Capitol Hill food+drink | Niche ‘100% dedicated’ gluten free cafe and bakery coming to 12th Ave

What happens when a pastry chef goes paleo? Food and drink entrepreneur Toby Matasar is opening Niche, a “gluten free cafe and bakery” on 12th Ave in a small space sandwiched between a Taco del Mar and a Starbucks across from Seattle University.

The pastry chef and owner of West Seattle’s Eats Market Cafe says she changed her own diet two years ago — “I literally felt like I was given a new body within a week of eating this way and I’ve never looked back, only forward” — and now has created Niche, a cafe and market “100% dedicated” to providing gluten free food and drink. Matasar says she hopes to have created “a haven not just for those looking to eat less gluten but for those who want to eat fantastic foods that happen to be gluten free.” The goal is to be open by the end of June.

Still known for her four years working as a pastry chef with Tom Douglas, Matasar tells CHS she lived on Capitol Hill “many moons ago” after college. Following an East Coast stint, she returned to Seattle but settled in West Seattle. “There’s always been a place in my heart for Capitol Hill since that’s where I first fell in love with living in Seattle which is what brought me back here.”

Matasar hopes her all-day breakfast items and cafe pizzas and sandwiches will build up plenty of love for Niche. The cafe menu includes toasts and waffles, pizza by the slice and panini, along with salads and plates — all prepared gluten free. Niche will also offer beer and wine. Prices will range from $11 or $12 for a fancy sandwich — including gluten free Croque Madames — to $9 toasts to $6 or $7 waffles. f808db_3b7b46e5d71c4fdd929958f70f517891.jpg_srz_p_940_718_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00

f808db_1722f4ac59e24501afb4352eff8e7f8a.jpg_srz_p_941_791_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_Though many restaurants and cafes on Capitol Hill cater to various dietary and lifestyle choices, few have chosen a full dedication to the cause. Last year, Nuflours bakery opened its cafe on 15th Ave E with gluten free baked goods and lunch items. Meanwhile, 15th Ave E is also planned to be home to a vegan sweet shop as Makini Howell works to open her new Sugar Plum this summer. With increased knowledge and trial and error, the hope for these dedicated food and drink providers is to be able to create offerings that are delicious while meeting the requirements of customers, and keeping prices reasonable.

“I want Niche to feel like a place where people are free — free to eat anything there and know they’ll be smiling when they’re done, free to eat anything and know they don’t have to worry about asking questions about every ingredient because they know I’ve taken the time to make sure it’s all good, and I think I’ve got pretty high standards for what is ‘good,'” Matasar tells CHS. “There should be no worries that even if you ‘splurge’ you will still feel good. Unless of course you eat too much because it’s all so delicious!”

Niche is slated to open Mondays through Saturdays, 11 AM to 6 PM, by the end of June at 808 12th Ave. You can learn more at nicheseattle.com.

Capitol Hill food+drink notes

  • Also opening on 12th Ave but probably not gluten free: Seattle’s Best Pho and Deli. Replacing a nail salon.
  • Opening just across I-5 in the new Premier high-rise apartment building: DK Kodama’s Sansei. Seattle Met reports its the fifth location for the “popular seafood restaurant and sushi bar that combines pristine fish and Pacific Rim flourishes.” Meanwhile, the press release gets pretty excited. “The corner of 9th and Pine is in the heart of Seattle’s retail and entertainment district, along the Pike-Pine corridor. Sansei is the perfect restaurant to be at the gateway of Seattle’s newest destination dining neighborhood.” Tom Douglas will open his Carlile Room across the intersection this summer.
  • (Image:  Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv)

    (Image: Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv)

    Optimism Brewing is just getting to the beer making phase as the E Union brewery and food truck plaza project prepares to open by summer. Here’s more than you may have wanted to know about what went into the highly crafted brand for the Capitol Hill project:
    They are unusual people with an unusual vision, and they’re bringing it to life. They also picked our favorite concept out of the eight: bubbles — one of the hallmarks of beer — that are growing out of the typography. We like how the type and the image come together as one. Bubbles always rise, which to us is a poetic visual manifestation of Optimism.

