Benefits of dining al fresco: Sip a drink, or enjoy an entrée on the patio or sidewalk at your favorite eatery, on the grass at one of our local parks, or nosh while queued up to watch parades this season. Restaurant News urges readers to get their daily dose of the sunshine and vitamin D.
The much-anticipated sunnier weather of spring has arrived, and summer is just around the corner. Patio perches are populated with colorful umbrellas and café tables share the sidewalks as pedestrians stroll past local dining spots.
Café Louvre has launched its lunch service with a bang. This local favorite with a spacious outdoor patio has been open for over five years now. I recall in the early days a group of fellow writers, seated on the long table, in the cozy corner. We read each other’s work aloud, both to each other, and to an impromptu audience of those seated nearby. A few years have passed since I’ve been a regular, enjoying a scone and a hot cup of tea or a delicious latte, and I missed the fact that there is a thriving lunch business at Cafe Louvre.
Owner Haifa Alhussieni shared: “Lunch service began as something to add to the coffees and pastries and drinks… And it has taken on a life of its own, we are crazy busy!”
She smiled as regulars, real estate agents at Windermere next door, say “This is our go-to lunch spot” The service is quick, friendly, and if you’re a regular — named Ray — staff are well-trained and have your drink ready before you ever even open your mouth.
“I’ll have a latte, my way,” said Ray. He had an air of assurance as he walked up to the counter.
Intrigued, I just had to ask… “You seem to have the barista well trained. How long have you been coming here?”
“About five years,” said Ray.
“So — how is a latte your way different from the standard they serve?”
Ray went on to describe what I, too. consider to be a perfect drink: “Halfway between a latte and a cappuccino, just the perfect balance of milk, foam and expressed coffee liqueur.”
Cafe Louvre knows their customers well. There is an intimacy and friendliness that is employed in every transaction.
The atmosphere inside is bright and pleasant. Local artists’ work adorn the walls, there are flowers on the inside tables and outside in the sunny courtyard as well — the perfect spot to “lunch.”
I chose turkey sandwich and a cup of soup. The cup was perfect sized to partner with the petite ciabatta roll that held fresh crisp lettuce, tomatoes and slices of turkey seasoned with pesto sauce.
Portions allow small indulgences. Pastries include slices of sweet breads, scones, croissants and cannoli — in both regular and a lunch treat size. A mini éclair, so tiny that it doesn’t even count calorie-wise.
The cannoli was perfect: creamy filling, crisp shell with hints of cinnamon and bits of chocolate that crunched as I bit down on them.
Haifa’s recommendation for dessert: “A slice of the sour cream bread, my favorite.” She says “it’s like a cinnamon roll.” Indeed, a swirl on the interior of the loaf and walnuts reminded me of a warm breakfast treat without the extra calories of cream cheese and sugar on top.
If patrons are on the run, to-go orders are handed over with a smile. Wherever one chooses to enjoy.
I recommend the fare and the atmosphere at Café Louvre.
Speaking of locations with breathtaking views — of both the Olympic Mountains and the Puget Sound — a gander at the spot atop our local doughnut place puzzled Restaurant News. Top Pot is always in the news with questions. We’re over the hurdle of “when will they open?” But now it’s, “When will they have tables and chairs up on top deck?”
Word from Top Pot owner Mark Klebeck is this: “We hope to have patio furniture soon, so folks can enjoy their doughnuts and coffee on the balcony.”
Meanwhile, if one wants to sip coffee and dunk doughnuts up on deck, one must stand, or drag chairs from downstairs tables on entry level in front of the cafe to the rooftop. Staff says they don’t mind as long as the tables and chairs are returned to their proper location when you decide to leave.
Weather is wonderful, so get out there and soak up some sunshine…while you dine.
Speaking of outdoor dining
Restaurant News would be remiss if she didn’t point out some of the new fare at the Edmonds Museum Spring Market.
Early market eateries serving up delicious meals, drinks and snack items throughout the day include:
“Who wants pie?” A question posed by the colorful tea towel tucked under one of Deborah’s Pies is easily met by personal-sized pastries that beg to be eaten on the spot, or larger versions to share at home, in both sweet fruit and savory meat versions.
