleans dish is made with rum caramel sauce (at Portage Bay they use Seattle’s own Sun Liquor rum). Portage Bay’s French Toast is made with their homemade Challah (yessss please!) and a super eggy batter. Overall, extremely decadent and tasty. Also, possibly the best thing I’ve eaten so far this year. Portage Bay is crowded for a reason… believe the hype.


November 5, 2012

Primarily a coffee shop, Sureshot on the Ave is a haven for coffee addicts, vegans, and misfits (there seemed to be quite a few of the latter). I am certainly a coffee addict, and have always considered myself somewhat of a misfit… until I compared myself to the others at Sureshot. A woman with all her prescription bottles arrayed across the table conversed loudly with her dog as groups of students played Magic or Life. In the back, there were vintage arcade games which only added to the eclectic ambiance.


The strange scene did not deter me from my quest to try the “white coffee” I had read about on Yelp (this is just coffee that has been roasted to a lower temperature). It was certainly sweeter and more mild, but I don’t look for either of those things in my coffee. I decided to move on to the baked goods, all of which are vegan and are baked in-house.  At the barista’s recommendation I got a cookie, and at Yelp’s recommendation I got a turtle bar:

I should have stuck with Yelp. The cookie was overly soft and lacked flavor. I didn’t even finish it. The turtle bar, on the other hand, was actually really good. Are those chocolate chips really vegan?



April 16, 2012

Blink and you’ll miss it. Nook, a tiny biscuit bakery in the U-District, is barely noticeable from the street, is closed Monday and Tuesday, and usually sells out around noon on the days it is open. I wondered, was it worth the effort? I’m not even a huge fan of biscuits. The answer is a resounding yes.  Nook, despite it’s hole-in-the-wall appearance, lives up to the hype. They offer freshly baked biscuit breakfast sandwiches covered in gravy, or plain with butter and jam:

The picture doesn’t even do it justice. This biscuit was the perfect amount of salty, buttery, flaky, sweet goodness.  I want to cry just thinking about it. The jam was really good too. I ate this perfect little snack right there in the shop – they do have limited seating – while I examined my surroundings.

They really don’t serve much other than biscuits, so don’t bring your gluten-free health-conscious friend here (unless you’re trying to bring them back to the dark side).  I wanted to try another variety, so I the special biscuit of the day to-go.

This is the Irish Soda and Currant biscuit, and it was still good the next day (when there was finally enough space in my tummy for it). Just heat it up, serve with butter, and you’ve got all the breakfast you’ll ever need!


Fat Ducks Bakery

November 23, 2011

I’m super psyched about the new bakery/deli that recently opened up on the northern end of University Ave in the U-district.  It’s a difficult location, but hopefully they can stay in business because there are some treats to die for.  A great place to stop by for an afternoon snack or sandwich, or just sip on coffee, the atmosphere is homey and the lady that runs the place is friendly.  She let me try a piece of rugelach and threw in a free shortbread cookie with my order.  Not to mention they sell rice crispy treats!

I ordered a lemon bar, brownie, and “peanut butter death bar,” and although I wished the lemon bar was more tart, I was overall very impressed. The brownie was really one of the best I’ve had, with that perfect rich, oh-so-chocolaty flavor and soft interior.

(The Xmas shortbread cookie was very good too). I have to say, though, the thing that will prompt me to return soon is the peanut butter death bar.

With a layer of chocolate oreo-type crumble, then peanut butter, then chocolate fudge, there’s not much wrong with this bar cookie. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with it. If there is such a thing as death by peanut butter, this would be a very sweet end.


Queen Mary Tea Room

July 19, 2010

My friend Susie had never been to formal high tea before, so this year for her birthday I took her to the Queen Mary Tea Room (don’t you love it when you get to enjoy the gifts you give others?).  Although I think she was a bit taken aback by the intensity of the frilly Victorian decor and the 99% female clientele, she seemed much more at ease when the first course was brought – sorbet “to cleanse the palate.”

This consisted of coconut, strawberry, and raspberry (the latter two I thought were intensely flavorful and especially good).  After choosing our teas, the three-tiered tower of deliciousness arrived, with warm pastries on the top, fruit and cakes in the middle, and sandwiches on the bottom:

The sandwiches and savory pastries were excellent, but for the purposes of this blog I will focus on what’s most important: the desserts. I took care to assemble each one on a plate, pictured below:

From the top, moving clockwise: we start with the carrot cake, which, while good, was nothing out-of-this world. Next is the lemon bar, also good, although not quite tangy/lemony/tart enough for me. Next is the oatmeal cookie, which was too small to be very memorable, followed by the scone, which was NOT too small and VERY tasty. The crumpet was quite good, pictured with jam on top, followed by the Kahlua cake, easily the best of the bunch. I would return just for this piece of heaven: moist, soft, and a nice change from your ordinary tea cakes. The only thing that would have made it better: more of it! (Or if I didn’t have to share with the birthday girl…)

Full Tilt Ice Cream

July 10, 2010

When I first moved to Seattle in 2005, independent ice cream parlors were in short supply. However, in the last few years, there has been a delightful boom in local ice cream production. With a variety of truly unique flavors (the ube ice cream is made from purple yams) and a fun, retro-style atmosphere, Full Tilt is yet another exceptional Seattle ice cream parlor.

And now that our first heat wave is finally here, it’s time to sample some of the good stuff!  I headed to the U-District location, but they also have shops in White Center and Columbia City.  Upon arrival, I chose Coffee-Oreo, a combination of my two most favorite ice cream flavors:

And yes, the ice cream was glorious (sweet, not as creamy as some other places which is fine by me – I like both styles), but the true highlight was the waffle cone.  They make them fresh, right there in front of you while you wait, and I liked it even better than the ones at Molly Moon’s.  And, just in case there is a line as everyone demands fresh waffle cones, you can play Pac-Man!

Or hula hoop, if that’s your preference. In any case, I’ll be back soon to try the Mexican Chocolate … or maybe just a bunch of waffle cones.

Cafe Solstice

January 19, 2010

When I was a grad student at the UW I used to take “study” breaks at Cafe Solstice (on the Ave between 41st and 42nd), and would always take home an espresso brownie. Although I enjoyed the caffeine and sugar rush, I found the interior of the cafe itself to be quietly invigorating with its simple wood furniture and rotating local art. Although it can get crowded around lunchtime (they make excellent sandwiches)  as students trickle in for their midday coffee, its peaceful on the weekends with plenty of space to sit and sample the many homemade treats.

Moving away from tradition this time, I decided to choose a cookie even though they all looked a bit flat and crunchy (I prefer plump and moist – doesn’t everybody?). My usual indecisiveness was aided by the option of an “Everything Cookie” and at the barista’s recommendation I got one of those plus a scone.  I ate my way through the cookie later that day and found it to be good, but not amazing. It wasn’t as crunchy as I had feared, but it had too much stuff in it. Guess that’s what I get for ordering an everything cookie.

What really caught me by surprise (in a good way) was the scone. I’m not a really big scone person, but I randomly picked one to have for my breakfast the next morning. However, when I decided to sample a little of it right before bed (I was never very good at the whole delayed gratification thing) I could not stop eating it…

It was just so good! I polished off the whole thing before going to bed with a full tummy. The icing wasn’t too sweet, it was buttery without being heavy, and their were these little nuggets of … something (white chocolate, maybe?) that just made it perfect. I forgot to ask them what kind of scone it was, but that’s just another reason to go back and get it again…