I discovered Le Panier on one of my first trips to Seattle several years ago. At this time, Le Panier was not crowded and it did not seem to be garnering any special attention from tourists. It was the amazing smell of sweet baked goods wafting out of the bakery that lured me in. I had gotten an Amandine (basically a croissant filled with almond paste) my first time that was so delicious that I still remembered its taste and texture years later. I had to have another one!
When I came back to Seattle this year, it seemed like Le Panier had become famous. This French bakery stands adjacent to Pike Place Market and is several doors down from the original Starbucks, which always has an outrageous queue, so this is enough to make any shop along that corridor popular. Upon writing this review, I did some googling to see if there was any reason for Le Panier’s sudden fame. Alas, the bakery was not on any TV show, so it must have gained popularity just by the quality of its products.
The line was out the door at Le Panier when I went. It moved pretty slowly, especially for my 6-year old cousin, who I was exploring with that day. Unfortunately, the bakery didn’t smell as good as I remembered. This time coffee was the main fragrance in the air, rather than sweet baked goods.
Le Panier serves every French pastry and baked good you could ever want. They have loaves of bread, croissants, macarons, cakes, tarts and sandwiches, along with all of your coffee and beverage needs.
I finally got my hands on an Amandine, while my cousin nibbled on some Pain au Chocolat. The Amandine was flaky and sweet and had a buttery marzipan center. The pastry was topped with crunchy almond slivers and powdered sugar. It was amazing and worth the wait. I usually find that croissant products never very special, so when they are, they really stand out.
The Pain au Chocolat was filled with semisweet chocolate. The chocolate chunks were at room temperature; I would have preferred if the bread had been warmed up to let the chocolate melt. The texture was flaky. This pastry wasn’t spectacular. It reminded me of the box of frozen Trader Joe’s Pain au Chocolat my mom is a fan of.
Go to Le Panier for the Amandine, not for the Pain au Chocolat, but definitely go to Le Panier.