Stepping inside Noisette Pastry Kitchen, the brightly lit cafe on the corner of Broadway and Charnelton in downtown Eugene, there is a sense of vibrant energy and deliciousness. The eye immediately bounces around the array of sweet and savory items, from tarts and scones to sandwiches and cookies and back again, through piles of brownies and biscuits, and on toward the jars of delicate, multicolored macarons. It is this variety that really sets Noisette apart. There’s the breadth of treats on display but also a diversity of business endeavors and community engagement the bakery has whipped up over the past decade.
October 2011 marked the beginning for Noisette, which is the French word for hazelnut, here in Eugene. Owners Tobi Sovak and Michael Landsberg, who are married, moved to the area from Los Angeles in 2005, then worked in the local food scene at highly regarded establishments like Marché and King Estate. After a few years they decided to make the leap into an operation of their own. They had “a lot of experience in fine dining,” says Landsberg, “but we didn’t want to go in that direction with this project.” Instead, the couple opted to open a European-style bistro. “Something more accessible to people on a daily basis,” says Sovak.
“From the start of it, the intention of Noisette was always to balance the savory with the sweet,” explains Landsberg. On the savory side, the roasted lamb sandwich has been a perennial favorite, exemplifying Noisette’s focused consistency. The savory goat cheese biscuits, always in high demand, have prompted an expansion of the menu into newer items, like hand pies that come in a variety of flavors. The breakfast egg tarts, in deliciously flaky shallow shells and served by the slice, are filled with seasonally rotating combinations of veggies and cheese, “quintessential Noisette,” says Sovak.
Some of Noisette’s sweeter classics, products that have been there since day one, include the bostock, a French almond-flavored brioche in pastry form, and a gibassier, a Provençal donut-like galette featuring olive oil, orange peel, and anise seed. These treats, along with the brownies, cookies, and other delights, keep people coming back. “This is what people want to eat, so we keep making them,” says Landsberg.
Beyond the regular fare, Sovak and Landsberg have experimented with several other ventures over the past several years, including a wine-focused bistro menu for the weekends and evenings, a robust wholesale bread program, a light catering endeavor, and more recently, a thriving online retail store. The flexibility to pivot and explore new opportunities is part of what has helped Noisette maintain its success, especially during the early Covid years.
Noisette has always been community-oriented. They host a community-supported agriculture (CSA) veggie box operation for Upriver Organics, a farm up the McKenzie River, and a flower CSA for Mohr Flowers, which also provides edible flowers for the bakery. Lane County Bounty, a local online farmers market, uses Noisette as a pickup/dropoff site one day a week as well.
For Sovak, working with other growers, producers, and makers has been an important part of Noisette’s growth and integration into the local food community. Last August, while the pastry kitchen was closed for staff vacation, Marigold Cooking Collective (Editor’s Note: MCC was our Community Hero in the Spring 2023 issue) operated a teen cooking camp in the space, with several local chefs coming in to teach classes. Sovak, who also serves on the MCC board of directors, is excited to be able to share resources and help usher in and train another generation of food industry professionals.
“We have a great crew of bakers here,” says Sovak, “and we couldn’t do all this without them.” Noisette is currently open five days a week, and for Landsberg “it’s all been rainbows and unicorns, but really we just stay busy and keep it all going.”
Noisette Pastry Kitchen, 200 W Broadway, 541/654-5257, noisettepk.com