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Bonjour Brioche - are you serious?

Several posters have recommended BB on Queen and since we are Montrealers we were looking for a good baguette/croissants. What a joke. This place was (without hyperbole) the WORST baguette I have ever eaten. It had the texture of almost-dry concrete, it had no crumb, and it was undercooked. It was clear that they use a commercial yeast instead of a natural yeast starter, judging from the unpleasant texture. The baguette was oversalted, and had flour sprinkled on top...decoration? Whatever, it was heinous.

The owner claimed that her husband was from Lyon and was the boulanger. He must have failed out of pastry school. She also gave us attitude when we ordered - unfounded attitude.

Has nobody tasted bread from Au Pain Dore, Premiere Moisson, or Autour d'un Pain in Montreal? These loaves are at once chewy and crispy, with nice, natural yeast bubbles on the inside. They are perfectly delicious the next day. We could play field hockey with the BB baguette this morning.

Incidentally, we also bought 2 croissants. They were soggy, with no flaky layers on the inside or the outside.

I have purchased better quality products from our corner IGA in Montreal, not something I enjoy doing, but I would rather eat their bread than anything here.

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  1. Yes, everything in Montreal is good and everything in Toronto is bad. Uh huh. We've heard it all before.

    There are other bakeries with lovely bread in TO. Try Ace, Stonemill at St. Lawerence Market, Fred's etc. etc. Search this board. Lots and lots of options. BB is notoriously unreliable and be great or lousy. It's a problem with BB, not TO.

    1. I'm from Montreal too, and I actually quite enjoy Ace baguettes - and they're available everywhere. So Toronto ain't all that bad. Agreed that Bonjour Brioche's miss the mark, I really just go there for takeout quiche (which is sublime).

      1. Première Moisson baked goods have been available in at least two Dominion's stores (probably more) for the last couple of months. I refer to the Crawford/College and Bloor/Spadina stores. And yes, they make hands down the best baguette in Toronto.

        1. ..um, did I miss something? I don't see why Toronto VS Montreal has come up here, Chemfemme is only slagging BB, and you all seem to agree it's lousy...I'm from T.O. and love it, but I love going to Montreal too...can't we all just get along?!

          5 Replies
          1. re: Recyclor

            Actually chemfemme is most unhappy with TO in general: "I have purchased better quality products from our corner IGA in Montreal, not something I enjoy doing, but I would rather eat their bread than anything here.", but I think we've given her some options.

            Good hunting chemfemme and I hope your bread quest improves!

            1. re: bluedog

              No, Bluedog, all remarks in chemfemme's post are directly referring to BB, not Toronto as a whole...but it doesn't really matter does it?...there are some good suggestions given, some I'm gonna check out myself...I know the pasty chef for Coca + Czehoski, they use proper starter and she is very passionate about her loaves, check them out too!

              1. re: Recyclor

                I interpretted differently, but yeah, it doesn't matter. Perhaps chemfemme can weigh in her other TO bread experiences.

                1. re: Recyclor

                  I've worked with Lesley and she has an unusual technique for shaping her baguette loaves which I have never seen elsewhere..... she spins it around like a rotor blade in front of her body to stretch it initially instead of the traditional roll stretch and tuck technique... makes for an interesting texture.

                  BTW she's quite a talented pastry chef.

                  1. re: doctorandchef

                    ...agreed, she is talented, and a nice lass too, I had the pleasure of trying her fig pumpernickel and chocolate bagette the other day! *sweet*

            2. Try the baguettes from Le Comptoir de Celestin on Mount Pleasant or Thuet's artisanal breads.

              Also the challah from Harbord Bakery is divine.

              There are places in this city that are worth every foodie find. You just have to be a little open.

              1. This is not a TO vs Montreal post - I am just on a quest for good bread. Everyone talked up Bonjour Brioche and, though I cannot be 100% objective, it was bad. I am very happy to hear that P.M. is now supplying Dominion. Now if they would just open up their own outpost...

                I think what is going to have to happen is that I am going to have to give up the baguette in Toronto (we are relocating in January) and be happy with Portuguese corn bread, ciabatta, and seeded ryes.
                Recyclor - where is the place you mentioned ?- Starter is *the* most important aspect to a good loaf as far as I am concerned.

                13 Replies
                1. re: chemfemme

                  actually, the toronto opinion on bonjour brioche is divided, at best. at any rate, before you give up on the baguette (are you the one moving here because of a ryerson position?), try the baguette from pain perdu. Pain Perdu is located on St.Clair West, but their baguettes are available at La Fromagerie on College (between Dovercourt and Ossington). Hence my question about your identity - in response to your earlier questions about desirable neighbourhoods, La Fromagerie is walking distance from the Trinity Bellwoods and west of TB areas.

