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Oct 18, 2008 01:11 PM

[SEA] Honore Bakery - Ballard

Popped in this morning to try this 2-month old bakery's pastries. They hit a home run. I loved both the pastries I tasted:

- the hazelnut croissant is really more of a flat pinwheel pastry. Not too sweet, just the right amount of hazelnuts, and perfectly flaky. Oh. so. good.

- kouign amann (pronounced "queen aman") is a pastry I'd never had before. I'm glad I tried it at Honore. It's a hockey-puck size round brioche-style dough topped with a thin layer of carmelized sugar and just a tiny amount of salt.

Besides the stellar pastries, I absolutely loved the atmosphere. It's a very clean industrial space with minimal decor, but what they do have is beautiful wood touches and charming jazz music. It's just delightful.

Although I didn't order a coffee, I saw they brew Lighthouse beans, which I like.

They didn't have many customers this morning. I really hope they make it because from what I've seen, they're doing everything right. Seek this place out. It's on a quiet side street just off 15th. I can't wait to go back. (maybe tomorrow morning?)

Honore Artisan Bakery
1413 NW 70th St, Seattle, WA

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  1. I've had good experiences with their pastries; their cakes are over-priced and don't have what I would expect would be high-quality flavor.

    1 Reply
    1. re: staffstuff

      For cakes I wouldn't even consider buying one from anyone else but Dahlia Bakery. When I arrive with a Dahlia cake at a dinner party, people literally cheer.

      Dahlia Bakery
      2001 4th Ave, Seattle, WA

    2. popped in there this a.m. (first time) and I WILL be back !
      got some FABulous macaron cookies (not like macaroons)
      and a killer cheese/scallion scone... and a tasty canele...
      (now I have all these leftovers with one bite taken out of them)
      No Prob!

      1. Any more comments? I'll be in Seattle, and I'm curious to know if I should try this place.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Jazzaloha

          I would definitely place it on the short list of French bakeries to visit in Seattle. Ballard is home to 2 of the 3. Honore is very good, especially for the macarons. Besalu is where it is at for me. Do not miss the cardamom pretzel. Bakery Noveau in West Seattle is the other top place. Locals cannot agree upon whether Noveau or Besalu has the top croissant in Seattle. People really like the almond variety at Noveau.

          Honore Artisan Bakery
          1413 NW 70th St, Seattle, WA

          1. re: BallardFoodie

            "Locals cannot agree upon whether Noveau or Besalu has the top croissant in Seattle." That's an easy one for me. A friend of mine who is an accomplished non-professional pâtissier and knows a lot about croissants, regularly spending time in both New York and Paris, recently did a survey of the best croissants in the New York City area. He published the results on Chowhound’s Manhattan Board (, concluding that none of them was as good as those as Café Besalu. Jonathan Kauffman, who was, in my opinion, Seattle’s best food critic before he left to return to San Francisco, declared the Besalu croissant “the number one thing I’ll miss most about Seattle.” I can’t do better than Kauffman’s description, so here it is: “I haven't tasted [the equal of James Miller’s croissant at Besalu] anywhere in the United States. You smell the butter even from an arm's length, of course, but by the time you bite into the pastry it seems to have transmuted into air. If you had the patience and self-control of a gem-cutter you could probably count the layers of dough forming the croissant's crisp golden shell -- there are dozens at least, each of them distinct. And once you've pulled off a shard of the exoskeleton, the translucent sheets underneath tear and crumple with each breath that brushes them.” Besalu vs. Noveau? Noveau's croissants are good, but Besalu's are freaking amazing.

            1. re: Tom Armitage

              I've got to agree with you. In my attempt toe the line, I neglected to say which I believe is the best. I live within 5 blocks of Besalu and it is the top in my opinion. My problem is that I can never make it past the cardamom pretzel. Talk about freaking amazing.

            2. re: BallardFoodie

              And shall we always remember Besalu's plainer (yet better companion for a lifetime) sister, Tall Grass Bakery, right next door? Their seeded baguette is the best you'll ever have. They come out of the oven at 4:30 pm.

          2. Thanks, you two! Tom, that's a very convincing post, but I'll definitely try both places.

            Btw, I just realized that I went to Besalu last year, but I didn't get the croissant! (I had a plum danish, which I enjoyed.)

            2 Replies
            1. re: Jazzaloha

              Let us know what you think after you have compared the two. I read one blog that favored the croissants at Nouveau over Besalu on the basis that the Besalu croissants were "too buttery." Too buttery? For a croissant? Huh? Just goes to show you how, especially on matters of food and taste, one man's meat is another man's poison. Vive la différence.

              1. re: Tom Armitage

                And just to follow up on Tom's comments about butter, here is a very French view of what constitutes good and bad croissants, translated (as best I can) from Le Figaro newspaper as part of their regular, annual rating of the best croissants in Paris.

                It is good if:
                - It is shaped like a quarter moon.
                - It is plump, has a crust is golden brown and a beautiful blonde color.
                - When you stretch the horns to explore the interior, the crumb seems to have airy holes, convoluted, beige, supple, almost brilliant, and hidden under a very crisp pastry exterior.
                - In the mouth it has a little malty/yeasty taste, a mild acidity, and a good balance between taste of butter and the aroma of the wheat, which lingers on the palate; it is both crisp and mouth-melting.
                - The triangular point section is up well on the front, ready to pull off.
                - Well done, a croissant is certainly drier but still good the next day.

                It is bad if:
                - It is flat, featureless and bloated, pasty, and compacts in your mouth.
                - It is perfectly identical to all the croissants presented in store. It is therefore a strong probability that it has been thawed.
                - It's dry outside, chewy or rubbery inside.
                - It breaks into crumbs too much and it shows large holes in the pastry exterior layers because it was poorly "tourée,” (after rolling out, folded in three or four folds to be chilled before rolling out again).
                - It is uniformly soft, indicating that it was cooked in a pulsed-air convection oven or an oven too cold. [Note: A standard convection with steady air is fine. -randy]
                - It does not have that light smell of butter and the taste of sugar too evident.
                - If it is fat and greasy, the butter used was poor and it ran during the cooking.
                - If it is too yellow, the baker may have added butter flavored with vanillin.
                - Pasty white or cream color, it has not cooked properly.

            2. I haven't been able to get to Nouveau yet, but we did go to Besalu and Honore. Here's what we got:

              Honore: croissant, macaron(lemon, rasberry, pistachio, hazelnut), kuogin amam, blueberry vanilla custard(?)

              Besalu: croissant, hazelnut pastry, nectarine danish, plum danish, almond scheneken and maybe something else.

              The big issue was which place had the better croissant. We had wavering opinions. In the end, I think I slightly preferred the Honore croissant. I loved the combination of crispy/flaky outside and the airy/chewy inside. It was very close. Having said that, I am not a big croissant connoisseur, so I'd take my opinion with a huge grain of salt.

              Some other general comments. The macarons really surprised me. I loved the combination of textures in those little things: a shell-like exterior, with a a chewy, creamy interior. This dainty cookie impressed me.

              Loved the almost schenecken. I forgot about the cardamon pretzel, but I'll try to go there again for that.

              Honore Artisan Bakery
              1413 NW 70th St, Seattle, WA

              1 Reply
              1. re: Jazzaloha

                The first time I had kouing aman was at Les Madeleines in Salt Lake City and it was love at first bite. I’m looking forward to trying Honore’s version. (The croissants at Les Madeleines were terrible, BTW.)