Vashon cafes contain many wonders
By Elizabeth Lande, Copy Editor
Resolutions are made to be broken. At least that’s what I tell myself when I abandon my “no sugar” decree and begin my cross-island trek to find the best cafes and pastries Vashon has to offer. It’s a serious undertaking, and I’m considering three categories in my final ranking: atmosphere, cost, and, most importantly, taste.
I begin at the Vashon Baking Company. I’m still tempted to call it “Bob’s Bakery” because I’m a sap for alliteration, but I’ll address it correctly in this article.
It’s a nice little space, as I’m sure most people on Vashon can attest to, with metal stools at the window counter, looking across Vashon Highway to the Village Green. The glass case of house-baked goods is a tempting phantasmagoria, and I’m hard-pressed to narrow down my choice to just one option.
In the end, I go with a bear claw. It’s not an overly friendly price, and I’m suddenly reminded why I rarely treat myself to breakfast out. Still, as I sit at the counter and watch Vashon roll by, I’m impressed by the pastry itself. The almond paste in the middle is initially off-putting, but I eventually warm to the flavor.
Next, I pull up outside Cafe Luna. As I walk in the front door, I immediately smile at the scene: small clusters of Vashonites sitting at mosaic-top wooden tables, leaning over mugs of coffee and chatting lightly of various anecdotes. The red walls are adorned with paintings by a local artist.
I choose a chocolate croissant from the case. With tip, the price totals at around $5, which seems rather excessive.
The croissant is a triumph, though. The top is dusted in powdered sugar, and the layers of buttery, flaky pastry are punctuated with chocolate chips. It’s a bit ordinary, perhaps, but I’m not hard to please, especially since I can’t bake pastries to save my life. I leave feeling quite satisfied.
My next stop is the Roasterie — otherwise known as Minglement. I maneuver my way through the back doors of the building, coming to crouch in front of another glass case filled with delectable morsels. I’m sensing a theme here. A singular chocolate croissant is lurking behind a small array of cinnamon rolls, and I decide to make it a battle between Cafe Luna and the Roasterie — may the best croissant win.
I fumble with my debit card and probably sign the receipt wrong, but from the general interaction, I sense that the price is much friendlier: about $4 with the tip. They also offer to warm it up for me, and I accept.
I wander to a table near the old piano and sit down on a wooden bench. I sit quietly and try to read the containers of bulk tea and coffee from across the room.
My warmed croissant eventually arrives, and I’m intrigued at the slightly blackened marks on the bottom; it looks rather like it was barbequed. I’m hesitant to try it and expect a charred flavor when I bite into it, but the pastry isn’t actually burned. In fact, the warming process has melted the chocolate just enough to give it a smooth texture, perfectly compatible with the buttery cocoa flavor. In a close contest between the two chocolate croissants, I give the edge to the Roasterie.
At this point, I return on a northerly route, arriving at Snapdragon for yet another pastry.
Snapdragon has a lovely feel to it, and probably ties with Cafe Luna for best aesthetic. I cast my gaze over a selection of cakes, muffins, and cinnamon rolls, all sitting in perfect harmony behind the old fashioned window frame dessert case.
Each option is huge, and there’s no way I can eat the entirety of what I buy, which ends up being a cinnamon roll. Still, there’s no denying the terrific taste, the gooeyness of the cinnamon glaze inside the rolls of warm dough. Blueberries are rolled into the pastry as well, adding to its deliciousness.
The price is what’s most astounding though — for such a big dessert, it’s the cheapest option thus far — below $4 — and my wallet is just as happy as I am.
My final sampling of Vashon’s pastries is the bounty of the Burton Coffee Stand. I regret to say that I didn’t actually visit the location in person, but I was still able to procure a baked good via a friend’s generous errand on my behalf.
I’m not sure what the price was — I just gave my friend a five dollar bill — but I doubt it was terrifically expensive. The pastry, selected for me, is what seems to be a chive and cheese scone. It’s surprisingly solid, which I didn’t expect from a scone, but it’s not bad. It’s also the only savory pastry I tasted in my entire journey, and I appreciate the change of pace.
After sampling five of the island’s finest cafes and bakeries, my final decision isn’t an easy one. In all honesty, I don’t think you could go seriously wrong anywhere on Vashon. But, forced to crown a single winner, I turn to Snapdragon — the atmosphere, the price, and the triumph of the pastry itself puts it firmly on top.