Showing posts with label bakery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bakery. Show all posts

Patisserie Sebastien (Toronto)


From the outside, Patisserie Sebastien, a neighbourhood French bakery, doesn’t seem too Parisian. However, once you open the oversized door (perfect for strollers and assisted walkers), the smell of tantalizing buttery pastries and comforting espresso mixed with milk instantly greets you.

Sebaastien’s is busy but not in an overwhelming manner: there’s always someone occupying the handful of tables situated around the windows but I’ve never had to wait. If you’re there for just a sweet and drink, a row of stools by the coffee bar entices you to stay and enjoy the concoctions in their full glory. In fact, I highly recommend you stop and eat the pastry there as certain ones are not nearly as magnificent once suffocated in a paper bag and left sitting around at home.

At the restaurant, the canale ($2.95) has a wonderfully caramelized crust and airy sweet cakey custard centre… the ideal two bites of sweetness with a hot frothy cappuccino. Once they’re brought home and especially if they’re left overnight, they’re still good but becomes chewy.


Go early on Saturday for your best chance at getting one of their French doughnuts ($2.95). Even then, sometimes they can quickly run out when families run in to grab a dozen for the cottage and there won’t be another batch on Sunday. Sebastien’s take on a cronut, these doughnuts are sinfully delicious with layers of flaky buttery pastry with a crispy sugary crust. By far my favourite doughnuts in the city.


Their butter croissant ($2.25) incorporates the same airy dough but really needs some condiments as it’s not really flavourful. For those who like croissant sandwiches, this is ideal for stuffing with cheese, vegetables, and meat. Similarly, the chocolate croissant ($2.50) is not nearly decadent enough. With only two slivers of chocolate along the middle of the pastry, you don’t always get some with each bite – if there was a bit drizzled on top the pastry would be better.


I prefer the apple Danish ($3.10), topped with numerous thin apple slices and a sweet earthy almond paste underneath. This is a pastry you generally can’t find everywhere else.


For a light lunch, Sebastien also offers sandwiches, soups, and quiches. The baguette used as the sandwich’s base is delicious – soft, chewy, and has a lovely bread aroma; it’s a crusty bread that’s not hard so you won’t have the jagged shards that can cut your mouth.

Meanwhile, the sandwiches’ fillings can be improved. The Parisian ($9.50; half order pictured below as they thoughtfully split it for us) uses French style ham, gruyere and mustard. Nothing is strong enough so the flavours sort of just meld together: the ham isn’t smoked and the gruyere also fairly mild. The only saving grace is the lovely mustardy creamy vinaigrette on the salad … if devil's egg can be made into a dressing.

The legume sandwich ($9.50) could be good if the eggplant was hot. Maybe it’s me, but biting into a bun and being greeted by an ice-cold vegetable is a letdown, no matter how creamy the goat cheese.


Sebastien’s French onion soup ($8.95) has all the elements to satisfy without the guilt factor. In lieu of the cap of cheese and bread, a few slices of gruyere is laid on top so it slowly melts without leaving a pool of oil. Baguette croutons are served on the side so you can add them gradually to the soup to help retain some crispiness. Given the accompaniments are lighter, the broth gets a chance to stand out - it’s not overly salty so you can enjoy the sweet onions.


Of all the brunch dishes, my favourite is their individual quiches – combining a bite of flaky crust and savoury egg with each bite. Their quiche Lorraine ($9.50) incorporates plenty of ham and cheese so is flavourful and creates nice gooey bites with caramelized onion for sweetness. The quiche’s crust is flakey but still light enough to not feel heavy, especially when balanced with the same mustardy aioli vinaigrette salad that’s served with sandwiches.


What I like most about Patisserie Sebastien is that there really is a Sebastien. When it’s busy, he’s generally in the kitchen, preparing the baked goods, sandwich, quiche, and soup orders. Once in a while, he’ll make his appearance in the dining room, bringing over the food in a quiet non-opposing manner. It’s impressive the number of confections one person can create for a bakery. Splitting a soup and French doughnut with my own quiche, that’s my go-to weekend lunch treat. 



Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3306 Yonge Street


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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


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Patisserie Sebastien Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Uncle Tetsu's No-Bake Cheesecake (Markham)


While visiting central Japan in April, don’t be surprised as crowds flock to green spaces to take in the sakura (cherry blossoms) blooming from trees. For anyone who’s seen them, it’s a stunning sight that makes you dream of floating on clouds, lollipop lined roads and all things pretty.

