Crumble and Flake, the new pastry shop from Neil Robertson (Canlis, Mistral Kitchen), is now barely over a month old, and Seattle is still ravenous. The place sells out before noon each day, with everyone raving from Twitter to Facebook about what an amazing experience this patisserie can be. I was excited for my chance to finally check it out, and set my alarm early so I could make the trip over.
When I got to the shop, only two people were ahead of me in line; even the guy helping me commented that it was a quiet day. I blame the dreary weather. Even so, the place looked ready to sell out within thirty minutes of my arriving – at 8:30 in the morning.
The store is small, white, minimalist but not spartan. There’s one display case for larger treats, and a smaller glass shelf for macarons. The staff of two looked chic, smiling and chatting with me while piping my cream puffs to order. When I left with my large, unmarked brown bag, I felt like I was carrying pastry contraband. I practically ran to Cal Anderson Park to take photos so the cream puffs wouldn’t become too mushy before I could eat them.
These cream puffs ($3.50) are what Beard Papa cream puffs aspire to be when they grow up – golf ball-sized treats with a delicate, buttery cookie topping, filled to the brim with custard. The vanilla cream was light and floral, with vanilla bean flecks throughout, whereas the chocolate custard was dark and bitter. I inhaled them both.
After the arduous walk home, I dived into the stash. (I first yelled to the guys that I had dibs. There was deliciousness at stake.)
The rhubarb financier ($2.25) was a joy. The rhubarb pieces melted on the tongue, and the not-too-moist cake itself had a delicate almond finish. I also highly recommend the brownie ($2.75), which has a brownie base with walnuts and a top mousse layer. Instead of acting like a frosting, the top layer meshed together into the tender brownie, creating a two-step bite of chocolate. The scones ($2.25), currant and apricot, were delicate affairs, more light softness than crumbly. Apricot was paired with ginger and pepper as major players, and the currant scone was closer to a traditional cream scone. I could still happily take both with tea.
The macarons ($2.50 each) were slightly hit or miss for me. The chocolate macaron, which started off with chocolate and mint notes, had a very sweet finish at the back of the tongue beyond what I normally tolerate. The yuzu raspberry, though, was a delight, with the citrus/peppery yuzu filling contrasting against the richness of the raspberry jam. Both had amazing execution, with crisp exteriors giving way to soft interiors.
The infamous cheddar paprika croissants ($3.75) are softer pastries than what you get at Bakery Nouveau, with crispiness only on the outermost layer. And they’re small – I could easily fit one on my tiny hand. But the layers of cheddar sing, with paprika and butter taking center stage, the internal layers melting together as you eat them.
I don’t know if everyone will appreciate spending nearly $4 for a small croissant, but those people probably aren’t going to be seeking Crumble and Flake out. This Seattle pastry shop produces only the best gourmet treats-both sweet and savory.
My only regret is that I didn’t get to try the hallmark kouign-amann, but that’s an excuse to go back.
Crumble & Flake is located at 1500 East Olive Way, Seattle, WA 98122, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
We recommend you arrive very early, or you’ll be watching exiting customers eat the last coveted bites from this 5 star Seattle patisserie.