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On 11th Ave, Semillon now living the Capitol Hill French bakery dream

Capitol Hill — land of dreams. Last week, CHS told you about two brothers living the Capitol Hill dream of owning their own neighborhood bar — Cure is under new ownership. Another Hill ownership change comes with another Hill dream — but this time, the happy thoughts are about leaving a life in tech behind for a new life of French pastries and breads.

“I’ve been baking all of my life. Eating some of it — but not all of it,” Debbie Nam tells CHS about her big leap in taking over a bakery and cafe space on Capitol Hill and starting her own business — Semillon.

“I’ve always enjoyed the process,” she says.

After a career in IT, Nam is now the proud owner of the business growing in the space at 11th and Madison just off Union where Ines Patisserie created a bakery and cafe in 2014. Owner Nohra Belaid made no secret about her desire to sell the business over the summer. Nam said she decided to take the plunge and is getting a boost with some helpful guidance — and recipes — from Belaid.

She’s been open now for more than two weeks in a quiet, no big announcement start for her new career as she has been testing recipes and getting her operation in order. “It’s a lot of stuff,” Nam said. “I’ve never owned a business before.”

Named for her favorite variety of wine — Australian, though, not French — Semillon is a French bakery with traditional items like croissants and macarons that also keeps evening hours with wine, crepes, and treats like liver pates to share with wine and port, while patrons hang out and enjoy watching the rainy flow of traffic streaming by on Madison or customers visiting neighboring Essensuals London salon and footwear fashion boutique Likelihood. In addition to keeping many of the Ines recipes, Nam also hopes to introduce her passion for breads — olive breads, cheese and herbs breads, and “some other things in my pocket.”

Semillon is located at 1150 11th Ave. It is open from 7 AM on Wednesday through Saturday, with late hours until 8 PM on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. You can learn more at

Speaking of bakeries
While CHS took a summer news break, we missed reporting on one big change in the Hill’s baked goods scene. Neil Robertson’s E Olive Way Crumble and Flake — the delicious artisan bakery he opened in 2012 — changed hands. The excellent shop is now under the wing of pastry chef Toby Matasar. You can enjoy baked goods from a different angle at her gluten free cafe Niche on 12th Ave.


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8 thoughts on “On 11th Ave, Semillon now living the Capitol Hill French bakery dream

  1. Looking forward to trying Semillon out. All looks lovely and should be dragged home, and when the interesting breads come, even better. Just about anybody could vastly improve on the horrible “service” one got at Ines Patisserie, but this sounds like a huge step up. Hope it works out splendidly.

    • I walked into Ines once and was met with judgmental stares. Looking forward to new, hopefully friendlier ownership.

    • Nohra Belaid once picked a fight with me as I was paying for her delicious pastries. Vowed never to return to Ines. Hoping the new owner is friendly.

    • I agree about Ines Patisserie….I tried it once….seemed “cold” and also overpriced. I’ll try the new place to see if anything has changed, and I wish Debbie the best of luck.

    • That was a strange business. Making money must not have been a big concern because hours were spotty with very few offerings and bad attitude.

    • Hi! I’m Debbie the new owner here at Semillon. I very much look forward to building great new relationships here at the cafe! Stop in and check out the new place! Thank you.