In a recent positive review, and subsequent discussion, of a new neighbourhood place on the Danforth, Chocolate Heaven Cafe, some people weighed in how terrible cakes were at Sweet Tooth (also on the Danforth), how the goods available at Chocolate Heaven were homemade (apparently a bad thing to some folks, though not to me), and that Clafouti's crosissants were made from frozen dough, Only Bonjour Brioche escaped major criticism (though it has been resoundingly criticized elsewhere for it's attitude).
So my question of the day is (recognizing that the above is hardly an exhaustive list, but does seem to reflect a general willingness to criticize without offering alternative positive suggestions), where DO chowhounders go across this great and diverse city of ours go to get:
Are we all slaves to outlets for Ace and Dufflet? I'm hoping that if people critique a place they will offer at least one positive alternative suggestion...
Generally I make my own desserts since I love to bake. Having said that, I have had some great cakes from Altitude on Queen E., in particular a cappucino cake that I can't buy anymore because I can't stop eating it when it's in the house. For bread I love the selection at All the Best on Yonge. Their in-house baker makes great bread, his Farmhouse loaf is my favourite, but the 4 Grain with Flax is really good too if you want a healthier option. And they carry Celestin, Thuet and the other big bread guys in the city, so you can get pretty much whatever you want there. For pastries I ususally treat myself to a raspberry twist from Stonemill when I'm at the market.
I like to know about bad experiences, but agree that a positive option is great to get.
I agree about Altitude. Around the holiday season we fill up on their cranberry walnut tart (think pecan pie but way, way better) but they are equally effective year round. Although Dufflet seems to be under some criticism around here I have always had a soft spot for their Chocolate Banana Layer Cake. Although I haven't had it in a while, I remember it as dense and delicious - not quite as sweet as some of Dufflet's other creations. Phipps on Eglinton is also pretty reliable.
a) I buy savoury pies at Healthy Butcher and Cumbrae - but I prefer HB's. Clafouti has very nice tarts - lemon, pear, etc. And there's a pretty good place on the north side of Bloor in Bloor West Village; their name escapes me. Lemon Meringue?
b) Pusateri's for Gryfe's bagels and Gryfe's pizza bagels, Ace baguette, and Fred's Breads; Whole Foods for Ace baguette; Healthy Butcher for Fred's; Celestin for butter croissant and pain au chocolat.
c) Pusateri's for assorted cakes. Nothing I deeply love, but I don't love cake. I bought a tarte tatin once on Queen in the east end (not at Bonjour Brioche but some place whose name escapes me, further east towards the Beach, with lime-painted walls) - it was amazingly good.
Senses is okay, particularly for fruit mousses, but not spectacular. I don't like Dufflet; either they or I have really changed in the past ten years and I find them leaden and too-sweet. Cobs is bland and boring, Thuet didn't knock my socks off, Wagamama is always dusty and often closed, Jules is pretty good, and The Cupcake Shoppe is a travesty.
My two cents :-)
Lemon Meringue has been gone for awhile(catering only now).I like Queen of Tarts on Roncevalles(their coconut cream tart is very good and they have quite a few unusual varieties).Also. I like Wanda's Pie in the Sky (on Six Point Rd in Etob.). Nice scones, brownies and cookie dough to take out by the pound(so you can lie to your friends if ya don't bake and take all the credit...)
My favourite cakes and pastries are those that contain whipped cream. I've gotten some great whipped cream pastries at Amadeus on Bathurst just north of Steeles.
I also like the cream pies (banana chocolate is great), fruit tarts and cakes made by Whole Foods (from their own bakery only).
I'm not a fan of the cakes at Pusateri's. Large selection...nothing great.
I'm very particular about the sweetness of my desserts, and I find Dufflet, Phipp's and Wanda's to be excessively sweet.
Personally, I don't find any of the so-called artisanal breads available in Toronto to be anything great. But in Montreal,...
Apart from the places mentioned, I quite like the selection at Le Gourmand near Queen and Spadina. Their croissants, particularly the chocolate ones, are delicious. Often they're gone by the time I make it there. The pastries I've had aren't heavy or overly sweet. I used to be a Dufflet's fan, but I find their pastries that are sold in the markets are simply too butter-heavy. I heard extra butter makes the pastries last longer, but it's a turn-off for the tastebuds.
In Scarboro East and West Durham, there is an excellent bakery, The Breadhouse, at 893 Bayly St, (one block east of White's Rd.) The proprietor, Terrance has good cakes and pastries, but I go there for the breads, especially rye, and Austrian round loaf. Pot pies and sausage rolls are worthy snak items, as well as pizza. Prices are reasonable, e.g. $3.10 for large rye.
Ace baguettes are now sold frozen, in a box at Costco. A fine convenience product. I suppose a lot of restaurants are buying these. Cost is about $1.20 each when purchased by the dozen.