Coffee & cakes in Perrinville | Art & Appetite
When William Pennington graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York in 1991, chefs weren't the rock stars they have come to be. At Bill’s first gig at Club 21 in Manhattan, the head chef liked to throw plates when he was displeased.
Bill decided early that cutting corners just wasn't worth it. After decades of working in fine dining establishments across the country – including, locally, Daniel's Broiler, Chandler's Steakhouse, SkyCity at the Space Needle and Arnie’s, Bill and his wife Rebecca (who spent many years as a server) decided to open their own place.
The inspiration for Mel & Mia's (named for their two adorable daughters) came when the Penningtons shared a rare date together. Being the parents of four children can make the opportunity to enjoy a great meal as a couple a bit of a challenge. They managed it – finding a nice place, then deciding to have the third course elsewhere. The only problem was there was no high-quality “elsewhere.”
Thanks to that experience, south Snohomish County now has a place that serves only the finest coffee and spectacular pastries made from scratch each day. It's a destination that would be ideal for that third course, a first date, and just about any other get-together you can think of – I give it my highest recommendation.
It’s family friendly, complete with cute little coloring clipboards and a changing table in the men's room. Well lit, sparkling and clean, with a whimsical, happy, funny decor. It's as though you're stepping into a children's storybook – something akin to “Fancy Nancy.”
Tucked behind The Hook on Olympic View Drive in Perrinville, I'd worry about the location, except this place is so good I don't think it will matter.
Bill starts work at 4 a.m. Everything is made from scratch, and ingredients are carefully selected – only the best chocolate and the freshest fruits, and coffees of such quality they're generally not available elsewhere.
Just one example: It's been 35 years since I've seen Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee on a menu. Back in the late ’70s I was in love with its rich, robust flavor. Unfortunately, the Japanese discovered how delicious it was also, and they were willing to pay considerably more for it then we were here in the United States.
To this day, 80 percent of Jamaican Blue Mountain goes to Japan. But Bill has managed to establish his own Jamaican connection. His Long Island accent starkly contrasts his coffee dealer’s Jamaican dialect. Apparently, his telephone order takes on a surreal quality as the two of them try to communicate to one another.
At one point Bill had to send a shipment back because it didn't meet his standards. This is the level of effort that he goes to for just one item.
None of the coffees Mel & Mia’s offers are blends (take note, Kona lovers) nor is their coffee over-roasted.
Small coffee snifters are available if you're not clear what you want to try. French press is the preferred delivery system. Once you taste it, you'll see why.
We ordered the Raspberry Tart and the Warm Berry Marzipan Crepe – my friend was thrilled to see crepes added to the menu. Every so often, when I taste something, it's so good that I let out a sort of involuntary laugh of amazement.
That’s what the raspberry tart did for me. Forget about the incredible presentation – it was the freshness and flakiness of this pastry that was unsurpassed in my recent experience.
Mel & Mia’s
Rating: 5 out of 5
Where: 7530 Olympic View Drive, #103, Edmonds
Prices: Coffees, $3.95-$6.95; desserts, $3.95-$7.95