On a cool day no one passes up the fresh-from-the-oven loaves at the Essential Baking Company Café.
The Essential Baking Company Café. A perfect morning stop for sweet or savory crêpes, croissants, or tea breads. At lunch, homemade soups beat the chill, and salads come with thick slabs of pizza bianca. Info: $; 2719 E. Madison St.; 206/328-0078.
Saint Germain Bistro & Wine Bar. Magnifique bites, most less than $10. Don't miss the list of beautiful Bordeaux. Info: $; Tue-Sat; 2811 E. Madison St.; 206/323-9800.
Crush. A romantic Tudor belies the ultra-modern interior of this sophisticated dinner spot. Info: $$$; Tue-Sat; 2319 E. Madison St.; 206/302-7874.GO
Washington Park Arboretum. Take a walk through the Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden when fragrant plants such as daphne, witch hazel, and Sarcococca are in bloom. Redtwig dogwoods, paperbark maples, and berry-laden holly trees put on a colorful show at this time of year. Info: Free; 2300 Arboretum Dr. E.; www.uwbotanicgardens.org or 206/543-8800.
Just up the hill from Madison Valley is Madrona, a quiet neighborhood with turn-of-the-century homes and a compact intersection of eateries and shops. Highlights are Hitchcock (Wed-Sun; 1123 34th Ave.; 206/838-7173), an accessories shop inspired by the icy leading ladies of Alfred Hitchcock's films, and the Hi Spot Cafe ( $; 1410 34th Ave.; 206/325-7905), the place for huevos a la Mexicana, gargantuan cinnamon rolls, and some of the best scones in the city.
To reach the Madrona neighborhood from Madison Valley, go south on Martin Luther King Jr. Way (it intersects with Madison St.), make a left on Union St., and continue until you come to 34th Ave.