Uncle Tetsu’s Unionville location has recently incorporated the ingredient into their no-bake cheesecake ($35 for a full cake that comfortably feeds six or $8 for personal-sized cup) and the effect is equally stunning. As I lifted the lid on the box, my first instinct wasn’t to snap a picture, but rather take in the beautiful sakura blossoms – to stop and stare at the flowers one could say.


The cherry blossoms, along with translucent petals and pieces of gold leaf are secured onto the blush cheesecake layer with a lightly sweetened gelatin. The cake’s texture is a cross between a mousse and gelatin, with cheese flavour peeking through in the background alongside a sweet floral essence. The actual sakura tastes neither like cherries or flowers, rather has a kick of salty sourness having been pickled in salt and ume vinegar. Aside from the cherry blossomthe dominant flavours from the cake is the lovely graham cracker crust – it’s that buttery element that really tastes like cheesecake.


Overall, the cheesecake is delicate and light. With no overpowering flavours, it’s a safe cake for larger crowds (bridal or baby shower anyone?) or with the whimsical elements something that would delight children.

For a more robust flavour, the yuzu no-bake cheesecake ($35 for cake or $8 for cup) incorporates a potent citrusy taste, especially if you get a piece of the fruit’s rind. Launching for Lunar New Year, the cake’s refreshing and its tartness likely welcomed after a filling family meal.


Until February 10, 2017, the Toronto Gourmet Club is providing its food loving members a 20% off voucher for Uncle Tetsu’s sakura cheesecake. Simply register for free on their website and the voucher will be emailed to you. Here’s hoping the voucher will be a step at encouraging you to stop and smell (and eat) the flowers.

Disclaimer: The cakes were provided on a complimentary basis. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.


How To Find Them
 Location: Markham, Canada
 Address: 158 Main Street

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Love Me Sweet (Thornhill)


 How does it compare to Uncle Tetsu’s? It’s unfair – after all, Love Me Sweet is its own bakery – but, that’s the first thing on anyone’s mind.

In terms of taste, the original flavour ($11) is similar but more cake-like, when freshly out of the oven, at Love Me Sweet. While Tetsu’s reminded me of a smooth airy gelatin, Love’s seemed like a creamy angel food cake. Although I still find it better the next day, after an evening in the fridge, becoming denser, creamier, and full bodied.

If you’ve never had Japanese cheesecake before, definitely order the original flavour to get a better taste of the light buttery dessert. However, for a second or third cake/visit, you should try Love’s chocolate and coffee flavours. Even as you open the box, the cocoa and coffee aromas let you know something special is coming.

Having sampled all three at a party, most guests seemed to prefer the sweet milk chocolate ($11) version, which has enough cocoa for interest without being heavy. Chocolate cheesecake is a familiar flavour, with a dollop of whipped cream on top would be even better.


Personally, my favourite is the coffee ($11), letting off an intense smell and flavour of the drink. Indeed, its richness masks the cheese, yet its creaminess reminds you this isn’t a crumb cake and offers a unique spin on the dessert.


While comparing Love Me Sweet with its famed downtown counterpart, the best part of the uptown establishment is the ability to “reserve” cakes. Simply go online or call to place your order and they’ll ensure they make enough cakes for you. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll all be ready when you arrive (I had to wait five minutes while the coffee one was finishing off in the oven), but at least you’re not waiting in line (there was no line at Love’s) just to be disappointed.  


How To Find Them
 Location: Thornhill, Canada
 Address: 7181 Yonge Street (at Shops on Yonge)

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CLOSED: Delysees (Toronto)



It's easy to see why mini desserts are gaining popularity - éclairs, once the size of a shoe, have shrunken into a petite pastry easily contained within a palm. Things become cuter and you don’t feel bad having one … two… okay maybe three.

Recently, I’ve had one of those nights. Delysées threw a summer rendezvous event showcasing their line of miniaturized desserts. Bringing along a sweet loving friend, I had intentions of only trying five things and relying on the expert’s opinion instead. Yet, when I caught sight of the intricate pastries encased in beautiful hues, I started reaching for more.