                  1. re: chemfemme

                    I urge you to try the baguette from celestin on Mt.pleasant... absoultely amazing, as well Theut's bread is truely amazing... don't give up on TO bread, there are plenty of french bakers here. You were given a bad recommendation of BB.

                    1. re: chemfemme

                      Rahier for excellent baguettes and croissants.
                      Was there last week at 10:30 and managed to purchase the last five croissants.
                      They always run out which can be a pain!
                      My next choice would be celestin for baguettes.

                      1. re: erly

                        I second Rahier, incredible everything...I like the croisants at Le Gourmand (Queen + Spadina) and of course Thuets stuff is top notch...

                        1. re: Recyclor

                          I know many people enjoy Thuet's baking, and I don't mind some of his breads.
                          Hate to say it, but his croissants are terrible.
                          They are not crisp.
                          They are not buttery .
                          I bought six, at their inflated prices a couple of months ago, and the birds ate very well.
                          Simply not worth the calories.

                          1. re: erly

                            Its so funny as, if I recall, Jacob Richler in the NP declared Thuet's croissants the best in the city. Personally never tried them.

                            1. re: bluedog

                              i really enjoy thuets bread... too bad he makes his croissants with the same principles...

                              1. re: bluedog

                                I know this is tardy, but I believe Richler also said BB had the best baguettes...

                                Or was it Chris N-S?

                        2. re: chemfemme

                          Okay, if I mistook the intent of your post, (everything tastes better in Montreal" posts are not uncommon here), then consider:

                          Everyone has not "talked up" Bonjour Brioche. It is a good place to be aware of if you live in Leslieville. Their food can be, but is not always, very good. Ditto their baking. They have a terrible attitude problem. You'll find more posts on Chowhound slagging them then praising them. We eat their food (take out only) because we live a couple of blocks away. We don't eat there (the attitude thing plus excessive crowding and heat). If you're passing by, try an almond croissant once it's cooler. Don't travel across town.

                          For baguette, if you are looking for an explicit style, you'll probably be disappointed, since this is a craft. But there are many options you can try. All are different. All are good. You may or may not like some (or any) of them. Here are some good bakers:

                          Baguettes that are very widely available: Ace Bakery; Ace Bakery frozen "bake off" that you finish in your oven; Fred's Bread; the "French flour" version at some Loblaw stores

                          Shops (with some distribution): Rahier, Celestin, Patachou, Amadeus, Epi, Thuet

                          Croissants: Rahier, Patachou, Amadeus, Pain Perdu

                          Breads generally: Ace, Fred's, St John's, Celestin, Epi, Harbord Bakery (Jewish), Grodzinsky (kosher); Bagel House; Bagel World

                          I've barely scratched the surface. There are great ethnic breads of all kinds. There's Lenchner's frozen bake off challah. Toronto probably has the best Jewish seeded ryes and German sour ryes (Dimpflmeier) in North America. Portuguese corn breads. All kinds of Italian breads. Rahier and Konditor for French and Viennese pastries. Dufflet's cakes. There are many threads to read if search is working well. There is much I do not like about Toronto, but the baking available here can be exceptional. (This wasn't true 30 years ago, but it certainly is today.)

                          1. re: chemfemme

                            Coca is a tapas place on Queen west, 783 Queen West, at Manning, 416-703-0783, opened a year or so ago, sister to the previoously opened Czehoski (pretty much across the street), trendy kind of places but I enjoy both, although I haven't properly dined at Czehoski yet...check 'em out!

                            ...I'll have to try that new Dominion stock...thanks

                            1. re: chemfemme

                              My apologies chemfemme. As Embee says, the TO vs GTA thing is common on this board. Look forward to other reports from you

                              1. re: bluedog

                                AAAARGHHH!!! TYPING!!!! Of course I meant TO vs MTL (though I'm surprised TO vs GTA external to TO, doesn't come up more often)

                              2. re: chemfemme

                                Definitely try Le Comptoir de Celestin, Thuet or Jules, they are all wonderful. Rahier is very nice too, though I tend to go to Celestin or Jules more often if I'm in the Mt. Pleasant/Bayview area. In addition to baguette, Celestin makes a very nice grain bread (brown square shaped) and a scrumptious fig bread (which is fig shaped!) which is lovely and people love it when I bring it to dinner parties! Jules also makes a nice, hearty whole grain baguette (as well as regular baguette), and has a selection, including some nice little pretzel buns which are very nice for sandwiches. Don't get me started on croissants at these places... so yummy.

