Sunday, February 19, 2006

sweet spots

Here are a few of my favourite places in Toronto:
Best Bakery / Pastry Shops:
Patachou Pâtisserie, 1095 Yonge Street, 416 927 1105
Patachou is a wonderful patisserie, which serves classic French pastries. It has moved across the road and is located in a newly renovated space, which has a nice and contemporary atmosphere. My favorites at this Toronto pastry institution include: bostock (a round and flat brioche with a hint of orange flower water), éclairs filled with chocolate pastry cream and their delicious plums tarts.
Rahier Pâtisserie, 1586 Bayview Avenue, 416 482 0917
If you are a pastry lover then I really hope that you make it to Rahier. Rahier has a wonderful range of products from pastries, breads, cakes, tarts and cookies. Their croissants and danishes may be the best in the city (Good butter and the number and quality of folds in the dough are important). I can often be found there once a week eating these yummy pastries. The quality of the desserts here are excellent, and I highly recommend all their tasty petit fours/cookies.
Best Jewish Bakery:
Harbord Bakery, 115 Harbord Street, 416 922 5767
Harbord Bakery is one of the oldest Jewish bakeries in Toronto; it has been open since 1926. When I think of Harbord bakery I think of comfort food and baking. Some of the things that I find particularly tasty include the challas (which I have almost every Friday), rugelach and their sweet cheese buns.
Best Chocolate Shop:
SOMA Chocolatemaker, 55 Mill Street, Suite 102, 416 815 7662
Since it first opened in 2003 SOMA chocolatemaker has been consistently making some of the best chocolates in the city. SOMA is run by David Castellan (pastry chef/ chocolate maker) whose passion and knowledge of chocolate is delightful. If you love good quality chocolate and are adventurous, SOMA will not disappoint. Truffles include: 8yr. aged balsamic, chai spice, douglas fir, as well as, his single origin bean cubes, to name a few. Also notable is the Mayan hot chocolate and his fun and playful use of toasted corn, sunflower seeds, coffee beans and nuts enrobed in chocolate. Website:
Best Ice Cream:
Greg’s Ice Cream, 750 Spadina Avenue, 416 961 4734
Greg’s Ice Cream is a Toronto ice cream institution, which has been open for more than 20 years. The new shop is bright, small and quaint. I would categorize Greg’s ice cream as a “homemade” style ice cream (a sweet cream base). Known throughout the city, Greg’s ice cream can be found in local neighbourhoods and is used in many restaurants in Toronto. The flavours that are available are written on a white erase board daily. Classic flavours include: roasted marshmallow, coffee toffee, cinnamon and ginger.
Best Tea Shop:
House of Tea, 1015-1017 Yonge Street, 416 922 1226
House of tea is a shop with a store with an amazing selection of teas and is my personal favorite tea store in Toronto. The owner and staff are friendly, unpretentious and, oh so, helpful. This shop specializes in loose teas that are imported worldwide. The quality and assortment of classic teas is excellent. However, it is some of the blends of herbal and fruit infusion teas that I find magical. If you can't find the blend you are looking for, the owner will mix your custom blend in front of your eyes for the price of the required ingredients. Highly recommend for all those who love tea.
Best Brunches:
Bonjour Brioche, 812 Queen St. East, 416 406 1250
A fantastic café with a tasty selection for breakfast, brunch and lunch as evidenced by the wait on weekend mornings. Bonjour Brioche offers various kinds of sweet and savory foods with a French accent. Their quiches, croissants, baguettes and brioche are excellent. The brioche royale is light, buttery and filled with luscious lemon curd and raspberry or pastry cream and blueberry. These small yummy brioches are the reason why I return over and over.
Pain Perdu, 736 St. Clair West, 416 656 7246
Pain Perdu is an excellent little boulangerie/patisserie/café. The viennoiseries (croissant, chocolatine, brioche, pain aux raisin and polonais) are some of the best in town. Cakes, fruit tarts and scrumptious éclairs are also on the menu. On the savoury side, biscuits, breads and sandwiches are also very good. However, the quiches at pain perdu are excellent. Some of the quiches include: leek and roquefort; rappini and goat cheese; mango and gorgonzola; and quiche lorraine). These are some of the best quiches in the city. Website:
Best Dinner:
Lee, 601 King Street West, 416 504 7867
Whether you like him or not Susur Lee can cook. His menu is unique, he puts a twist on classic Asian dishes, the flavours are usually big and bold. The Singapore-slaw is a standout. The Servers are knowledgeable and professional. Lee is a nice dinner out.
Delicious Walnut Shapes Cakes:
Hodo Kwaja, 656 Bloor Street West, 416 538 1208
Hodo Kwaja is a Korean filled sweet that is shaped like a walnut. This store is appropriately named, as Hodo Kwaja is their specialty. This small Korean bakeshop produces these walnut-shaped cakes (which taste similar to a madeleine). They are filled with either a red bean paste or a mixture of mashed potatoes and walnuts or almonds. They are excellent with tea or coffee and definitely better when they are warm. Another reason to drop by is to watch the walnut cake machine in action (usually between 10am-11am and 3pm-4pm) - apparently amazing.

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