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A la Mode: Never too late for Pi Day

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Photo courtesy of A la Mode
Photo courtesy of A la Mode

West Seattle is so isolated that, despite the bridge being closed for two years, it comes as news to many living elsewhere that the bridge is closed at all. Residents take pride in "never leaving, even if we could."

Mind you, West Seattle has long been an island of sorts. The hillsides of Alki and North Admiral are a quilt of single-family homes, with only a few major roads home to businesses and pricey apartment buildings. Plus, there just isn't the same density of things to do as in other districts.

Fortunately, to sample the menu of Queer-owned A la Mode Pies, those east of the Duwamish need not make the long trek to Phinney Ridge or Ballard. As I did, to take in the atmosphere and a few slices, they can visit A la Mode's café branch at the Junction (California & Alaska).

I arrived at the place on a dreary Saturday afternoon, after a walk through the neighborhood alleys that run between backyards and garages. Despite the bustle of the street outside, the line was a single couple ahead of me, and nobody was dining in at the time (possibly because of pandemic concerns).

Photo courtesy of A la Mode  

The staff were friendly. All the apparatus of the kitchen was visible behind the counter, and with the place's high ceilings and dark, mellow colors, there was a sense of industry at rest, since the kitchen itself wasn't busy.

I tried a slice of each of the three pie varieties on the menu. The strawberry rhubarb, a personal favorite, had a melt-in-your-mouth filling with a strong, lasting tartness, fading nicely into its strawberry flavor and finishing with a hint of sweet vinegar.

The banana cream pie, another classic, had a good balance of its components. It made a statement without being too rich or too sweet.

A la Mode's "signature dessert," the Blue Hawaiian, was a blend of blueberry and pineapple filling, topped with toasted coconut. It had a mellow flavor, with the almost-whole blueberries, pineapple bits, and coconut shavings giving it a landscape of texture that might tempt the eater to chew more thoughtfully and savor the unique taste.

The crust on all these, worth mentioning on its own, was flavorful yet unobtrusive — firm enough to hold things together and soft enough to be cut with ease.

A la Mode's menu also includes savory pies, various drinks, ice cream by the scoop or pint, and options for vegans and those allergic to eggs, nuts, or dairy. The price for one regular-sized pie is generally $35.

A la Mode can be found at 4225 SW Alaska St. in West Seattle, 5821 Phinney Ave N. near the zoo, or 2034 NW 56th St. in Ballard. Online, go to https://www.alamodeseattle.com/.