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May 29, 2009 12:12 AM

Help me find this amazing bakery in Ballard

Trying to remember the name of this bakery that I visited a couple years ago in Ballard. This bakery was on a side street sort of in the middle of nowhere, just office buildings, etc...not on the main shopping streets. It was very small, you could smell it from a block away. I remember it made pretzel rolls, among other things...anyone have a clue? Thanks!

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  1. Not Larsen's in Crown Hill, right?

    1. Besalu on 24th and 60th NW.

      1. By bakery, do you mean more bread or pastries/croissants etc?

        I'd say Honore (14th and 70th) because it is much more on a side street in the middle of nowhere, but it hasn't been open for that long. That said, it has some good stuff, too.

        Besalu (I'm guessing this is what you are looking for) has the goods, too. And Tall Grass is next door for bread.

        17 Replies
        1. re: BallardFoodie

          I think that's it. Lots of trees round and a park bench out front? Thanks!

          1. re: jsaint

            Besalu does have a couple of tables and a park bench out front, and some trees. But it's on a main drag - 24th Ave NW. Tall Grass Bakery is right next door. I don't remember seeing pretzel rolls at either one.

            Tall Grass does breads mainly. Besalu does Viennoiserie (croissants, pains au chocolat) and puff pastry items. Also some cookies, fruit tarts, and quiches. All very good.

            The best pretzels and pretzel rolls I know of come from a different part of town - Ravenna district, on 65th Ave NE. It's Morning Star, a German bakery. You can find their pretzel items at PCC and Whole Foods, although to me they seem fresher at the bakery.

            1. re: RandyB

              At last, the question we need comes to us.
              I don't get to Besalu as often as I'd like (who does?), but, somehow "Pretzel Roll" doesn't really fit with "almond schnecken," or "pain chocolate." Seems remote, though conceivable, to me that Tallgrass would seek that trade. Better might be back over at the bottom of Wallingford, at Essential Bakery.

              1. re: mrnelso

                Pretzel roll could have been a dream sequence...! I do remember the french pastries too, a tart, croissant, I wanted to taste everything!

                1. re: jsaint

                  So, don't worry about the side street. Feggedabowt pretzel rolls. Besalu is a dream unto itself.

                  1. re: RandyB

                    Yes, we saw Besalu's cardamom pretzel this morning. The good news is that if you're stuck on a desert Island and all you've got is Cafe Besalu, Tallgrass, and Essential, know you are the envy of all the marooned and set for a very tasty life. Today's delight was fresh strawberry and Besalu puff pastry; with friends; with coffee; in the Spring sun. Oh thank you lord.

                2. re: mrnelso

                  It could be that the person is remembering the cardamom pretzel, which is a must get for me every time that I go there.

                  1. re: BallardFoodie

                    Yeah! It wasn't a dream...cardamom prezel...can hardly wait!

                    1. re: jsaint

                      I have no idea what the owner/baker/proprietor's French connections are, but he is for real. You will see James at his table, behind the partition, working it like he means it. He does. Go.
                      I'm sure the pretzels are all that, but it will take some doing for me to get past the Croissant, Pain au Chocolat, and seasonal-fruit contraptions. One day, I will take a couple hundred bucks and a half-dozen friends and ask for "one of each, please." I am a lucky man, to have this quality so humbly offered in my neighborhood. A treasure.

                      1. re: mrnelso

                        I understand your dilemma. I'm lucky in that we live 8 blocks away and look for any excuse to get over there. This has allowed me to try about 5 of the items over there. The constant, however, is that cardamom pretzel, which is now my 20 month old's favorite.

                        1. re: BallardFoodie

                          Don't fail to consider the ham and swiss croissant.

                          1. re: forkit

                            Or the onion gruyere danish. Unbelievable.

                            After going there maybe ten times, I finally tried a quiche last time. Oh. My. God. Now I know what quiche is supposed to taste like.

                        2. re: mrnelso

                          James learned his craft in Switzerland, and learned it well.

                    2. re: mrnelso

                      Don't neglect Besalu's ginger biscuit. It sounded kind of gross to me until I bought one and now it's the only thing I get there. I tried to go this morning before work but alas, the Ballard bridge was up. Foiled!

