Sunday, October 28, 2012
Bakery Nouveau (Bakery/Desserts), Seattle, WA
This restaurant in Seattle's foodie-famous western end is the epitome of excellence. I have never dined at a finer baking establishment in my life - before or since. Each pastry is perfectly crafted in every sense of the word (perfection, that is), and whether it be savory or sweet, you will surely enjoy whatever you order. Bakeries are, of course, more known for sugar than salt. Bakery Nouveau has an immense list of offerings from not-so-regular chocolate cake to their specialty "Phoenix". Simply put, I would heavily contemplate making the 1,000 mile drive just for this pastry; in fact, I do almost every day. Common sense and fuel prices win out in the end, but my desire is never quelled. I first purchased this dessert early in the morning on a beautiful Seattle day, but did not have a chance to eat it until late that night in Newport, Oregon. It held up miraculously well, a testament to the sturdiness of the boxes the bakery uses and the cakes which fill them. I initially intended to take a single bite and put the guilt-laden sweet away for the morning, but my will shattered. Creamy caramel mousse mixed with pear and chocolate varieties melted my taste buds. The chocolate sponge cake which formed the base was equally delicious, but arguably my favorite part was the thick sea of gooey caramel topping the cake. It seemed improbable that such a weak structure could hold up such an ocean of formerly liquified sugar but it did by some otherworldly influence. Though obviously a diet-breaker, I found sacrificing some of the roominess in my jeans was a worthy trade-off.
Another option is any one of their huge variety of fruit tarts and danishes. The apple tart is a succulent creation with fresh sliced Washington apples in a crispy puff exterior. The interior is actually a frangipan, or pastry cream with almond cream and apple filling. It is almost like a preserve in flavor when paired with the apricot glaze on top, but calling it one seems offensive. The entire sweet is covered in a delectable streusel as well, finishing off the perfect dessert. The pear option is quite different surprisingly. Though the same pate sucre crust awaits the diner, this one is filled cherries and pears, and then topped off with a tasty raspberry jam. The same apricot glaze coats the pastry, which is then, in turn, covered in sliced almonds. Both are two of the finest sweets I have had the pleasure to eat.
Bakery Nouveau proves they are far from a one-trick pony by offering an intensely delicious array of savory pastries. Though their signature is the salmon quiche (apparently something not offered when I went in, bummer), all of their savory options are simply amazing. My favorite is the spinach quiche, usually the plainest one possible. This dish is the traditional tour de force for any French inspired restaurant. Bakery Nouveau's easily beats out the dozens of others I am used to back home in California. Giant slices of egg and spinach goodness are plated on finery and then topped with, wait for it, nothing. For once, simplicity wins out over ingenuity in the age old bakery battle of what ingredients can - and should - be shoved into classics.
Enough with the savory detour, let's get back on the sweet track with this restaurant's twice-baked almond croissant. Croissants were not one of my loves before Bakery Nouveau. I never really liked the buttery French rolls for some strange reason until I entered the hallowed patisserie. There they feature a number of the finest croissants available, all house-made of course. The one that immediately caught my eye was the twice-baked almond. Soaked to it's core in simple syrup, this almond-lover's dream contained and was topped with both almond cream and sliced nuts. For a croissant hater to fall in love with a variety of said pastry, you better believe it had to be something special.
Bakery Nouveau is easily the best bakery (and one of the top restaurants, period) I have had the pleasure of dining at; I recommend it to anyone with a sweet tooth in the Washington area. For that matter, anyone in the U.S. who has an day of and a few hundred dollars should take a vacation to Seattle to try this establishment and the thousands of others that call the city home.