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.
Crafting notably delectable frozen treats in small batches, Marble Slab Creamery uses high-quality ingredients and makes all of its treats and waffle cones on-site to percolate palates with super-premium ice cream. Just like tax forms, chef-inspired concoctions are prepared on frozen marble slabs to ensure optimal freshness and easy customization. Customize ice cream creations by choosing one of Marble Slab's original ice-cream flavors, which include double dark chocolate, birthday cake, bubblegum, mango, and amaretto (flavors vary by location). Then, one of the expert mixers will gently incorporate your choice of candy, nuts, fruit, or enthusiasm into the ice cream before placing the freshly kneaded delight into a cup or freshly baked waffle cone.
A cozy boutique bakery, New York Cupcakes whips up house-made cupcakes in small batches throughout the day, topping each petite treat with signature buttercream frosting made with fresh butter from a nearby dairy farm. Like a sugary maelstrom, a rotating array of daily flavors widens the eyes of toddlers and grownups alike, tempting tongues with such varieties as East Village vanilla latte, royal red velvet, and orange dreamsicle. Orders must be placed by noon at least 24 hours in advance, and an additional charge will apply for filled, specialty, seasonal, and breakfast cupcakes.
The sunset-orange hues of a neon sign reflect off mirrored walls, the cursive letters spelling out “Crossroads Cafe.” Husband and wife Dana and Cindy Nielson stand beneath, presiding over the restaurant they opened more than two decades ago.
In the rippling-hot air rising from a griddle, cooks grill bacon to top hot dogs and flip quarter-pound beef patties before coating them with housemade thousand-island dressing. Blenders full of malt milk shakes and smoothies purr. Expanses of black-and-white-checkered counters and glittering red chairs give one the pleasant feeling of stepping back into the ‘50s without ever having to see John Wayne cry.
The vibrant lime walls at Peaks Frozen Yogurt Bar merely hint at the intense flavors hidden beneath the folds and swirls of its frozen treats. A set of 15–18 dispensers dishes out low-fat, non-fat, and tart frozen yogurt, as well as sorbet, in a variety of rotating flavors. That flavor roster includes Hawaiian pineapple, pomegranate raspberry tart, and sweet coconut. After making their selection, patrons of the sweeteries' three locations—including the newest location, in Issaquah Commons—peruse the toppings bar for any combination of the 40 available treats, such as M&Ms, fresh fruit, and pecan chunks.
The ovens at Laura's Gourmet Bakery gild the edges of both traditional and gluten-free pastries. When sliced, coconut-ring cakes reveal an inner layer of chocolate, and red-velvet-cake sandwiches embrace mascarpone frosting. Gluten-free selections include cinnamon-raisin scones and caramel-pecan brownies. Cups of Victrola espresso or blended fruit smoothies complement the sweet flavors better than eating a spoonful of salt between bites.