Monday, January 31, 2011

La France à Seattle -- Survey results are in!


At the beginning of the month, I asked my readers to tell me what their favorite French establishments were in the Seattle area. Thank you for sending in your votes. There were no real surprises, but I still found out about a couple of places I want to try over the next few weeks. Ready? Voilà les résultats. Please note that if you click on each establishment's name, you will be directed to the website...

Les Boulangeries:

Local classics such as Le Panier, at Pike Place Market, ranked high in several lists. Truth be told, Le Panier Very French Bakery has been a reliable performer for years, offering delicious sandwiches for lunch (made with fresh baguette, bien sûr), and a great selection of pâtisseries (fruit tarts, palmiers, éclairs come to mind, as well as seasonal Galette des Rois), and viennoiseries (croissants, pains au chocolat, pains aux raisins). A "Very French Bakery" it is indeed. Don't forget to check it out next time you go downtown!

Palmiers... Pure butter... flaky dough... Heaven!

On Seattle's Eastside, ("The Dark Side", according to some Seattleites) we find a couple of reliable French addresses as well. Belle Pastry in Old Bellevue, has been a popular option for years. I enjoy sipping a cappuccino there once in a while. Someone noted that she favors their café au lait, served with a generous slice of warm baguette, butter and raspberry jam on a rainy morning. Quel petit-déjeuner! The ideal breakfast!

Personally, I enjoy visiting another Eastside boulangerie on a regular basis (probably because I meet private students there several times a week). Welcome to the French Bakery in the lovely town of Kirkland. Even though the place is often packed and it can be hard to find a seat, the (Italian) coffee is bold and the pastry selection tasty. My favorites are Les viennoiseriespain au chocolat, palmier, and chausson aux pommes (French apple turnover). 

Chausson aux pommes... Golden and crisp, with a delicious apple compote filling... 

There is another boulangerie. It is located in West Seattle. I must confess I have not visited it yet but several students of mine swear by it. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the award-winning Bakery Nouveau. Apparently Le Boulanger (the baker) knows a thing or two about bread-making. A few years ago, he won an international competition in France and beat the best French bread makers! Oh, la la! Sounds like a visit is long overdue.

Les restaurants:

Two establishments were mentioned over and over in the survey. Maximilien is one. It is a Seattle institution. Located inside Pike Place Market, another Seattle landmark, the restaurant enjoys panoramic views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. The food is not bad either, if you favor bistro classics such as escargots à la bourguignonnecroque madame, or soupe à l'onion (French onion soup).

A contender for best local French bistro is popular Café Campagne, also located near Pike Place Market, a favorite for Sunday brunch. I always order the same dish there: Les oeufs en Meurette (
Poached eggs served on garlic croutons with pearl onions, bacon and champignons in red wine-foie gras sauce, with pommes frites). Miam! Yum! Le Husband swears by le cassoulet (a rich bean and meat stew from the French Southwest).  We need to mention the elegant and more upscale version of Café Campagne, located usptairs: Campagne. This restaurant must be reserved for special occasions! Note it is currently closed for renovations.

Oeufs en Meurette... Soaking up the rich wine sauce with baguette or french fries  is one of life's great moments!

For Halloween, Le Husband, Junior and I bumped into a little gem, Bastille Cafe and Bar, located in the lively and always entertaining Ballard neighborhood. What a delightful Parisian-style bistro! We loved the décor, from the authentic-looking zinc-topped bar ("le zinc"), to the tile floor, ironworks and the old Parisian clock. Food was traditional bistro fare, but with a Seattle twist: There is a 4500 square foot rooftop garden where the staff grows their own organic herb and salads! The place is truly stunning and we will be going back soon.

Truth be told, Seattle has quite the selection of wonderful French bistros: When you get a chance, check out Voilà, near lovely Madison Park (don't miss their excellent selection of mussels), Le Pichet, on 1st avenue, or newcomer Luc, where students and I had a fun pre-Holiday dinner a few weeks ago. Bistros, in Seattle or in Paris, offer simple food, good wines, and affordable prices. Beware: Bistros are not the best place to enjoy a quiet, romantic meal. At peak times, the noise level in some of these fine establishments can be deafening!

... and here is my transition to a favorite on Seattle's Eastside: The French Studio group and I have always enjoyed our end-of-school-year dinners at a quiet, but much loved Kirkland restaurant, Lynn's Bistro. Classically trained, chef and owner MyLinh Tran serves unique asian-accented French cuisine. She is a nice lady who also tries to find a French-speaking waiter for our group so my students get to order their meal in French! The $30 3-course prix-fixe dinner is an excellent choice chez Lynn!

Les crêpes:

rêpes deserve a category of their own. I found out people get quite passionate about their favorite crêperies! A couple of businesses were mentioned in the survey. 

Crêperie Voilà in downtown Seattle. This is more of a street stand than an actual restaurant. Their website announces: "Fast-food, Old World style". The picture gallery is appetizing. Crêpes are b.i.g. I look at the photos and am immediately reminded of the movie: "Supersize Me". They must be tasty, several people vouched for them. Personally, I like my crêpes simple. Ham and cheese on buckwheat for a savory crêpe. Sugar or lemon for a sweet crêpe. My son (and thousands of other people) would probably interject: "Et le Nutella?" (what about Nutella?)-- So, yes, ok. Vive le Nutella!

Italy's most successful export!

Problem is, we do not have enough decent crêperies in Seattle. La Côte Crêperie is a good address in Madison Valley. Prices are a bit high, unfortunately, but I love their French hard cider collection (a crêpe should always be served with a small bowl of cidre from Normandy, preferably). Another place is Anita's Crêpes, located in Fremont. Tasty selection, but again, prices are not cheap, and they put soooo much stuff on crêpes! (Note that Anita's Crêpes also has a stall at the popular Ballard street market). My favorite way of eating crêpes is "on the go", while walking in the street in Paris. Le French fast-food, quoi! I can't imagine attempting that feat while holding some of the crêpes that landed on my plate in Seattle! It would not be pretty! One thing is for sure, in Paris or in Seattle...

A bientôt!


  1. Merci beaucoup pour les informations. We must make a trip to the Public Market for the boulangerie and Cafe Campagne!

  2. De rien, Chérie. Je n'ai fait que compiler les résultats. Pour ma part, je vais aller à West Seattle bientôt pour essayer Bakery Nouveau.


Bonjour! I love hearing from you, my readers. To quote a fellow blogger, my friend Owen, "Comments are the icing on blogcake... Comments are the UFO in the twilight sky bearing news from other planets... Comments are raspberry vinegar in salad dressing... Comments are the cool balm of after-sun moisturizing lotion... Comments are the moment the band comes back out onstage to play an encore... Comments are the gleam in the eye across the room in a smoky bar... Comments are the rainbow after the rainstorm..." Merci for your comments! French Girl in Seattle