This new store is another addition that is starting to fill in the row between Coxwell and Greenwood along Queen Street East. It joins Sausage Partners, Queen Margherita, Rakia, The Film Buff serving ice cream and the Sunday farmer's market as a growing local food destination. That may be stretching it but for the longest time there was not much in the area.
So, a boulangerie opens. Boulangerie is basically a baker that does not specialize in fine pastry. It is often contrasted with patisserie which is a fine pastry shop. There are no claims from this shop that it is a fine Parisian pastry shop. It does feel French because it is. However, it does have some of the goodies that you would expect including mille-feuille and Paris brest. I happened to show up on opening day by accident. The accident involved going for chicken at Sausage Partners but that is a digression. Sticking to the point, I entered the shop and was a little surprised to see that it was barely noon and only two types of bread remained. (Here comes a major digression).
<DIGRESS>As an aside, a friend of mine went to Glory Hole about a week ago, shortly before noon where he was greeted by a rack of four doughnuts. There was one person in front of him and a few people lined up after him. The person in front takes the last of the doughnuts and the counter person told him there were no more doughnuts. A similar thing happened to me at Paulette's where a number of different types were finished.
The problem that we have with this is that both of these places have been in business for a little while and so they should have an idea of what their daily sales will be. The second is the response is a little shrug and sorry. The third is that they seem to trade on this shortage - when they are gone, they are gone and aren't they precious? There is a slight weirdness in TO food culture where shortages are managed to create buzz. Maybe this is because these places are worried that their products would not live up to the hype? I know, a little catty but...</DIGRESS>
The server was so apologetic and stated to everyone she served that they had made a mistake on their first day and should have made more bread. She assured every one that this would NOT happen again. It may have helped that she said this with a slight french accent belying the rudeness of the French. I got a bunch of stuff and headed back home to test the tastes on the hoard.
The demi-baguette tasted fine but the crumb lacked the large bubbles that I expect. There was a pain au lait sprinkled with sugar but I felt the sugar chosen was a little too coarse. It made the bread taste more like a sweet rather than a sweetened bread. A finer sugar sprinkled less liberally would make all the difference. Fundamentally, it tasted fine.
The pastries were another thing. The flavour for all of them was quite good. It tasted as if an experienced baker had made them. A complaint could be made in the lack of refinement; some of the crusts were unevenly browned, the cut of the brest allowed the cream to fall out. Once again, the filling and the crusts tasted like they should. It was the texture and the crunch that was oh so slightly off.
You can always tell something about the make of a place during its first few days and I can tell that the pastries will become more regular and refined with more days to come. The bread situation will result in availability. This place will survive and make good on its promises because you can see it in the servers and taste it in the food. They aren't only here to make a living, they want to please their customers. I do have the choice of going to the patisserie down the way but I think that sometimes the raw, young desire to please will win me out sometimes, especially if I am only looking for a few loaves of bread.