Restaurant: Saint Honoré Boulangerie
Last visited: August 30, 2010
Location: Portland, Oregon (Nob Hill/Uptown)
Address: 2335 NW Thurman Street
Price Range: $10USD or less
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Owner/Master Baker: Dominique Geulin
- Since December 2003
- 2 locations
- Freshly backed pastries/breads/desserts
- Open kitchen
- Clay firebrick bread oven
- Home made authentic Parisian baking
- Traditional French, Northwest twists
- Gourmet baked goods with rustic style
- Sustainable/seasonal ingredients
- High quality ingredients
- Very popular to locals
- Long lines/busy at peak hours
- Sandwiches and salads
**Recommendations: Mirliton de Rouen (Almond & Pear tart), Gateau Orange et Gingembre (Flourless Orange & Ginger Cake), Normandy Apple Toast, Gâteau au Chocolat (Flourless Chocolate Cake)
Saint Honoré Boulangerie is a classic French bakery and cafe specializing in Parisian style baked goods, pastries and desserts in Portland, Oregon. Owner and master baker Dominique Geulin has true French bakery roots as he grew up living above the family bakery in France. He has trained with French bakers and bakeries in France, America, Africa, and Asia (Japan) before opening Saint Honoré Boulangerie in December 2003. He now has 2 locations in Oregon, and with his home baked goods the fresh aroma of his bakeries are attracting locals and tourists through word of mouth.
The bakery also has a nice selection of baguettes, loaves, savoury breads and home made sandwiches, salads and quiche. I haven’t been to the actual locations myself, but I was very lucky and thankful to have a good friend, Kim, do another much appreciated “delivery” from this delectable bakery (as well as share the amazing photos).
I knew nothing about Saint Honoré Boulangerie, but knowing Kim (a food blogger who always does great research) usually means there is little room for disappointment. I had no expectations, and overall I really enjoyed the pastries at the bakery. But how does it compare to my all time best and favourite bakeries like Bakery Nouveau (Seattle), The Loaf (Japan and Malaysia), and Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates and Patisserie? It doesn’t make my list, and it’s not as refined or gourmet, but it’s definitely worth a try and visit. The style is much more rustic and the recipes seem countryside France meets a little Northwest. All the pastries actually aren’t that sweet so it really can be enjoyed by all ages and even non-desert lovers. All in all I felt like I was eating baked goods from a grandma who can bake really really well. I would still recommend Saint Honoré Boulangerie and it’s still worth bragging about… which I’ll do now 😉
Additional note: Kim’s was limited to pastries because cakes wouldn’t have lasted the 6 hour drive back to Vancouver. I didn’t get to sink my teeth into these lovely pastries until 2 days later, which means they were probably even better if I had eaten them upon order. Nonetheless, the quality of the texture may have been affected a bit, but the flavour I would assume would still be more or less representable.
On the table:
- A pain perdu of brioche and pastries baked in a custard flavored with vanilla and pommeau apple wine, topped with fresh apples $3.60USD
- This was like an apple bread pudding without the cinnamon, nutmeg and clove flavours.
- It was a Golden Delicious (I think) apple on top and throughout so it was naturally honey-like and sweeter rather than tart. Overall it’s not too sweet with added sugars and it’s more eggy and custard-like in flavour.
- It’s quite dense, but still moist and it’s made of large cubes of brioche and apples that were equally sized. Since they were apple chunks, the apple pieces including the ones on top were a bit harder and required a longer cooking time to be more tender.
- The edges had some plump and juicy raisins, but it wasn’t found throughout the pastry, and I would have rather had them throughout.
- It would easily be enjoyed as a morning or afternoon pastry rather than a dessert and it’s well worth the price.
Tarte au Citron (Lemon Tart) – 3/6 (right)
- A smooth and rich lemon custard on a bed of almond cream in a paté sablé shell $4.85USD
- I actually wasn’t a fan of this lemon tart. It’s extremely rich and creamy and very indulgent and I found it very tart. It’s still sweet, but dominantly more tart.