Chocolate lovers should adore their mousse cake and dark chocolate truffle “Rocher”. The cake was fluffy as air incorporating a slight peanut butter finish to the sweet - quite nice. Chocolate and I have our moments: in general I don’t love the ingredient, but when the dessert’s right it can be delicious. I had my doubts about the oversized Rocher, but it turned out to be astonishingly light in the centre while still feeling indulgent.


I may not be a wedding planner, but Delysées’ collection of Grange of Prince Edward desserts (a limited edition menu of items infused with their wines) would be perfect for the occasion. Although it’s difficult to decipher in the picture, their champagne macaron is dusted with edible sparkles! Brides, please try to contain your excitement.


Then there’s éclairs in every hue and texture: a vibrant red one filled with Sloane raspberry cream, a “soft” cloudy looking coconut, and a whimsical meringue filled with a lovely lemon cream.


Yet the most jaw dropping has to be blinging éclair fully encased in gold (inside is a hazelnut chocolate mousse).


For me, the tastiest is the plain white one – so clean and unassuming looking. The jasmine yuzu cream piped inside is utterly refreshing and perfect after a heavy meal. Although the tea and citrus both aren’t strong flavours, their tastes were still rather pronounced and delicious.


Delysées’ cakes are quite the sight, especially the flourless dark chocolate dome drizzled in blue and pink stripes.


The cheesecakes were not overly heavy: the inside incorporating a fluffy almond tofu texture. I only wish the graham cracker crust on the bottom was thinner given the dessert is so delicate and the thick base finishes it like a granola bar.


For those who want a shot of booze with their dessert, they even have a line of parfaits crowned with a squeeze of liqueur. An earthy pistachio paired with a whiskey or a crunchy almond cream with Grand Marnier?


Their mini choux or cream puffs were also tasty. Instead of the typical sweet whipped cream, this was filled with real Madagascar vanilla bean cream.


Although more understated than the other offerings, Delysées’ tarts are worth a try: the crust is crunchy yet flaky and the fillings the most flavourful of all the desserts. Pictured below is the dark chocolate & salted caramel and the roasted pistachio. I also tried the fresh lemon tart, which was refreshing and balanced.


Overall, the majority of Delysées’ pastries aren’t overly sweet and appear to be flavoured naturally (rather than tasting very strong from the use of artificial extracts). It’s a matter of preference: as a person who doesn’t like overly decadent desserts, it’s perfect. However, if you yearn for the sugary flavourful explosion that can only be subdued with milk, you may be disappointed.

Regardless, Delysées’ new mini collection includes TONS of choice – the above is only a fraction of their overall menu. So, you’ll have to sample and judge for yourself. The fact that they’re the size of a silver dollar? Well, you can just have a few more.    

Disclaimer: The above tasting was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 780 King Street West

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Bake Code (Toronto)

Bake Code Toronto


Bake Code is a bakery that’s seen a lot of press with mainstream media and bloggers. Every time I see a picture of the glistening carbs, they beckon me to visit. In reality, it really shouldn’t have taken me so long to make it out to the store, given its proximity to my home, but the news of the fabled crowds and line-ups just didn’t sound appetizing.

After waiting for the hype to die down, I bit the bullet and visited early on a Saturday (about half an hour after opening), to be greeted by a relatively empty store but alas also empty shelves. Over the fifteen minutes I hung around, staff were gradually putting product out (albeit at a rather unhurried pace), an annoying experience as it was hard to determine what to purchase without knowing the complete choices.

Eventually, I had enough and settled on a selection of buns that were available. After hearing the praise for their mentaiko baguette, I was in luck that they had the mentaiko rolls ($1.70) on display. About the size of tennis ball they’re the soft eggy dinner rolls found in Asian bakeries topped with a layer of oily fish roe. Sure, the bun was sort of reminiscent of sushi, but admittedly not my favourite. 

Mentaiko Roll: Photo courtesy of Bake Code
If only the filling in the custard bun ($2.20) were sweeter it would have been fantastic. There was a nice ratio of custard to bun and baked with a wonderful caramel crust letting out that yeasty bread smell I love.


My husband enjoyed their ham crescent ($2.90), a crispy flaky croissant stuffed with a smoked ham and baked until it’s extremely crispy and flaky.  

