A journey around Toronto’s pastry world (1)
So it’s Saturday afternoon, the sky is grey and depressing, our stomachs are growling so what are we to do?!?! Well, most people would make lunch, but here at Notes On a Meal, we don’t find that to be enough so we embark on a French pastry shop journey. Equipped with a sneaky camera (well, a cell phone), three hungry bellies and a car (last item on the list is very important since the distances between them quite large) we set out to visit the “Great Ones”.
In order to play fair, we decide on a few criteria. One: we shop with our eyes (as most customers do) so if pastries don’t particularly look appetizing, we move on without a purchase. Two: we purchase only macarons and individual cakes (as a journey comparing breads and croissants is in the works for this summer). Three: we don’t consume anything until we’ve gathered all our products together.
Our day starts out at Frangipane Patisserie, located on Dupont St. just east of Spadina. A cute, minuscule pastry shop serving breathtakingly decorated cakes and a few pastry products. The selection is limited but any of their desserts are guaranteed to make an impression if presented on a dessert table. The piping and decorations on the cakes are impeccable, flawless and very imaginative. I truly find myself gazing longingly at the entire pastry case but settle on a lemon meringue tart and two macarons (salted caramel and lavender honey). The tart is delicious, but a little too sweet (I prefer a tangier lemon curd) while the macarons are unimpressive at best. The flavours lack personality and are barely distinguishable between the disproportionate cookies.
Continuing our journey, it brings us to Patachou Patisserie on Yonge st. (between Davenport and St. Clair). This is the busiest and one of the largest spaces of the day, however it is also the saddest looking display. I will accredit this to their high volume of customers at that particular moment but their savoury showcase (salads, quiches, sandwiches, etc) looked like it was hit by a tornado. On the dessert side of things, nothing was really inspiring. There were a few decorative touches that I particularly liked, like apple wedges on the tarts as opposed to slices, but nothing there begged to be devoured. Needless to say, we left empty handed.
A few blocks north on Yonge is the newly opened Nadege Patisserie (number two of the city). A modern cafe, devoid of customers but full of extraordinary pastries. By far the best display cases, the most modern of the bunch and the most expensive products (ratio to size). After staring longingly at everything there, we walked away with two cakes and a cotton candy macaron. “La Mancha” is a safron creme brulee cake with a blackberry coulis center, a simple clean dessert lacking a little personality and “O2″ is a divine combination of caramel and chocolate (too bad it’s so small). The macaron was heavenly with a pungent filling and perfectly textured cookies. I was very, very impressed.
Further up Yonge st. (just south of Eglinton at Manor Rd) comes La Bamboche Patisserie. Having heard recent raves about the macarons, I was racing to the front door to take my pick. However, I was truly disappointed. The flavour combinations are imaginative (we picked Watermelon, Sangria and Champagne) but the taste is lacking. The watermelon in particular was unfortunately the worst macaron I have had to date, resembling watermelon Jolly Ranchers in flavour (if that’s your thing, go have the macaron). There were very few items for sale in the store, a few cakes (three or four flavours in a variety of sizes) and preserves. Overall, not what I was expecting at all.
Next post, we visit Bobbette and Belle, La Cigone and Rahier among other pastry greats in Toronto…..