At the center of a big, round table sits a lazy susan bearing tiny, elegant white dishes. Each holds a mound of intriguing dried leaves that look as though they’ve been emptied from an alchemist’s vial. Over the course of the evening, everyone around the table will watch, smell, and taste as the power of those leaves is awakened through hot water and the deep knowledge shared by Roberta, Experience Tea’s owner. A certified tea specialist, she leads classes on a vast range of tea topics, exploring everything from health benefits to proper steeping techniques to the etiquette of Chinese tea ceremonies or British-tea hot tubs. Within a warmly lit storefront lined by painted brick walls and a veritable library of tea varieties, students can also learn how to create their own signature brew in blending workshops. Even customers who stop in for a pouch of loose-leaf are likely to end up indulging in a rich sensory experience as Roberta offers them a sample and shares tasting notes.
At first glance, the kitchen of Trophy Cupcakes and Party could be taken for that of a gourmet restaurant. Pure Madagascar-Bourbon vanilla and Valrhona cocoa from France line the shelves, and local sweet-cream butter, free-range eggs, and fresh fruit fill the fridge. These are the ingredients Jennifer Shea uses to craft her daily rotating cupcake flavors, from chocolate nutella to gluten-free red velvet. With the help of husband Michael Williamson, she distributes her decadent handheld desserts to three Seattle boutiques, which have garnered press attention to rival that of the city's finest eateries. Martha Stewart gushed about Jennifer's innovative and widely varied flavors, and Seattle magazine picked six Trophy creations for its 2008 list of the city's 95 best desserts.
To complement their cupcakes, Trophy Cupcakes stocks a curated selection of party supplies. A cocktail-style party room in Wallingford Center, which can accommodate up to 30 guests, is available to rent for birthday parties, baby showers, and superhero business meetings.
Blending Parisian aesthetics with Seattle’s top-notch coffee and commitment to locally sourced ingredients, Café Cesura is known for its fusion of style and sustainability. Behind the counter, baristas depress plungers on finely ground beans and hot water to create steaming cups of French-press coffee, or let time do the work with cold-press coffee that infuses overnight for sweeter, less acidic batches. However it’s brewed, each cup complements the flavors in the café’s fresh breakfast fare, which includes waffles studded with berries or bacon or hearty breakfast sandwiches layered with cheddar, eggs, and applewood-smoked bacon. Since most of the café’s ingredients come from local farmers and dairies, customers know their food is thoughtfully sourced and contains no unpronounceable ingredients—Yirgacheffe coffee beans excluded.
Toy’s Café and Bakery specializes in the spicy entrees of Mandarin and Sichuan dinner fare as well as traditional Chinese and Taiwanese baked goods. With more than 100 options, the menu features a range of sauces available atop pork, chicken, beef, or seafood, as well as the chef’s hometown specialties of black mushrooms in braised e-fu noodles and beef chow fun. The bakery complements the complex flavors of the kitchen with traditional pastries and baked goods such as fresh-fruit chiffon cake, mango-mousse cake, and curry beef buns. All of these pastries are made in-house using only seasonally available fruit and hand-whipped cream to add a rich decadence to desserts without delivering them to patrons wrapped in chocolate-coated money.