Ham Crescent: Photo courtesy of Bake Code
The cranberry creamed cheese crown ($4.50) consisted of pillowy soft pull apart buns, the texture a cross between a ciabatta and kaiser, filled ample amounts of dried cranberry studded creamed cheese. With three to a crown, this is also a comparatively economical offering.  


I appreciate the unique selection Bake Code offers: from their website the selection of cakes and the pork floss bun sounds intriguing. However, as with all businesses, it’s hard to sell what’s not in stock... please Bake Code, make sure your product is ready when you open!

Overall, the first visit wasn’t as successful as one would hope – the available goods were decent but hardly as unique and amazing as I’ve been hearing. One day, perhaps I’ll make it out to the bakery again, this time here’s hoping the shelves will be full.     

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 4910 Yonge Street

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Bake Code Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

NU Bügel (Toronto)


After hearing the positive feedback for NU Bügel, picking up a dozen became a priority during a recent Kensington Market visit. Specializing in wood fired bagels, which isn’t the same as Montreal style, the bakery has developed a recipe that’s all their own. The final creation is dense and chewy – similar to a Montreal bagel but larger and doughier. It’s a cross between a bagel and pretzel, having a hint of sweetness as they’re first boiled in honey water before baking.


The store uses the bagels as a base for numerous sandwiches that can also be combined with soup or salad to make a full meal. Several tables line the narrow restaurant should you want to dine in.

Despite the range of flavours - plain, poppy, sesame, everything, onion, coconut and whole wheat – I opted for a dozen of everything bagels since it incorporates everything I enjoy: sesame and poppy seeds for crunch, bits of onion that’s sweet from their kiss with the oven, the lingering taste of garlic and the distinct sharpness from the callaway seeds.


Even after being frozen for a couple of a weeks, they were just as good after a quick defrost in the microwave and finished off in the toaster.

Their website notes, "At Nu Bügel we strive to embrace tradition while giving ourselves enough room to play as we have come to realize that bagel culture belongs to everyone, no matter who you are or where you come from." Indeed, I doubt the bagel culture belongs to everyone - those who are carb conscious or plagued with celiac may disagree. But, for this household, it a culture we’re certainly embrace. There’s a Canadian essence to that remark; being situated in the diverse Kensington Market simply strengthens that conviction.


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 240 Augusta Avenue
 Website: http://nubugel.com/

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NU Bügel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kimuraya 木村屋 (Tokyo)

Location: Tokyo, Japan
Address: 4-5-7 Ginza, Chuuou (beside the Wako department store by exit A10 of Ginza station)
Website: http://www.ginzakimuraya.jp/bakery/index.html
  


Few businesses last for decades let alone for centuries. Kimuraya is one of these rare companies that started in 1874 and still exists today, right beside the Wako department store near exit A10 of Ginza station.

Yasubei Kimura, the founder of Kimuraya, also invented the anpan a sweet bun filled with red bean paste. The dark red paste is common in Asian desserts where azuki beans are mashed and sweetened. Today, Kimuraya also sells buns with various other fillings including sesame, white beans, chestnuts, etc.

The oldest bakery in Japan is fairly small and busy during my weekday visit. Prefilled bags of bread and rolls were prepared on shelves and cakes & other pastries sit in the back in a display case. But, the busiest section lies at the front of the store – wooden boxes filled with dozens of rolls and women stand bagging them to order. Since there was no English signage, it was difficult for me to decipher what was bagged, so I played it safe and waited in line at the front where the wooden boxes at least display buns so you can guess at what fillings were inside.

Keeping with tradition, I purchased two red bean and two black sesame buns for my husband and I.  One was ¥150 per bun while the other ¥170, which is fairly expensive for a scone sized roll. 

You may be wondering, other than the history, what makes it so special? From what I can gather, it has a higher filling to bun ratio and the filling is set perfectly in the middle of the bun for even distribution rather than off to one side like competing products. Moreover, the filling itself is thicker and uses a lot of the ingredients so you really get the natural taste of the red bean and sesame without it being overly sweet. Sorry for the poor picture quality, but I just remembered to snap a photo of the filling while gobbling down my second bun.

Aside from sweets, Kimuraya is also known for their tofu bread, but I wasn’t able to find it due to the lack of labels. Overall, if the queue isn’t long and you’re in for a snack, drop by Kimuraya when you’re shopping around Ginza to try out one of these historical baked goods.

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