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Favourite Seattle bakery


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#1 Ling

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 12:15 AM

I'll be in Seattle next week checking out Salumi, hitting up Pike Market, and shopping. I'm looking for a good midday treat from a bakery that's close to where I'll be (downtown?) and isn't too difficult to find, since I'm unfamiliar with the city. Is there a particular bakery that's known for something I shouldn't miss?

Thanks. :smile:

#2 MsRamsey

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 08:36 AM

I think the best bakeries downtown (or close to) are Dahlia (2001 4th Ave.) and Macrina (2408 1st Ave.)

I slightly prefer Dahlia for its more refined pastries. If they really do still have the Summer Corn bread-of-the-month (it's still listed on their site), by all means get a loaf and tear into it. The sandwiches are really good, and pretty much any pastry you get should be well made and delicious. I remember trying the shortcake biscuit and their homemade jam, and it was out of this world. A simple biscuit! People rave about the coconut cream pie. Coconut is not my thing, so I haven't tried it.

Macrina's pastries are more rustic. You'll just have to see what they have on the particular day you're there. The selection changes frequently. Macrina came out with its own cookbook in 2003 and Leslie Mackie has been nominated for James Beard awards.

Link to Dahlia:
http://www.tomdouglas.com/bakery/

Macrina:
http://www.macrinabakery.com/

If you can get to Ballard, you have to go to Cafe Besalu. My vote for best croissants/danishes/ginger biscuits in Seattle.

Edited by MsRamsey, 18 September 2005 - 08:42 AM.

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#3 Verjuice

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 09:01 AM

I think the best bakeries downtown (or close to) are Dahlia (2001 4th Ave.) and Macrina (2408 1st Ave.)

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Yes, yes! I've been to Seattle only three times. During my first short visit, these happened to be the only two bakeries that I fortuitously walked past and decided to check out. On each subsequent trip, I pretty much lived on various pastries from both places because they were really that good. Macrina and Dahlia Lounge (nextdoor to the bakery) happen to be great for lunch and dinner, respectively, but it's the desserts that call me back.
At Macrina, do not miss the lemon tart. I'm not usually fond of fruit and pastry combined, or the taste of lemon zest, for that matter, but the tart is sublime. I remember standing perfectly still on a busy sidewalk a block from the bakery and eating the entire slice slowly, barely conscious of the cars and people swirling around me in slow motion. The turtle brownies are very good, too, but not dense and moist enough for my corrupt palate. I sprinkle Maldon salt on everything caramel. Gives it pep, I think.

Last year, I sustained myself on my first trip to Vancouver after a quick stop for lunch in Seattle with a huge box of a dozen pastries from Macrina. The only ones I couldn't finish were the muffins, which were pretty bland.

In September of '04, I carried a loaf of the summer corn bread, which was highly recommended on the boards here, on my lap all the way back to New Mexico. It was meant to be August's loaf of the month, but it was so popular that they carried it into September. This past August, I found myself in Seattle for twenty-four hours, and I carried another loaf of summer corn bread on a plane with me, but this time I brought it to Dubai. Talk about devotion. Do not miss the coconut cream pie. I'm not a die-hard coconut fan, but I'd be hard-pressed to think of a more heavenly way to showcase its flavor. Amazing. If you do end up at Dahlia around dinner time, hit the Dahlia lounge for the homemade doughnuts... ohhh. Indeed.

If you're passing through Pike's Place, pick up a hot crumpet with maple butter, walnuts and cream cheese from The Crumpet Shop (?) to tide you over between food samples.

#4 RandyB

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 09:37 AM

Too bad you have to stay downtown. In Ballard you could find croissants and pains au chocolat that would be in the top 10% in Paris. That's at Cafe Besalu, 5909 24th Av NW, open Wed-Sun, and usually out of those items by midday.

At Macrina, the coffee and pound cakes are rich, old fashioned delights. I particularly like sour cherry version, as well as the Budapest-style cinnamon loaf. The slices are very generous.

#5 JasonTrue

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 11:16 AM

I haven't gotten around to writing on bakeries except for ones that serve sweeter pastries, but I did write about some of my favorite spots for sweets here, which includes many bakeries.

Cafe Besalu is really an absolute must if you can make your way to Ballard, both for sweet and savory pastries and freshly-made quiches. Tall Grass Bakery next door can handle your bread fix.

