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Seylou Bakery & Mill - Jonathan Bethony and Jessica Azeez's Whole Grain Bakery on N Street near Blagden Alley

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An interesting and ambitious new venture which could up DC's bread game.

Seylou Bakery & Mill will be milling local grain on-site and baking 100% whole grain breads in a wood-fired oven.  Jonathan trained at the San Francisco Baking Institute and Washington State University's Bread Lab.  He was also Baker-in-Resident at Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

Looks like they have abbreviated hours this Wednesday-Friday 1-4pm  and then 8am-6pm Saturdays and Sundays.  Closed Monday & Tuesdays.  Regular hours Wednesday-Friday will be 7am-6pm.

Besides bread, they offer daily pastries, coffee and teas.  Pizza and seasonal salads will start up in January.  

Washington Post story

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Mrs. Lion already texted me this morning about trying it out and we'll try and get to it in the next couple of weeks. Anyone's advance reviews would be appreciated!

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I live almost literally next door, so we checked out the place during a soft open.  They generously gave us a loaf of bread, and we bought a chocolate croissant. $5.50 + tax for a chocolate croissant is egregious,  but this was a very good one.  It had a wheatier taste than a traditional one though.  FWIW, regular croissants are $5+tax; I think I'll stick to Pret.

The loaf itself (regularly $12) was delicious, and large.  It was a wheaty, sourdoughy loaf with a nutty taste that went perfectly with olive oil. 

No doubt the products are good, but I wonder how competitive they will be charging more than twice what other places do.

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Prices due seem to be high but my wife has reduced her gluten consumption and apparently they have some gluten free options. Rise Bakery is another such bakery and these prices seem comparable to theirs. 

Thanks for the review funkyfood!

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i went there and have conflicting thoughts. 

I fully admit that it was turned off by much of the press, and even more so by the fact that on weekdays they are only open 8-4, with bread only available from 1-4, which i think is very customer-unfriendly. but i was tempted by the comments about exceptional bread, and it's on my way to work, so i went. 

The two people at the counter were really pleasant though i can't tell if one was clueless or snarky--when i asked about the bread hours she said they only sold it after 1 " so it would be warm for dinner." 

me-"but isn't it hard for people to buy it for dinner if you close at 4?"

her--"well, we realize that it may be hard for people who work 9 to 5s"

I don't work a 9 to 5 but don't work in the immediate vicinity either, and i can't take off 45 min from work to go get bread. but leaving that aside (and in fairness she said that they may be open longer hours later, possibly on fridays) i bought a chocolate croissant, a cheese and kale scone, and a sorghum chocolate chip cookie (apparently gluten free). 

the croissant was quite good, though not what i expected. most croissants i've had have been light and flaky. this was more soft and and moist. there are layers inside, but they're soft and moist like in a paratha, rather than more fluffy drier ones i'm used to. the flavor of the bread? (im not sure i'd call it pastry which in my mind is flakier, ) was savory and really good, i think a plain croissant with butter would be delicious. i thought the savory bread would be weird with the chocolate but it wasn't, it was quite good.  i enjoyed it though i don't think i'd pay $5.50 for it again. 

the cheese kale scone is very good, though again not what i've expected. i've only had drier, crumbly scones. this is very moist, the texture is like the inside of a moist muffin or zucchini bread (but savory). the cheese was generous in amount, high quality, and tasty. i personally think the kale detracted, but that may be because i got a chunk of thick stem. the bready part again had a good flavor, and was very moist.

I did not enjoy the cookie at all.  the cookie part crumbled in your mouth like sand and had a slightly bitter taste. i'm admittedly not used to gluten free cookies, but i've had some, and the texture was nothing like this. i took two bites and refused to finish it. my husband volunteered to polish off the rest ( the chocolate is good quality) but even he left about half of it uneaten. and it wasn't just the texture that put me off--there was also a slightly bitter undertone which i didn't think went well with the chocolate cookie, and there werent' the butter and caramelization notes i usually look for. 

between the scone and the pastry on the croissant, i think i'll love their bread (if i ever get to buy it) but honestly that cookie was one of the more unpleasant eating experiences i've had in the past few months. 

