Behind the scenes at West Seattle’s Bakery Nouveau

December 28, 2009 at 10:04 pm | In West Seattle businesses, West Seattle news | 49 Comments

Story, photos and video by Christopher Boffoli
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

Three years after Bakery Nouveau opened in The Junction, its ovens continue to churn out the products that have made the bakery both a local favorite and a foodie mecca. While some other West Seattle restaurants and businesses have come and gone in the same time, William and Heather Leaman’s bakery has thrived.

The secrets of their success? Surely decades of baking experience, quality ingredients, attention to detail and a focus on the customer have something to do with it. But according to William Leaman, the real key is to have small ovens:

“Back in 1999, I worked in France with (artisan boulanger) Éric Kayser and there was one thing in particular that he did that I thought was fantastic: He chose a retail space where there was nowhere to sit. They had garage doors that rolled up in the front. And they’d literally be shoveling baguettes in and out of the oven all day and night with a line out the door and down the block. The place wasn’t even 40 or 50 square feet and they were producing 5,000 baguettes a day. What that imprinted upon me is the importance of, if you’re going to be a baker and bake for your community, your products need to be warm and right out of the oven.”

Rather than install one big oven, Leaman decided to install three smaller ovens as he knew also that it would provide an advantage for baking different products side by side. Further, he understood that it would limit the size of their batches so products could constantly be baked fresh. For instance, the oven Bakery Nouveau uses to bake its signature baguettes can only produce a dozen loaves at a time. These smaller ovens ensure that baked goods are most likely to get into the hands of customers while they are fresh and still warm. “We use a mise en place system whereby everything is set up and ready to go so it can be baked quickly as it is needed. It is sort of a short-order-cook mentality with products constantly coming out of the oven. With French pastry, you are working more as a technician than as an artist. Having all of your things in place is essential, especially for the variety of products we have.”

Leaman’s extensive training abroad, and his consulting work for bakery start-ups, helped him to foresee what would work best for Bakery Nouveau. “I knew that we needed to keep the variety [of the menu] open. It was clear to me that people are looking for good-quality food, and they want to have variety. Instead of making several stops at the grocery store, at the lunch place, etc., they can come here to get some bread for dinner, get some dessert for after dinner, and get a sandwich and coffee for now. That was really the mindset behind the bakery – having the variety to keep people coming back.”

Other bakeries had been in the space for more than half a century – Blake’s for decades, and then Remo Borracchini (which is still in operation elsewhere in the city); the Leamans had been looking for just the right spot in WS. But they essentially had to start from scratch when they acquired the space. A few pastry cases had been left behind but they were too outdated to be salvaged, so they were sold on Craigslist. Demolition began in earnest in June of 2006 as the Bakery Nouveau team installed new wood flooring and wainscot. Leaman laughed as he remembered the former Blake’s space. “We painted over 50 years of flour, sugar and doughnut grease.”

As Leaman tells it, Carl Blake was ahead of his time. “He had bakers from around the world working here. They were doing cakes, bread and then coffee. Carl came back from World War II and tried to open up a stand-up coffee bar. But people didn’t like it. They wanted to sit down.” Customers who patronize Bakery Nouveau today still share anecdotes about their parents and grandparents bringing them in to the bakery when it used to be Blake’s. “We hear a lot of stories of people coming in when they were children. It is a living history that is still alive.”

Standing around in the bakery is an experience that modern customers can surely empathize with. Virtually from the time Bakery Nouveau opened its doors in December of 2006, its extreme popularity has meant almost constant crowds of people clamoring for cakes, pastries and bread. During the bakery’s busiest time on weekends the line routinely stretches out the door. But Leaman is committed to the space for the long-term and does not necessarily see this as a problem. “When you’re standing at the door you’re really no more than seven minutes away from the register. And once you pay you might have to wait a couple more minutes for a sandwich to be ready. But our goal is really to do all we can to get people in and out so they can go on with whatever else they’re doing.”