I am a big fan of Fresh Flours in Phinney Ridge; they primarily serve Japanese-influenced coffee shop pastries, made on site. (They are also, alas, a customer of mine, so you may choose to ignore my enthusiasm). I like the green tea Parisian-style macarons, most of their laminated dough pastries, and things made with kabocha or satsumaimo.

For more bread-focused bakeries, the top of of my list would be, in no particular order:
-Tall Grass Bakery (Ballard). The all-rye loaves are a standout, but the ideal thing is to come on a day when they are "closed" (Monday or Tuesday) and buy the first thing that comes out of the oven. No meal service. Officially open Wednesday-Sunday, and I think they keep hours similar to their neighbors at Besalu, roughly 7am to 3 pm.
-Essential Bakery (Fremont, Madison Mark). Their breads are pervasive at Seattle restaurants and sandwich shops, mostly for good reason. They make sandwiches and soups, pastries, cakes, and various rustic breads, including the very nice rosemary with coarse salt, and potato. They emphasize organic ingredients, or at least transitional ones.
-Macrina (Belltown). Most of Macrina's rustic loaves are quite nice; dense and chewy, they have a lot of flavor. Macrina has dine-in options, though I've only done this once and was not as thrilled as most people who write here, maybe because of how unevenly reheated the potatoes served with my otherwise decent meal were.
-Biofournil (Belltown). The one time I've been here they were out of almost everything for sandwich-making, but they have very nice naturally-leavened breads.
-Le Fournil (Eastlake). I usually come here for the lunch special, which includes your choice of sandwich, a drink (usually espresso-based or juice), and a cake or pastry, for about $7. It has a somewhat austere interior; it feels like an average coffee shop but the bread and cakes are quite nice.
-Le Panier (Pike Place Market) has breads are limited mostly to french-style white breads and laminated doughs such as filled or plain croissants, but if you are in the market and looking for a light lunch or breakfast, it certainly works; you might also try Piroshky Piroshky nearby or the bakery on the other end of the market near Pike that I always forget the name of.
-Dahlia Bakery (downtown-ish, leaning toward Belltown). I have limited experience and memory of this place, as I tend to go to Macrina or other options around her, but they have some decent bread here.

It's not a bakery, but a good spot for a sandwich and juice:
-Bacco (Pike Place Market). Most people seem to come here for a crab sandwich.

Edited by JasonTrue, 18 September 2005 - 11:17 AM.

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#6 Ling

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 01:37 PM

Oh yes, I've heard of Dahlia! Is it relatively close to Macrina? Maybe I'll stop at both. :smile: Sounds like I'll have to fit in the coconut cream pie from Dahlia in my eating schedule. :wink: How are their chocolate desserts?

Also, is Fran's Chocolates close by these bakeries? I've read her cookbook and I'm dying to try the treats there. :wub:

Edited by Ling, 18 September 2005 - 01:40 PM.


#7 JasonTrue

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 05:59 PM

Fran's has one location in University Village in north Seattle, and a slightly smaller one in downtown Bellevue. From downtown, you could take a bus to either location (550 to Bellevue, I can't remember the U-Village one). Bellevue is across the lake from Seattle, and not necessarily interesting enough for a pilgrimage.

Dahlia Bakery is relatively close to Macrina (maybe 5 or 10 minutes on foot). I never tried to walk from one to the other, but the stretch isn't that far.

I keep trying to teach people that the northern (and occasionally southern) parts of Seattle offer far more interesting food than downtown... maybe someday the tourists will find their way beyond the Central Business District, Belltown and Pioneer Square, and discover Ballard and Columbia City, which are where all the secrets are.

Oh yes, I've heard of Dahlia! Is it relatively close to Macrina? Maybe I'll stop at both.  :smile: Sounds like I'll have to fit in the coconut cream pie from Dahlia in my eating schedule.  :wink: How are their chocolate desserts?

Also, is Fran's Chocolates close by these bakeries? I've read her cookbook and I'm dying to try the treats there.  :wub:

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#8 MsRamsey

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 06:06 PM

Oh yes, I've heard of Dahlia! Is it relatively close to Macrina? Maybe I'll stop at both.  :smile: Sounds like I'll have to fit in the coconut cream pie from Dahlia in my eating schedule.  :wink: How are their chocolate desserts?

Also, is Fran's Chocolates close by these bakeries? I've read her cookbook and I'm dying to try the treats there.  :wub:

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Yes, Dahlia and Macrina are close to each other (see the addresses in my first post).