  • Speaking of Capitol Hill beer, following the news of his resignation from Anheuser-Busch and InBev in the wake of the international brewing conglomerate’s acquisition of Elysian Brewing, Elysian co-founder and Pacific Northwest craft beer champion Dick Cantwell dropped CHS a note with some details of what he’ll work on next:
    My immediate immediate plans involve finishing the book on wood and barrel aging I’m writing with Peter Bouckaert of New Belgium.  Our deadline is August, and I’m really under the gun as all this other stuff has distracted me from the project for some months. I intend to remain strongly connected with Seattle and the Hill; plan to keep our house there, etc.  I am constrained by non-compete with ABI for various periods dependent on geography–the Northwest is the longest, so opening something there is unlikely.  I had to give this in order to make it possible to resign as quickly as I did.  In earlier negotiation I was willing to consider staying longer, but discourtesy prevailed to such an extent that I made the tradeoff. I may or may not decide to open another brewery anywhere in any event.
    Cantwell said his final day at Elysian is Wednesday, May 13th.
  • Still some important decisions to make before Good Citizen opens for good on E Olive Way.
  • As they celebrated the second birthday of Lost Lake (and revealed that they almost spiked the 24-hour idea), we also squeezed the Guild Seattle guys about their opening soon Italian joint on 19th Ave E.
  • At 15th and Pine, the French Le Zinc has been sold to the Japanese Naka.
  • Wanna buy a Capitol Hill Indian restaurant?

  • Coastal Kitchen’s Jeremy Hardy talks with NPR about Seattle Restaurants Scramble To Pay A Higher Minimum Wage“I’m going through the hourly sales, and if it is not making money, if it is not profitable, we are not going to do it, because we can’t afford to,” he says.
  • Not only will SIFF 2015 bring Bacon to Capitol Hill, but it’s also featuring a first-time culinary film series:
    The series offers 11 food-centric films; five of these showings also include corresponding dinners at nearby restaurants. This means your carnivorous craving after seeing Steak (Re)volution will be satisfied by a post-movie meal at Manhattan. Tickets for each dinner and movie pairing are $125, which includes the film screening, chef’s menu, wine, tax, and gratuity.
  • Sunday at Montana: burger party.
  • CHS talked with Robin Wehl Martin of Hello Robin, mother of the Mackle’smore.
  • Catfish Corner is gone from the corner of MLK and Cherry — though Marcus Lolario hopes his Fat’s Fried Chicken and Waffle keeps some of the vibe alive. But the spirit of Catfish Corner lives on in a tent in Rainier Beach.
  • 10869578_582513538548627_3585756488674336909_oThursday, you can get a taste of the future pairing of neighbors Outer Planet Brewing (open now) and Culture Club cheese bar (open soon) at a Raclette Pop Up.
  • UPDATE: The “National ____ Day” in most corners of the food and drink world gets a little tiresome. Every day is National Gin and Tonic Day at CHS HQ. But Saturday’s “National Crumpet Day” seems worthy. Queen Bee is ready to hook you up:
    In honor of National Crumpet Day, Capitol Hill’s Queen Bee Café, (2200 East Madison Seattle, WA 98112) is giving away a free crumpet to anyone walking in this Saturday, May 16th from 7am until 5pm.
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29 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | Niche ‘100% dedicated’ gluten free cafe and bakery coming to 12th Ave

  1. I think that more gluten-free options are great, even though we have a lot. What we don’t have are allergy-free options (free of dairy, gluten, nuts, soy, eggs, xantham gum, other common allergens) In fact, there isn’t one in Seattle at all. Flying Apron is gluten-dairy-egg free, but often contains other allergens.

  2. This is great news for the 1% of Americans who actually have celiac disease and the 99% of Americans who have deluded themselves into thinking gluten is causing them harm. “After I stopped eating 10 pounds of bread every week and started exercising, I suddenly felt better! It must be the gluten.”

    • Sorry that my wife’s dietary issues and medical problems have such an impact on you. I”ll tell her to eat like you or else.