                                I like Bonjour Brioche for the pastries and brunch when in that area, but not so much for the baguettes...

                              3. I really enjoy the breads from Epi on Bayview. I've never tried their baguettes yet so can't comment on them.

                                1. Ok, ok , admittedly there is a bit of a Mtl vs. TO thing with me because I am really trying hard to get excited about my move to Toronto, but we have had terrible luck when it comes to eating here - yes we are moving b/c of the Ryerson job. Spent the afternoon in the St. Clair W area and I liked it a lot - Pain Perdu looked good, and there were some interesting looking jerk chicken places, and lots of Italian groceries. We are staying at Davisville between Mt P. and Eglinton (which we have dubbed the crossroads of Crocs and Yoga pants). We will find Celestin Wednesday morning (they are closed M and T).

                                  I am also glad to hear that La Fromagerie carries the PP baguettes. We are looking to live in that area.

                                  Will report back re: the Celestin breads...

                                  13 Replies
                                  1. re: chemfemme

                                    You might want to take a walk on Bayview , as south of Eglinton is food heaven.
                                    Excellent butchers, cheeses, small fruit markets, Nunzio's Italian market, and excellent bakeries.

                                    1. re: chemfemme

                                      You must must must try Rahier if you are at Mt.P/Davisville - they are just east of you on Bayview, south of Eglinton, east side of the street. I'm surprised no one has mentioned Cobbs, also on Bayview, south of Rahier, west side of the street. Their capeseed bread is so good it makes me cry. And finish off the strip with Epi, already mentioned, further south on Bayview at Milwood on the east side of the strip.

                                      1. re: LemonLauren

                                        I have tried Rahier (their pastries) for my bridal shower we ordered a bunch of their little round beautifully coloured cakes. I will consider trying them for baguettes.

                                        1. re: chemfemme

                                          Oh I would agree with you about Patachou's petits fours- also pain au chocolat, croissants, and bostock, which is hard to find anywhere else.

                                          1. re: rat under paper

                                            Hey Rat, what is bostock? Never heard of it....can you describe?

                                            1. re: millygirl

                                              Bostock is similar to a very light French toast- a baked thick slice of brioche infused with an orange-flower scented custard. It has a shiny sweet glaze, often with sliced almonds. Heavenly.
                                              It it really hard to find here. It is one of the best things Patachou makes.

                                        2. re: LemonLauren

                                          LemonLauren: You have your directions incorrect.
                                          Rahier and Epi are on the west side and Cobbs on the east.

                                          1. re: LemonLauren

                                            Some of Cobs' breads are decent, but no more. That seed bread looks great, but, to my palate, the comparable Ace bread is much better.

                                            Cobs is an outpost of what I believe is an Australian franchise. All of the Cobs pastry items I've tasted were beyond gross - too sweet but otherwise tasteless with very underbaked dough. Once? Maybe. But everything, every time, suggests a style. I, for one, choose to pass.

                                            1. re: embee

                                              oh, i thought i was the only one who finds their bread too sweet. even the savory ones.

                                              1. re: hautecocoa

                                                Baguettes, Croissants, and other breads and pastries are so much a case of being in the eye, er, in the mouth of the beholder!

                                                My friend and I decided to do a Croissant and Pain Au Chocolat taste test, and on the same day purchased 1 Croissant and 1 Pain au Chocolat from 5 different Patisserie / Pastry Shops.

                                                We went to Pain Perdu, Clafouti, Patachou, Rahier, and Le Comptoir De Celestin.

                                                The winner for both the croissant and pain au chocolat was hands down Le Comptoir De Celestin. The bottom of the croissant may have been a little dark, but did not taste burnt, and had the best flavour and perfect balance of flakiness and air. For the pain au chocolat it was the chocolat that made it the winner overall.

                                                A close second for both items was Pain Perdu.

                                                Patachou and Rahier were third and fourth.

                                                Clafouti was without question the least authentic and least tasty Croissant and Pain Au Chocolat of the bunch.

                                                While at Le Comptoir De Celestin we also picked up some Lemon Tarts, which were the best my husband and I have ever had (and we are both fans of Lemon Tarts) and some excuisite quiche, oh and incredible truffles.

                                                As they were packing up the items, the fellow behind the counter said we should get a baguette - claiming their's were "the best in the city".

                                                How could we resist?

                                                While I do feel that Le Comptoir De Celestin has the best Croissants, best Pain au Chocolat, and best Lemon Tarts, I did not consider their baguette the best in the city.

                                                My favourite still remains Ace Bakery (but only from their factory store where they are always baked perfectly - unlike some grocery stores where par baked loaves are finished off).

