Fancy pastries pop out of the oven all the day at Belle Epicurean, the French bakery café helmed by Carolyn Ferguson, who earned a Grand Diplome from Le Cordon Bleu Paris. In the Downtown Fairmont Olympic Hotel, it’s a posh paradise with shiny glass cases stuffed with fresh, buttery croissants, brioche, quiches, cookies, and the popular, sweet Belle’s Buns. A plus for early-risers, the café opens at 6 a.m. on weekday mornings, and brunch is served daily. Lunchers can take away baguette sandwiches and hearty soups, and in the afternoon there’s tea service with petit fours and macarons. The interior welcomes eaters with marble checkered floors and ornate mirrors, giving the space an upscale cozy feel reminiscent of a classic French patisserie.
Belgian Liège waffles, which are richer and sweeter than their more Americanized breakfast counterparts, are the draw at this Downtown 3rd Avenue nook. Step inside the sleek, modern Euro-cool room for both sweet and savory versions of the griddled treat, made with all-natural local ingredients stirred into brioche-like dough and studded with sugar pearls. Those balls of sweetness promptly caramelize in the sizzling waffle iron. Waffles can be served warm with Nutella, brûléed bananas, berries and whipped cream, or ice cream. Savory waffles, such as the proscuitto, crème fraîche & green onion, double as a breakfast bite or easy lunch. To drink, look for fresh-pressed juices, Stumptown coffee from Portland, or smooth Rishi organic tea.
When to Go
What to Wear: Although Frommer’s calls The Georgian “the most traditional and formal restaurant in the city,” the dress code is “smart casual,” meaning no jackets are required.
Inside Tip: Splurge on the five-course prix-fixe meal with handpicked wine pairings; it usually features fresh seafood and seasonal specialties.
Celeriac: a root vegetable that tastes similar to celery. It’s also known as turnip-rooted celery or knob celery.
Foie gras: the fatty liver from a goose or duck that's been force-fed. The liver is then marinated in a mixture of alcohols and seasonings, and is typically baked.
Meet the Chef: David Varley came to locally focused cooking quite organically—when he was a child, his mother grew vegetables for their family and local restaurants, and he contributed to the family table by hunting and fishing.
While You Wait: Keep an eye on the Last Bottle board—modeled after arrival–departure boards posted in European train stations, it displays wines that are just about out of stock and their considerably discounted prices. Groups have been known to order from it just for the fun of watching the letter tiles clack as their chosen bottle is removed from the board.
Mortadella: a large Italian sausage made from minced pork interspersed with cubes of fat, pistachios, and black pepper.
Sunchokes: also known as Jerusalem artichokes despite being a member of the sunflower family, these crunchy tubers taste similar to water chestnuts.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Get slowly and deliberately caffeinated with a coffee tasting at Seattle Coffee Works (107 Pike Street).
After: Stop for a scoop of gelato or sorbetto at Gelatiamo (1400 Third Avenue), open until 10 p.m. weekend nights.
Wrap taste buds around an impressive lineup of savories, including vegetable ratatouille under melted imported Swiss cheese, herb butter, and fresh spinach ($6.95), and scrambled-egg crêpes draped in a subtle mushroom sauce ($5.75). Smoked-wild-salmon-lox crêpes with crème fraiche and lemon ($7.25) punctuate brunch-time bites alongside the semi-sweet cooked-apple crêpe with a dash of maple syrup and imported Swiss ($6.50). Make the leap to full-on sweet with dulce-de-leche caramel crêpes topped with real whipped cream ($4.50), or dark-chocolate crêpes with raspberry sauce, chopped hazelnuts, and real whipped cream ($5.95), among many others. Locally made ice cream and hot and cold drinks are also available.
Where to Sit: Find a seat near the front of the store for prime views of bakers making fresh crumpets on the other side of a large window.
When to Go: Swing by on Friday, when the kitchen prepares its popular cream of potato leek soup for lunch.
Fun Fact: The shop likes giving their crumpets whimsical nicknames. If you come up with one, submit it for consideration on their Facebook page.
Crumpet: a traditional British baked good that resembles an english muffin but has a chewier, spongier consistency and a porous top.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Watch artisans create cheese from scratch at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese (1600 Pike Place).
After: Make your way to Ye Olde Curiousity Shop (1001 Alaskan Way), where you can ogle at fleas in dresses and shrunken heads.