For proprietor Dominique Geulin, greeting and chatting with his Portland, Oregon St. Honoré Boulangerie patrons is part of his job description. His bakery kitchens are open, and he and his staff chat with customers while rolling out pastry dough and making melt-in-your mouth pain au chocolat. I ask where in France he’s from and he pulls out his cell phone showing me photos of his hometown of Étretat, in the Haute-Normandie region of France. He’s just returned from a trip home and to see family. His brother owns a restaurant with 180 degree panoramic views of the famous cliffs of the area. His father was a baker. Baking—and the art of warm hospitality—is in his blood.
Cider Cocktails and Menu Items
In France, hard ciders have a centuries-old history. With the revival of their popularity here in the U.S., especially in the Northwest, and a copious number of summer cider events throughout the Portland area, St. Honoré has enlisted the help of Portland mixologist Jacob Grier to add to the Boulangerie’s summer drink menu. The results are tasty, fresh and creative.
Midnight in Paris combines Finnriver Farmstead cider, Lillet Blanc, sweet orange drinking vinegar, elderflower syrup and orange peel. It’s on the sweet end of the spectrum, but the Lillet Blanc and vinegar lend creative and complex flavors..
The Yuzu-Pippen is my favorite of the offerings. Portland’s Reverend Nat’s Revelation Newtown Pippin cider is mixed with Yuzu citrus drinking vinegar, mulled mint and lemon. It’s not too sweet, and wonderfully refreshing and flavorful. I’m a big fan of drinking vinegars and this combination makes the most of each ingredient.
Their Snake Bite is a fifty-fifty mix of cider and beer. Red and white cider sangrias round out the summer offerings. The red sangria uses Finnriver black current cider, raspberries, orange, pineapple and honey, while the white combines 2 Towns Bright Cider with apples, honey and mint.
Snake Bite and the sangrias go especially well with just about anything on the menu: appetizers, pastries, appetizers, or entrees alike.
Cider is also the featured ingredient in a few new baked offerings: apple cider macaroons, grille au pomme, and apple sourdough bread. I enjoyed the small bits of cooked apple in the sour dough bread. Take a loaf of this home; eat some right away and save some for French toast or bread pudding. I also enjoyed the sticky texture of the macaroon filling and the crispy bite of the outer cookie crust. Delicious.
Patron Saint of Baking
Dominique’s career has won him awards and taken him world-wide. He first arrived in the U.S. and Portland in 1981 at 19 years old to work at Le Panier, for years “the” French bakery in Portland. After five years, he returned to France, worked in his father’s bakery, consulted with French bakeries around the world, and received some additional formal training.
In 1991, he returned to Portland, and, in 2003, he and wife, Stephanie, opened their first St. Honoré on NW Thurman and, in 2007, in Lake Oswego. Their SE Division Street store is the latest addition. All locations are welcoming and feature the same tantalizing scents of fresh baked breads, pastries, and soups. Look for the statue of St. Honoré, the Patron Saint of Baking, near the bread oven at each location.
St. Honoré Boulangerie is open for breakfast, lunch, and early dinner, and there’s a happy hour menu as well at the Division Street location. While the décor of all locations is more upscale than any bakery in France I’ve ever visited and the friendly and chatty staff is apple pie American, the quality of the baked goods is authentically French and the sandwiches, salads, quiches, soups and dinner entrees are delicious.
Take advantage of the summer sunshine! St. Honoré’s summer cider cocktail and happy hour small bites makes this even easier to do! – Story photos by Nancy Zaffaro; cocktail photos courtesy
IF YOU GO…VISIT
St. Honoré Boulangerie, with three locations in the Portland, Oregon area; NW Thurman, SE Division, and suburban Lake Oswego, www.SaintHonoreBakery.com