Fran's is at University Village, which is not walking distance. It's in the U-District. You'd need to take a bus (which is a pain in the ass) or drive.
"Save Donald Duck and Fuck Wolfgang Puck."
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how the bill to ban production of foie gras in
California was summarized for signing by
Gov. Schwarzenegger.

#9 Ling

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 06:56 PM

My friend will be driving, so it looks like I'll be going to Fran's as well. I've already decided on the caramel with dark chocolate and grey salt. Mmm...salted caramels.

Glad to hear the two bakeries are not too far from one another! I plan to take pictures of the baked goods and I'll post them in this thread when I get back. :smile:

#10 Terrasanct

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 07:32 PM

It's not a bakery, but Dilettante Chocolates is another great place to stop. I always go right to their outlet and buy bags of truffles and other things at reduced prices.

http://www.dilettante.com/

Click on Store Locations and there are maps, too. The outlet is on 23rd and Cherry, and it looks like they have a retail location in the Pike Place market.

Also, isn't Grand Central Bakery pretty good? I've only been there once, but the Pioneer Square location is really interesting.

http://grandcentralb...re_pioneer.html

#11 JasonTrue

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 10:52 PM

I think Dilettante qualifies as a bakery, at least at some locations, since they certainly make various cakes and pastries... Though we have a distinct ambiguity in English.

I lived in Germany as a starving student, and mostly the Bäcker (Bakeries) and Konditorei (confectioners/pastry shops) had a clear dividing line. Pastry shops usually served cakes and sometimes laminated pastries, bakers served breads and sometimes laminated pastries. Bakeries were primarily places for the savory, konditorei catered to the afternoon coffee and cake crowds.

In the U.S., bakeries might serve everything: bread, pastry, cakes, confectionary, chocolates...
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#12 MGLloyd

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 06:35 AM

Although it is nowhere near downtown, and I have no connection with them except as a happy customer, allow me to put in a shameless plug for L'Artisan french bakery on the shores of Silver Lake in south Everett. A wide selection of delicious pastries and breads. I am helpless to resist their Napoleons. And at only $ 2.60 each, too.

Edited by MGLloyd, 19 September 2005 - 06:36 AM.


Regards,

Michael Lloyd
Mill Creek, Washington USA

#13 daves

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 07:18 AM

Macrina has become my wife's favorite bread producer in the area. She visited there a few times during her pastry chef schooling -- along with some more 'industrial' bakeries.

Definitely do not miss the coconut cream pie at Dahlia Lounge!

#14 danikaw

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 11:43 AM

Have to add my vote for Besalu.

Side note: I ate at Palace Kitchen last week with some out of town guests. I raved and raved about the coconut cream pie so we ordered a slice at the end of the meal. It was such a disappointment! Maybe it was an off night, but it was completely average. I don't know exactly what was different but it was by no means as good as it has been in the past. I hope it was a fluke.

#15 Peter Johnson

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 12:41 PM

No love herabouts for Panzanella, 14th & Union?

:huh:

#16 tsquare

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 12:56 PM

If you are in town on Wednesday afternoon, you can go to the farmer's market in Columbia City and try the pastry and bread from the new CC bakery. It bears alot of similarity to Dahlia, no surprise, as he was their baker before going South. They say they will open the retail doors soon.

#17 tighe

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 01:39 PM

If you are in town on Wednesday afternoon, you can go to the farmer's market in Columbia City and try the pastry and bread from the new CC bakery. It bears alot of similarity to Dahlia, no surprise, as he was their baker before going South. They say they will open the retail doors soon.

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We got some of their bread at last week's market and it was wonderful. Unfortunately, they'd sold out of pain au chocolat. :shock: Their retail space is going to be about a block south of the market location on Rainier.
Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.
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#18 kiliki

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 02:10 PM

At Fran's, try a scoop (or at least a sample) of the lemon ice cream. It's out of this world.
Some of my favorite items at Dahlia are the buttermilk loaf, the russian teacakes and the little lemon tarts. You really can't go wrong there or at Macrina.

Not in the same league as these, but fun if you like donuts, is Top Pot donuts at 2124 5th Ave in Belltown (close to Dahlia). It's a much beloved spot by donut lovers.

#19 Ling

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 03:00 PM

If you are in town on Wednesday afternoon, you can go to the farmer's market in Columbia City and try the pastry and bread from the new CC bakery. It bears alot of similarity to Dahlia, no surprise, as he was their baker before going South. They say they will open the retail doors soon.

