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Anna Olson's Bakery?

Anyone been to Anna Olson's shop in Port Dalhousie? Is it worth an afternoon drive from Hamilton?

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  1. I have been a couple of times. We would often stop on the way to Niagara on the Lake. It is quite nice in the summer as you can take your lunch or sweets to the boardwalk and enjoy them along the waters edge.

    The bakery has panini's and cold sandwiches along with the desserts that are featured on her cooking show. We have tried their apple pie, lemon tarts, but it was the fat elvis that was particularly memorable.

    The bakery has a website that you can check out before you go which will give you a better idea whether it is worth your time. I don't know if it is a destination in and of itself but given that you are already in Hamilton - why not?

    1 Reply
    1. re: professor plum

      YES, definitely worth the drive. But I say that because I was served lunch (i.e. passed my salmon and cream cheese bagel) by Anna Olson herself and I'm a big Sugar fan. I also liked their cookies and pastries, I forgot which I had though, sorry for not being more specific.

    2. The shop is wonderful. The desserts and breads are marvellous, but she also carries an excellent selection of cheeses, gourmet items, salads, and Canada Prime-graded steaks.

      I especially like to take the kids in the summer when the Port Dalhousie carousel is running (five cents a ride), but I try to make it to the shop at least a couple of times a month.

      Another new place to check out in the area is Beyond Catering, at Fourth Ave. and Martindale. They have a great selection of gourmet items too, including Berkshire Pork, Quebec grain-fed chickens, frozen veal stock, etc.

      1. Olson's Bakery is definitely worth the afternoon drive (especially during spring/summer when you can pick up your sandwiches and baked goods and walk down to Lakeside Park for a picnic). My parents often pick me up and we go to Port Dalhousie and indulge.

        They have two small storefronts in the back of a marketplace that are connected by a small corridor lined with gourmet goodies. The s'mores and sticky buns are a particular favourite and I always order some brioche rolls to take home for lunches. The shop itself has a selection of gourmet goods (check out her website) and also sells artisanal cheeses and sandwiches...

        The last time we went, my dad (who has a crush on Ms. Olson) was chuffed to have his sandwich made by her and she even posed for a picture. The food is fresh, good and worth the drive out to Port Dalhousie...

        1. Thanks 'hounds. I plan on driving out in the next couple of weeks and will report back. Will also check out Beyond Catering.

          1. I have been to her shop several times now. Each visit, there have been a couple of things I have really enjoyed. However, I have also been underwhelmed. Last time, my husband ordered a grilled cheese sandwich that claimed to have bacon in it. On receiving the sandwich, he couldn't taste the bacon, so we peeked inside and noted that there were a number of little bits mixed into the shredded cheese. However, there weren't enough bits to taste, and for the price, it was very disappointing. That said, they've also got a lot of pantry items, sauces, etc. that are fun to look at, and some of the baked goods are excellent.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Full tummy

              I'd tend to agree with Full tummy. My dad is a huge Sugar fan and has gone numerous times on the way home from seeing my grandfather is St. Catharines. I really haven't been all that impressed with the quality of her sweets. They look gorgeous but never seem to live up to their appearance. Value for the money is questionable as well, don't be surprised if you leave with a small box of pastries easily besting $30-$40.

              1. re: Dr Butcher

                Thanks for the balanced reviews - I'm going next Wed. or Thurs. (one last hurrah before returning to work) and will post by next Friday. Bringing guests as well so we'll be able to try lots of things.

                1. re: Dr Butcher

                  I've always wanted to try Anna's place myself and actually made the drive last month (met a friend for the very first time there). I drove in from Toronto, and imo, have to say, it was "not" worth the drive. We both had hot paninis; my friend's was supposed to be hot (ordered from the hot menu) and it was cold and not grilled, as the description said. When I asked the chef about this, he said it was "warm" on the inside???

                  Both paninis and two teas were expensive and not worth it. We ordered some pastries to go (cranberry scones and an apple shortbread square). Nothing to reallly write home about and certainly not worth the drive. I was very disappointed. We missed Anna by about 1/2 hour as she left early.

                  Sorry my review was mixed from others, but I was truly not impressed.

                  1. re: red dragon

                    Okay I didn't want to be the first negative response....but I will agree with red dragon we made the drive one sunday and we're disappointed also. Although we did purchase some jam and cheese and stopped for a sandwich there wasn't anything that we couldn't get in Toronto. Anna wasn't anywhere to be seen, which really didn't matter to us one way or another. I was very surprised at the lack of desserts on hand...it was mostly a lot of brownie marshmellow topped squares. I wouldn't bother making a special trip but I suppose if you happen to be passing by WTH!!

              2. +

                Sips & Sweets
                17 Lock St, St Catharines, ON L2N, CA

                1. Worth a stop if you have another destination in mind, e.g. visiting wineries, Shaw Festival, Casino Niagara. But don't see driving out with this as your sole destination.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: cynalan

                    Yes, that was exactly our plan, but like millygirl and red_dragon, we were not impressed as well. I was thinking a wide range of fresh baked goods on display for us to choose, but no, just cupcakes! Yes, they were very pretty, with butterflies on them and such, but .. just cupcakes!? I was disappointed.. I was looking forward to it. But Niagara-on-the-lake had some bakeries there too.

