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May 27, 2001 11:46 AM

Le Pain du Four

  • m

Has anyone else tried this organic French bakery in Belltown? It's exactly the sort of place you might expect to find in Belltown (where, you will be surprised to hear, there are some new condos going up), but the bread was quite defensible. I got a demi-baguette a l'ancienne and started walking, and before I knew it, the whole thing was gone, along with much of the caerphilly I'd just bought at James Cook. I felt like kind of a yuppie. The loaf was just a bit more sour than I'd prefer in that sort of bread, and the crumb didn't have enough personality, but I can't say I've had a better baguette in town and it compared favorable with some I had in Paris.

Has anyone been there and tried any of their products? They had a selection of pastries and maybe one or two other breads.


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  1. I visited in the first two weeks they were open and was thoroughly unimpressed. Had a pain au raisin and it was just okay (Le Panier in Pike Place sells a better one). I found the bread rather tough and agree with your comments on the crumb. But what disappointed me most with the place is the overall feel---it doesn't beg for us to stay awhile, and it doesn't smell like bread. I worked in bakeries around the city for years while in college, and there are already enough bakeries that either 1)don't bake anything on site, or 2)are too well-ventilated. When I walk into a bakery (especially Ffrench) I want to smell the butter.

    6 Replies
    1. re: sonja

      I haven't tried Le Pain du Four. I usually end up at the French Bakery (Boulangerie somethingorother) on 45th & Sunnyside-ish in Wallingford for bread, which does bake on the premises. However, their loaves havn't knocked my socks off. The croissants from Le Fournil just by the University Bridge (on the Eastlake side) are phenomenal, but I haven't gone there for bread.

      So, where should I go? Also, if anyone has had a respectable loaf of rye bread in this city, PLEASE post! I'm an East Coast transplant who misses real rye bread (among other things). West coast sour dough is good, but doesn't substitute.

      Beth (hungry for lunch now at 11am)

      1. re: Beth

        Macrina Bakery has wonderful bread.. and rye with or sans caramelized onions (2408 First Ave.)

        Also the Greenwood Bakery makes great pain au levain (7227 Greenwood N.).

        1. re: Beth

          this isn't actually about finding the perfect bread, but if you're looking for excellent croissants, you must try cafe besalu in ballard.
          it's worth the trip for the pain au chocolat alone, but the ginger biscuits are also fabulous. there's a bakery next door that sells bread, but i've never made it past their croissants.

          1. re: natasha

            I second the Besalu suggestion. But I just discovered one of the best loaves of my life. Tall Grass Bakery makes a pumpernickel/sour cherry that's amazing. I haven't tried anything else, though. Anyone else tried this place?

          2. re: Beth

            I have to agree with a few and say I'm quite unimpressed by Le Pain du Four. It has no character and it feels like the McDonalds of bread. There are other options, though.

            Macrina is a big favorite of ours, although many say (rightly so) there is not much variety there. But what they do, they do very well. Morning Rolls are serious food, as is their Challa and Brioche.

            Also, Tom Douglas just opened his Dahlia Bakery, right next to the new Dahlia Lounge on 4th. I stopped by and had macaroons worth living for, and some nice house loaf. I think the draw there is more the pastries, too, but the bread was good.

            Lastly, Three Sisters (I think that's the name, by Jack's Fish Spot) in the Market is good. Those are just downtown ones, as that's my 'hood - I have heard great things about outlying areas, too!

            Good bread to all!

          3. re: sonja
            Matthew Amster-Burton

            True, it's no Poujauran.

            FWIW, I tried one of the bake-at-home loaves last night. It was very easy: preheat oven, sprinkle bread with water, bake 11 minutes. I'm eating the leftovers now (probably the fact that there were leftovers IS the verdict), but I have to give a thumbs-down. I want to like it, but the crust has that kind of crunchy but less-than-zero quality that I generally associate with bread baked by a mediocre home baker (i.e., me) in a home oven. Then again, it is certainly the best hot bread you'll enjoy at home unless you know how to bake.

            Oddly enough, the crumb on the take-home bread has a little more personality than what I got at the store, but it's a little weird knowing that this particular pattern of bubbles and wheat was engraved weeks ago.

            In sum: This is definitely the bread I'd take on the space shuttle.