Posts Tagged ‘pastries’

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Cafe Allegro

April 10, 2010

In an alley just off of the UW campus sits a hidden gem: Cafe Allegro. There is a sign out on the sidewalk directing people down an alley to where the cafe is located.
The outside of the cafe is just amazing. Vines cover the top of the building just above the windows and sweep down to the Cafe Allegro sign. The sign it self is beautiful in its simplicity. A woody, homemade look with no glitz or glamour. That in itself is the best way to describe Cafe Allegro;it has a very down to Earth feel with a wonderful, creative vibe. Along the exterior of the building is a bench where patrons sit drinking their coffee.

Inside is invigorating. Most cafes have the same typical art. TruthfullyI’m getting tired of seeing peoples “artistic” photos of their vacation or “tragic” photos that leave me feeling as if I was trying to be manipulated. If you have seem one you have seen them all, but what was on exhibit here was different. Unique, colorful, and full of life.
One of the first things that I noticed was the pastry case. This is the type of selection that I long for at any cafe. It was full of donuts, turnovers, muffins, almond croissants, and cookies as far as the eye could see. Way to many things to choose from, but that’s how I like it best. The menu offered a refreshing array of drinks. Besides the usual coffee offerings there was apple cider, fresh lemonade, orange juice, pink grapefruit juice, Italian soda, and Thamas Kemper Soda (root beer, cream, blackberry, and orange cream).
After placing my order I sat down and noticed that there were cards with various

bird identification covering the register. The wall behind the register was covered in foreign currency. A simple idea, but I loved it and it fit well with the rest of the cafe. The table itself had a piece of woven fabric under a glass top with a sign that encouraged patrons to please share the tables.
R brought over our order and I dove into a delicious looking raspberry donut. Oh my, was it amazing: moist, full of flavor, but most importantly it had the right amount of raspberry so that the flavor didn’t over power. I could really go off my diet and not really care if I had more of these in my life.

The carmel latte I had was good. The shot of carmel was too sweet, but the latte was hot. Getting a hot latte is a rare commodity lately so I’m more than willing to look past the flavor of the carmel if I’m served something warmer than an ice cube.
As I sipped my latte I watched the Baristas in action. They were nice, friendly, and seemed to know many of the patrons that came in. In between my Barista watching I drifted in and out of conversations at other tables. Some were discussing the influences of Jazz, the literary contributions of certain authors, and another was going on the most fantastic flow of conscious about Shakespeare right up to current events. However the most interesting was from a man reminiscing

about being in New York when John Lennon was shot. Not the usual coffee shop talk that I’m use to hearing. It was refreshing.
The bathroom is some thing that needs to be discussed for many reasons. First, it’s tiny. Meaning it’s thin. Really it is as wide as a person. Second, it is a bit grimy. Not that it looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in a while, but it isn’t my idea of a wonderful place to be. Finally it is a sight to see. The brick walls are covered in very artistic graffiti. It was so interesting that I forgot where I was.
Cafe Allegro is an amazing place that anyone in Seattle needs to try. No excuses. Go. Experience. Enjoy. Thank me later.

Cafe Allegro Expresso Bar on Urbanspoon

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Belle Epicurean

March 14, 2010

While scouting locations for this weeks coffee shop I came across Belle Epicurean also known as Belle’s Buns. In the past I have thumbed my nose at the “typical” coffee shop set up and was ready for a bit of a change, but since Belle Epicurean bills itself as a Parisian Bakery & Cafe that is located in the Fairmont Hotel I was a bit skeptical.

Walking in this isn’t your run of the mill cafe where everyone is sitting around with their laptops. It’s more of a sit down, pull out your book, and sip on a latte. One wall was covered in awards and articles that they were featured in while another had a tapestry hanging on it. The floors were black and white title and the marble tables made it look like and upscale ice cream shop. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but a warm “hello” from the barista quickly made me feel at home.

Although the decor was intreguing the pasteries caught my eye very quickly. One case was full of croissant, Brioche buns, and sandwiches. Next to it was the case of pastries. Opera cake, tarts, and cookies tempted me. Each item more delicious looking than the next. As I drooled over the goodies the barista patiently waited with a smile. Clearly I was not the first nor will I be the last to be seduced by the desserts in front of me. Finally I chose a White Raspberry Triangle Truffle Cake and a carmel latte. R ordered a Traditional Almond Croissant and a cappuccino. My order was done first and the barista brought out R’s drink a few minutes later.

R’s cappuccino was covered in foam; honestly more than I have ever seen. But his croissant was amazing. It was lightly toasted so each warm, flakey bite warmed my stomach. The really notable part was how heavy it was. This was no light, airy croissant that you eat and are still hungry after. There was notable substance to it.

My White Raspberry Triangle Truffle Cake was heaven. The first few bites were mouthwatering. It was creamy and delicious. However in the center there was a huge portion of overly sweet raspberry which severely demised my joy for the cake.

The latte on the other hand is hands down one of the best I have ever had. Not to bitter, but certainly not to sweet which is usually a problem I have when I ask for carmel. There was only a hint of carmel so I was able to savor the taste of the latte. Perfection. This is one of the only places where the temptation was so strong that I needed to go back for seconds. This time ordering a raspberry latte. It wasn’t as good as the carmel latte, but I think it was the flavoring that was added. In all fairness the barista did tell me that he would add more if I wanted, but it turns the drink pink. Even though it wasn’t as good as the carmel latte it was still one of the best cups I’ve had. This place knows how to make a drink. Just as a side note all of the coffee is Cafe Vita.