                                                I think everyone has a favourite store for baguettes, just like anything else, and I think the fun is in finding which one is YOUR favourite!

                                                For a great list of Bakeries that sell their own Baguettes, check out Yummy Baguette and have fun with your search!

                                                http://www.yummybaguette.com/categori...

                                                1. re: LovelyAsia

                                                  in the west end (Bloor between Royal York and Prince Edward) Patisserie St. Honore has wonderful croissants! Worth a try when you're in the area.
                                                  They're on holidays until Aug 31

                                                2. re: hautecocoa

                                                  Cobs bread is terrible. The blasting of that "fresh baked yeasty " smell out the door and giving free samples on the street, screams marketing over quality. We had a multigrain loaf from there that, while it looked picture perfect, had absolutely no structure what so ever. Trying to cut it was a nightmare, it was so squishy.I felt dempsters from the no frills was of better quality for basic lunch sandwiches! Truely to each their own I guess.

                                                  1. re: phisherking

                                                    I agree, I've never enjoyed anything from Cobbs. After hearing how good their scones were, we tried them. They were truly miserable, doughy, soggy, undercooked blobs. Yuckk!

                                          2. Hey chemfemme,

                                            I'm an ex-Montrealer who also found Toronto a little under/overwhelming at first, but who has grown to really love and appreciate the city (in all things culinary and otherwise). This subject seems to come up a lot (Montrealers who have moved to Toronto and are trying to get a handle on the place), so I've started a new thread, called the Ex-Montrealer's Guide to Culinary Toronto. It's not so much a how to find Montreal in Toronto thing, but more a what's great about Toronto, and what's frankly just different than Montreal. Check it out at: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/431037

                                            1. I have become addicted to ACE bread and you can get them even at Zehrs! Baguette, fougasse, triangular rosemary buns, etc.

                                              1. There's a reason why this place is nicknamed Bonjour Biotch. :)

                                                Honestly, a store-bought bagette at IGA in Toronto will usually be better than the BB version (and incidentally, several Dominions in the city now carry Premiere Moisson breads, for that matter).

                                                1. When "Bonjour Brioche" first opened, there was another restaurant in the same general area at Pape and Queen (it's still there) They had been there for at least two years. The name?......... "GOOD MORNING TOAST"
                                                  Do I have to translate into French?

                                                  10 Replies
                                                  1. re: fruglescot

                                                    Are you referring to Hello Toast? Isn't HT's name a reference to a Fran Leibowitz short story?

                                                    1. re: Dimbulb

                                                      Fran Leibowitz once wrote a piece making fun of stupid restaurant names. There was one she particularly hated in NYC, called Bonjour Croissant, and she wondered whether anyone in Paris would ever eat at a place named Hello Toast. I reckon Bonjour Brioche chose its name as a playful, neighbourhood-joke gesture in response to Hello Toast. I'd like to see more bread places in the area with names along the same lines: Shalom Challah, Namaste Chapati...the possibilities are endless!

                                                      1. re: Full tummy

                                                        I think I actually read that in a review/interview with BB. They're not ashamed. They were trying to be cute.

                                                        1. re: chocabot

                                                          I'm pretty certain that BB was there long before HT. When I have a moment I will try to confirm and post back.

                                                          1. re: millygirl

                                                            Hello Toast opened in 1995. Bonjour Brioche opened in 1997.

                                                            1. re: TheGloaming

                                                              Thanks!! Funny I can remember when HT opened but not BB. I guess I just assumed it was earlier.

                                                            2. re: millygirl

                                                              I had a house on Boulton ave. for many years and I passed Hello Toast every morning on my way to work. I can confirm with certainty that HT was in the neighbourhood (Pape & QueenSt. E ) long before BB set up.I remember when BB arrived because I watched the daily construction and was a new customer on opening day.
                                                              I never got the French play on the name until I asked someone what "Brioche" meant.
                                                              I think most consciencious restaurant business owners check on their neighbourhood competition before investing great sums of money. So, with that in mind, I do believe that BB probably hoisted the name from HT.
                                                              Aside from the slight variation in translation it's too close a version to be just coincidence.

                                                              1. re: millygirl

                                                                Hello Toast was definitely first. They've changed the name to just "Toast" a couple of years ago.

                                                                Shalom Challah...hmmm :-)

                                                        2. True, Au Pain Doré sells very good bread. The 509 km that separate us, poor Torontonians, from the MTL goodies make commuting difficult - even hazardous these days. Why not try the bread at Pusateri's (Avenue Rd.) or at Centro (on Centre St. in Thornhill)? They both sell very good breads, fresh and crusty. Not to forget St. Lawrence Market. You'll be surprised!