 

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21 minutes ago, sandynva said:

when i asked about the bread hours she said they only sold it after 1 " so it would be warm for dinner." 

me-"but isn't it hard for people to buy it for dinner if you close at 4?"

her--"well, we realize that it may be hard for people who work 9 to 5s"

Regardless of your work schedule, even if you bought warm bread at 4pm, the latest possible time, it would only be "warm for dinner" if you ate dinner at 4:15pm. Am I missing something?

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Stopped by this morning, figuring that things would have become more regularized after a couple of months, only to learn that they apparently have decided they will only sell bread from 1-4.  I assume they know what they're doing--and selling everything they bake--but this seems a bit absurd to me.  It's an enormous place--presumably the rent is very high, and they'd sell countless more loaves if they were available from, say, 8 to 6.  When I registered my disappointment, they recommended that I ask someone who lives in the neighborhood (and does not work away from home!) to purchase me bread whenever I'd like it, and then pick it up from them.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who is not going to go to such lengths -- and wouldn't do so even if I knew someone who was nearby between 1 and 4, which I don't.

Is this sustainable?

 

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On 11/29/2017 at 5:46 PM, funkyfood said:

I live almost literally next door, so we checked out the place during a soft open.  They generously gave us a loaf of bread, and we bought a chocolate croissant. $5.50 + tax for a chocolate croissant is egregious,  but this was a very good one.  It had a wheatier taste than a traditional one though.  FWIW, regular croissants are $5+tax; I think I'll stick to Pret.

The loaf itself (regularly $12) was delicious, and large.  It was a wheaty, sourdoughy loaf with a nutty taste that went perfectly with olive oil. 

No doubt the products are good, but I wonder how competitive they will be charging more than twice what other places do.

Those prices are nonsensical. 

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btw this bakery isn't really in Blagden Alley.  It's next to it, but the entrance is on N Street proper.

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On 1/24/2018 at 3:49 PM, Marty L. said:

When I registered my disappointment, they recommended that I ask someone who lives in the neighborhood (and does not work away from home!) to purchase me bread whenever I'd like it, and then pick it up from them.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who is not going to go to such lengths -- and wouldn't do so even if I knew someone who was nearby between 1 and 4, which I don't.

this is hysterical and portlandia-esque. were they serious? 

I'm a bit ashamed to admit that i bought some of their bread 2 weeks ago,  i just happened to be in the area at the time and i guess my avid love of carbs overcame my aversion to pretension. got half a loaf of levain for about $6, i think, and to be fair, it's almost as large as a whole loaf other places. It was weird. the crust was quite firm and dark but the insides were so, so moist with a distinct sour(dough) taste. it actually reminded me strongly of injera-that level of moisture and tang--which made me laugh a bit--after all his experimentation the steve jobs of bread has apparently invented.....something that was invented a very long time ago by ethiopians. served it at a family dinner that night. despite being a bunch of carb lovers we made barely a dent in it. 2 of us liked the flavor and thought it was good, but somehow just didn't want more. i wrapped up the remainder in a loose plastic bag, put it on my counter and forgot about it till a few days ago. miraculously, it was not mouldy at all. in fact, in the 10 days it had dried out somewhat so that its texture was a lot better for me, more breadlike. i am quite impressed that the bread stayed good for that long but have no desire to get it again. i will be curious to see how long this place stays in business. 

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I'm going to take something of a contrarian position and praise Seylou to High Heaven for what they're doing. Yes, the prices are stratospheric, and no, the business plan is probably not sustainable, but I applaud them for sticking with their guns, and for trying to do something truly special in this world full of mediocrity. 

Understand that I'm not saying that others posting here *aren't* supporting them, but I want to go the extra mile - they are to bread what places like Qualia are to coffee, and it's comforting (to me, anyway) knowing that at least one bakery in this city of million-dollar rowhouses has thrown caution to the wind, and gone balls-to-the-wall in terms of being "the best of the best."

It may not even be "the best of the best," but by damn, they're going to go down with this ship, and God love 'em for doing so.