Although there is some seating, both inside the bakery and on the sidewalk out front, Leaman said that he wanted to strike a careful balance. “I love the size of our space and I’m glad we don’t have a ton of seating. If there were more we’d probably have an influx of people with laptops and books and I don’t want this to be that kind of space. We’d really prefer for this neighborhood bakery to be a community space,” he says. And it is. “We seem to get a lot of people in the bakery who have not seen each other in a long time. So it is great for us to see people reconnecting, reestablishing relationships, hugging and having that sense of community and place. We do realize there is quite a volume of customers but we’re not interested in making it too big. We just want to keep the product special and keep the customers happy.”

At 2,700 square feet on paper, Bakery Nouveau sounds as though it would be spacious. However, considering a variety of products which can routinely exceed 150 separate items, the bakery uses every inch of space and then some. “We have 500 square feet devoted to retail, front of the house. And we have 1,500 square feet that we use for production. Also we have a 700 square foot mezzanine which serves as dry storage for things like flour, cups and bags.”

The upper level also houses Bakery Nouveau’s chocolate enrober that can produce up to 1,000 chocolates an hour. But that’s not all. Technically, the bakery’s production spills outside of its footprint. Through a special arrangement with the nearby Husky Deli, Bakery Nouveau is able to use spare capacity in the deli’s walk-in coolers for proofing its breads and breakfast pastries that require days to ferment. In return, the bakery supplies Husky Deli with freshly baked bread. “Jack Miller is very kind. He really made it possible for us to be in this space. He and his brother grew up with Blake’s Bakery. In fact, until about 1969 the Husky Deli and Blake’s were side by side until the deli moved into their current space. So I know it was important to the Miller family to see something put back in place of Blake’s as they regarded that bakery, which went in in the mid-’40s, as part of what built this community.”

Having to ferment their bread in a neighboring business adds a layer of complication to a complex enterprise, but Leaman feels strongly that it makes a difference in the flavor and quality of the product and sets Bakery Nouveau apart from competing bakeries. “A lot of bakeries don’t ferment overnight as we do. By the time our products hit the ovens we’ve already got three days on the fermentation process. That’s where a lot of the flavor comes from.” Bakery Nouveau also uses a special blend of wheat, sourced from a mill in the Bay Area, called “Type 85.”

Unlike standard refined flours, Type 85 (at right in the photo above, next to regular flour) retains a certain amount of “ash,” the bran or outside kernel of the wheat. This adds complexity to the flavor. But beyond fermentation time and wheat type, there is another less obvious factor that Leaman regards as essential to the unique character of Bakery Nouveau bread and pastries: West Seattle’s unique airborne yeast.

“With West Seattle being on a peninsula and surrounded by water, [there is a natural] microflora here. I think it gives our bread a unique flavor profile. And you won’t taste anything quite like our bread even if you go downtown to some of the other bakeries in the city.”

Bakery Nouveau also chooses to use higher-quality, more expensive ingredients where other bakeries might try to cut costs. For instance, the butter used in their breakfast pastries has a significantly higher fat content than conventional store-bought butter, improving the flavor and texture of their croissants. “The butter we use actually gets pounded out between plastic which helps to develop the lipids in the fat. That’s what gives our breakfast pastries their laminations. We spend the money on the butter because it makes a real difference in our products.”

Likewise, Leaman sources a specific pistachio paste from Sicily, for use in the bakery’s extremely popular Parisian-style macaroons, because of its unique flavor.

But not all of Bakery Nouveau’s ingredients come from far off places. After working last year with a French master jam maker (who sells more than 2 million jars of her own jam back in Paris), Leaman began seeking out the very best fruit he could find at the West Seattle Farmers’ Market. He made deals for leftover fruit at the end of the market days, sweetening the arrangements by plying the vendors with sandwiches and bread, and developing relationships with new suppliers who had only the freshest produce to offer.

Leaman says he was initially a bit overenthusiastic, making 2,000 jars of jam in the first run. “We made it in four kilo (ten-pound) batches.”

The French method he learned is somewhat different than American jam making in that it uses less added sugar and relies more on the natural sugar in the fruit. The mixture is allowed to mature for a couple of days before bottling which concentrates the flavor and brings out more of the natural sweetness. “The biggest surprise was that we made a couple of savory varieties, like tomato jam and shallot confit, that we were sure would never sell, and they sold out almost immediately. But we also did flavors like vanilla bean pineapple and also caramel nectarine. We’re going to continue with the jam, probably with a 50/50 mix of savory and sweet. And people have been asking for the chocolate to make mochas with so we’re going to do that too.”

