What: Purple Rain and Chai Latte
Where: Fika House Kafe – 298 106th Ave NE, Bellevue, Wa., 98004
Rating (1-5): 🌿🌿🌿🌿
As one of my final reviews of 2018, and likely my final post of 2018, I wanted to finally get up my thoughts on Fika House Kafe. I went in November, at the crest of NaNoWriMo, looking for new places to sit down and write in a new atmosphere that energized my brain.
So yes, this review is technically a little late, but my review still stands!
(By the way, I really just wanted to include this picture, because the PNW in autumn continues to blow my mind. It’s so beautiful. This was taken right in downtown Bellevue.)
I believe I first heard about Fika House Kafe when I was on the prowl for some more hidden cafe gems around the Seattle area and Google Maps threw this info my way. I love to go to Google Maps or other similar resources, input a town and look for specific cuisine or cafes around to see what might be an upcoming visit. When I had a new reason to go into Bellevue on a day off, I took it.
I like to go into Bellevue once in a while for a few select restaurants, plus Lincoln Square always has a little fun and a little shopping. (I’m lame and get just as excited about the large Container Store as I do Din Tai Fung.) Bellevue can give you all the city feel you want without having to go too deep into Seattle if you’re just not feeling it that day. The vibe of Bellevue is less hipster and more aesthetic and luxe, but that can be a nice change of pace! Bellevue is also just as likely to host cute festivals during the winter holidays and in the summer. I went to their summer festival last year, and I loved it.
Fika is down 106th Ave NE, and to be honest it’s not easy to see. If I were a Bellevue resident, I’d probably even pass it every day before realizing it’s there at all. So for location it’s not that great. There is parking around, but you’d have a much easier time just doing what I did and taking the bus in and walking over. From the Bellevue Transit Center, it’s about a 5-8 minute walk. Even when I went on a very windy day, it was doable. There is nothing dedicated specifically to Fika, so you’re either having to park on the street or in a public parking lot/deck.
Fika’s menu isn’t extensive, but I don’t mind having something more to the point. I love options, as someone who loves food/drinks, but I don’t like being overwhelmed. Finding a small place like Fika that keeps it simple is nice! Based on the reviews I’ve seen in the past, and much of what I gleamed of the menu, it does look as though part of their intentional draw is their food. Or rather, that’s what everyone coming to Fika is looking for in their visit.
Through Yelp and other online fodder, a lot of the chatter surrounds how consistent and palatable their waffles are, for instance. I’m not going to act as though I don’t like waffles, but I will say that’s never really my reason for going into any cafe. My two main reasons are ambiance and drinks. Whether I’m writing or with a friend, I just want to be somewhere I know is either perfect for social or working function. Since I do work full-time but I write on the side and freelance, having a cafe that can meet multiple needs and give me a drink worth my money is going to be my reason for going and staying.
When I first came in, I ordered their chai latte. It seemed like a good way to determine how they handle spices and sugars in their drinks. Of all the things Starbucks does that might drive PNW folks, especially, a little crazy, their chai is definitely the right balance. It’s hard to find one that hits the spot the same way. Fika came close, though! It wasn’t too sweet, which I prefer, but it also wasn’t as heavily spiced as Starbucks’. I did enjoy it, though, and I look forward to trying it again if I end up craving chai next time I’m there.
Fika is tiny. It’s not feasible to expect to go there with multiple friends, but it can work for you and 1-2 friends easily. There are a few tables and a bar area – one that sits around a supporting pillar. The cafe is full of natural lighting and aesthetically pleasing white, marble and succulents. It’s the perfect spot for the Instagram folks to get their fill! (Which I also don’t mind.)
When I was there, there were three patrons – one sitting on the hidden backside of the pillar-bar below, and two friends at a nearby table. The barista serving out the counter was friendly and willing to accommodate my new-ness to the cafe. After I guzzled down my chai latte, a couple of hours later I wanted to try something else.
Whenever I’m holed up for an extended period of time working out of a cafe or place of business, if they serve anything like food or drinks as part of their way to fill the seats, I try to space out a purchase every 2-3 hours I’m sitting there. I think I was at Fika that day for about four hours in total, so it was the perfect reason to make sure I got at least two things.
I sat very close to the counter, so it made turning around and ordering something else really easy – one benefit of a small location. That’s when I saw the menu and found the Purple Rain. The Purple Rain is their lavender latte, and I’m grossly obsessed with lavender in everything – fragrance, flavor, flora and color. Melody knows, as she just flew home after visiting me for a week and anytime lavender was on a menu, I was on it. And while I enjoyed the chai latte, their Purple Rain definitely took the cake. I believe with both I either had almond or oak milk, if you’re curious. Honestly, since it’s been about a month I know it was one of these two, but I can’t remember which for which.
The lavender – as lavender often is – is mild but sweet and smooth in flavor with a very mild flora aroma. Both drinks were served in manageable mugs, and the price point was about what one has come to expect for drinks.
For the calm atmosphere and caffeine, I give Fika a 4 out of 5. If you have tried the food, definitely let me know what you thought!