Seattle, WA – Crumble & Flake Patisserie

Restaurant: Crumble & Flake Patisserie
Cuisine: Bakery/Pastries/Desserts
Last visited: July 21, 2013
Location: Seattle, WA (Capitol Hill)
Address: 1500 E Olive Way
Transit: E Olive Way & E Howell St
Phone: (206) 329-1804
Price range: $10 or less

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 4-4.5
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 3
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Opened May 2012
  • Owner/Pastry Chef Neil Robertson
  • Modern French & American pastries
  • Made daily/small batch baking
  • Very tiny bakery
  • Award winning
  • Sells out early
  • Long lines in the morning
  • Very popular to locals
  • Some seasonal specialties
  • No seating
  • Take out only
  • Wed. – Fri. 7 am – 3 pm or until sold out
  • Sat. – Sun. 9 am – 3 pm or until sold out
  • Busiest on Friday
  • Closed Monday and Tuesday
  • Twitter: @crumbleandflake

**Recommendations: Pistachio Croissant, Smoked Paprika and Cheddar Croissant, and plain croissant. The Cinnamon Roll, Kouign Amann and Goat Cheese & Jam Danish are also very popular and well liked, but I didn’t try them.

Crumble and Flake - 2 Days in Seattle (1)Small! I didn’t know the patisserie would be so small and easily missed if you weren’t looking for it. It is located in Capitol Hill, a hipster neighborhood in Seattle (as if the exposed brick walls and discrete signage and font didn’t give it away). There are no seats and it’s pay at cashier service so it’s really a “get in and get out” establishment. Most of the space is dedicated to the open kitchen/baking area, but everything is made daily and in very small batches so they run out of items early.

I was surprised there was no line up when I arrived at around 11 am and I had heard of these crazy line ups starting even 30 minutes before opening at 7 am. That’s basically when I sleep so there was no way I was going to make it before then. Luckily when I arrived there was still a decent selection, but if you want to try their house favourites and popular items then I suggest going before 10 am.

Crumble & Flake is opened by Pastry Chef Neil Robertson formerly at MistralKitchen and Seattle’s highly acclaimed fine dining restaurant Canlis (my post for it here). It opened in May last year so the hype and line ups have died down, but not substantially. It is still highly praised and frequented by locals and tourists alike and I’m glad I came after the rave. I’m not a fan of visiting places when they’re hyped up because I often find myself disappointed, so I rather go in neutral. However in this case the news was hard to avoid so I already had some expectations. Being from Vancouver I was far enough from the constant hype, but close enough to still hear about it on occasion. I didn’t have my heart set on this bakery, but I knew I wanted to try it given the opportunity.

Crumble and Flake - 2 Days in Seattle (5)It was Follow Me Foodie to 2 Days in Seattle and bakeries and patisseries were on the itinerary. It is one of my favourite “food groups” and I consider them as light “snacks” so there is always room for more than one.

For the size of the shop I was surprised they offered so much selection, however there are very limited quantities of each item. They specialize in traditional and modern viennoiseries and sophisticated American baked goods. The flavours are original and innovative and it’s easy to rack up a bill, especially since everything sounded right up my alley. There was homage to technique, and the skill of a seasoned baker was obvious just by looking at the pastries and the selection offered.

Crumble and Flake - 2 Days in Seattle (3)It’s a very contemporary patisserie and the style reminded me of Beta-5 in Vancouver, BC. It was classic, but progressive.

A visit to Crumble & Flake doesn’t have to be an event since everything is grab and go, but just plan to go early to avoid disappointment from sold out items. I really wished there were seats because it would make for more of an experience. The “take-out” method just does not do the pastries justice. The pastries are more deserving, and a seating area to enjoy them would be ideal since baked goods are best eaten on the spot. Nonetheless Crumble & Flake is a special treat and I don’t know if it is worth a thirty minute line up, but it is certainly worth a stop even if you only have 2 Days in Seattle.