One of Bakery Nouveau’s most popular products, by far, is the twice-baked almond croissant. Leaman says he acquired the basic idea of this pastry from when he was working in France with a master pastry chef. “He made maybe about a dozen of them a day and he refused to make any more. I think he knew that if he did it would be all he would ever make. But for me I saw that and decided that if people are coming in all day looking for that, give them what they want and they’ll keep coming back. I’ve never really understood the concept of letting something run out.” Leaman tweaked the recipe, making some subtle adjustments to the ingredients and flavor. “It’s a classic French pastry,” he says, “Very popular in Switzerland too.”

Reflecting on his past three years in West Seattle, Leaman says that he and his wife Heather really didn’t expect their business to grow as fast as it did. “You never really want to assume anything,” he laughs. “My wife and I took all of the money we had and, with our business plan, we put it all into the bakery. We thought that if we did this right and took our time the neighborhood would tell us what they wanted.”

As expected, the product line has been defined by customer response. “About 30% of our business is breakfast pastry and coffee. People come in for that and they’ll usually grab a sandwich for lunch. And then on Friday and Saturday nights we’re here until (9 pm). I think people like being able to stop in after dinner for a piece of cake. And we like that we can be part of that community experience of walking up to The Junction for dinner.”

When asked about the future, Leaman is full of ideas. Most of them fit into the framework of Bakery Nouveau, much like its predecessor, becoming an institution that endures in the neighborhood for decades to come. “I’m only now, after three years, getting to the point where I can take one day a week off for the family. And that’s something that is still hard to adjust to … going home.” Leaman says that he and his wife have discussed the possibility of acquiring some farmland, perhaps on Vashon Island, where they could grow fruit and produce to support the bakery and continue to barter products with other farmers.

Space on Vashon would also benefit Leaman’s desire to continue to incorporate the community into his business through teaching. “I originally wanted to have classes in the back of the bakery. We got through two series of classes and people seemed so excited to be behind-the-scenes seeing our bakers working back here. But with the volume of product we have it just wasn’t feasible to continue shutting down production, getting everything cleaned and reset after the classes so that our staff could come back here and get back to work.” Leaman says that having space on a small farm, only a 15-minute ferry ride away, would give them the space to continue teaching, thereby keeping engaged with the community.

“Incorporating a connection with the community was really a big part of our original concept for the bakery. In fact, when we set this place up I said I wanted the ovens close to the front because I wanted people to see where their food was coming from. So that people could look back and see who was making their food. Because it is important. I know I like to see it.”

49 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this article, andall the details that bring a new insight into this very special place. I’ve lived in West Seattle for over 16 years, and have my favorite places, this being one of them. It’s become a ritual to go with friends, some who come from other parts of the city to enjoy the deliciousness that is beyond measure. Everything they make is wonderful, and I’m particularly fond of the pear Danish. It’s both lovely and delicious, and I see at least one of those in my near future. I love the place so much that I bought one of their t-shirts. And I’ll pretend not to know that there is fat-plus butter in the pastries I adore, but the several pounds I’ve gained since coming here regularly already gave that away.

    Comment by SLS — 10:22 pm December 28, 2009 #

  2. wow! thanks for the insider look at a local favorite! nice job!

    Comment by k — 10:31 pm December 28, 2009 #

  3. Thank you so much for the article and all the details that bring new insight into this wonderful place. I adore this bakery and go regularly with friends, some of whom come from other parts of the city. There are so many delicious options, with my recent favorite being the pear Danish. I’m such a fan, I have one of their t-shirts. And several extra pounds since making this a regular ritual, which must be due in part to the special butter. Yum!

    Comment by SLS — 10:37 pm December 28, 2009 #

  4. William Leaman is a genius! There, I said it. There is nothing better than a still-warm baguette, particularly the end. Best thing to happen in West Seattle in the 20 years I’ve lived here.

    Comment by I. Ponder — 10:49 pm December 28, 2009 #

  5. I truly enjoyed this article and getting to know more about this fantastic addition to WS – thank you! I don’t go to BN too often but every time I drive or walk by, my mouth waters just thinking about the offerings inside! Seriously.

