Review: The Red Hook Bakery

The Red Hook
The Red Hook in Ferndale

The Red Hook Bakery 

Yelp! Weekly Spotlight

Bakeries tell the soul of a city, each pastry strand a story of the patchwork of races and ethnicities which create a greater whole. Delicate Greek baklava, Algerian orange blossom water-infused almond pastes, or German cupcakes all have their own stories to tell. Ferndale is blessed by providers of baked goods, more the merrier as far as I’m concerned. The Pinwheel Bakery at the heart of downtown tried to fill a niche with vegan-friendly products and updates on classic recipes like shortbread, tarts, and cookies. I think it fell a bit short of the mark, but recently hoisted new sails (and awnings) to mark out a different direction than the one taken before.

The result is a promising venture for a good coffeeshop.

The Red Hook sails in on a fragrant wave direct from the nabob empires, its hold full of fine Stumptown Coffees, and a skilled navigator at the wheel of the espresso machine. I’m no black coffee connoisseur, preferring tea and coffees infused by chocolate and more, but I approve of the presentations here.

When all these elements come together, good things are sure to happen. The crew staffing the counters seem to run smoother than they did at Pinwheel, though not with perfect polish quite yet. A different atmosphere rocks the house that replaces the aimless, head-in-the-clouds vibe I got before from my visits coming in for various pastry goods. Are there changes in staff or a different approach? Either way, prompt and direct service by enthusiastic people is sure to bring me back to this ship more regularly.

I enjoyed Pinwheel Bakery’s window displays for their whimsical humour and creativity, but I am happy to see the interior received a much needed update. Like captured vessels of yore, sometimes the old girl needs a new coat of paint and reconfigured decks to meet the times and needs of the new owners. Gone are the pastel walls and hand-drawn signs for a more mature palette of tones, and thank the powers that be taller chairs exist! Especially on busy days when other tables are occupied, this makes an enormous difference. I have a 35″ inseam. Little plastic chairs made for tots are pure torture on my legs. I don’t go to coffee shops to be folded up according to some ancient origami-yoga technique, and crammed in front of a little rickety table. The adult-friendly furniture comes as a relief.

So too have the menus and bakery cases seen a much needed revamp, shrinking back to a manageable list of treats: muffins, scones, and other complementary sides for a cup of coffee. Vegan friendly options are still prevalent.

Before I set sail to other climes, a few parting notes. I’m sad they aren’t open on Sunday when I usually get out for a walk downtown. Why be shut on one of the prime shopping times in the city? I don’t understand that move. Parking can be a bear at rush-hour and it’s all metered, so try parking up a few blocks and taking a nice walk. I don’t know whether they have WiFi here either.