Serious Eats: Crumble & Flake Patisserie

crumble_sign_600_9948When someone earns accolades as Pastry Chef of the Year for a bakery that’s yet to even open, it’s no surprise that said bakery would have long lines once it finally did.

Still, Neil Robertson stepped outside his new Crumble & Flake Patisserie on its first Saturday morning of operation and was surprised to see a line snaking half a block long. With weekday Facebook postings announcing sell-outs in mere hours, weekend carbo-warriors have been getting to the bakery well before opening.

Surprise to Robertson, but no surprise to others. After all, he has developed a first-rate reputation after being pastry chef at Canlis, and then at Mistral Kitchen.

But Robertson is humble about the attention on Crumble, and a bit saddened about the quick sell-outs. “I don’t want to be the Pastry Nazi, turning people away,” he told me, adding, “I just wanted to be a quiet little corner bakery where people can buy good pastries and desserts throughout the day.”

For now, the strategy for weekend gluten gluttons seems to be a pre-opening arrival to get top choice of breakfast-like pastries, including an amazing paprika-cheese croissant. Order coffee as well, then leave the store (it’s a tiny space, with no counters or tables and room inside for only a few customers at a time). Head back to the end of the line to enjoy your breakfast, because by the time you get back to the front, fast-selling desserts will make cameo appearance in the showcases. These include double brownies, cookies, financiers, and cream puffs. The cream puffs, by the way, are filled to order, with typical flavor choices like chocolate, vanilla, and apricot.

Crumble & Flake, a corner bakery in Capitol Hill, is the new hotspot in Seattle. Expect a line to form well before opening, especially on the weekends.

Crumble & Flake, a corner bakery in Capitol Hill, is the new hotspot in Seattle. Expect a line to form well before opening, especially on the weekends.

This fig and olive tapenade roll ($3.25) is great for those who like their sweets on the savory side. The roll has a pleasant, flaky texture, and marries the saltiness of olives with the honey-like sweetness of figs.

This fig and olive tapenade roll ($3.25) is great for those who like their sweets on the savory side. The roll has a pleasant, flaky texture, and marries the saltiness of olives with the honey-like sweetness of figs.

Croissant lovers (and even non-croissant lovers) will enjoy the kouign amann ($2.75). Few places in Seattle sell this classic French treat, which is made from puffed layers of butter and sugar-laden pastry. Crumble & Flake’s is a little on the small side, but it packs a punch with its caramelized butteriness.

Croissant lovers (and even non-croissant lovers) will enjoy the kouign amann ($2.75). Few places in Seattle sell this classic French treat, which is made from puffed layers of butter and sugar-laden pastry. Crumble & Flake’s is a little on the small side, but it packs a punch with its caramelized butteriness.

In a city that’s starting to go croissant-crazy, Crumble & Flake offers options for both sweet and savory croissants.

In a city that’s starting to go croissant-crazy, Crumble & Flake offers options for both sweet and savory croissants.

The plain croissant ($2.25), with its slightly moist inside, good crumb, and flaky crust, is one of the best I've had in Seattle.

The plain croissant ($2.25), with its slightly moist inside, good crumb, and flaky crust, is one of the best I’ve had in Seattle.

Seattleites are buzzing about the Smoked Paprika and Cheddar Croissant ($3.75). As the croissant heats up, the cheese bakes into a crispy shell. The pastry has a nice balance of butter and cheese flavors, plus a smokey hint of paprika.

Seattleites are buzzing about the Smoked Paprika and Cheddar Croissant ($3.75). As the croissant heats up, the cheese bakes into a crispy shell. The pastry has a nice balance of butter and cheese flavors, plus a smokey hint of paprika.

The patisserie offers a daily selection of colorful macarons ($2.25). The smooth shells of the macarons have a firm crunch that yield to a chewy softness upon biting into them. The lemon and caipirinha macarons are lighter with just the right amount of citrus notes, while the chocolate macaron is denser and will definitely appeal to chocolate lovers. Don’t get too attached to any particular flavor, though, as they’re subject to change day-to-day.

The patisserie offers a daily selection of colorful macarons ($2.25). The smooth shells of the macarons have a firm crunch that yield to a chewy softness upon biting into them. The lemon and caipirinha macarons are lighter with just the right amount of citrus notes, while the chocolate macaron is denser and will definitely appeal to chocolate lovers. Don’t get too attached to any particular flavor, though, as they’re subject to change day-to-day.

This “adult Oreo” (aka Chewio, $2.00) is a sandwich of brownie-like cookies and cream.

This “adult Oreo” (aka Chewio, $2.00) is a sandwich of brownie-like cookies and cream.

The currant scone ($2.25) is cake-like and kissed with a welcome hint of salt.

The currant scone ($2.25) is cake-like and kissed with a welcome hint of salt.

Chef Neil Robertson prepares cream puffs, which are filled to order.

Chef Neil Robertson prepares cream puffs, which are filled to order.

There are no tables or counters inside the patisserie, so you take your pastries and desserts to go.

There are no tables or counters inside the patisserie, so you take your pastries and desserts to go.

(Originally published at Serious Eats on May 23.)

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