- It’s quite large and there’s a lot of lemon custard, but there was a good balance of tart and filling. I wasn’t a fan of the harder tart shell though because I found it quite bland.
- I couldn’t taste the almond cream at all and it was overpowered by the lemon custard. It was a good lemon tart, but I’ve also had better and would get sick of this one before I finished it. I prefer the lemon tart from Cake Art in Steveston, Richmond, or the one from Sandbar on Granville Island, or the one from Bistrot Bistro in Vancouver.
**Mirliton de Rouen (Almond & Pear Tart) – 6/6 (left)
- Fragrant creamy almond batter and vanilla poached pears. A specialty from the Normandy capital city of Rouen $4.70USD
- This was hands down my favourite one. I knew it would be too because I love almond and I love pears and I LOVE them together.
- Anyone would appreciate this though. It stood out against everything else in terms of flavour and execution. I felt like I could find something similar with the other pastries, but not with this almond pear tart. This was simply amazing and it really reminds me of one of my favourite almond cakes – Gateux Basque from Boulangerie Cho Pain in Vancouver.
- It’s comparable to the Normandy Apple Tart, but way better. The flavour was so rich in almonds and there were chunky chopped pear pieces throughout. Again they weren’t as tender, but it didn’t bother me here because the texture is softer and grainier than apples so it seems more tender.
- The creamy almond batter tastes like almond flavoured Chinese egg tarts and it was surrounded by this sweet and moist almond cake with pears. It was very moist and it had the most eggy flavour of everything I tried.
- It was topped with this thin sugary wafer crisp with baked almonds on top. Eaten together it was extra nutty, perfectly sweet and just so aromatic.
- Thomas Haas Chocolates & Patisserie also makes an excellent Pear & Almond Tart, but it’s much more refined and gourmet. This Mirliton de Rouen is still more memorable for me, although different in style.
Canelet – 3/6
- Custard flavored with fresh vanilla bean and rum. Baked in a copper tin thinly coated with beeswax for a special taste and crunch $2.75USD
- I’m not sure how fair it is for me to “rate” this one because the crunch was missing since it wasn’t eaten day of. The texture is a rubbery sponge bread pudding, but the flavour is like vanilla custard. It was dense, but the batter had air pockets so it was still very moist and it’s more like bread pudding than cake.
- There’s lots of vanilla flavour and real vanilla bean seeds throughout. I couldn’t taste much rum, and I don’t really get the beeswax theory since I couldn’t taste honey or see what role it played in this canelet.
- Flourless cake made with ground almonds, pureed orange and a hint of ginger $3.90USD
- I’m not really a fan of candied fruit, especially orange, and I wasn’t expecting to really like this, but I actually really did. A lot too!
- It was a very moist, almost wet, cake and it was made with lots of fresh orange zest that I could easily see and taste. There was actually quite big pieces of candied orange zest throughout. It had a nice syrupy top and it wasn’t too sweet at all. It was actually quite light and could be easily enjoyed as a tea cake with an Earl Grey on the side.
- I was looking forward to the ginger, but it was completely overpowered by the orange taste. I still enjoyed it, but would have loved to taste the ginger in the background even if it was just a little bit.
- Traditional croissant filled with almond cream and topped with sliced almonds about $2USD
- I love almond croissants to death… I usually die after eating them for a couple minutes. However to be fair I can’t rate them because I feel like croissants have to be eaten day of, and these weren’t. The texture and crunchiness of a croissant is too important of a factor to let go, and these ones are for sure crunchier if eaten upon order.
- The flavour, on the other hand, wasn’t really sweet or buttery and the croissant was flaky but overall a bit underwhelming. The almond filling was like a grainy custard in the middle and it didn’t have a strong enough almond taste either. The Double Baked Almond Croissant at Bakery Nouveau is better.