I bike past Essential every day and smell that good bready scent wafting out. It's all I can do not to stop in every day for a brioche, a croissant, or just a loaf of their yummy bread. They take baking very seriously, and it shines through in their great breads (ranging from crusty baguettes to solid, tangy desem and sourdough to ciabatta), fantastic pastries and beautiful desserts. Good coffee and espresso, sandwiches and breakfast items such as oatmeal are also available. They're open in the evenings and serve beer as well.
The branch in Fremont/Wallingford has an airy brick-walled dining room with good music and newspapers on a rack. A good place to hole up for an hour while drinking coffee and eating a cinnamon roll.