The only big downside was that there was no WiFi here. However as I said before this really wasn’t the type of place that seemed to look to attract the stay all day on the laptop crowd.

One of the last things that I need to comment on was the staff. They were warm, friendly, and willing to listen to anyone’s questions. What impressed me the most while I was there was how the one male barista handled a rather rude customer. At one point the customer got so out of control that everyone in the cafe turned to look. The barista remained calm, cool, and collected. After handling a particularly difficult customer once I was once told by a patron that she wished that she could have bottled my words. That is how I felt listening to him deal with the rude customer. It was perfect and spoke to the professionalism of he cafe. Bravo.

Belle Epicurean on Urbanspoon

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Main Street Bakery

February 5, 2010

It was the rain that poured down on us that drove us into the Main Street Bakery in the Magic Kingdom. Unfortunately everyone else have the same idea. However the line moved quickly. Even though it was the rain that made me go in it was the pastry section that made me stay. Cake, cupcakes, bread, cookies, bread pudding, and danishes as far as the eye could see. Wait, bread pudding?

First, the basics. Main Street Bakery is located on Main Street in Disney. It is styled in the turn-of-the-century meets mom’s kitchen style. Wood paneling and brass are everywhere, but there are also display of plates mixed in with Mickey memorabilia in cabinets on the walls. The sitting area looks much like an old parol, or what I imagine one to look like. There is a lot of seating in there, but on a day like we were facing brawls broke out over chairs and open spots were guarded by a family member with an almost animal like territorial instincts. There was blood shed. Happiest place on earth my a$$.

My initial thoughts were not optimistic. Finding a good cup of coffee here is like finding the Fountain of Youth. Almost everything in this park is NeCafe. There are rumors that there is real coffee at various places in the park (yes, I googled it. I’m serious about my coffee. Hey, it’s a Seattle thing). However Main Street Bakery wasn’t one of those places that was rumored to have anything real. So, I got R a coffee and I got a hazelnut latte. We split a chocolate cake.

The service was interesting. I had to yell my order four times and somehow each time the barista thought I wanted a vanilla latte not a hazel nut one.  I did get the right one, but it was a process.

The latte was so-so. I wouldn’t turn it down, but by no means would I see it out if I was at a real cafe. The cake is what made me smile. It was chocolaty, it was gooey, it was amazing. As for R, well, he was happy to just have coffee.

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Kusafiri Coffee Shop

January 29, 2010

Running off to catch one of the last safaris of the night in Animal Kingdom R decided that he had to stop to get coffee. In the We stopped at the Kusafiri Coffee Shop in the African section of the park. We walked up to the window to order, but were told that we had to go to the small booth only two yards away to order. Um…okay? So we back up and R orders an iced coffee while I eyeball that various deserts that they have lined up in front of me. Three of the most decadent cupcakes sat before me calling my name. Three of the seven deadly sins. Overcome I wanted them, I needed them, and when R said lets get one I gobbled it down.

So, again back up. I picked the elephant cake. It was a German chocolate cupcake with a white chocolate elephant on top.

We stood around the corner like kids in a candy shop deciding how to take the first bit and sipping wonderful coffee in between bits. I savored each bit a little to much and feel a bit dirty thinking about the moist chocolate cake with a gooey coconut topping. My knees are buckling….

The elephant was the last part to be devoured and as R put it “if elephants taste that good no wonder they are going extinct.”

Kusafiri Coffee Shop on Urbanspoon

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Greenlake Zoka

January 9, 2010

Being a contracted computer dork (or wizard depending on which one of us you talk to) R has logged many hours in at Zoka. The location in Greenlake is his particular favorite and just judging on coffee alone it’s not hard to see why. I have been here twice and on the last visit got a mocha. It was hands down the best I have had. Not to chocolaty, mixed through completely, and the perfect amount of foam on the top. A tear rolled down my cheek as I reached the bottom of the cup.

The pastries here are also top notch. I decided that we would split a truffle cookie that was decadent with R, but the real winner of the day was the brownie. it was no ordinary brownie (I know what you are thinking.  No, it wasn’t like that). A couple bites into it and a thin layer of raspberry presented itself under a layer of gooey frosting. I found enlightenment. Honestly if heaven isn’t like this than I have no interest in going.

Although I could rave all day about the pastries and coffee there are some major down sides or trade offs for going to Zoka. First is that it is in a residential area. Translate this into no parking. Street parking is the only option and often difficult to find nearby.

What is great about this place is that not only is their free internet, but plenty of plugs to keep laptops charged making it a perfect place to set up shop and work all day. The trade off is that is exactly what people do. Finding a seat here can be a task in itself since not only is the place crowded, but once people get here they grab a seat and stay.

My only real complaint about the place is the amount of time that it takes to actually make the coffee. R got a cappuccino that I stood around 10 minutes waiting for. It was filled to the rim of the mug and I performed a masterful balancing act getting it to the table. Once back at the counter I waited another 10 minutes for my mocha. Really, 10 minutes? What were they doing growing the coffee beans? Yes, I might have grown a few grey hairs while waiting, but it was worth it.

Zoka Coffee Roaster and Tea Co. on Urbanspoon