The Big Breakfast Adventure | Cafe Besalu

(In case you missed how the Big Breakfast Adventure got started, you can read it  here:  How it all began)

I have driven past Cafe Besalu several times.  Once I even parked on the opposite side of the street & gazed at it, longingly.  But every time I had done so the line was so long, I turned away, tail between my legs, wondering if I would ever actually get to taste what are considered the be the best Breakfast Pastries in Seattle.  I am a pastry fiend.  I HAD to try them at some point.  Sigh.  The trick, I decided, was to go later, after the rush.  Maybe that would work better.  So I turned up at 10:30 am and low-&-behold!  A short line.  The place was packed, both with sunshine streaming in through the ample front windows & a happy young throng of pastry-loving  Seattle-ites.  There was such a jolly vibe going on, almost like a neighborhood block party.  I remember a similar ambiance at Honore – my #1 pastry happy place  for when I’ve needed a great pastry fix.  Must be Ballard life.  Or Pastries.  Or eating pastries in Ballard.  People definitely get happy eating pastries in Ballard is my experience.  Or at least eating pastries at Honore & Besalu.

 Anyway…today was the day!  I was finally getting my pastries on at Besalu.  Seattle magazine rated them the Best Breakfast pastries in Seattle.  As I stood in line, I eyed up the offerings in the display case.  Several types of quiche.  Oooh!  Quiche.  I could weigh Besalu quiche against Honore quiche & see if Honore still wears the crown.  I decided on the {very} traditional Quiche Lorraine.  Yum.  Then I had to choose a pastry.  Hmm.  They had these swirls (rather like very flat cinnamon rolls) which they called Orange Brioche.  They sounded delicious.  Brioche is one of my favorite things but I was having issues with the shape.  Brioche do not come in swirls.  They come like little buns or loaves.  So I was confused.  My eyes were saying not brioche, my mouth was saying brioche.  My mouth won.  Orange Brioche it would be.

Orange Brioche. Brioche...really?

I swear the young ladies at the counter were twins.  If not twins, they had to be sisters.  They had a pretty good system going on in back.  Friendly & efficient.

By the time I got my goodies, plus the  mandatory cup of hot chocolate, the place was still full, but since it was a perfect Fall day – warm & sunny outside, I headed out onto the pavement (sidewalk) & settled down at one  of the cute little triangular steel tables to munch on my (what-I-hoped-would-be) tasty treasures.

Oooh, that's real cream on that hot chocolate! Yum!

Being British, I started with the quiche.  Savory first.  Always.  It was good!  It was a fine piece of quiche.  Had I found Honore’s match?  Nope.  It was a {very} close  call until I got to the crust.  Then it all went a bit sideways.  Besalu’s quiche crust was all wrong.  Ok, I’m being harsh.  It was a nice crust.  Except it didn’t seem to be made of shortcrust pastry.  It was more like an un-flaky filo pastry; & it didn’t have a huge amount of flavor.  It also wasn’t very thick.  Having said all that, it was a great piece of quiche.  It was significantly cheaper than Honore’s, but smaller & just not as substantial.  My money is still with Honore in the quiche stakes.

Cafe Besalu's Quiche Lorraine

Then it was onto the Orange Brioche, at which point I became even more confused than I had been when I spied it in the display case.  Not only did it not look like brioche, it also didn’t taste like brioche.  Rats.  I should have listened to my eyes, not my mouth.  The taste was not brioche.  The texture was definitely not brioche.  However, all was not lost.  The flavor was fantastic.  No fake orange here.  Delicate, scented orange & no doubt about it.  There were a few raisins floating about, but I am not sure why.  Either have raisins or don’t have raisins.  Don’t just throw in 8.  Raisins need to have a purpose.  The raisins in this brioche appeared to have no purpose other than to further confuse my already confused-about-the-brioche brain.

It was a lovely pastry & I enjoyed eating it a lot.  It just wasn’t a brioche, and that is what my tastebuds had been prepared for.

The hot chocolate was warm.  It wasn’t stunning, but it was a far cry from the wet-&-warm-Hershey-syrup abomination that so many places choose to serve.  It still made me happy, although hotter would have been better.

A great way to spend an hour - eating pastries outside Cafe Besalu

Sitting outside Besalu eating pastries & soaking up life on a beautiful Fall day was just lovely.  A perfect way to spend an hour of your day, if ever there was one.  I highly recommend you try it out if you never have.  I, for one, need to go back to try more pastries before I can truly determine whether (for me) Besalu does indeed have the best pastries in Seattle.

After today’s experience my pastry-loving heart is still a few blocks east over at Honore.  I just may have chosen the wrong pastry.  Stay tuned.

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