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Darn...I'll be in Seattle on Friday.

#20 little ms foodie

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 03:24 PM

Also isn't there a Dilattante chocolate in the building by the crumpet shop at the market??

#21 chadum

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 03:40 PM

Also isn't there a Dilattante chocolate in the building by the crumpet shop at the market??

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One block north (up the hill) is a Dilettante shop. It sells the chocolates.

There are also several Dilettante cafes that server hot chocolate and cakes in addition to the chocolates. These are sprinkled through downtown and one on Capito Hill. The most central one is in Westlake Mall downtown.

#22 VibeGuy

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 05:57 PM

Fran's lemon ice cream may be the best I've ever tasted, and I'm completely obsessed in the quest for an intense, full-flavored lemon ice cream with no casein particles. It's outrageously good.

Anyone headed to the Dahlia Bakery should *ABSOLUTELY* get one of the chocolate-butter-pecan cookies. I've become an addict. They're small, intense, and make me crave another almost instantly.

Odd this should come up; I've had a hankering for something I'm not sure I've eaten before; I have this vision....of a small brioche, filled with vanilla bean custard, topped with confectioner's sugar....anyone seen anything like that?

Eric

#23 chefturnedbum

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 01:21 AM

Jeez ling I wish I could be your midday treat but if you insist on a bakery then I second the moyion for Dahlia. Coconut cream pie. Must have been a fluke at Palace. Turbonado sugar ice cream at Frans and if you want to try the bet pastry chef in town then head over to earth and ocean and sample Sue MCowns whimsical delectables. Best pastry chef in the city.

#24 Verjuice

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 01:32 AM

I've already decided on the caramel with dark chocolate and grey salt. Mmm...salted caramels.

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On my first Seattle sugar binge, I bought a small box of these at Pike's Place; in you are at the market and are pressed for time and don't think you'll make it to Fran's, you can find these chocolates (and their less thrilling cousins, the milk chocolate caramels with sea salt) at the marketplace/deli which is a couple of doors down from the Starship flagship store in Pike's Place.

I have done the Pike's Place/Macrina/Dahlia circuit by foot on a pastry mission a couple of times. The walk is short (ten to fifteen minutes) and very pleasant.

#25 tsquare

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 08:34 AM

If you are in town on Wednesday afternoon, you can go to the farmer's market in Columbia City and try the pastry and bread from the new CC bakery. It bears alot of similarity to Dahlia, no surprise, as he was their baker before going South. They say they will open the retail doors soon.

View Post

We got some of their bread at last week's market and it was wonderful. Unfortunately, they'd sold out of pain au chocolat. :shock: Their retail space is going to be about a block south of the market location on Rainier.

View Post


Sorry. My pain au c' was quite tasty.

#26 chadum

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 10:42 AM

Also: Macrina makes excelent cakes. These are cakes created to eat not just to look at.

You will need to order in advance to pick one up:
http://www.macrinabakery.com/Cakes.htm

#27 little ms foodie

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 03:44 PM

If you are in Pioneer Square at all, I really like Grand Central also. Great sandwiches and salads and all sorts of baked items to temp you!

#28 tsquare

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 05:08 PM

Fran's lemon ice cream may be the best I've ever tasted, and I'm completely obsessed in the quest for an intense, full-flavored lemon ice cream with no casein particles.  It's outrageously good.

Anyone headed to the Dahlia Bakery should *ABSOLUTELY* get one of the chocolate-butter-pecan cookies.  I've become an addict.  They're small, intense, and make me crave another almost instantly.

Odd this should come up;  I've had a hankering for something I'm not sure I've eaten before;  I have this vision....of a small brioche, filled with vanilla bean custard, topped with confectioner's sugar....anyone seen anything like that?

Eric

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Fresh Flours has something like that - just sub red bean custard! It's tasty, but foreign for me. It might have crystal sugar on top, I forget.

#29 Ling

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 09:55 PM

I've received a few PMs from Seattle people who want to meet up for lunch or cocktails. Please PM me if anyone else is interested, and I'll give you the details. :smile:

#30 Ling

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 09:56 PM

On my first Seattle sugar binge, I bought a small box of these at Pike's Place; in you are at the market and are pressed for time and don't think you'll make it to Fran's, you can find these chocolates (and their less thrilling cousins, the milk chocolate caramels with sea salt) at the marketplace/deli which is a couple of doors down from the Starship flagship store in Pike's Place.

View Post


Thanks for the tip!