On the table:

Crumble and Flake Croissant (1)**Croissant4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)

  • $2.50
  • It’s the tell-all test of a bakery and a baker’s skill.
  • You can’t hide anything in a plain croissant and it’s a science and art to perfect them.
  • Try the plain croissant because you should and it won’t disappoint, although it might not be “the best you’ve ever had” (if you’re a croissant connoisseur).
  • I actually did a back to back comparison with the croissants at Cafe Besalu, which rival the ones here.
  • The croissant had a nice shape and it was maybe slightly larger than traditional croissants, but it was a good size.
  • I prefer a slightly darker colour for a caramelized exterior, but it wasn’t under baked either.

Crumble and Flake Croissant (2)

  • The laminated dough was even and it was very professionally made. 
  • It didn’t shatter as soon as I picked it up which is good, but it shattered upon bite which is great.
  • I liked that it wasn’t too much like puff pastry, although modern croissants are adapting to a puff pastry like dough and style.

Crumble and Flake Croissant (3)

  • It had good structure and the membranes were even, thin, airy and stretchy.
  • It wasn’t too sweet and very lightly salted, but it wasn’t as buttery as the ones from Cafe Besalu.
  • I don’t like my croissants to ooze oil, but I like them to taste and smell buttery without needing additional butter.
  • The croissant was not bready, but next to the Cafe Besalu croissant it was a bit breadier with thicker membranes.
  • The exterior layers were frail and crisp and the inside was moist and pillowy, but I still wanted a bit more intensity in flavour.

Cafe Besalu Croissant VS Crumble & Flake Croissant

Cafe Besalu and Crumble and Flake Croissant - 2 Days in Seattle  (2)

Crumble and Flake - 2 Days in Seattle (17)**Smoked Paprika and Cheddar Croissant5/6 (Excellent)

  • $3.75
  • This is another house favourite and it’s their signature savoury croissant.
  • I liked the colour on this even more and it was an excellent version of a cheese croissant.

Crumble and Flake - 2 Days in Seattle (18)

  • The structure and execution was just as professional as the plain croissant, but due to the addition of cheese the inner membranes were weighed down.
  • Adding cheese adds more fat and moisture so the inside was a bit chewy and dense rather than airy light.
  • The exterior was caramelized and crisp though and the cheese topping was baked to form a nutty salty crust.
  • It was cheesy than smoky from the Spanish paprika and it carried a gentle heat, but it wasn’t spicy at all.
  • It wasn’t super cheesy, but the cheese was obvious and it was all throughout the dough.
  • If you like cheese twists and cheese scones than you’ll love this.

Crumble and Flake - 2 Days in Seattle (14)**Pistachio Croissant6/6 (FMF Must Try!)

  • $4.50
  • I’m very biased because pistachios are my favourite kind of nuts so I like almost anything with them.
  • That being said I’m still very picky about pistachio desserts because often people cheap out on the pistachio part. Here, they didn’t.
  • Pistachios are expensive so I can understand why it is a $4.50 croissant, and I found it worth it.
  • These alone I would wait 10-15 minutes in line for. I freaking loved them.

Crumble and Flake - 2 Days in Seattle (15)

  • It is a pistachio version of a double baked almond croissant which is literally a dream come true for me. 
  • I’m a sucker for almond croissants and I’ve always wanted someone in Vancouver to make a pistachio croissant.
  • I put in a request at Beaucoup Bakery after trying their Pine Nut Croissant, but nothing yet.
  • It was chewy, buttery, dense and rich with a nougatty layer of pistachio cream in the centre.
  • The pistachio cream was made with real ground pistachio nuts and paste and it was not pistachio or almond extract.
  • It could have been mixed with some almond pastry cream and/or ground almonds, but I’m not sure and regardless it tasted like pistachio.
  • It was sweet, but not overly so and with my eyes closed it was undeniably pistachio in smell and taste.
  • The only thing I wanted was the top of the croissant to be crusted with pistachios (like they would be on an almond croissant) rather than sprinkled with them. I’d pay an extra $0.50-$1 for that.
  • My love for this Pistachio Croissant is equivalent to my love for the Maple Pecan Croissant at Chez Christophe, and even more than my love for Thomas Haas’ Almond Croissant.

