Rila: A classy and relaxed cafe | Art & Appetite
Rila Bakery and Cafe
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Where: 7600 196th St. SW, Lynnwood
Lunch special: $12
Every eighth Tuesday evening, my brother, my father and I were unceremoniously ushered up the stairs as my mother’s bridge club descended upon the house. I wouldn't mention it except for the chiffon cake.
Clouds of cigarette smoke clashed with a cacophony of fine perfumes. Raucous chatter would be interrupted by wild bursts of laughter. These women really enjoyed their bridge club.
It was generally a grim evening for us boys. Supplied with drab little TV dinners, we huddled together around a little black-and-white TV, watching “The Honeymooners” in reruns, or maybe if we were lucky, “The Red Skelton Show.”
The one silver lining was the dessert break. My mom always tried to make enough for everyone, and while our desserts were not served on the ridiculously froufrou Wedgwood and Steuben she reserved for her friends, we took no offense.
As a preteen boy, much of what is special about a chiffon cake dessert was wasted on me. Still, it was sweet, often accompanied by strawberries or lemon icing and whip cream, so although I might have preferred a banana split, I registered no complaint.
Today, I have a greater appreciation for just how much work a chiffon cake creation can be, so I was intrigued when I saw that the new bakery in town had them as a menu item.
According to their staff, the word “rila,” as in Rila Bakery and Café located on 196th Street SW just west of 76th Avenue West just outside Edmonds city limits in Lynnwood, is pronounced “ree-la” and is derived from Japanese, meaning “relax.”
I think this is an overarching intention – to create a relaxing atmosphere where delicious soups, sandwiches, and bakery items can be enjoyed along with excellent coffees and teas.
I love the enormous farm style table that acts as a centerpiece in the dining area. The layout is sparkling clean, stark and beautiful. It’s also open, spacious and very comfortable and inviting.
To me, this is a place to spend time with friends or family, to hang out, perhaps to read a bit. While there, you can enjoy a light meal or dessert. Light, because portions are somewhat small. Look for high quality in ingredients, preparation, and presentation, but don't expect large quantities – this isn't a truck stop.
What Rila has in great abundance is style.
The special the day we visited was a beverage choice, sandwich and – you guessed it – chiffon cake. I went with the caprese sandwich and salted caramel chiffon cake. The alchemy of fresh basil, mozzarella and tomato worked just fine in the form of a grilled sandwich. My coffee was spectacular. I forgot to ask, my guess was shade-grown Colombian. Whatever it was, it was great. Finally my adorable little Chiffon cake was as much a work of visual as culinary art. Don't forget to take a moment to appreciate the artistry of all the baked goods.
I admired the beauty of mine for quite a while. But, as they say, you can't have your cake and eat it, too. I have to admit, I think my mom would have loved this cake. The inspiration of infusing it with custard, transformed it from good to great.
We also shared a strawberry-cream croissant and a cup of the creamy corn chowder with ham. Both were good but, regrettably, the soup was not particularly hot. That was the one notable disappointment in what was otherwise a wonderful, and relaxing, trip to the bakery. Rila is yet another great addition to the community. It’s our civic duty to patronize all of our great little independent bakeries, don't you think?
#James Spangler is the owner of Spangler Book Exchange in Edmonds and an aficionado of all things art and appetite. Do you know of a Snohomish County restaurant, art gallery or theatrical show worthy of a review? Call him at 206-795-0128 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.#