    Comment by add — 11:58 pm December 28, 2009 #

  6. Thanks for this super article.

    I admit, I sometimes go and buy my baguette at Husky Deli when I don’t want to stand in line. It’s a little bigger and costs a little more, but it’s worth not having to stand in line just for a loaf of bread!

    Comment by GreenSpaces — 12:14 am December 29, 2009 #

  7. SLS: In defense of butter, it is worth noting that, unlike manufactured fats such as hydrogenated shortening, butter is actually packed with good things. Butter contains fat-soluble vitamins (D, A and E), and minerals like lecithin, selenium, iodine, copper, chromium and zinc. According to the book “Good Fat” by Fran McCullough, butter also contains a natural liver cleanser, an anti-arthritic compound and even oleic acid like that found in olive oil. The excellent 2008 book “Fat” by Jennifer McLagan supports those points and adds that butter’s lauric and butyric acids help to boost our immune system, while stearic and palmitic acids actually work to lower our LDL cholesterol. Though the majority of butter’s fat is saturated, the fatty acids are of the short and medium chain variety, meaning that they are quickly and easily processed by the body and do not promote fat storage.
    .
    Prior to 1900, the rates of heart disease in the US were relatively low and stable. But from 1920 to 1960 heart disease rose sharply to become the number one cause of death in the US, now killing about 500,000 annually. During the same period the consumption of butter dropped from 18 pounds per person per year to about four pounds while the consumption of margarine and hydrogenated oils (and not insignificantly, the use of cigarettes) skyrocketed. I am neither a physician nor a dietician. But somehow I don’t think that butter is culpable for high incidents of coronary heart disease.
    .
    The higher-fat butter used at Bakery Nouveau is closer to the natural fat content (and the European standard) of butter, which can be up to 86%. In North America our butter is often mixed with water (that’s why it sizzles so much in the frying pan) to reduce the fat content to around 80%. Store-bought American butter is often mass-produced for uniformity of color and flavor (or lack thereof) and can be frozen for many months before it appears on the supermarket shelf. William Leaman noted a number of factors which influence the flavor and texture of his patisserie. But the butter he is using, and the way he uses it, clearly makes a discernible difference in the quality of the product.
    .
    If you’ve never tried making butter at home before I highly recommend it. All you really need is some cream, an electric mixer and a little bit of salt. The richness of flavor and color (especially if the cream is from a local dairy that allows its cows graze on grass) is nothing like what you’ll experience with off-the-shelf supermarket butter.

    Comment by christopherboffoli — 12:27 am December 29, 2009 #

  8. Fantastic article – thank you! I, like so many others, am such a huge fan of the bakery and it’s staff. Their committment to quality is obvious. I do wonder about the 3 – 5k chocolates a day number, as quoted in the article. Is that possible?! Do they sell their chocolates through another location as well? As an amateur chocolatier myself, I’m really curious to know if that is correct.

    Thanks again for the wonderful article, and rest assured that if they ever do offer baking classes, I will be first in line to sign up!

    Comment by Jen L — 12:52 am December 29, 2009 #

  9. Great article! Love it. Be careful about your specs on butter, though. Store bought butter is generally 80% or more fat – ingredients are cream only and of course sometimes salt. Naturally occurring water makes up the other 15-20%. Not sure where you got 40% water. Spreads and margarines can have extra stuff added, not butter. Viva la butter!

    Comment by KC — 1:15 am December 29, 2009 #

  10. KC: Right you are. I had my numbers mixed up. Correction made.
    .
    Jen L: If you haven’t already seen it you may be interested to read this Modern Baking article from October 2008 that I found in the course of my pre-interview research. It contains a number of statistics about the staggering sales volume that Bakery Nouveau is doing, including a high volume of house-made chocolates: http://bit.ly/nouveau
    .
    My sense is that they are probably doing a couple thousand pieces in a typical week. But they can sell many more on their highest-volume days, especially around the holidays.

    Comment by christopherboffoli — 1:25 am December 29, 2009 #

  11. Tried this place once and they were rude and unhelpful. These guys will never get my business again.

    Comment by CB — 7:20 am December 29, 2009 #

  12. To be clear, I’m definitely on the side of real butter over other options and a true believer that butter makes everything better. No complaints here.

