Redmond offers fantastic new bakery and Chinese restaurant with 150-day-old chickens
Olivier Dispas had a 20 year career at Microsoft, working in Africa, in the Bay Area, then in Redmond from 2007. As a senior manager at Microsoft headquarters, he was in charge of billions of dollars in business. every year, according to his LinkedIn.
Two years ago, Dispas retired. One recent weekend he was occupying tables in a bakery.
When Dispas quit working in tech, he said he wanted to “do something radically different”. And he had missed out on the good croissants and bread he had grown up eating in his hometown of Brussels. So he went to Paris to go to bakery school and “got yelled at” like a “young apprentice” in a boot-camp style program. Although Dispas says he didn’t like being yelled at, he loved working the dough with his hands after so many years in the brainy world of tech.
So, in August 2020, he opened Farine Bakery and Cafe in Redmond and has been serving his customers flaky croissants, crispy baguettes and other delicious French and Belgian breads and pastries ever since. He says he hauls tables around his bakery because it helps him figure out what customers like and don’t like. Dispas still sometimes works with dough in his bakery, but his head baker, Jacob Baggenstos, who worked at Seattle’s New Bakery, does most of the day-to-day baking. Dispas says it is now working to open three more locations in the Eastside in five years, with a Bellevue location slated to open between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.
At the Farine Bakery and Cafe on a recent Sunday afternoon, sunlight filtered through the windows that make up most of the walls, and Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” and other upbeat ’80s hits aired. through the speakers. Tables, all filled with diners, surrounded an open kitchen where Dispas staff made sandwiches and poured espressos.
I ordered the salmon toast ($ 13) and a box full of pastries.
The toast was the perfect light lunch, consisting of tender wild chinook salmon, herbal labneh, and homemade fresh dill and cucumber pickles on a toasted and buttered slice of the bakery’s country bread ($ 6).
“Farine” means flour in French, and Dispas says that flour is the basis of every coffee dish. Baggenstos says the bakery uses specialty flours grown by Shepherd’s Grain, a collaboration of producers in eastern Washington, and ground by Grain Craft in Pendleton, Oregon. The country bread had a mild acidity of the French sourdough that the bakery maintains and a complex grain flavor of the whole rye flour that Baggenstos uses in the country bread.
The Belgian Triple Chocolate Eclair ($ 4.50) was one of the best things I have ever eaten. Its soft, flaky crust gave way under my teeth as my senses were pleasantly overwhelmed by a rich chocolate paste and cream. The Belgian chocolate brownie ($ 3.50), which is gluten-free, had the chewiness I crave from every brownie and a balanced sweet bitter chocolate flavor. The pistachio-strawberry tart brought pistachio cream and paste and pieces of strawberry for an earthy yet fruity pastry, held together by an ultra-flaky sweet crust.
The bakery also serves homemade waffles and lemonades with flavors of rose and blueberry.
When I showed up at the bakery around 2pm, I was disappointed that there were only raisin croissants ($ 4) left – no chocolate, almonds or plain croissants. But the soft, light glaze of the croissant and the chewy, flaky texture (obtained, says Dispas, with a special croissant butter from Normandy) really made me happy. Guess I’ll have to go back to try everything else on the menu.
Bakery and Coffee Flour
7 Monday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday to Sunday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. 16450 Redmond Way, # 100, Redmond; farinecafe.com
Restaurant 151 days
4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday to Sunday; 2720 152nd Avenue NE, # 150, Redmond; 151-days.site.business
The 151 Days restaurant opened under a building in early April without much fanfare. But the owner, Yongshen Guo, did a serious job to keep the restaurant running.
He bought a farm in 2019 to prepare for the opening of his restaurant. And he had been raising the chickens he had served customers on opening day for at least five months.
Guo says he worked in the Chinese restaurant industry for 16 years. After moving to the United States and deciding to open a restaurant in Redmond, he says he wanted to serve the best chicken possible. For him, this meant Bresse breed chickens, raised in the open air for 150 days, hence the name of the restaurant. Guo says he couldn’t find what he wanted anywhere in Washington – typical industrially raised chickens are slaughtered at around 40 or 50 days and even small-scale farms rarely let their birds live longer than 100 days – so he started his own poultry farm in Arlington, Snohomish County, to supply his restaurant. He says letting birds live longer gives them a more complex flavor. From the flavor of the chicken in the restaurant, I believe it.
The “Arlington Bresse Noodle Soup” broth ($ 14.99), made with simmered whole chickens, onions, and spices, was velvety with collagen like a good tonkotsu ramen broth. The shredded chicken collapsed into pieces among the hand-pulled wheat noodles as I sipped them.
Guo is from Hohhot, the capital of the far north of China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and he says the techniques he uses come from there. But Guo says most of his restaurant’s dishes are his creations and wouldn’t be found in China.
My favorite dish was the “Steak Tajine Pot” ($ 14) with rice, which was actually ribs, rice, potatoes and vegetables and chicken broths cooked in a tagine, a pot in land used by the Berbers to steam the stews of the same name. . You can also order the dish with noodles, but it’s hard to imagine that it could get any better.
The dish was creamy like a good risotto, each grain of rice separated from its neighbors by fat, imbued with the buttery flavor of beef bones.
I scratched every last grain from my takeout box.
Correction, Thursday July 8, 4:26 p.m .: An earlier version of this story incorrectly pointed out the location where sheep’s grain, the flour used by Farine Bakery and Cafe, is ground. Shepherd’s Grain flour is ground by Grain Craft in Pendleton, Oregon.