                  2. Just wanted to report back on my visit to Olson Foods & Bakery.
                    Three of us went for lunch. Both of my guests ordered the Rockwell sandwich (turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce on focaccia), while I ordered the Gertrude (roast beef, smoked cheddar, caramelized onions and grainy mustard on focaccia). We all commented that the best part about the sandwiches was the flavourful bread, and in the case of my sandwich, I enjoyed the smoked cheddar, as I find it a nice complement to roast beef.
                    Medium-roast coffee was good. Desserts were, as another poster said, underwhelming. We tried the date square, the creamy lemon square, and the s'mores. I prefer a more tart, layered lemon flavour in a lemon square - perhaps the "creamy" qualifier should have been a clue as to a less intense lemon flavour. The date square was good, but certainly no better than the ones I bought at a Christmas bazaar this past weekend for $5 for the whole tray. I liked the s'more, and more particularly, the chocolate chips that were used in it. Then again, it's hard to mess up a s'more.
                    Great selection of cheeses. I picked up some Niagara Gold on the way out.
                    To bring home, I purchased some jams (for holiday gift baskets), a loaf of walnut bread, and a loaf of potato cheese bread. The potato cheese bread is a herbed loaf, stuffed with mashed potatoes, and topped with cheddar, sort of like a giant perogie. We ate most of the potato loaf last night (and gave away the walnut bread, so can't comment on that). We also ate some molasses cookies from the bakery. Again, the bread was the highlight, although I think maybe the potatoes hadn't been salted enough/at all. The cookies, meh. I bake a fair bit, and I think that if I made a batch of molasses cookies for ourselves/friends/family, and they tasted that bland, I'd be re-visiting my recipe, making some adjustments, and trying again. I'd been hoping for richer and more complex flavours in the cookie.
                    Staff was friendly and helpful. Shop itself is a bit of a hassle to get around, with the baked goods in a separate space from the rest of the shop, and the tables kind of out in the little mall area.
                    In summary, I'd visit again to buy a few loaves of bread, and to grab a coffee, some cheese, and a few goodies for gift baskets, but only if I was in the area already.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: foodiemommy

                      Hey thanks for the update foodiemommy. Sounds like nothing has changed and I'm not missing much. Ah well, at least you can say been there, done that :)

                      1. re: millygirl

                        Yep, another place checked off my list! :-)

                        1. re: foodiemommy

                          That's exactly how I look at it also. Besides if you don't go you'll never know and luckily more often than not, you do discover something new and wonderful. Cheers

                    2. Was just there for the first time a few days ago and thought it was outstanding. Was actually very surprised by how good it was. Sometimes, when I’ve tried something seen on television, or made my by celebrity chefs, I’ve been disappointed. But her bakery was very good.

                      I bought a lot of stuff, in part because I was starving, and also to just get a sense of her food.

                      Here goes, settle in:

                      The bakery has quite a large selection of sandwiches and paninis. My friend’s “Lock St.” sandwich was amazing. Smoked salmon, with chopped egg, a red onion marmalade, and so on, on fresh walnut bread. O.M.G. My panini, the "Gertrude", with roast beef, aged cheddar, mustard etc. was very nice but the shaved roast beef was the well done kind – not what I personally look for in roast beef, even if shaved. Make that meat rarer, it’d be even better. But still solid as heck.

                      Her cookies were incredible, for the most part. My favourite was a brown butter cream cookie (can’t recall its exact name). Heavenly. A triple chocolate cookie was also to die for. Chocolate chip cookies were fine but not as good as my mum’s, or Mrs. Olson’s other cookies.

                      Lemon square was delish (but yes I agree with foodiemommy that it is quite creamy and a little less lemony...not that it was a bad thing), and my friend’s chocolate hazelnut torte was wonderful. Sticky bun was damn good and buttery but needs to be eaten fresh or warmed up somehow.

                      Scones were not my favourite, I found them a bit chewy and bland. But I had them straight up, no condiments or toasting so maybe that’s why.

                      Mrs. Olson was there (on a Sunday no less!) and was very nice, obliging some fans by happily posing for their pictures. Her staff was also very nice, which is surprising considering staffs at famous or high end spots are quite often snooty. The bakery itself was beautiful and funky and definitely a one of a kind space.

                      Check it out, and get the “Lock St.” sandwich and brown butter cookies. Wash it down with a choco-hazelnut torte and you will be made in the shade.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: magic

                        Well-made, fresh scones should need no toasting or condiments to be divine, in my opinion.

                        1. re: Full tummy

                          I agree with Full tummy - I'd actually never heard of toasting a scone before.

                      2. Thanks for the heads up - I'm not jumping into the car to drive from Hamilton to Port Dalhousie just for the bakery. Will stop, however, if on my way to Niagara-on-the-Lake.