    Comment by SLS — 7:44 am December 29, 2009 #

  13. Great article. My wife and I are huge fans of Bakery Nouveau. For our wedding this past May, Bakery Nouveau made 3 cakes for us and all of the chocolates. I try to avoid going there at lunch time on a weekends cause the lines get too long though.

    Comment by Julian — 8:36 am December 29, 2009 #

  14. Joining the chorus calling this out as a fabulous article, a great feature story.
    .
    Also want to *start* a chorus calling for baking classes to begin as soon as possible. Would just love to learn from the man…

    Comment by Sage — 9:11 am December 29, 2009 #

  15. Their almond croissants are absolutely mind blowing. Bakery Nouveau is the best!

    Comment by Jason — 9:20 am December 29, 2009 #

  16. Please don’t tell anyone else about this bakery…the line out the door is long enough!

    Comment by burglarbustindad — 9:41 am December 29, 2009 #

  17. Good things are worth waiting for — I’d much rather stand in line at BN for something made with high quality ingredients, fresh out of the oven.

    Comment by Charlestowner — 9:57 am December 29, 2009 #

  18. I have had the opportunity to visit the bakery while visiting my daughter. It is the absolute best!! The pasties and sandwiches are to die for!

    Comment by Kate — 10:01 am December 29, 2009 #

  19. How wonderful would it be if they made a mini twice baked almond croissant? The big ones are just too big, and sometimes I just want a few bites. I’d love to have a more “snack-sized” option rather than just the “meal-sized” one.

    Comment by sacatosh — 10:20 am December 29, 2009 #

  20. The plain croissants are just like you can buy in Paris. Absolutely perfect.

    Comment by pk — 10:22 am December 29, 2009 #

  21. We used to be regulars at this bakery, but no more. I hope this comment will reach the owners who need to be aware that the customers are sometimes very aware of the lack of consistency and quality. I’m sure there are many, many items that deserve praise, but I’d like to point out the problem we encountered with the turkey and swiss croissant. At first (we were hooked right when it opened) the turkey was placed perfectly in the middle and draped over the outside of the pastry. One day we noticed our treat seemed to be lacking and so we opened it up and found a small piece of turkey barely the size of a silver dollar. We didn’t complain. When this happened several more times, my husband decided to ask for a replacement, noting the missing meat. They exchanged the pastry but unfortunately it was still lacking severely. We’ve never gone back. Perhaps they were trying to decrease the cost to produce that item, but sadly it didn’t go unnoticed.

    Comment by TLP — 10:54 am December 29, 2009 #

  22. Love, love, love them!! They are amazing! We are SOOO lucky! The quiche is a favorite and of course the croissants. We love the brownies and chocolate chip cookies too – oh and the pizza is yummy!! I’m hungry now. Congrats on your success and thanks for choosing West Seattle!

    Comment by so lucky — 10:57 am December 29, 2009 #

  23. There is a long list of businesses that help make our quality of life in West Seattle so great, no doubt Bakery Nouveau is near the top of that list.

    My wife got me the t-shirt for Christmas.

    Comment by Click! — 11:08 am December 29, 2009 #

  24. Thanks for the great article!

    Comment by Bill — 11:15 am December 29, 2009 #

  25. CB this is the second time you have brought your distaste for the bakery.

    I’m thinking maybe it’s you.

    Just a thought.

    Comment by velo_nut — 12:23 pm December 29, 2009 #

  26. Wonderful article and great photos to boot!

    We love the products, but with two small tots and no place to sit…we only venture into the Bakery for a sweet date sans kids or for some bread. My 3 y/o sequels with delight at the sight of the chocolate case…

    Comment by Holli — 12:33 pm December 29, 2009 #

  27. Yes, the food is great, but the service is chilly and not customer oriented. I tried to buy a single fruit tart or apple tart on a couple of occasions in the morning. They said no, even though a whole tart was in plain sight. Other times, they act like it’s a big deal to go in the back and get a slice of tart. I walked out of the place last time and went to Metropolitan Market instead.