(Anyone who knew my "business plan" with donrockwell.com would understand why I'm so sympathetic - I'm essentially throwing my life away running this website for nothing, all so a select few people who care (and even those who don't) can have the best-of-the-best without worrying about how to pay for it.) 

Hang in there, Jonathan and Jessica.

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Just stopped by to pick up some bread for a dinner tonight.  They have a lot of really interesting stuff there that look delicious and unique.  Their "full" loaves are the equivalent of two most places'.  And their listed prices include tax.  So, yes, this is expensive, fancy (some might say pretentious) bread, but I also think you can really tell they're doing things to separate themselves from your average run of the mill (no pun intended) bakery.

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They are now selling at the Thursday afternoon Penn Quarter market.  Picked up a full loaf of the Pain, damn that is good bread. 

 is it a new $11 a week addiction, I hope not!  But I would think a loaf would last 3 or 4 days (for a single person perhaps), so let's say a per day cost at about $3.00 or so.  Most people don't blink at dropping that at Starbucks everyday.  That's me rationalizing a $11 loaf of bread!

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As Don knows, I am kind of into bread. I started baking bread after reading an article about WSU's bread lab a few years ago. I had not seen this before and am heading over right now. Dialing Uber!

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On 1/24/2018 at 3:49 PM, Marty L. said:

they'd sell countless more loaves if they were available from, say, 8 to 6. 

Making bread this way takes crazy amounts of time, between 10 an 16 hours per loaf (or batch of), depending on loaf. I would imagine the time they sell bread is a direct result of the time they put in prior to baking, factoring in multiple stages of fermentation and proofing. I am an amateur baker and will start making bread at 3pm to have out of the oven at 7am and still be able to sleep 6-7 hours.

On 1/28/2018 at 12:49 PM, DonRocks said:

I'm going to take something of a contrarian position and praise Seylou to High Heaven for what they're doing. Yes, the prices are stratospheric, and no, the business plan is probably not sustainable, but I applaud them for sticking with their guns, and for trying to do something truly special in this world full of mediocrity.

Amen.

The bread is exceptional, with a deep, heavily charred crust and a ridiculously moist crumb (the hydration percentage may be 75%+). The sour tang in the Pain au Levain is pronounced.The Rustica has a dense, yet spider-webby crumb and delicious nutty flavor. I have not torn apart the baguette yet but will when I get home.This bread may not be for for everyone, but it is the highest quality bread I have had in quite some time.

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3 minutes ago, B.A.R. said:

Making bread this way takes crazy amounts of time, between 10 an 16 hours per loaf (or batch of), depending on loaf. I would imagine the time they sell bread is a direct result of the time they put in prior to baking, factoring in multiple stages of fermentation and proofing. I am an amateur baker and will start making bread at 3pm to have out of the oven at 7am and still be able to sleep 6-7 hours.

Amen.

The bread is exceptional, with a deep, heavily charred crust and a ridiculously moist crumb (the hydration percentage may be 75%+). The sour tang in the Pain au Levain is pronounced.The Rustica has a dense, yet spider-webby crumb and delicious nutty flavor. I have not torn apart the baguette yet but will when I get home.This bread may not be for for everyone, but it is the highest quality bread I have had in quite some time.

I, too, thought it was very good, and perhaps even worth the $$ (if not the need to rearrange my daily schedule to be there during the short window).  But these days I much prefer the breads (esp. the sesame) at Elle, and at Tail Up Goat.

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The website says Bread is now available for sale starting at 8am. 

I am a fan of this place, and look forward to exploring more. Their bread is definitely an acquired taste, but damn, the Einkorn loaf I got was really distinctive. 

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They're now selling pizzas on Thursdays. Had a (very small) slice for $5 yesterday--fine, but nothing special. Somewhat underseasoned, I thought. Whole pies are selling for . . . wait for it . . . twenty-eight dollars.  I think I'll just leave it at that.  I don't assume they're trying to gouge anyone or that they're making far greater profits than other places, and I certainly wish them no ill (to the contrary--like Don, I admire them for "sticking to their guns" and doing it their way), but it'd have to be the Platonic ideal of pizza to justify paying those prices.  It's not.

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