Some foods just lend themselves to being comforting, especially when it is cloudy and gray outside! In England, late afternoon tea in winter invokes images of roaring fireplaces and piles of toasted, buttered crumpets and tea, à la Nicholas Nickleby. But you can enjoy them any time of the year. Crumpets and tea are not really very well known in America, except in Seattle where the Seattle Crumpet Shop has been serving them for over 40 years.
Opened in 1976 by Gary Lasater and Nancy McFaul, the Seattle Crumpet Shop, near Pike Place Market, continues to be a family-run business. Today, their son, Robin, holds forth behind the counter, taking orders, stirring the soup of the day, putting toppings on crumpets, all the while chatting with the constant stream of customers, either regulars or visitors who happen upon the storefront for the first time as they explore the market.
But unlike the crumpets you find in England, usually dripping in butter, and perhaps topped with homemade jam, here imagination takes flight with sweet and savory options. Of course, you can have crumpets with butter and fresh, organic preserves. Or you can have crumpets with pesto, tomato, and cheddar cheese… crumpets with ricotta and lemon curd… crumpets with eggs on smoked salmon … Delicious!
We visit the Seattle Crumpet Shop several times for breakfast. It is a whimsical place, with murals of Alice in Wonderland having tea with the Mad Hatter and shelves of different types of tea. Buy a cup and your refills are unlimited. The aroma of the crumpets toasting in the kitchen wafts through the small cafe. Walk in and it is guaranteed that you will not be able to leave without satisfying your taste buds. We sample a variety from a simple crumpet with butter and raspberry jam to a rich ricotta with honey and walnuts, to cheddar cheese with tomato. It is almost impossible to stop at one.
Sit at one of the outside tables on the side street entrance, and you can watch the crumpets being made through a huge window. Or if the weather is chilly and grey, snuggle over your tea at one of the inside tables. In a city renowned for its variety of food, the Seattle Crumpet Shop is a unique experience.
IF YOU GO
The Seattle Crumpet Shop is located at 1503 First Avenue, around the corner from the Pike Place Market in Seattle. It is open Monday to Friday from 0700 to 1500, Saturday and Sunday from 0730 to 1500. There is a second entrance on Pike Street near First Avenue, up a set of stairs (Tel 206-682-1598)