                      1. re: frygirl

                        omg the ginger biscuit is one of my favorite things. But you gotta have the croissant. They are amazingly well done, so crisp, flaky & buttery. Dang I need to go there. I'll keep an eye out for the cardamom pretzel!

                    3. re: RandyB

                      Morningstar is closed now I think.
                      I went to a listed address for them and it looks like they shut down.

                      1. re: GreenYoshi

                        Right, I forgot. They shut down the retail operation a year or so ago. You can still find their pretzels and pretzel rolls at PCC and Whole Foods. Not as good as buying them fresh at the bakery, but to me the best pretzels in Seattle.

                        Note: I haven't looked much for pretzels, so take my statement of "best in Seattle" with a grain of pretzel salt. I should just say they are very good German style pretzels.

                3. Went to Besalu's today and got the following...

                  (8) Cardamom Pretzels (started w/2 then tasted, so went back to get more for my co-workers!
                  (1) Ginger Roll
                  (2) pains au chocolat
                  (1) Pc Leek and Goat Cheese Quiche
                  (1) Pc Seasonal Quiche, onion, ham and something else I cant recall...its still in the refer.
                  (1) For my lunch, caramelized onion and cheese pastry
                  (1) Hubby's Lunch, ham and swiss pastry
                  and numerous cookies!

                  Wish I would have gotten one Brioche pastry but, I didnt, had to save something new for next time!

                  Ok, we've now tried everything but the pretty cookies..., the ginger biscuit tastes just like you would expect...ginger, with a bit of butter flavor, its definitly a biscuit consistancy. The aftertaste keeps you wanting more, a great spicy, sweet fresh new flavor. The lunch pastries were gourmet; light, crisp, not too rich or buttery, no greasy leftovers on the roof of your mouth, just full flavor, you taste everyting really, just the right amount of each ingredient. Oh my...the cardamom pretzels are very crisp without being overcooked, stale or hollow tasting like simiar that I've had, (I feel embarrassed when thinking about the glazed croissant we had from Safeway yesterday-I will never be able to eat cheap pastry again!) back to the good stuff...they are chewy in the middle, seasoned with just the right amount of cardamom, light sprinkles, not like some of the over powering cardamom cookies Ive had at other bakeries...they are sprinkled lightly with a nice light crunch of whole grain sugar.

                  It took 2 hours to get over from Port Orchard, took the ferry, that always wastes a good hour-and 2 hours back...when we got home I had my leek and goat cheese quiche, oh to die for, not to heavy, just right...and so nice to have a fresh crisp crust on a quiche. Honestly, we have not been disappointed with anything thus far...if only they had better coffee the latte' would have gone great, it was definitely pretty! Haven't tried the cookies yet, but there are plenty-I think my hubby got one of everything. The one seasonal item I just wished I would have tasted was the strawberry pastry, looked very good, as did the tarts, but as you can see we had already spent about $45 on pastries for two! So worth it.

                  By the way, one of the gals at the bakery recommended to heat the pretzels up at 350 for just a few minutes, and that the pastries are great for 2-3 days. In everything we ate, there was no greasy aftertaste, just the right amount of everything! I know, thats a repeat statement, but TRUE!

                  Thank you for helping us find such a jewel, we are always looking for new places to try on the weekend.

                  **UPDATE**Husband just ate his Snickerdoodle cookie, he said it was the best he's ever had, just "the perfect cookie."

                  Keep in mind, hours are only until 3pm, we arrived at 2:15 in the afternoon and there were still lots of fresh baked goods, only 1 ginger biscuit and we got it! We also picked up a half of loaf of the walnut bread at Tall Grass next door, but havent tried it just yet...Tall Grass did have German yeast pretzels in a basket on the counter. Thank you again.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Shanab

                    And thank you for the great report, Shanab...

                    1. re: Shanab

                      Great post about your Cafe Besalu visit. I was there yesterday as well. My favorites are the Cardamom Pretzel and the Ginger Biscuit. The blueberry danish was also good.