Fall is fully committed now (hello wind storm!), and it’s going to look this way for awhile. Only, you know, darker.
You can whine, white-knuckle it till May—or lean in by hanging out in spots whose charms shine brighter against the damp and the dark. Think Pike Place Market’s Storyville Coffee, which glows like amber in an upper aerie of the Corner Market, and crafts a masterful espresso drink. Sticky cinnamon buns and egg sandwiches on pretzel rolls don’t hurt, and it seems they’re always passing around a tray of some gratis fresh-baked something. Sit by the fire, sit by the demilune windows…it’s all warm in here.
In West Seattle, the newest outpost of Phinney Ridge’s stunning A La Mode Pies features a lineup of counter-stool seats facing the Alaska part of the California-Alaska junction. It doesn’t sound particularly cozy until you’re in there, forking into an impossibly delicious slice of chocolate caramel pecan, French apple, Mexican chocolate, or any one of its many other variants of pie. The headliner in this new branch is its ice cream—which they make into, yes, boozy milkshakes—but then there's a slice of warmed leek-gruyere tart, and it reminds us that pastry crust is what these folks do better than anyone else in town. Whether it’s sweet or savory on that crust…you can’t go wrong, especially here in the height of pie season.
For an afternoon go-to, when storms are flinging themselves against the windowpanes, there's Madrona’s cozy Bottlehouse, a house wine-bar-slash-tasting-room for smartly curated wines, microbrews, and ciders, hard or otherwise. At opening time when happy hour is just starting but nobody’s there yet, have your pick of tables from the high-tabled front parlor to the semi-private back room. The dappled side patio that will make such a welcome stage set of springtime is all closed off now, but still looks good through the windows, whose ledges these careful staffers adorn with winter stems in a wine bottle, perhaps, or a clutch of votives. They apply the same care to the cheese plate, whose characteristics they explain tableside, and to the cider, which they will serve plain or spiked in a warming mug.
The prospect of the gray rainy afternoons to come, suddenly, are a lot less bad. Dare we say, they're good.