      • I think the grumbling is about the fine folks who have stomach issues, diarrhea/constipation, etc, then take lots of foods out of their diet (instead of 1 at a time) to see what affects their symptoms, don’t actually go to a provider to work them up and get a confirmed diagnosis – It’s those folks, and it can’t be as many as who claim it, who annoy. I made a birthday cake for a 6-y/o in March who does have celiac disease and was glad to do it, but then at the party many of the other parents weighed in on how their child couldn’t eat it because of problems with dairy, eggs, sugar, chocolate, other things. You can’t please everyone. Even within this new shop, a person might want to know the fume factor of the paint, what kind of caulking in the windows, etc.

      • What if some folks like gluten-free bakery food and want to buy and eat it? That’s ok, right? Or is it too faddishy.

    • As a vegan, I’m so sorry my desire to reduce harm to animals & the environment is negatively impacting you.

      Oh that’s right; it’s not.

  3. I always wondered how these food fads get started. And even more curiously, how the more educated you are, the more likely you are to fall for them.

  4. Whether or not people will eat here because they have a legitimate disease or because they are part of a trend, if you’re not involved in either why do you care?

    I’m glad the 99% who may be part of a trend open up more options for those who make up the 1% with a need.

  5. Dont worry about gluten if you dont care. Got rid of my acid reflux and eczema. Would kill for a gluten fre bahn mi

  6. It’s so reassuring to know that whenever there’s an article about an establishment offering gluten-free food, there will always be comments complaining about it. Always. It’s super cool.

    My wife and daughter, both with celiac disease, are super excited to try this place out! Can’t wait!

    • Dave, this “complaining” isn’t about dissing people with celiac disease or dictating eating habits to other people. It’s about food fads that people get caught up in because of our society’s appalling lack of critical thinking skills and skepticism.
      Every year, hucksters and marketers come up with the latest silver bullet to solve everyone’s dietary and health problems. Years ago, it was eliminating MSG (actually, it’s called “weijing”. Calling it “MSG” is like calling salt “sodium chloride”). Or no more eggs. Or no more carbohydrates. Or ingesting Oz’s green coffee beans. Or juicing (which reduces a fruit’s nutrition, but ). And like clockwork, millions of Americans get duped into thinking that this will solve their weight problems and tummy aches.
      It is ironic that the gluten-free fad has been beneficial to people who legitimately have a toxic reaction to gluten, but I assure you the vast majority people who think eliminating gluten from their diets will somehow improve their health are just plain wrong.
      So, it is good that your wife and daughter have more options. But that doesn’t change the fact it’s because of a mass delusion. But life isn’t black and white, and history is full of strange ironies. I guess that’s why they call it “life”.

      • And I quote, “our society’s appalling lack of critical thinking skills and skepticism.”
        “Marketers and hucksters”
        “Duped into…”

        Reading Comprehension Fever. Catch it!

      • So it makes you feel better to put other people down for no reason whatsoever?

        Ranting about a bakery – good times!

  7. Wow. Overpriced much? $4 for toast? $10 for a beer? Also, this woman is looney. “I literally felt like I was given a new body within a week of eating this way and I’ve never looked back, only forward” IF YOU DO NOT HAVE CELIAC DISEASE, GLUTEN MAKES NO DIFFERENCE.

      • The science. Google it. Eating gluten-free is a fad, nothing more. The majority of people can digest gluten just fine without any negative health effects. Sure, a small percentage of people have a celiac disease and can not tolerate gluten. However, it is just absurd that so many other people have removed gluten from their diets. Do people have food sensitivities and allergies? Without a doubt. But that’s not what gluten-free is all about. It’s the dietary equivalent of Y2k.

      • Nah, people are generally smart enough to eat what makes them feel good, if that’s what they are motivated to do.

        If eating GF food improves the way you feel, why not go for it.

      • People once said the same things about going fat free, carb free, Paleo, Atkins etc. Meanwhile, the obesity rates in America continue to skyrocket. In addition heart disease and diabetes continue to be huge problems. So, that is why I find the public’s willingness to embrace food fads without any sound science or logic behind them troubling. They are not working for the society as a whole, we’re gettting sicker not healthier. People need factual information about what to eat to be healthy, not fads to follow.

      • Nah, my wife wouldn’t bother eating GF food if it didn’t help her avoid the raging poops and skin rash that lasts 3 days. She’s working with nutritionists and following their advice. She doesn’t give a flying F about fads.

        Have some consideration for other people about whom you know nothing.

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