The “OMG good” grilled cheese and chocolate raspberry cookie.
Quaint little eateries are popping up all over Capitol Hill, offering a wide variety of food stuff galore. Normally this would be a completely favorable situation, but if you’re as indecisive as I am, this endless pool of options only poses a grand problem for a growling tummy: option overload!
Fortunately, if you’re looking for a place with perks that include a nice study space close to campus and a cozy, cheerful atmosphere, Niche is the place to be.
The gluten free label can be a bit intimidating on a cafe and bakery when you’re so used to consuming gluten-laden food products. However, Niche certainly does endeavor to make sure “GF” stands, not just for gluten free, but also for their “Great Food” guarantee.
Located on 12th Ave., the establishment is nestled right in between Subway and the Rianna Apartments. The inconspicuous gem may be overlooked, but what the cafe lacks in size it makes up for in flavor.
Offering an appealing spread of soups, salads, sandwiches and more, Niche boasts a menu that utilizes local and sustainably raised products, in hopes of making their customers feel as good as their food tastes.
I decided to delve into their salmon bowl of hash and Veg-O-Matic panini. The presentation of the food felt a bit middle school cafeteria-esque, complete with gray metal trays and disposable containers.
While the food certainly looked fresh and was served fairly quickly, it didn’t seem to be anything special. The hash was a medley of vegetables and salmon chunks, served alongside two slices of toasted bread, while the vegetable panini looked flat and mediocre. Appearance-wise, Niche fell short of impressive.
Now, I usually assume food is either good or bad based on the way it looks, but Niche challenged this notion. Although the presentation did nothing to convince me the food was worth a trip in the rain, the first bite definitely tasted like redemption.
The dishes were savory and simple, enjoyable for their subtle and refreshing flavors. I finished it all in record time and felt surprisingly revitalized afterward, which contrasted to my usual post-meal lethargy.
Some other intriguing options on the menu include their bacon-cheddar-apple butter waffle-ini and their salami-swiss-bell pepper toast. I suggest trying any one of the delicate pastries lining their counter as well – the brownie cups and lemon bars look particularly delicious.
Sadly, health has a price tag. The yummy dishes are a couple dollars more than expected considering the portion size, so if you have a hearty appetite, you may need to dish out a bit more money to be full. Still, all items on the menu fall within the $15 range, so your wallet shouldn’t feel too light after indulging in such delicious, healthy goodness.
If my satisfied stomach doesn’t persuade you to dine at Niche, the homey ambience might seal the deal. The establishment feels something like a cottage and though the space is small, it never seems to be overly-crowded. Soft blue walls complement the trendy, irregularly shaped table tops and as soon as you walk in, the menu, printed in playful font, hangs by the doorway, available for immediate perusal.
The rest of the bakery cafe is an eclectic mix of vintage print and adorable trinkets. Most of the space displays a myriad of unique decorations and most of the back wall brings out an almost industrial feel, with its sleek, stainless steel shelving. This retro spot is also tucked away in the perfect place for people watching, with large windows that let in a lot of natural light.
Another plus is the small, amiable staff that is eager to ensure maximum customer gratification. They are all smiles and the owner, Toby Matasar, is as sweet as the baked goods
All in all, Niche has a lot of potential to grow into the next favorite lunch spot on Capitol Hill. Charming, inviting and nutritious, I rate my overall experience at Niche an 8.5/10. Whether you need a morning pick-me-up or an afternoon study break, I would recommend grabbing a friend and popping in for a scrumptious bite to eat and an escape from the familiar rainy day gloom of Seattle.
Vikki may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Vikki Avancena is a junior biology major. She plays guitar and rants about silly, obscure things when words for essays and articles and life fail her. She loves awkward situations and smiles.