By Jamie Aaronson, special to the Phinneywood Blog
I’ve had the culinary pleasure of touring the neighborhood for the most delicious sweets and treats on the block. PhinneyWood is lucky to be home to so many incredible dessert-, cafe-, and bakeshops. Looking for a delectable taste adventure? Take a stroll down ‘candy land’ Greenwood Ave and fill up on this sweet goodness inside and out! Scavenger for the latest and greatest goodies: like Willy Wonka, you’ll find your golden ticket to flavor heaven on nearly every corner at every savory shop.
These neighborhood favorites have long-standing roots on PhinneyWood though new menu items rotate in regularly. You may have your familiar spot, but take a gander for something new. The Challenge: scavenger for every item on the list and let us know your tip-top treats. It doesn’t get any more delicious or tempting than this, but can you try them all? After the feast, take 1st Ave back for beautiful views, and to get those walking steps in! Trust us, you’ll need them after braving this gastronomical quest.
My first stop: Fresh Flours Bakery & Cafe offers fresh pastries and macarons baked from scratch daily in West Seattle and delivered to four Seattle locations. They’ve been on Phinney for 14 years. The owners are Japanese, and while many neighborhood residents stop in for a classic latte and croissant, there are several unique flavors on the menu. Fresh Flours is currently taking orders online and in-person, also serving Stumptown Coffee and rotating seasonal, local, single-origin roasters. The team at Fresh Flours is friendly and speedy, sometimes hosting the same loyal customer three times a day. They have a fun, casual, and bustling community vibe with pastry happy hour everyday at 4pm. But hurry, they tend to run out. Not to fret, there are plenty of other delectibles to enjoy.
Most Unique Flavors: Green Tea & Azuki Red Bean Muffin and Azuki Red Bean Croissant; Matcha Green Tea Latte and Chagaccino Mushroom Mocha
Scavenger Hunt: ‘Tokara’ Japanese Confectionary hand-delivers seasonal Wagashi sweets Thursday-Sunday in varying numbers and flavors; one of the only spots in Seattle to offer these traditional Japanese treats. Consider yourself lucky if you get your hands on one to sample.
My second stop is at the delicious European-influenced Celine Patisserie. The owners have roots and influences from Moldova, Italy, and even Dubai, where they lived prior to landing in Seattle ten years ago. They happened upon this Phinney location and loved the quintessential Seattle neighborhood. Celine honors the most artisan way to bake viennoiseries: no industrial products, never too sweet, and always with the best ingredients available. They serve Caffe Umbria and a huge variety of pastries and cakes. They source the finest Tourage butter from France, combining European tradition with experimental fills and flavors. Try the incredibly scrumptious Raspberry Mascarpone Cruffin with imported Italian Mascarpone and sweet raspberry jam, the Bacon Gillette, plus specialty items with feta cheese, goat cheese, dill, and chives, oh my.
Most Unique Flavors: Earl Grey Infused Custard Croissant (pictured above), Pistachio Cream Croissant
Scavenger Hunt: What could be better paired with the season than chef Daniela’s original Honey Cake? Grab a slice for yourself before it’s all gone.
Third stop: Bluebird Ice Cream. This will be Bluebird’s 13th summer serving delicious small-batch ice cream and its tenth year on Phinney. They’ve recently moved across the street from their previous location on the same great block. They love being a part of ‘main street’ Phinney and like to say: ‘Their average customer is eight years old and keeps coming back at least until they graduate high school.’ One of these loyal connoisseurs will be scooping at Bluebird this summer. When Bluebird opened in 2008, they were one of the first local, homemade ice cream shops in town. A lot has changed since then though not the exceptional flavors and fanfare. Bluebird nails the classics, also offering one-of-a-kind, seasonal options. Snickerdoodle is one of their beloved flavors that delights both kids and adults year round.
Most Unique Flavors: Stout Beer, Maple Sugar with hints of wood smoke
Scavenger Hunt: Bluebird has been perfecting its Chocolate Pudding flavor: ‘It’s like a fudgesicle you scoop.’ Their original chocolate provider changed their ingredient profile, so after years of testing, Bluebird has reformulated their own recipe. They packed dozens of the original in a deep freeze and have successfully cloned that magical taste. Searching the world over, they’ve sourced a single U.S. distributor from Europe (most Bluebird ingredients are local), so it’s soon back on the menu. Their last batch sold out pints by the truckload within two hours. The scarcity and hype is real. Stay tuned, the HUNT IS ON!
