Bonjour et bienvenue, hungry Seattleites. The fresh Spring air in the Emerald City is full of delicious scents, and many of them are coming from the city’s amazing patisseries. French baked goods are legendary in every corner of the world, and with good reason. No one does flaky crust, fluffy centers, and flavorful sweets quite like they do in Paris. Lucky for us, their bakers’ skills have reached all the way to the Pacific Northwest. While it’s tempting to splurge on tartes, croissants, and other pastries at just one place, there are so many excellent patisseries in Seattle that you should make a day of it.
One of the finest places to start your morning is at Le Panier in the market. Known as the “Very French” bakery, Hubert Loevenbruck’s little shop has been serving fresh-baked fare to locals and visitors alike since 1983. Le Panier aims for the warm simplicity of a French urban bakery, offering everything from crusty baguettes and buttery croissants to fluffy meringue and refreshing fruit tartes. The place is understandably packed in the morning, but it’s worth a little bit of a wait for a light breakfast of croissant a l’abricot (a real butter pastry filled with tasty apricot preserves) and a cup of hot, delicious Caffe Umbria coffee.
There are few places finer in downtown Seattle for lunch than those in the museum district. The Seattle Art Museum is surrounded by excellent restaurants, stylish cafes, and sleek cocktail bars. For an authentic French experience, Belle Epicurean is unmatched. The relaxed atmosphere combines wonderfully with sandwiches like the traditional Jambon Fromage, with thick-sliced ham and tasty gruyere on a fresh house baguette, or the delightfully idiosyncratic Croque Monsieur with black forest ham, mornay sauce, and melted gruyere and provolone cheeses layered on a warm brioche. Be sure to check out their other location on Madison St., and their new artisan specialty shop, Provisions, right next door.
After filling up on all that rich food and lingering in busy cafes, it might be nice to take home some authentic French treats and relax in a more intimate setting for dinner. An excursion to Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle is in order. A savory roast duck sandwich or a slice of their Quiche Lorraine will do nicely with a good bottle of wine for your nighttime meal, though while you’re there, you must pick up a Twice Baked Almond Croissant. This melt-in-your-mouth pastry is soaked in simple syrup, filled with delicious almond cream, and then topped with sliced almonds and additional almond cream. It’s their signature item that gets raves from all who taste it.
With a day of delectable eats from some of Seattle’s finest French bakeries, you’ll have experienced one of the best ways to welcome the Spring. Bon Appetit, Seattle!
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