ginger and salt

weekend pilgrimage: cafe besalu.

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Every Sunday, I have a ritual of sorts.  I roll over in bed, reach for my cell phone, and text my friend and neighbor Connor. While our schedules don’t always align, there’s generally a good chance that we’re both headed to Cafe Besalu within the half hour.  In some instances, Connor will beat me to the punch and I’ll wake up to a, ‘The line at Besa is out the door already!’ text, in which case I’ll throw on my biggest sweater and my moccasins and be out the door.

I refer to weekend mornings at Cafe Besalu as a pilgrimage because you will notice adorable families making the trek from their homes up and down 24th Avenue and you know that you’re all following the scents of freshly baked croissants to the same place.  If you’re lucky, it’ll be early enough that the line won’t be out the door yet and you’ll be able to stand inside the warm bakery while you wait.  However, it’s a bit of a ‘Catch 22’ in the sense that the quiches don’t come out typically until mid-morning…so if you have the time, they’re worth the wait.

Aside from the insanely delicious pastries, one of my favorite parts about going to ‘Besa’ (as we lovingly refer to it) is the people watching.  I swear it’s an unofficial convention for darling Patagonia-wearing families and ridiculously cute dogs. Connor nor I have dogs or children, but luckily we both have thick-rimmed Oliver Peoples glasses, so we blend in pretty well with no questions asked.

I often fantasize about the day when I will arrive at Cafe Besalu and order one of everything, taking little nibbles of each pastry.  Since I haven’t reached that point yet, I typically settle with ordering two things each time I go: one savory and one sweet.  This particular Sunday, after surveying the display case, I went with a couple of old standbys: the Classic Croissant and a slice of the Quiche Lorraine.  When they are fresh out of the oven, I personally think their croissants are the best in the city. (Yes, I know this is a bold statement with contenders like Crumble and Flake and Bakery Nouveau, but Besalu also gives you the housemade fresh jam of the day with your croissant–how can you compete?!)  The jam of the day was peach, and it was delectable.  The sweetness of my jam with my buttery, perfect croissant was heavenly.  I followed this with my quiche, bursting with bacon, Swiss cheese, and scallions.  The filling is always fluffy, punctuated by rich, salty bacon and bits of the flaky crust.

Connor followed the ‘one sweet, one savory’ rule of thumb as well and went with their Pain au Chocolat and the special Salmon Quiche with Fennel.  The quiche is a great blend of Pacific Northwest meets Paris with the smoky salmon and the subtleness of the fennel.  The pain au chocolat is also good, but probably not their best creation.  Although we didn’t order them this time around, our other favorites include the Ham and Swiss Pastry, the Onion and Gruyere Pastry (like French Onion Soup enveloped in a flaky crust), and the Ginger Biscuit.

Over my many visits, I have picked up on the specific Besalu etiquette code.  For starters, it’s bad form to save a table until you have actually ordered.  In addition, you need to have your drink order ready, even when you’re a few people back from the register, as the barista is extremely efficient.  So after being ‘squatters’ at our table for an hour or so, we wiped the peach jam and chocolate from our fingers, the pastry flakes from our faces, and decided to free up our coveted window spot for the next cute family.

Cafe Besalu, 5909 24th Avenue NW, Seattle, WA, 206.789.1463, cafebesalu.com, Open Wednesday – Sunday, 7:00 am – 3:00 pm.

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3 comments

  1. Con

    I love everything about this T, of course. Such a fun, lazy Sunday, which ended up being the most effective way to spend the day before finals, apparently. And don’t be surprised if I accidentally text you one Sunday morning about how long the line is at Besa, (old habits die hard!) even though you’ve moved on to greener pastures on the hill. I’m sure cap hill will have their share of adorable, albeit, hipster families. Can’t wait for you to take me to your new neighborhood bakery. -Con

    • Thanks, Con! What will I do without you and Besalu within walking distance? Ry and I will have to lure you over to our neck of the woods now…but don’t worry, I’ll still make a monthly pilgrimage to Besalu/Tall Grass.

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