French café offers relaxation amidst busy downtown

by Lindsie Wagner

Located in the heart of bustling downtown, but with the atmosphere of a quaint country kitchen, Madeleine’s Café & Pâtisserie presents Spokane with a portal into European culture.

Mother-daughter team Deb Green and Megan Vanstone opened the café in October 2008 with the hope of bringing a little bit of Parisian influence to their hometown. They were inspired by a trip they took to Paris during Vanstone’s junior year of high school.

“[French culture] sucks you in, and it’s hard not to want to bring it back,” Vanstone said. “It’s a simpler way of life.”

Green and Vanstone’s trip to Paris did not begin to form into the vision of Madeleine’s, though, until Vanstone’s college days.

Attending University of Idaho, Vanstone struggled to decide on a course of study. Finally, she realized that she wanted to take advantage of what she calls “the chemistry in the kitchen” between herself and her mom.

“Growing up, I had helped my mom [with her catering business] ever since I could hold a knife,” Vanstone said.

Once they had developed their business vision, Vanstone decided to pursue pastry school, and attended the San Francisco Baking Institute. Upon her graduation, the mother-daughter team launched their business with versatility in mind.

“We really offer so many different options,” Vanstone said. “We cater to someone who wants just a cup of coffee in the morning and someone who wants a full meal,” Vanstone said.

Aside from serving many needs, family has always been important within Madeleine’s. Vanstone’s younger brother and sister, and two of her cousins work in the restaurant, she said. Additionally, her husband and father help out when it’s needed.

“Even my grandparents chip in during busy times like Hoopfest doing things like handing out Gatorade,” Vanstone said.

Many of the recipes featured in the café are heirloom recipes from Vanstone’s grandmothers and great grandmothers.

Those that are not family recipes are usually tested out during weekly family dinners, such as their popular roasted corn salad, which is Vanstone’s favorite savory item sold at Madeleine’s.

Her absolute favorite food item, though, are cinnamon rolls, which she describes as summing up her love of French culture.

“I think part of the idea of country French food is the comfort of it. Part of what drew us to this food is that it’s gooey and warm, and that’s a cinnamon roll.”

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