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Best Bread in Seattle?

Hi all,

I moved here from Oakland CA several years ago and I have yet to find a bread as good as the walnut levain at Acme Bakery. Anyone have any suggestions? A quick search of the board didn't turn anything up.

Thanks!

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  1. Not sure if you're just looking for a walnut bread, but my favorite bakeries are Columbia City Bakery, Macrina and Bakery Nouveau. I am crazy about the baguettes at the latter--they come out of the oven all day. I love the Sour Ficelle at Macrina. But those are nothing like a walnut levain of course, so I'm not sure if that helps.

    5 Replies
    1. re: christy319

      Christy, thanks... I'd love to find a good walnut levain, but any bread tips in general are much appreciated. Our other issue is that we lived in Oakland (plenty of access to bakeries, etc.) in CA, but we live in Edmonds now.

      1. re: Seattlecubsfan

        In and around Edmonds, stores that carry breads from bakers like Macrina, Columbia City and Essential are:
        Trader Joes - (196 and 99), with their own label, but look like they from Essential
        PCC - Edmonds Way and 10th?
        Ballinger Way Thriftway (SR 204 just east of the freeway)
        Central Market - Shoreline

        QFC might as well, but I haven't shopped there in a long time.

        http://essentialbaking.com/

        1. re: Seattlecubsfan

          Cubsfan, I here your lack of good bakery in Edmonds. My parents live there, and my mom is always saying, if someone opened a good french bakery there, it would be mobbed.

          Great bread and nice pastries are missing from your town, which is a shame with it's demographics. If I had the investors, I would open one in a heartbeat!

          1. re: gingershelley

            There's a bakery (Snohomish, I believe) that sells bread at the Mountlake Terrace farmers market on Friday afternoons. I wouldn't be surprised if they also sell at the Edmonds market Saturday mornings.

            The new Whole Foods in Lynnwood also has some breads from area bakeries, though I think the Central Market selection is better.

            Another noted bakery in the area is the Bread Farm in Edison in the north Skagit delta. I've seen their bread at various stores and farm stands in that area. I don't know how far south they distribute bread.

        2. re: christy319

          Second the Macrina Sour Ficelle.

          But for a plain baguette, I alternate between Macrina and Grand Central Bakery.

        3. Tall Grass Bakery in Ballard has amazing bread. They sell at a few local farmers markets (Friday Madrona, U-Dist on Saturday). I also like Boulangerie Nantaise in Belltown.

          1 Reply
          1. re: amyh18

            Big +1 for Tall Grass. Their seeded baguette is the best I've had anywhere.

          2. When Fuji bakery reopens in fall they might have walnut levain. They had it on their previous menu.

            2 Replies
            1. re: knowspicker

              I'm still a sucker for La Panzanella's Italian peasant bread.

              1. re: knowspicker

                Definitely try Fuji's levain breads. And a lot of their other stuff is great, too.

              2. Oh, I miss Acme! I've been here for 20 years but as soon as I read Acme my mouth watered. The walnut levain was a favorite of mine as well and the still warm sour baguettes munched while wine shopping at Kermit Lynch or walking back to work. I also miss the Cheese Board. :)

                There are a few places making good bread here now - but you aren't going to find bread like in the bay area. I think Columbia City is closest and they have a nice sour walnut bread you may like. The sour doughs there and at Bakery Nouveau are the closest to the texture and flavor of bay area breads (I drive across town for either). Tall Grass, Fuji and Macrina although all good are not in the same league (for me). I do like the sour ficelle at Macrina - and I wish I liked more of their product as I live in that neighborhood.

                I agree Central Market is going to be your best bet as it isn't too far out of your way. Good luck! Let us know what you find you like.

                19 Replies
                1. re: cburnsi

                  Thanks to everyone for the responses--I haven't actually followed up on many of these suggestions (though I did go to Tallgrass, and I agree--good, but not Acme good). Looking forward to continuing my exploration.

                  1. re: Seattlecubsfan

                    We've seen comments before on Chowhound i.e. no one here makes it like they did back home.
                    I believe that so much of our loving food memories involves not just the food but the place, the time, our lives at the time. I too have fond memories of the tzitzle rye bread from Pratzles Bakery in my home town of St. Louis and it's possible that that bread might have died with that bakery. Nonetheless what excites me is discovering new breads in new places and keeping those memories of lost breads alive in my memory. Even though I'm a home baker, I still go on bread hunts.
                    PS Try the croissant at Cafe Besalu in Ballard. And I'd go to the bakeries in person and ask to speak to the boss or head baker and tell them what you are looking for. It's possible that they bake such a thing on a certain day sell it out of the shop vs. distributing it to the retailers.
                    PPS Bread Hunt, there's a small food store and mini bakery (I think it's Russian) in this little stripmall in Bellevue 900 160th Avenue NE Bellevue, WA 98008. Just east of Crossroads Mall. The baker speaks very little English and when I point to a bread and ask about it, he just smiles and says, "Good!" Priceless! Another place is downtown at 710 3rd Ave (between Cherry St & Columbia St) Seattle, WA 98104 Called Piroshki on 3rd. These gals make some pastries that are really out of this world.