Snohomish Bakery: There is always a line at this stall and for good reason, with scones, breads, croissants and more — all fresh baked and delicious.
Sweet Pearl Bakery offers petite cupcakes, and other dessert pastries that are too, too tempting to not eat as your shopping excursion continues.
Pete’s Perfect Toffee, and Jonboy Caramels – Savvy guys know the secret to marketing their goods. Small tastes of their tempting fare lead to a purchase of their wares, and sate the sweet tooth awakened by that initial tempting tidbit.
Sour tastes more to your liking? Britt’s Pickles. No ordinary dill spears, Britt’s are fermented in oak barrels. Kimchi, sauerkraut, other “seasonal ferments” and black garlic complete the line-up at this booth.
Middle Fork Roasters hope that a sample of their rich java will elicit a purchase of beans to be brewed at home. Seattle-based Middle Fork Roasters is owned, run and operated by a close-knit group of friends and family dedicated to giving back. They say: “With each farmer’s market we attend, event we support, and cup we fill, we are thrilled to create positive impact in our own backyard.”
Martin Family Orchards offer two ways to quench your thirst — Ice cold ciders of apple and pear-apple are dispensed alongside the boxes of fruit from their trees. Munch on an apple or pears as you shop, toss the core into a compost bin — the perfect portable snacks that create no waste!
A more adventurous quaff is offered by Shen Zen Tea and Premium Kombucha. One can purchase iced tea or bottled Kombucha, or purchase it raw and unfiltered, in cups straight from the draft taps in the stall. Tea leaves in lovely tins offer brew-at-home opportunities.
Vespucci Pizza: Entertainment comes with the price of a slice of pizza pie. Owner and head pizza maker Sam Luccese twirls dough into perfect circles, applies sauce and toppings so fast that a blink of the eye will miss the pizza’s quick trip in and out of the hot oven — then back onto the cutting board to be served up to waiting customers.
The perennial Hot Dog Cart delights market goers each season. Who can resist a “hot” dog with all the toppings and a cold drink? Grab a bag of chips and sit in the shade with your impromptu picnic.
Falafel Salam: feast on falafel, gyros, shawarma and their “epic” homemade pita bread — a fresh and tender accompaniment to their entrees or perfect to scoop up hummus as you stroll.
And new to the market this year is Los Chilangos. The Seattle-based taco truck and catering company specializes in authentic Mexican cuisine: Street tacos, burritos, even breakfast-style ingredients are served up in soft warm tortillas, in short order from the sizzling grill.
What would the farmer’s market be without kettle corn? This year the folks at Pop’s Kettle Corn and Popcorn unleash a hard-to-resist, tantalizing aroma of sweetness into the air. Grab a bag and a twist tie, and stroll.
Young and old become enchanted by the assembly-line creations known as Market Mini Donuts. Follow the orbs of sweet batter through the process across the conveyor, onto the bin to cool, then sprinkled with powdered or cinnamon sugar, and — they hope — onto your salivating tongue.
Edmonds Spring Market hours are 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays now through June 9.
Fresh produce at our farmer’s markets creates attention, and focus on what is growing right now, to dine on edible fare in season. There’s reason to wait for it. Strawberries shipped from afar don’t hold a candle to the sweet taste of local Skagit berries. Enjoy produce from the farmer’s field just hours before purchase at the stall, and savor cuisine created from the contents of the week’s market shopping bag.
Heirloom tomatoes and fresh greens in your salad, as a side or even atop a slice of pizza deliver a taste of farm fresh. Pagliacci Pizza’s “seasonal” menu for May and June lists Bacon Leek Primo and Asparagus Prosciutto Primo.
Come one, come all for your daily dose of Vitamin D, while the gettin’ is good! Whether you come for food, drink or just good old-fashioned fun, Restaurant News hopes to see you on the patio!
— By Kathy Passage
A specialty gourmet food broker for over 30 years, Kathy Passage has in-depth knowledge on food and the special qualities of ingredients used in the exquisite products she helped bring to market. Kathy brings this unique perspective from the “other side of the plate” to writing about the food and restaurant scene in Edmonds.