    Comment by Dennis Wulkan — 1:39 pm December 29, 2009 #

  28. Wow! What a terrific article and I’m an unabashed BN addict, so getting some great behind-the-scenes info is, well, delectable. Sorry to hear some folks have had bad experiences with food quality and service. I have always been amazed that the staff manage to be as cheerful as they are when they are so incredibly busy and (in the summer) sweltering!! I hope folks will give it another try, now and again … having this establishment right down the street is so great for my neighborhood pride, if not my waistline!

    Comment by Jen — 1:42 pm December 29, 2009 #

  29. Love the treats, but I was also treated very rudely by staff.

    Comment by Donna — 2:15 pm December 29, 2009 #

  30. I loved this piece! Everytime I visit BN I have always wanted to go behind the counter; finally I have. I simply love BN and I’m always willing to wait in line. My 8 year old son put it best; “these croissants are better than Paris!”

    Comment by Susan — 2:52 pm December 29, 2009 #

  31. I have been a customer since the beginning, but by chance have met two former employees who had horror stories to tell of the way they were treated (one was there a year, and the other about six months before being injured). Granted, it was up to them to work there or not, but it always pains me to hear those kind of stories about a place I frequent. Some of their cakes have been quite a bit off. The first two I purchased were delightful, but the next two (different kinds) were quite lacking (my guests also didn’t care for them), and at $35 and up a pop, I won’t purchase any more there. 2x baked almond croissant? You Betcha!

    Comment by twirl-a-whirl — 3:13 pm December 29, 2009 #

  32. Great food, really expensive though for all their items. I can get 2 really great Chocolate Croissants from Trader Joe’s for under $4!

    Comment by rnl — 3:19 pm December 29, 2009 #

  33. It’s about the quality. I travel to Paris often enough to know BN is the real deal; right in the our own little slice heaven~~ West Seattle. And you don’t have to pay in Euros! For those who don’t know $1.50=1 Euro. Hot baggette out of the oven, priceless. Ditto on the pear danish. But in my humble opinion the “chocolate bread” is something that verges on mystical. It’s not always available. I feel lucky to live between Bakery N. and the Beveridge Pub. I bring all my out of town guest to these two spots and the beach, and they are very envious indeed.

    Comment by Bettytheyeti — 3:51 pm December 29, 2009 #

  34. I ordered my birthday cake from there this year and it was AMAZING!! Such a great price for such a beautiful cake. I give the place 5 gold stars, definitely!
    They also bent over backwards to make sure my cake was just what I wanted. So wonderful!

    Comment by Dan\'a — 4:25 pm December 29, 2009 #

  35. Bakery Nouveau is such an important part of what makes West Seattle wonderful. I feel very lucky and proud to have a world-class bakery in our neighborhood. Thanks for a great article!

    Comment by Nao — 5:21 pm December 29, 2009 #

  36. CB & TLP, couldn’t be happier!!!

    Two less people in line, so I can get an awesome pastry (for a change) and a nice cup of coffee in less time.

    P.S. The Tiramisu is off the charts! Best of luck as THE REST OF US will support your labor of love.

    Comment by WTF — 9:08 pm December 29, 2009 #

  37. kudos to ws blog for this great article on what is now a West Seattle INSTITUTION – Bakery Nouveau is the BOMB

    Comment by cd3 — 9:25 pm December 29, 2009 #

  38. Thanks – Christopher has done an awesome job on the in-depth food stories! – TR

    Comment by WSB — 10:06 pm December 29, 2009 #

  39. Great article. I too am so grateful to have such an amazing bakery down the street. Every business is going to have an off day here and there but it is the long view that is important to me and in my experiences at this bakery they have not only met my expectations they have exceeded them!

    Comment by KMC — 11:02 pm December 29, 2009 #

  40. I am thrilled by local business owners who care as much about my community and what is going into my body as I do.
    I once had a bad experience there (no one was at fault), and they went above and beyond to right the wrong. I hope the other people who have had anything less than stellar service and product there will let them know face-to-face. I’m sure it will be taken care of.
    Also as a side note: I once brought a friend who used to live in Paris to taste their croissants. She cried. Just sayin’.

