By Nancy Tannler
3333 SE Division St.
Open Daily 7 am – 10 pm
The decision to come to America and open St. Honoré Boulangerie didn’t happen overnight for Dominique Geulin but the vision and the ability to do this well has been a daily part of his earthly existence.
Geulin comes from Etretat, France on the Normandy coast where he woke up everyday to the smell of baking bread and the friendly greetings of early morning customers at his parents’ bakery, the Geulin Boulangerie in this small coastal town a few hours from Paris.
“This was an enriching environment to be raised in. The town could be compared to our Cannon Beach only similar in looks to the White Cliffs of Dover. It was a popular place for the Parisians to gather and at one time, home to Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet,” Geulin said.
He attended the Baking School of Rouen in 1979 completing their 3 year certified baker program. Rather than staying in France and helping his parents in their business, he decided to follow a lifelong dream of moving to the US. He made his way to Portland where he baked for La Panier Bakery, one of Portland’s French bakeries. He was able to renew his work visa for a couple of years before he was called back to France to serve his military duty.
Geulin resumed his baking career, this time in the form of demonstrating a new instant yeast that would increase the shelf life of bread. He traveled all over the world with this company finally landing as a rep in Kansas.
At the time Safeway, out of Seattle, was looking to expand their bakery with more artisan breads and they asked Geulin to create the products. He took the job and he eventually made his way back to Portland. When Safeway asked him to transfer again, Geulin knew that Portland is where he wanted to start his own boulangerie (a French bakery shop, one that specializes in breads, rolls, etc.)
St. Honoré is the patron saint of bakers, a portent for the life-sustaining and delicious daily breads served here. In 2003 Geulin used his traditional families recipes to open the first St. Honoré Boulangerie on NW Thurman St. Since then the menu has expanded as the result of a creative collaboration with his staff.
“When I decided to open a bakery on Division St., I began to see the eastside in a new way. The houses are really nice and there is a feeling of community – something I really want to be a part of,” Geulin said.
It reminds him of the small town he grew up in. St. Honoré participates regularly with fundraisers for local schools. They are members of DCBA and have kids’ demos on the weekends so parents can enjoy their brunch and their kids have something to do. They are beginning having baking classes too.
Geulin has made changes to his menu to serve the people of this community. He offers Happy Hour, from 3 – 6 pm and dinner specials served in a variety of ways.
The tarte flambée is a stylized version of a pizza with an ultra-thin crust, featuring different toppings like smoked Yukon gold potatoes, rosemary-poached grapes, blue cheese and walnuts. The spaetzle is the ultimate in yummy, sustaining food. These little house-made dumplings are made with a variety of cream sauces. The traditional onions, bacon and mushrooms is reasonably-priced and very satisfying.
The pastries are tantalizing, and the selection is sizable so it can take awhile to decide. The baguette is still the bread of the day but there are many other offerings. All the sandwiches and paninis are made with the bakery bread. Soups and salads are available as well as breakfast/lunch entrees.
Normandy is a region of France known for their apples rather than grapes, so the specialty of the region is ciders, not too dissimilar to the northwest. The bar menu has a nice selection of draft cider and beer and they have designed some cocktails incorporating cider into the mix with specialties like: Yuzu-Pippin, Reverend Nat’s Newtown Pippin Cider, yazu citrus vinegar, mint and lemon or Midnight in Paris, Finnriver Farmstead Cider, Lillet Blanc, sweet orange vinegar, elderflower syrup.
St. Honoré Boulangerie offers gluten free choices of soup and salad served with their own gluten free crackers. There are pastries that are gluten free too.
Music is performed on the weekends with the schedule available at sainthonorebakery.com.