                    1. re: JayDK

                      +1 for any of the things made with the wonderful Besalu croissant dough. MMmm ham and Swiss croissant.

                      1. re: forkit

                        On Sundays (not sure about Saturday) at Besalu you can get the almond croissants. These are not the all-too-common croissants filled with almond cream and thus too wet and heavy to enjoy the flaky pastry. These are great.

                      2. re: JayDK

                        Hi, Jay:

                        +1 on the set and setting thing. Not particularly likely that an A-B comparison could ID Acme.

                        Also +1 on Besalu, and the uncommon good fortune to have it next door to Tallgrass. The only better next-doors I know are Breadfarm and Slough Foods, in tiny Edison, WA.

                        Aloha,
                        Kaleo

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          If you're willing to go considerably afield, I'd put up Acme Bread and Cowgirl Creamery as the ultimate neighbors in the Ferry Building in San Francisco.

                        2. re: JayDK

                          Jay, thanks for the suggestions. We took a family trip to Paris last spring and are on the hunt for the best croissant in Seattle. My wife and I tried to go to Besalu, but it was a Monday, and they were closed. The good news is we got to go to Tallgrass.

                          1. re: Seattlecubsfan

                            Definitely make another run at Besalu.

                            Then keep an eye out for the reopening of Fuji. I can't do it myself, as I'm in Paris for a month. They're mentioned above for their bread, too.

                            Finally, my third recommendation is Inès Patisserie on 29th E off Madison. I've only been there once so I can't be sure of their consistency. My one visit put them provisionally third on my list for croissants in Seattle.

                            1. re: RandyB

                              Randy, thanks! Since I posted this originally, I've switched jobs, and now work on the edge of the ID, 2 short blocks from Fuji. I'll be picking up some Walnut Levain today, and I'll try the croissants as well.

                              1. re: Seattlecubsfan

                                I guess your post means they have finally reopened. That's good news. Even from here in Paris, I can think of that walnut levain as a top notch bread.

                                1. re: RandyB

                                  Oops, I might have jumped the gun. Their website doesn't say anything about being closed (it has phone numbers, hours of operation, etc.,) but a colleague says they're not open yet. Stay tuned...

                                  1. re: Seattlecubsfan

                                    When you (or any lurkers) can verify that Fuji has reopened, please create a new thread to post the info. I'd do it myself if I were in Seattle.

                                    1. re: RandyB

                                      There is a Fuji watch in this thread. Note that their baker left--hopefully their replacement is as good.
                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/874056

                                      1. re: christy319

                                        Wow, missed that story about Taka Hirai completely.

                          2. re: JayDK

                            JayDK, you took the words (bread?) right out of my mouth. While I was in the Bay Area, I was willing to live on that walnut levain from Acme instead of any other food, but when you move on, you need to move on.
                            Seattlecubsfan, you will not find the same bread here, but you will find something as good in a different way, I promise, if you keep tasting. My new fave is Seedy Sour from Pane d'Amore, based out of Port Townsend. They ship to some of the supermarkets in the area. They make a walnut (on Saturdays only I think) that you can try but it is different. As it should be.

                            @cburns, I also loved the cheeseboard. Dare I say it on this thread, but I preferred their baguettes to Acme. Went so well with their cheese!

                            1. re: caffey

                              With all this talk of baguettes, I wonder how many of you have actually tried baguettes in France. The supposed best, the ones that have won the prizes to serve the presidential palace for a year, do epitomize the perfect baguette. But basically, they are white bread with a great crust. Most of my French friends prefer breads with more flavor and texture.

                              I like baguettes occasionally, say with a subtle cheese that wants no other flavor or to soak in a sauce. But I'd much rather have a good levain (walnuts - mmm) or whole meal bread most of the time. As noted above, there are some good ones in Seattle.

                              Of course, any baguette tastes better in France than it does elsewhere. Just like a hot dog needs a ball game in front of it.

                              (writing from Paris)

                              1. re: RandyB

                                I much preferred the rustic baguettes I had in Paris to the "traditional" (what you describe) kind. Columbia City makes a very good rustic style baguette.

                              2. re: caffey

                                For breads with things like walnuts, I like Essential Baking. They have a Walnut, Sweet Perrin (pears, hazzelnuts, figs), Raisin Peacan, and Rosemary Diamante.

                                Some of the local Trader Joes breads appear to be from Essential.

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