I've been griping about bad pastries for weeks now. I'm fed up with coffeehouses that push dismal pastries on their sleepy customers—and judging from the response from Stranger readers, I'm not the only one. Here's a list of bakeries that care about the pastries they serve. I'd like to invite the pastry lovers who've written in to visit these shops and thank the bakers for getting up so early to keep our mornings sweet and buttery.
5909 24th Ave NW, 789-1463
James Miller is Seattle's pastry conscience: No one makes morning pastries with more benevolent obsession than him. At his little Ballard cafe, look for stellar pain au chocolat, ham and cheese pastries, and little tarty things made with whatever is in season.
Sweet and Savory
1418 31st Ave S, 325-2900
Sweet and Savory was my happiest discovery of the past few weeks. Maybe because it's in such an odd neighborhood (Mt. Baker), maybe because it's so tiny and cute, but mostly because its pastries are so good—at last, a blueberry muffin that doesn't suck, plus perfect orange-date scones and lovely open-faced rhubarb-apple tartlets.
Morning Star Bakery
2114 NE 65th St, 729-3613
Good savory pastries are even harder to come by than sweet, but this Germanic bakery makes the most kick-ass pretzels and pretzel rolls this side of the Rhine. Dark mahogany and just chewy enough, these pretzels are what you always hope soft pretzels will be when you order crappy ones at the stadium.
3230 Eastlake Ave E, 328-6523
Le Fournil is a pretty commercial operation wholesaling its pastries to coffee shops like Diva Espresso, Cafe Allegro, Victrola, even—ack! Tully's —but they sure have a knack for croissant dough. Its Eastlake headquarters has a certain Eurotrash gloss to it, but it offers the best and freshest selections of Le Fournil's tender and flaky treats. In an effort to appear chic and minimalist, I've always claimed to prefer their plain croissants, but on a recent visit, I dug their cheese and apple pastries, too.
2224 N 56th St, 547-4128
If you like morning pastries to be a little unusual and a little squashy, skip the muffins and scones and go for the morning pastries made with soft, bready dough at this fancy Green Lake bakery. Check out their fluffy cinnamon rolls, a peach and custard filled bun as puffy as a down parka, and for you savory types, a surprisingly yummy roll filled with turkey and a little curry goo.
Black Cat Cafe
5000 30th Ave NE, 522-5005
The décor is wannabee Starbucks, but this U-Village-area cafe bakes its own turnovers, muffins, and scones every morning—with surprisingly nuanced flavors. I was especially happy with their mini-pastries, like a three-bite cheese Danish I had the other day—just the right amount of pastry when I've already had breakfast but I still want something sweet to nibble with my coffee.
520 Second Ave W, 282-3004
At Queen Anne's Nielsen's—where the pastry is as old school as it comes—there are kringle slices, bear claws, and too many Danishes to count. Well-made Danish dough like Neilsen's is my favorite for morning pastries, falling somewhere between brioche and croissant dough on the flaky scale. Who cares then, if they dispense white glaze by the bucketful?
2123 N 40th St, 675-1484
Just in case there are still any vegans reading after this rather lengthy homage to butter, my favorite pastry at this Wallingford cafe was an animal-free peanut butter chocolate chip cookie laced with yummy crispy bits. They bake their own tasty scones and muffins daily, too.
Finally, there are two bakeries that at this writing are not quite open to the public, but promise to bring great bounty to pastry lovers in the next few weeks.
Fresh Flours Bakery
6015 Phinney Ave
Fresh Flours has sold its distinctively fine-crumbed pastries wholesale for a while now—they turned out to be the ones who made that lemon-ginger muffin I liked so much at All-City Cafe. Their Phinney Ridge retail shop should open any day and when it does, you should go get a big slice of their apple walnut coffee cake.
Columbia City Bakery
4865 Rainier Ave S
Evan Andres and Andrew Meltzer are already wholesaling their delicious bread, but the two former Tom Douglas bakers will also sell pastries when their shop opens on Columbia City's main drag sometime late July-ish. Get a sneak peek at their turnovers, croissants, and conchas at the Columbia City farmers' market on Wednesdays.
One last note to Seattle coffee shops selling dismal pastries: Many of the bakers on the above list sell wholesale too, so there's no excuse for going with Mostly Muffins or Costco. This is my final report on the pastry beat—for now.