Seattle >Wholesale Foods > The Essential Baking Company
1604 N 34th St, Seattle, WA | Directions 9810347.648165 -122.338596
Neighborhoods: Lake Union, Wallingford
Not quite as good as billed – Essential is an institution in Wallingford, and deservedly so. The breads are fresh, if not flavorful. The pastries are sweet, if not sublime. However, there is something I can't quite peg that isn't great about this place. It's not the workers, who are friendly and patient, but the lines are tiresome, and the quality of the breads are not worth the wait. The location is drop dead gorgeous, 1 block from Gasworks park - but they seem to have run in to some of the problems any successful and beloved brand does, complacency.
Don't Understand the Hype – The bread is good. I love the pizza bianca and the (expensive) little pastries. The lunch items are pricey given the portions, and sometimes the soups can be a bit iffy/too-experimental. I'm not a regular, but already a couple times the morning baristas have acted put-upon when I "interrupted" their conversations to order coffee... never had that problem with staff later in the day though.
favorite spot in seattle – Not meant for tourists and you need to know how to order. Stand in the first line, place your order, walk to the register and then pay. Sometimes the staff will bring you your food but more often they yell your name out. When it's really busy, it's hard to hear. It is entirely worth the effort though. So far, it has been the best coffee I've had in Seattle and it has turned me into a pastry lover. I take everybody to Essentials. Very fresh, all organic ingredients, and an eclectic mix of workers.
Stick to traditional sandwiches and soups for better flavors – My wife and I recently visited Essential for lunch and being inquistive decided to order the yam sandwich and the mole veggie soup. Both sounded interesting and were definitely new. Both unfortunately tasted...well..awful. The yams in the sandwich were semicooked and sorta crunchy but not in a good way. The mole soup tasted like some sort of food experiment gone awry. My recommendation for anyone going to Essential is to stick with the classic sandwiches and soups they make. Being culinary diverse is good, and choosing exotic ingredients is nice to see, but if you can't pull it off, the result is unhappy customers and really bad tasting food (like the yam sandwich and mole soup). For me, after tasting the soup I would have been embarassed to even serve it - my wife and I kept saying, "what were they thinking?" Unfortunately we took both the sandwich and soup to go, if we hadn't I would have gone back and said, "Um... I don't think so... give me money back.." I'm sure that the chefs at Essential taste everything that they make prior to putting it out for people to buy, but they also need to think about whether what they put out is both delicious and helps carry Essential's image as providing top quality gourmet foods. My recommendation, I'd think twice before keeping either of these items on your menu.
Forgot our order, bad customer service – We went to the Essential Bakery on N. 34th St. around 1:00pm on Sunday. We waited for about 40 minutes with our hungry kids and our lunch order never arrived. Apparently they forgot our order. The staff didn't care and we were not impressed with their customer service. We will not give them our business in the future.
Disappointing selection lately – Used to love this place. Brought everyone I knew here. Now the shelves are always empty. I am VERY UPSET that they no longer carry petit fours. I realize that we are in a supersize age, but petit fours are worth every overpriced cent as they satisfy the cravings without adding to the waistline. Also, why is the Fremont location the only one with a significant selection of chocolates? I NEED the PB &J chocolate almost as badly as petit fours in my favorite flavors. Please tell William Leaman to return the petit fours!!
Neighborhood favorite – I've been going regularly -- that is, several times a week at least for just a latte -- to the Wallingford location of the Essential Baking Company. Always tasty, no matter what I get. Excellent ingredients, though you do pay more. If you want a cheap sandwich, go down the street to Subway. If paying $9 for a sandwich and a bottle of iced tea doesn't bother you, go to Essential. Creative combinations, friendly and casual staff (who know my name and my everyday latte order!) ... I don't even want to think about how much money I've given this place over the years!
Creative sandwiches, savory soups and handcrafted desserts help this neighborhood favorite achieve the promise of its name. – The Scene
Its aromatic artisanal breads have lined the shelves of high-end local grocers for years, and now Essential has expanded its primary bakery to include a warmly charming cafe and lunch counter. Exposed-brick walls, high beamed ceilings and broad, sunny windows contribute to the casual, airy atmosphere. Sit at the knotty-pine lunch counters or soak up the sun on the front patio.
The seasonally driven menu focuses on European sandwiches with ingenious twists: Kalamata olive bread is slathered with cool feta-cucumber spread and freshly snipped oregano leaves, while a sophisticated white cheddar and Camembert grilled cheese is dressed up with pan-roasted Granny Smith apples, caramelized onions and crisp watercress. The Spanish-style hearth oven turns out robust slices of pizza bianca, a house specialty occasionally augmented with shards of prosciutto. Pastries and desserts are beautifully executed: Croissants burst with fresh raspberries, pears and apricots; decadent chocolate mousse is sweetly amplified with a buttery layer of creme brulee.
To Die For! – The Essential Baking Company simply never disappoints. I can go there for nothing more than an order of toast (which comes with a yummy blueberry spread) and walk away satisfied. Everything else that I have tried there--poppy seed bread, orange-chocolate marble bread, italian slippers, parisian macaroons, the winter vegetable sandwich, hot chocolate--has been absolutely stunning as well. Go!
Seattle's Best Bakery (all organic too) – Essential Baking Company is, hands down, my favorite bakery in Seattle. On top of making fabulous breads, pastries, muffins, cookies, pies and cakes they also cook up some mouth-watering soups and sandwiches at their Wallingford bakery. The sandwiches change according to the season to make use of seasonal ingredients and feature creative combinations such as a grilled cheese sandwich with white cheddar and camambert cheese with caramelized onions, watercress and apple slices on walnut bread. They make a phenomenal squash mole soup that's not to be missed. They also serve up a delicious coffee brew and tasty espresso beverages. If I lived closer I'd stop by several times a week to get my baked goods fix from the best bakery around.
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