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Seattle's best croissants - Besalu vs. Fournil

  • r

I just made my first visit to the Cafe Besalu in Ballard (24th Ave NW at 59th St). A friend who just returned from Paris told me that Besalu was as good as she had in Paris. I'm in Paris twice a year and have a pretty good idea of what great croissants are like.

She was right. Besalu's croissants would be better than average in Paris, in fact just below the top bakers. Very light and flaky with just enough butter and the right flavor.

On a good day Le Fournil (Eastlake near University Bridge) is the equal of Besalu. I have also found them unpredictable. Some days there is little flakiness. In fairness, I only visited Besalu once, so it's only from my friend's recommendation that I can imagine they are more consistent.

Don't go late to Besalu or Fournil. By noon or 1 pm they'll be out.

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  1. b
    babette feasts

    Besalu. Totally.

    1. Hiroki, a new bakery on N56th St across from Luau and Eva, makes the best croissant I've had in Seattle. Hiroki also produces an incredible bread pudding out of croissants.

      1. I've experienced both on many, many an occasion (how could I resist?) and I must say that Besalu has the best puff pastries by far. They always seduce with the perfect buttery-crisp heaven of a pastry. At Christmas they make Basil Brunsli cookies- a bit brownie but chewier and more cookie than confection, spiked with fragrant cinnamon. These could quite possibly be the best cookies ever- I'm serious. To the credit of Fournil, they are open longer hours and more days and do a higher volume of baking- they bake for a number of local grocery chains. For the amount they are producing, their quality is impressive. Fournil is amazing when it comes to traditional french tarts or Opera cake/Mille Feuille, and one of a small few who even go that route in the city.

        They both are great, depending on what you're after. For an early morning breakfast or late brunch, go to Besalu. Get some quiche, the large size of iced chai- the best ever, a pastry and a cookie- whatever you can't eat take home. For a grab and go lunch (they have sweet lunch specials) or a fancy party (their tarts and cakes are consistently flawless) for to Fournil. :)

        1. I've always been fond of the croissants at the Boulangerie on 45th in Wallingford. The almond ones especially (rather than the almond cream) are delicious.

          1. There is a tiny little coffee shop/pastry shop in Mount Baker (on 31st near Massachusetts...right across the street from That's Amore), it's called Sweet and Savory. I believe the owner went to Pastry Chef School in Paris. The croissants are just like the ones I've had in France.

            1. I hadn't been to Fournil in ages but the other day I had a VERY mediocre almond croissant there. My choux wasn't very good either-so the tarts and other pastries are still good?
              Ditto on what everyone said about Besalu.
              I will definitely have to try Hiroki. I have been meaning to try Sweet and Savory for ages but I was disappointed to hear, after learning that the owner trained in Paris, that most of the offerings are American style baked goods. I will check out the croissants, though.

              1 Reply
              1. re: christy319

                Sadly, Hiroki is no longer making croissants. He says he doesn't have the right equipment and folks are freaked out because they think there is too much butter in them. He says there is more butter in your standard muffin than in a croissant. He also said that when the weather gets cooler, he may attempt croissants again. I hope so!

                Oh, by the way, Hiroki is in the Greenlake area. Tangletown to be exact. And his desserts and other pastries are wonderful.

              2. wait, what neighborhood is sweet and savory in? ditto for hiroki? I'm pastry obsessed and you all have stirred it from dormant to active status. somebody help me- stat! :D

                ps. Boulangerie yes! They are great. The owner, a Vietnamese guy- sadly his name currently escapes me, is amazing. So so kind. And he works like crazy, open to close last time I checked. And the pastries are amazing. I like the nut tarts too, although don't start eating it by yourself...you'll end up finishing it all, it's that good, and you'll be left with a bellyache and a sugar headache. ;)

                1 Reply
                1. re: allkinds

                  Sweet & Savory is in the Mount Baker neighborhood (31st, just north of Massachusetts). They have a very limited selection of pastries every day, but they are closed on Monday. They also have Caffe Vita coffee. Their plain Croissants are amazing, but they had a chocolate one the other day....SO good.mmmmmmmm

                2. oh, Fournil has changed a lot since about 3 years ago. (was it THAT long? ehhh) I used to go everyday because I worked so close...not so good for the waistline, heheh. Now? I would go there for their little seasonal spice cakes (available for holidays). Also their Opera and Mille feuille slices and their lemon tart. Good salads last time I checked as well. I'm sad their croissants have died. :( Their almond brioche was soo in the past.

                  1. sounds delicious! thank you for the directions!

                    1. Hiroki's signature item is his green tea tiramisu. Very good as is anything else he makes.