    Comment by M. — 11:46 pm December 29, 2009 #

  41. What a fantastic article. I really appreciate knowing more about our local businesses and Bakery Nouveau is a special favorite of mine. And both of my international students (one majoring in the culinary program at South Seattle Community College) LOVE everything they’ve tried. It’s one of the first places I take my students to welcome them to West Seattle. The culinary student literally danced around my kitchen after taking her first bite of their exquisitely decorated chocolate-praline-hazelnut Noelle cake (don’t remember what it’s called). They make only ten for the Christmas/New Year’s season and once they’re gone, that’s it until next year. –I highly recommend it.
    Not a week goes by without one of their double chocolate cookies, twice-baked croissants, chocolate mocha cheesecake …. We are diehard regulars.
    I am a little surprised to read the letters from some who have not been happy with the service or baked goods. The one and only time I had a problem, I called and they immediately offered to replace the item. When we arrived just as they were closing for the night, the manager stayed late and went out of her way to make sure that we were genuinely satisfied with the replacement.

    Comment by WS Suzanne — 12:01 am December 30, 2009 #

  42. Yeah, some of the hipster counter-kids are just a bit too cool, but I’m not going there for them. They are easy to ignore, and after I start eating my purchase, easy to forget.

    Comment by dawsonct — 10:24 am December 30, 2009 #

  43. I heart Bakery Nouveau. I give them money and in exchange they give me amazing pastries. I don’t need a song and dance at the counter. It’s a transaction I look forward to.

    Comment by Sasquatch — 10:57 am December 30, 2009 #

  44. Great video. There is one thing that should be mentioned: the 2005 World Cup of Baking, which is nearly the size of the Stanley Cup, and sits on a shelf above the retail area. After winning that Leaman opened his own shop here in West Seattle. I don’t think too many bakeries have one of those.

    “Wednesday, April 20, 2005

    U.S. team wins World Cup of Baking in Paris

    The U.S. team, led by captain William Leaman of Seattle’s Essential Baking Co., yesterday captured the prestigious Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie (World Cup of Baking) in Paris.

    It was a return to the top for Team USA, which stunned the international baking community in 1999 when it upset the French to capture first place.

    In 2002, Team USA won the silver amid controversy over soft judging. The event, held every three years, features 12 teams from around the world working elbow-to-elbow in a 12-foot-by-12-foot kitchen preparing more than 300 baguettes, specialty breads, pastries, sandwiches and the regulation 1-meter-by-1-meter bread sculpture in just eight hours.”

    Comment by I. Ponder — 12:01 pm December 30, 2009 #

  45. My husband and I absolutely love Bakery Nouveau. I wish they had the classic cheese cake in the case more often though. Also once I had coffee there and the young lady behind the counter told me that there was no cream or milk they had to put in it that didn’t have added sugar. That made me sad as we would stop in more often if it weren’t for that.

    Comment by Claire j — 1:06 pm December 30, 2009 #

  46. Ack! Did someone up there really compare BN chocolate croisants to trader joes?! Oh no you didn’t!!! Your taste buds clearly need a reboot. Perhaps you should try a butter cleanse?

    I am so in love with everything BN does. I had William do my wedding cake, assorted desserts and chocolates as favors. Everything was so perfect.

    As long as they are baking bread and pastries, I will gladly stand in line. I will quietly and patiently wait my turn and pay as much as they ask. A place like this, with food at such quality, deserves my business. Even though I blame them for my weight gain, I will always love them. :)

    Comment by Dana — 2:43 pm December 30, 2009 #

  47. Hey, thanks for this, WSB! BN opened just a few months before I moved to WS, making me feel like they came here just to satisfy my taste for European style baking. It’s an amazing neighborhood place. I DO wish they’d fix the seating though, because while I understand their desire to keep it small, there’s a bitter draft from the door in the winter and never enough places. I don’t need wifi, I go there to visit and enjoy the treats, but lately, I take mine to go rather than hang out there because it’s just not a pleasant space to dawdle in. No matter, they more than make up for it in yumminess.

    Comment by pam — 5:01 pm December 30, 2009 #

  48. Having traveled to France many times through the years I recognize we in West Seattle are very fortunate to have such a great bakery in our neighborhood.

    Comment by Dan — 5:59 pm December 30, 2009 #

  49. @Dana: I will BE standing right behind you! Your post cracked me up. Yah, “butter cleanse.” Besides, the gas and drive to the closest TJ’s doesn’t even allow for comparison.

    Comment by Bettytheyeti — 8:02 pm December 30, 2009 #

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