Crumble and Flake - 2 Days in Seattle (19)My friend @mightyvanilla had brought these back for me from her previous Seattle trip, so this was not from my 2 Days in Seattle trip. I tried them a day after they were bought so I’m not sure how representable they were – thus I’ll comment lightly and not rate them.

Crumble and Flake - 2 Days in Seattle (21)Pink Peppercorn Shortbreadn/a

  • $2
  • I normally wouldn’t order shortbread unless I was at a place known for them, but the “pink peppercorn” part made it exciting.
  • Without knowing what it was, it was easy to guess and it tasted like what it was.
  • It was a traditional shortbread cookie and it was buttery in flavour and aromatic from the pink peppercorns.
  • The pink peppercorns gave it a floral aroma and sweet heat rather than spicy one.
  • It was a crisp cookie and the crumb was tight, but not as fine as I like.
  • I like melt in your mouth shortbread which isn’t as traditional because to achieve that texture in shortbread you need corn starch and rice flour.
  • It was rich in flavour, but not indulgent or too sweet.
  • I actually thought it was very good, but forgettable if it wasn’t for the pink peppercorn.

Crumble and Flake - 2 Days in Seattle (23)Strawberry Cheweon/a

  • $2.50
  • “Cheweos” are his versions of Oreos.
  • The cookies tasted like soft, tender and chewy versions of Oreos, and the parallel was easy to draw even without knowing the Oreo reference.
  • It was a fudgey brownie-like cookie and I liked it even more without the strawberry filling.
  • The filling was a bit sugary and grainy so I found it too sweet and the strawberry flavour didn’t come across as natural or obvious.
  • This was good, but I wouldn’t have to order it again because I wasn’t too keen on the strawberry filling.

Coffee Cheweon/a

  • $2.50
  • I liked the coffee filling much more and this I would consider ordering again if I was craving an indulgent chocolate cookie.

Crumble and Flake - 2 Days in Seattle (22)Macaronsn/a

  • $2.50/each
  • The macarons weren’t something I’d have to explore more of here, although still good. I just expected excellent from a place like this.
  • I was inspired by their macaron flavours more so than I was impressed with their macarons, and it just wasn’t one of their specialties.
  • They reminded me of the giant macarons at Bouchon Bakery and they were a bit too sweet and missing a bit of chew.
  • I missed the crisp shell on them, but it could have been due to the traveling time that they lost their crispness.
  • They are also stored in their standard display case instead of a macaron fridge at a precise temperature, so the humidity affects their texture.
  • Macarons are best 1-2 days later and these tasted a bit too fresh and soft.
  • Milk chocolate/lime/chili macaron 
    • I could tell what this flavour was right away without knowing the description. That’s a good sign.
    • This was probably my favourite of the three and I didn’t expect it to be.
  • Margarita macaron (tequila/lime/orange/salt)
    • I thought it was a salted lime and white chocolate macaron without knowing the description.
    • I lost the tequila and orange aspect, but it was still appropriate being called Margarita.
    • It was sweet and tangy and bright with flavour thanks to the extra bit of salt to bring out the ingredients.
  • Strawberry cheesecake macaron
    • I thought it was a marshmallow strawberry cheesecake macaron, but it was actually just strawberry cheesecake.
    • The texture was very marshmallow-y compared to the other two, so I’m not sure how consistent the macarons are.
    • It had a strawberry jelly centre and cheesecake filling, but overall it was my least favourite macaron because I found it too sweet and the texture was a bit gummy.

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