THESE ARE EXCITING days for anyone who has waited in line for a local Milk Bar pop-up or ferried its cookies home in a suitcase from the flagship in New York. Washington’s first Milk Bar location opens on Thursday, March 23.
The Nordstrom in Bellevue Square built out a new space on its second floor, right by the mall entrance, to house the local outpost of baker Christina Tosi’s funfetti and cereal milk juggernaut.
Milk Bar will sell its staple lineup of cookies in flavors like the top-selling compost, a salty-sweet blend that includes potato chips, coffee grounds, pretzels, oats, and both chocolate and butterscotch chips. Other hits include bite-size truffles, plus the gooey Milk Bar pie (formerly known as the “crack pie”) and elaborate layer cakes—an ode to funfetti box mixes among them—that you can buy in both whole iterations and individual slices.
The brand’s prodigious website will ship you plenty of these items; grocers like Whole Foods sell a mass-market Milk Bar cookie line. But until the Bellevue Milk Bar’s arrival, you had to get on a plane (or flash a passport) to sample in-store favorites like soft serve flavored with cereal milk. Topping options range from hot fudge to sprinkles to cornflakes. It’s also fun to explore the various cookie flavors without messing with fixed variety packs or shipping costs. (This location doesn’t currently offer the milkshakes or coffee drinks you see at the flagship Milk Bars.)
Point of clarity: No actual baking happens here. Confections come from a commissary facility, individually wrapped for easy transport. Bellevue’s Milk Bar sells tins so customers can assemble gift packs of cookies. You can also purchase Tosi’s multitude of pretty cookbooks here, though these recipes are not for faint-hearted bakers. A lot of work goes into making stuff that tastes this good.
Seattle’s hometown department store already has two Milk Bar locations in its fold, one in the Nordstrom men’s store in New York, another in Vancouver, BC (though sadly that one will disappear once Nordstrom closes its locations in Canada). Bellevue Square won the honor of our region’s first Milk Bar, says Nordstrom spokesperson John Bailey, because it was in the midst of a top-to-bottom remodel. That made it possible to carve out this dedicated space, which has entrances into the mall and directly into Nordstrom.
Tosi spun off Milk Bar in 2008 from her long-ago role as pastry chef at David Chang’s Momofuku restaurants. Now it’s a free-standing company with outposts in seven cities in North America. The business has inevitably evolved with its expansion, but Milk Bar’s signature flavors, its nostalgic modernity, has claimed an inarguable place in America’s canon of sweets. It’s hard to imagine a time before cereal moonlighted as dessert and potato chips and pretzels showed up in our cookies.
Milk Bar has done a handful of Seattle pop-ups over the years with partners like Canlis and Dick’s Drive-In as it considered expanding here. (Some fun inside baseball: Tosi’s husband, restaurateur Will Guidara, is BFFs with Brian Canlis from their days at Cornell. Guidara’s recent book fondly recalls Brian’s purple Converse, pet gecko, and penchant for yo-yos.)
Milk Bar will keep the same store hours as Nordstrom. And hopefully it can keep up with the inevitable opening crowds.
SOURCE: 425 Magazine