The fourth stop on this delicious sweet tour is Coyle’s Bakeshop led by renowned pastry chef Rachael Coyle. After completing pastry school and working for eight years in Seattle and as the Culinary Director of Fremont’s Book Larder, Rachael started Coyle’s pop-up in 2013 which moved into its Phinney-Greenwood home in 2015. Rachael bakes all of the eclectic desserts she loves though much is influenced by her French training and study in Paris. Patrons love the British influence too: Victoria Sponge Cake, Scones, Shortbread, Layer Cakes, plus whole-sized Cakes and Galettes for order. Everything is housemade using French baking techniques with specialty ingredients like Italian chocolate buttercream. The menu is seasonal: fruit is the summer star and tour de force. Early summer, look for the Victoria Sponge Cake with housemade jam, fresh strawberries, and mascarpone cream. Pair that with Camber Coffee, fresh OJ, or a full menu of loose leaf tea. Other popular items include the currant cream scone, rotating croissants, bake-at-home scones, and homemade fruit jams for the summer and holidays.
Most Unique Flavors: Victoria Sponge Cake with seasonal fruit, Millionaire’s Shortbread with caramel, Chocolate layer cake, Cretzel (croissant-pretzel) with rosemary and flakey salt
Scavenger Hunt: Cream Puffs with rotating fillings are available on weekend mornings. The Twice Baked Hazelnut Croissants are limited to only some afternoons.
Diagonally across from the Woodlawn Park Zoo is A la Mode Pies. They do pies, and they do pies impeccably well. They started as the first online-ordering pie shop in Seattle in 2009 and opened their corner Phinney spot in 2011, taking over Dolly’s Dollhouse which had supplied neighborhood dollhouse items for 40 years. They have seen the traffic dramatically increase over the years along with demand for their specialty pies. Now, it’s a rare day when they don’t sell out. Year after year, they are rated “Best Pie Shop” in town, serving 10-14 varieties daily, all made that morning and often served hot. The Strawberry Rhubarb pie is always a hit along with their signature Blue Hawaiian pie. You can still order pies online, and even months in advance for your celebration or holiday. They also sell a ‘bake-at-home’ savory Chicken Pot Pie that is a true labor of love – a three-day creation process with roasted chicken, broth made from the chicken scraps, and the mouth-watering taste of yesteryear’s home-cooked meals.
Most Unique Flavors: Blue Hawaiian pie with blueberry, crushed pineapple, and toasted coconut
Scavenger Hunt: The Bourbon Butterscotch is back. This beloved pie combines homemade pudding with rich caramel gently spiked with bourbon in a crust of vanilla wafers and toasted pecans. After a brief hiatus, try your luck at sampling a slice or the whole pie. What better way to celebrate summer than with A la Mode Pies. And be on the lookout for A la Mode’s third location opening this summer in Ballard. More pie for all.
Nutty Squirrel opened almost a decade ago and on Phinney in 2015, where the owners also live. They now have two spots: Phinney and Magnolia, where they make everything from scratch daily. They rotate a whopping 400 seasonal flavors, using their travel to Italy and beyond to inform and inspire new flavors. They use local and fresh ingredients without chemicals or preservatives – including Smith Brothers Milk, NW berries, and Oregon hazelnuts – plus specialty ingredients from Europe. Their ever popular chocolate fountain made with Valrhona Fair Trade Chocolate adds a layer of decadence to any order. You can order single-serving, or party size desserts and gelato cakes online for pick up. With a full espresso bar, the affogato (2 gelato scoops, 2 shots) is an adult favorite. Perfect for summer, try the dairy-free fruit sorbetto, vegan dark chocolate gelato, gelato milkshakes, and gelato pops. The shop also currently hosts weekend pastry pop-ups with Bells Pastries on Saturdays and Sweet Nothings and More on Sundays.
Most Unique Flavors: Look for seasonal Banana Split, Ceremonial Matcha Green Tea, Minty Road, and summer gelato pops. Douse your scoop in the chocolate fountain to create a hard-chocolate shell outside and creamy inside.
Scavenger Hunt: Passionate about community building and advocacy, Nutty Squirrel finds creative ways to raise money for local schools. Their latest ‘Community Cookie kit’ has been a big hit, and they are busy planning more for this summer. See if you can scout your own kit next time you order.
With room in your second stomach for more desserts of course, find equally scrumptious treats at these outstanding PhinneyWood shops: Chocolati, Pie Bar, TM Dessert Works, and Modern also on our block. They were busy chocolatiering and such, but we’ve tried them first hand and must insist you do as well! Thank you to all of our local businesses for educating us and keeping us so well fed at every age.